Monday, February 21, 2011

Trying to be Functional

Carrie and I have many skills, but unfortunately, keeping things neat and organized is not high on the list of either of our abilities. I mean, we're not completely inept at it, but we do struggle to keep things organized. We also both have packrat inclinations, which means that not only is our stuff not organized, but we just have altogether too much stuff.

We also got married recently. You may have heard. And we were very, very fortunate and blessed to have many friends and family members who felt inspired to buy us wedding gifts. And we are extraordinarily grateful to our loved ones for their generosity. But this did leave us a bit of a conundrum: where to put everything.

The last few weekends have been an ongoing effort at reorganizing our kitchen to better use the limited space we have and also get some of our presents out so that we will use them regularly. When we first began this venture, I thought we would finish in one weekend. I have a history of taking on overly-ambitious projects and vastly underestimating the amount of time or energy required. And by "history" I mean "this happens every time I try to do anything". Anyway, we didn't finish in one weekend, but we did persevere, and our kitchen is a much happier place because of it. Here are some before and after photos for your amusement.

Disclaimer: We had decided that we were going to tackle this project a few weeks before we actually got started, which means we stopped trying to put things away nicely altogether. I swear, we weren't normally living quite this messily--it's just that once you've decided to reorganize the cabinet, why WOULDN'T you store the colander in a way that predicts a certain avalanche should anyone ever be foolhardy enough to open the cupboard door all the way?

Note to our moms: maybe you just shouldn't look at the "before" pictures. Then you can live in happy disillusionment that our apartment is always as clean as it is when you come to visit.

That unhappy cupboard above, with a little of help, was transformed into this:
Its neighbor, which looked like this:
is now full of pretty new pans and looks like this:
And our pantry cupboard, shown here:
is now a much more organized place.
And that, right there, is all the cupboard space we have. If you live in Manhattan or otherwise have a tiny kitchen, you are probably in awe of this much space. But if you have a reasonable sized kitchen and spend much time in it, you will understand our plight. This is why our pantry is full of dishes instead of food. We've therefore had to get a bit creative with shelving for storage, and all of it was thoroughly overhauled too.

We cleared off the small appliances on these shelves in order to make room for the food items that previously lived in the pantry:
So now (with the addition of another super-fun gift: pop top containers) those shelves look like this:
But then the small appliances needed a place to go, so these shelves
were rearranged to look like this:
Um, everyone has a wine rack full of cat toys in the "after" pictures of their kitchen reorganization, right? Right. Also, I think it might be time for the new Advent calendar to get put away.

Also, we had several new cookbooks that didn't fit in the existing space we had for them, so we put a new bookshelf in the kitchen/living room area, which now houses cookbooks and a few other randoms:
It ended up being a lot of work, but I'm so happy to have an organized kitchen. And hopefully soon I'll remember where everything is and stop looking in the pantry for snack food! As you may have noted in the pictures, there is definitely less "stuff" in the after pictures. In the process of reorganizing, we finally took the time to review everything we had out, decide what we wanted to keep but didn't need immediately accessible, and figure out what we didn't need and could donate. Next project: actually donating stuff so that we don't just have donation boxes taking up space in our apartment. The project also did end up costing about $20, all of which was at The Container Store, and all of which was definitely worth it. We got organizers for the cookie sheets/cutting boards, pan lids, and sandwich bags/foil/etc. and we also got a shelf so our dishes weren't all stacked on top of one another. I was quite proud of myself for practicing restraint and not buying the entire store, since they had about 11,000 other things that looked like good ideas for getting us organized.

Next step: keeping it organized in the long term. Anyone have any tips? 


  1. Wait. Normal people don't store the colander in a way that predicts a certain avalanche should anyone ever be foolhardy enough to open the cupboard door all the way? Oh crap.
    Good job on the reorganization.

  2. Well, I think I hardly qualify to comment on what "normal people" do. I mean, we do have a Danish pixy Advent calendar wearing Mardi Gras beads (in a month that contains neither Advent nor Mardi Gras), as well as multiple Mr. Potato Heads on our kitchen shelves. Quirky? Yes. Normal? Not so much.

  3. Congratulations!! Wanna come stop the avalanches in my kitchen? Certain cupboards have not been the same since two little boys visited.

  4. That lid- holder for the pan lids! GENIUS!

  5. @MWK: Yeah, sure beats having them balanced on top of all the pans. I love it. But I fear that my excitement over kitchen organizing doodads officially signifies that I am inching toward grown-up-hood. Weird.