I’m approaching the end of my second year in my apartment (and it looks like we might be stuck here for 1 more year), which I fell in love with for it’s kitchen and sun room. The black and stainless kitchen appliances, the counters and the wooden cabinets (not-white – I despise white cabinets) are what got me in the kitchen and of course, the sun room speaks for itself (even though I’m not really using it for anything right now and it doesn’t really get much sun)…
I’ll go ahead and put it out there. I’m a bad apartment hunter. There’s a good chance I’ll probably suck at house hunting, too. Within a year
, possibly even a few months, we could be moving into a house depending on the market. I don’t want to make the same mistakes I’ve made in the past, like the fact that my kitchen has no pantry, especially since the kitchen is my favorite room in the house. So, I’ve created a list of things to look for in a house.
Since not everyone looks for or places importance on the same elements of a home, I’ll be sharing my lists by room over time. In the meantime, here’s how I’m dealing with a small kitchen with no pantry and limited cabinet space in an apartment.
Exhibit A – Underutlized Space
I’m sure you’ve seen what limited cabinet space looks like at one time or another, so I’ll start with the fact that there should have been kitchen cabinets here. It’s a huge, gaping, useless hole that definitely could have been better designed. Unfortunately, I’m in an apartment community that was remodeled. It is what it is.
The first photo is actually an improvement over how I was using the space almost a year ago. Before this, there was just a trash can and nothing else. My intention was to stick a shower pole under the cabinet with a modified piece of fabric (thanks to my Mom who visited from Arizona in April 2014). Yet again, I am the Anti-Martha aka Marth Vader, so that never happened.
What DID happen was, I measured the height of the area under the counter and sought out an affordable rolling storage cart with shelves where I could store items I used frequently to free up some kitchen cabinet space.
As you can see, I was able to pack quite a bit into this (smaller than I expected) rolling storage cart
. Don’t knock what’s in it. I’m on a long road to ch-ch-cha-changes!
Adding a shower curtain rod and a piece of fabric or modified shower curtain / draperies is still an option. The cart fits sideways and I’ve actually added a second one that I’ve assembled, but have to fill.
I originally purchased two of these babies, but ended up putting one in my kitchen (below) and one in my master / guest bathroom in an almost identical “thanks for the big open space of nothingness under the counter” area. After assembling the first two (super-easy) and setting them up, I realized I could fit two more; one more in the kitchen and one more in the bathroom.
They’re not glamorous wooden storage pieces, but more so functional, affordable pieces. I need functional, especially when it comes to kitchen organization and bathroom organization. I’m a foodie and a makeup junkie.
Exhibit B = Where’d All That Stuff Come From
Some of it came from here, which is only one of four 3-shelve cabinets in my kitchen. The other three shelves are dedicated to my dinnerware and drinkware.
Some of it came from here, which is across the way from the cooking area and the area in which I prep my food in the kitchen. It’s above my sink, next to my fridge. I stored sauces, oils and mixes up here. I use those a little too much for them to be so out of reach.
And some more came from here….my laundry room / there are some shelves here (above the washer and dryer), so I’ll use it for bulk pantry items and stuff area. Totally disorganized.
Exhibit C = Organization Day
So what you see above, turned into what you see below…
Canned goods and spices were given a dedicated home. Previously (not pictured) my spices were stored above my stove, which is why you see a step-stool in some of the pictures. I could not easily reach all of my spices or see them for that matter. I got rid of a few bagged, dried spices that had no place on Earth because they were so old.
The laundry room / bulk storage area got a makeover. The bottom shelf, just above the washer and dryer was cleaned up. The big basket on the left stores laundry detergent, dryer sheets and Woolite.
The kCups, drink mixes and other drink packets were placed in a plastic storage tub.
Extras or duplicates of items, as well as bulk items and snacks were moved into the laundry / bulk storage area.
I moved some of my lesser used appliances such as my slow cooker (maybe used once per week), my SodaStream
(wish I used it more) and my grater (I have a J.A. Henckels J.A. Henckels Knife Set and use my Chef’s Knife DAILY and my Chef’s Envy is far more used than my “grater”).
The over-the-sink area was filled with pastas and other boxed items.
Over the stove, we previously had all of our spices and seasonings, which I mentioned were hard to reach (before picture not taken). It was Nicholas’s bright idea to put them on the bottom shelf below the canned goods until I cycled through them (above). They became more reachable and they are used more.
I definitely don’t use all of my kitchen appliances all the time, so my Ninja Master Prep (times 2 because I thought I lost the blades and repurchased another one – That doesn’t mean I have an “extra” one) and the inserts for my Fagor Tabletop Halogen Oven (love) are stored above the stove now. I use them a few times per week versus every day with spices and seasonings.
Exhibit D = The Rest of the Cabinets
With all that movement, it freed up an entire cabinet to move my plastic storage containers to their own space, allowing a dedicated kitchen cabinet for my dinnerware (not pictured) and more space in my drinkware kitchen cabinet. My cookware has a place for itself as well and I even got a few new skillets (frying pans) until I can invest in a new eco-friendly cookware set. I’m considering ceramic.
I snagged this 3-piece frying pan (aka skillet) set from Walmart for around $20. It’s Farberware and is availabe on Amazon. It’s only been in use for a few weeks, but if you’re on a budget trying to save up for eco-friendly cookware, it does the trick. I give it at least a year before I have to replace it and by that time I’ll be able to invest in ceramic cookware.
My cookie sheets were toast, so I picked up a new non-stick set from Walmart. I learned that the care instructions are a little different than what I’ve been doing. Basically, you should soak them a bit after use, but not too long, then hand wash.
That’s a lot of OOMPH all at once when it comes to reorganizing your small kitchen with no pantry and limited cabinet space. After all that work, we took a much needed day off on January 4th.
We’ve done a few things around the house since then, including the closet, bathroom and my terrible association with PAPER. Our organization chronicles will be shared in small doses. Stay tuned.
Until then, I’d love to hear any tips you’ve got to master our small space!