8/23/2012

Kitchen Storage Solutions

I could use suggestions on creative and inexpensive storage ideas for living in a very small apartment. By storage I mean places or ways to store the basics of clothing, kitchen items, and bathrooms items so they are organized and easy to get to. 
-Alice
Hi again, Alice. This post is in response to your inquiry on kitchen storage. I'm not sure what you're trying to store, how many cabinets and drawers you have, or how much wall space there is, so I'll offer generalized solutions that I hope you'll find applicable and helpful.

1) Pegboards or gridwall panels





The first inexpensive remedy that came to mind is a pegboard, a la Julia Child. It's an industrial/utilitarian look, but when painted it can look playful and add a dramatic accent to your space. You can hang almost anything from it: pans, measuring cups, utensils, even a rolling pin in Julia's case! In the bottom left picture, Grace Bonney of DesignSponge painted the pegboard to match her favorite pot and bring color into her kitchen. On the right, she brings even more color into her kitchen by painting both the pegboard and wall a bright coral. 

Home Depot sells metal pegboards in different colors. Here's a tutorial on how to install one safely. 



Gridwall panels are often used in retail displays, but they're also an economical way to store kitchen supplies. Here's a retailer that sells panels in many sizes and finishes and wall-mounting brackets. The Container Store also offers panels. 

More ideas after the jump.
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2) Hanging or wall-mounted pot rack

A hanging pot rack is a good option if you lack wall space for the pegboard/gridwall idea, and you want to free up your cabinets. Place it near the stove, but not too close: your pots might get greasy. There are inexpensive racks on Overstock, but I found a couple DIY versions if you're feeling crafty. Here's a guide to choosing the perfect pot rack. Here's a tutorial for installing one.



This one does not have a tutorial, but it looks pretty straightforward: a salvaged ladder suspended from the ceiling with chains at 4 ends. IKEA sells 10-packs of S-hooks for $2.



This pot rack was made from a bicycle wheel. The project only costs $15. Here's the tutorial

Wall-mounted pot racks are a better solution if you have little ceiling space because of lighting, or if you're worried about not having enough head-room.

Here are some DIY options.



This rack is made from a towel bar. You'd need one made of thick metal to support the weight of the pans. I'm a little hesitant to recommend this though; it looks like the lower bar in the photo is warping.


This rack is made from off-the-shelf plumbing parts. The tutorial is over at This Old House. It costs $210, but I bet if you used steel instead of copper it would be much cheaper.

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3) Rail system



If you lack room for a wall-mounted pot rack, you could mount IKEA's GRUNDTAL rail beneath your cabinets. Use their cutlery baskets to hold small utensils and S-hooks for larger ones, like ladles and slotted spoons, or even for mug storage. I don't recommend leaving your spices out as pictured; they should be stored in a cool, dark cabinet to keep their freshness.


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4) Sturdy shelving unit for small appliances



One way to reclaim counter space is by relocating small appliances onto a shelving unit. My partner and I have a small kitchen, and we use one that is positioned alongside our refrigerator to house our microwave, toaster oven, a large jar of cat food, and a metal crate that holds table linens. I recommend a metal unit, since appliances can be heavy, and any crumbs or spills can be wiped off easily. The IKEA HYLLIS above sells for $15.99 in Canada. Microwaves can run deep, so please measure yours before investing in a shelf!


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5) Wall-mounted or compact dish drying rack


If you don't have a dishwasher, or if you do and prefer hand-washing, you could mount your drying rack to obtain more counter space. We were unable to do this because we have a tile backsplash, and I didn't want to drill into the underside of a cabinet since we're renting, so we settled for a compact countertop dish rack. I recommend those with plastic trays to collect water; metal will eventually rust and wood can split and mold.

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6) Small kitchen workstation or a repurposed dresser



Another surface can provide counter space for food prep or a fruits and vegetables dish, and additional storage below to boot. I recommend carts made of metal or genuine wood; these are resilient materials that can handle mallets or cleavers and the weight of pots and pans. 

I'm not sure how limited you are on space, but I've seen some fantastic DIY dressers converted into kitchen islands. I don't think they're suitable for heavy food prep, but for rolling dough or slicing vegetables, I think they'd hold up well. You could use a dresser you already have or find one on Kijiji, and purchase the countertop at IKEA

Note: an ergonomic height for an island is 36", so look for dressers around 35" tall.




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7) Magnetic knife bar 




Wood blocks are unsanitary, can dull knives, and they take up precious counter space in a small kitchen. A safe drawer storage tray takes up space that could be used for other small kitchen utensils. Putting your knives on a magnetic bar is an excellent way to store them, but I don't recommend doing this if you have small children in the house. My partner and I use IKEA's GRUNDTAL for our chefs knife, carving knife, santoku, honing steel, paring knife, and steak knives, and it's only $15.


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8) Cabinet and drawer inserts

Cabinet and drawer inserts make organizing a breeze. The hardest part is measuring the inner width of the cabinets to make sure they'll fit. This section is going to read like another ad for The Container Store, but you can also find similar products on Amazon or at IKEA




Under-the-shelf baskets and cabinet shelves are great above small glasses or mugs, making sure no space is wasted.


Choose between tray or modular options for sorting cutlery.

Use this sorting device in lower cabinets for easy access to cookie sheets and cutting boards.


Mount a pot lid rack on the inside of a cabinet door.

These are only a few of the many organizing options available to you. 

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9) Under-the-sink cleaning storage


Use a tension rod to organize your cleaning supplies.


Use an over-the-door caddy to hold sponges and supplies that cannot be suspended from the rod.


Use a lazy susan for easily accessible storage.

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10) Repurpose plant pots for utensil storage





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11) Repurpose produce crates for linen storage


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Phew, that was a long list. I hope these tips were helpful! If you come up with other ways to creatively store your kitchen supplies, I'd be very interested in hearing about them.

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