Today everyone is focused on organization as a way to make life easier and less stressful. I have always told my clients to put all the contents of their old cabinets in boxes at the beginning of the remodeling and only put things away after they are needed the first time. Whatever is left in the boxes after two weeks probably doesn’t deserve kitchen space. That doesn’t mean it has to be thrown out or sold at the next garage sale. Maybe it just needs to be stored in the basement or more remote storage area for those occasional times when it is needed. Having just what you need, when you need it and where it’s needed is the secret to being organized.
I am a big fan of organizing although it’s usually not a one time job. Things (clothing, office supplies and linen cabinet contents for example) need to be purged and rearranged on a regular basis. However unless a person is constantly buying gadgets, pots and pans or serving pieces, the kitchen is one place where doing it right the first time can last a long time.
Thoughtful accessories added to base cabinets are one way to provide an easy way to organize this valuable space. Here are some great ideas to make the most of that space.
Cutlery dividers have stepped up with two layers for organizing drawer space even better.
A narrow space can be converted to spice storage with a compact spice pull out.
Nothing is more distracting in a beautiful kitchen than an exposed wastebasket. Pull out trash binds come in a variety of styles and only take up 15" to 18" of base cabinet space.
Blind base cabinets can be troublesome but the addition of two base swing-outs can make the situation more than tolerable!
A base pot and pan pull out makes it easy to see the pans and lids in one easy swoop.
There’s a lot to pick from and just think….these are just a few of the base cabinet accessories available. Next week, we’ll talk about some wall cabinet accessories that will make life easier.
The New Year often brings with it the idea to get our homes more organized. Notice I didn’t stay resolution…I think it’s better to think of it as a plan rather than a promise.
Let’s begin with a place to organize the family by adding a message center first. No family can feel organized and a cork board can be added to an empty space on the wall or the back of a cabinet door. Most kitchens are the center of daily life and usually are near the family’s main entrance and egress in the home.
Purging the excess from the kitchen is the first step. Most homes have duplicates of gadgets and cabinets full of seldom used small appliances and serving pieces. Then it is time to find a place for everything. Cookbooks are often a storage dilemma. The most used cookbooks should be out in plain sight. They can be stored above or below the countertop.
There is a plethora of ways to organize the interior of cabinetry. Some of my favorites are shown below.
Waypoint's Spice Drawer Insert
Waypoint's base cabinet with two factory installed wastebaskets
Waypoint's Base Tray Divider Pullout
Set up work zones that meet family needs. It might be a bake center, a place to pack the kids’ school lunches in a flash or a coffee area. Organizing all the components required to complete a task in one place make any job easier…almost fun!
Once the refrigerator has been organized, the next step is to maintain it properly. According to Whirlpool Corporation refrigerators should be kept between 35° and 36°. The good news is that refrigerators have
Photo compliments of Whirlpool Corporation
improved in recent years to more consistently maintain that tight temperature range and that keep food fresher longer. Freezers, by the way, are usually set at 0°. If you are not sure about the temperature, check it with a thermometer designed specifically for that purpose.
CLEANING: The exterior of most refrigerators should be cleaned weekly or as needed using a mild detergent and a soft cloth. Special cleaners are available for stainless steel exteriors but always follow manufacturers’ recommendations.
Scan the refrigerator for out of date products and unwanted leftovers once a week…usually on trash day. Interiors should be thoroughly cleaned monthly. Whirlpool recommends removing the shelves and allowing them to reach room temperature before cleaning (again with mild detergent) then rinsing and drying before reinstalling is the way to go. The only time something stronger than mild detergent is recommended is if there is a power failure for an extended period of time. Stronger measures may be required to remove mold and mildew.
Refrigerator coils need periodic attention too. Check your manufacturer’s recommendations for the proper way to do this but if it hasn’t been done in awhile, a thorough cleaning may help with the efficiency of the unit.
WINTER VACATION PREPARATIONS: Always check with the manufacturer of your refrigerator but most suggest that (for extended vacations) the refrigerator and freezer be emptied, cleaned and unplugged. Securely propping the doors open will prevent musty smells.
Properly organized and maintained refrigerators make life work easier. I am all for that!
Photo compliments of Sub-Zero
I have heard that you can tell when someone is a close friend when you feel free to open their refrigerator and they are free to grab a bottle of water from yours without even asking. Scary though? Maybe it’s time to re-think how a refrigerator is organized.
Leftovers should be stored in sealable containers. Square ones stack better making efficient use of space. Label the items and include the date so you know when to discard old items. A label maker is ideal for this.
Some items absorb odors, eggs for example. They should be stored in an airtight egg bin and placed in the coldest part of the refrigerator which is generally the center…not on the door. Speaking of refrigerator doors, limit excessively heavy items. While many doors are designed to hold gallon milk containers, most manufacturers recommend limiting weighty items.
Fruits and vegetables require different humidity settings and most refrigerators have bins specifically designed to accommodate this need. According to the experts at Sub-Zero, there is a whole lot more to properly storing these items than you might think. Some fruits and vegetables give off ethylene gas during the ripening process and others are ethylene sensitive speeding up the spoilage rate. Examples of ethylene producing foods are apples, plums and nectarines. Ethylene sensitive foods are spinach squash and kale. For a more complete list, click here. For the longest lasting produce keep ethylene sensitive foods away from ethylene producing foods.
Next week we’ll look into proper temperature settings and how to maintain the interior of the refrigerator.
There are all kinds of pantries, from closets fitted with shelves to cabinetry that matches the rest of the kitchen. They come in shallow to deep and in a variety of widths and depths. Even if you aren’t remodeling the whole kitchen right now, consider adding a pantry cabinet or two on an empty wall and add storage to your existing kitchen. ‘Can’t find a perfect match to your existing cabinetry? Go for a contrast. Painted finishes blend beautifully with wood cabinetry and give an evolved look…like the kitchen happened over time. That’s a very popular look today.
A wide pantry outfitted roll out trays makes ideal storage for the kitchen. Roll out trays make it much easier to see what is at the back of the cabinet.
Still the secret of a great pantry is how it is organized. Here are some tips on organizing your pantry:
- Group like items together so they will be easier to locate
- Put newer purchases in the back so older items are used first
- Most spices last 2 to 3 years at most when stored in airtight containers so chances are some of yours are out of date. Check the ‘Best By’ date often on the bottom of the container
- Put heavier items such as heavy casseroles at waist level to make them easier to take in and out
- Infrequently used items can be stored higher
- Label shelves so family members put things back where they belong
- Consider storing items for quick family meals together in mesh baskets. For example, store spaghetti sauce, pasta and a quick dessert.
Nothing makes life go more smoothly than an organized home. If you have a pantry, take time to re-organize it before the holidays. If you need more storage or are considering a kitchen remodeling, look at pantry cabinets as one way to add an abundance of storage even in a small kitchen.
We have all heard of wacky ‘holidays’ such as If Pets had Thumbs Day, which was March 3rd by the way. I am not making this up. But recently I found one that truly made sense to me. It was on a website sponsored by the Hallmark Channel. It’s Organize Your Home Office Day and while I doubt that there is a card for it, it really got me to thinking.
More and more people are working at home these days and family lives are increasingly complex with soccer games, committee work and bill paying. A well designed home office makes all of these tasks more pleasant and efficient. Here are a couple of home offices, each with some great ideas.
The tall cabinetry stack that is integral to this home office provides the storage we all crave for home office supplies.
Shelf Under Cabinet Organizers usually seen under wall cabinets are installed on the desk countertop here. The pullout cabinet to the right of the knee space conceals a wastebasket. What could be more convienient?
Consider a standard kitchen cutlery divider to organize your home office supplies. They fit nicely into a 24″ deep desk cabinet and prevent your desk drawer from turning into another junk drawer.
And when it comes to organizing all those papers, most of us fall into two categories: we either pile or file documents that come our way. Personally, I am a pile-er so recently I bought a three tiered in-box stack. When I go through my mail, (after recycling all the unnecessary paper) I put bills and anything that needs immediate attention in the top basket. Things that are two weeks or more out go in the middle basket and things that are in a holding pattern in the bottom basket. I go through the top basket every few days, the middle basket once a week and the bottom basket as I have time. As bills are paid they go in a file as do other things such as receipts for significant purchases etc. Frankly this system works pretty well for me and so I thought I would pass it along. Now the real question is what to do with all that paper work.
Document Retention Tips
While various sources differ slightly, here is a guideline on how long documents should be kept. At the risk of increasing clutter, when in doubt, keep it.
- Tax returns
- House purchase or sale records
- Annual investment statements
Keep for Seven Years
- Credit card and bank statements
- Pay check stubs
- Quarterly investment records
- Auto Records
- Paid bills
- Insurance policies
Home offices are central to an organized life and yet it sometimes feels overwhelming to keep the space organized. I hope you enjoyed these tips to make Organize Your Home Office Day more fun!