Friday, November 22, 2013

Another Organized Kitchen!

Well I'm on a roll here folks. After organizing my own kitchen months ago I felt the itch to start another kitchen organizing project and bam! two fell into my lap! Yesterday I shared my sister's newly organized kitchen and I'm back today to share the changes I made in my friend Caren's new kitchen.

Caren and her husband moved out of their one bedroom condo into this adorable three bedroom home about a month ago in preparation for fostering to adopt. They needed a larger space and the Lord blessed them with this home just waiting to be filled! And as you all know, moving in and settling down in a new house is challenging, especially when you don't know what age child (or children!) you may be getting in the very near future.

Since organizing kitchens is kinda my thing and I even helped her out at her previous condo I offered to help her yet again and she gladly agreed, although truly the pleasure is all mine. She has more cabinet space in this new kitchen which was great but she just needed a little help with placement and function.

Her counters did also have some clutter but by tossing a few things and rearranging others we were able to get those counters nice and clear!

She has a great large pantry but again it needed just a little tweaking.

Now here is her kitchen after!

Sorry I don't have too many befores but this little corner cabinet turned out great and we managed to clear off the counters nicely.

Inside we moved her bakeware from a hard-to-get-to bottom cabinet into this space and even created some functional storage for her husband's Soda Stream. Instead of getting the flavors from the pantry they are all now in one spot above the machine and his bottle can fit on the shelf as well, instead of being kept on the counter.

The pantry also got a nice little refresh after we cleared out a container of dog food and moved it closer to the dog's dish for easy access. Clearing that away meant we could move the basket of mixer parts up next to the mixer and then tidy up the rest of the food items.

The lower cabinet also got a little tidying and we managed to completely clear one shelf so she could keep her lovely canisters (holding dish cloths) into this cabinet and off the counters. 

This next cabinet is one of those awkward corner cabinets with tons of dead space in the back that no one knows how to deal with! Well we came up with a solution that I think works great and now Caren has a designated spot for all her baking supplies. Since this cabinet is located adjacent to the previous cabinet holding her bakeware it was a perfect solution. 

Using three Dollar Tree bins we created a system where everything is still accessible by simply pulling out the first bin and sliding the others forward. Love it!

This next cabinet is located right above their sink and previously had loads of cleaning products inside which we then moved down underneath the sink. Like I mentioned before, Caren and her husband are planning to foster in the very near future so this cabinet will remain mostly unused in the mean time until they know which age their child(ren) will be. If they are blessed with a baby, this cabinet will be great for all those bottles and bibs and everything else that comes with the territory. And since this is also one of those wasted space cabinets the same canvas bin system will work perfectly! Also we moved up their bins of medicine into the middle shelf so it is out of the way of little hands. And the Corn Flakes? Well that box was just too big for the pantry so when it's all gone that shelf will be clear once more.

And lastly, underneath the sink. She plans to keep her trash can under here once a child comes so this will need a little rearranging and a little more organizing but we actually did toss quite a few things! In the mean time it is quite functional and tidy, nothing a few more bins couldn't fix.

And that's it for this kitchen organization project! Here's one last look at the fresh new space with cleared counters and organized cabinets.

Thanks for letting me snoop Caren!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Organizing My Sister's Kitchen {On A Budget!}

If you haven't noticed yet in the past few months or so my newest passion has definitely been organizing. I want to organize and clean out every nook and cranny of our home and it just doesn't stop there. When I go into other peoples' homes I look around and just want to organize everything! So when I offered to help my sister out with her first place and she said yes, well I jumped right in! She recently got married and is now living in her first apartment which is actually the bottom level of a house that has been renovated into an apartment. It is very spacious and pretty sweet, especially when I compare it to my first apartment that was...well...not so sweet. Her new place has a completely renovated kitchen with new cabinets and dark-grouted subway tile backsplash. Like I said: sweet! Here's an overview of the space (sorry for the video stills, I forgot to take before shots!):

When she moved in she and her husband simply put things in cabinets and drawers without giving things much thought so I came in and helped make better sense of a few of the spaces and give her a lot more function and organization. The best part of it all? I didn't spend much money at all! 

The first cabinet was her spice cabinet, located all the way to the left. This cabinet was definitely too big to simply be a spice cabinet so I cleared it out and turned it into a coffee + tea station on the bottom and extra food storage up top.

She doesn't have much of a food stock right now but she definitely has room to grow! Since this cabinet is directly over her coffee maker and she previously kept all her coffee + tea supplies out on the counter I gave her a designated shelf for all those items and now her counters are nice and clear, aside from the few daily necessities.

The drawer beneath the coffee station was a jumbled utensil drawer filled with multiples. She has five whisks...who needs more than one?

While I didn't get rid of any extraneous items (I did however let her know she should!) I simply removed the few baking items like measuring spoons and birthday candles and organized the rest into two acrylic trays from Bed Bath & Beyond. Less often used items and multiples got corralled into the back, although one more of these clear trays will fit. I didn't measure first (big mistake) but if I had I would have picked up one more tray for her. I let her know one would fit though if she wants to pick it up!

The next cabinet I tackled is to the right of the former spice cabinet, in between her stove and sink. Before she was keeping very random items in here like dish soap, sponges, and pasta. Clearly this cabinet needed a little guidance.

Since I removed all the spices from the larger cabinet on the left I moved them into this cabinet and they all fit perfectly! Spice doubles and larger containers like salt and peppercorns are located up top and smaller packets of things got grouped into a little plastic bin from Walmart. 

To add even more function to this spice cabinet I donated my lazy susan picked up this summer at a garage sale and it fit this cabinet like a dream and makes it super easy to access each spice.

Now I don't have a before of this next drawer but just imagine your typical junk drawer filled with pens, note pads, and twist ties. While I am certainly not against junk drawers, I just thought this space could be better utilized for cleaning supplies since it is right beneath the sink. Again two of the Walmart plastic bins fit perfectly in this drawer and hold extra scrubby pads and sponges and in the front a few dish cloths fit quite nicely.

As for that junk drawer, I simply relocated it directly across from the cleaning drawer in her center island. Since I already had it at home, I donated another item to her kitchen organization project and this time it is a Dollar Tree utensil tray that I've used in my own junk drawers. Everything fits nicely including those note pads and even a flashlight and best of all it was free!

Now if we turn back to the wall of cabinets the next one I tackled was another skinny cabinet which previously had absolutely no function other than containing some baking powder and bread crumbs... Soo I simply moved those items to a more appropriate location and turned this cabinet into a space for cutting boards. They all fit perfectly (except for one of her larger boards that slides in nicely next to her microwave) and I was even able to tape up the little guide showing which cutting board should be used for which food item.

Beneath the cutting boards in this bottom corner cabinet are two built-in lazy susans (sorry there's no before but it was basically empty!). The top shelf holds extra pots and pans and a couple salad bowls but now the bottom is her designated baking supply cabinet!

I simply moved all her sugars, flours, and baking spices to this shelf as well as all her baking pans and it think it was a perfect use of space!

And last but not least are her two large and deep pantry cabinets. These were the most challenging spaces but I think I gave her a good head start into some more functional storage. I really think her best use of space would be to get one of those over-the-door wire racks for all her smaller pantry items but as of now she just doesn't need it yet. Since they only recently got married, she doesn't have a large stock of pantry items so it was challenging to know what she needs right now in terms of organization but here's the few changes I made.

The above photo isn't actually a true "Before" because I had already started working on it when I snapped this shot. The first phase of this cabinet was to clear out all the baking supplies that were crowding up the bottom and bring in the tiered rack (previously in the spice cabinet) and use it to hold all those canned tomatoes. 

In the top cabinet I brought in a white metal shelf riser to double her space for snacks and other smaller items while keeping large bags up top.

On the bottom middle shelf I brought in two plastic drawers for her that can be used for potatoes and onions, as clearly labeled. I simply stuck those "labels" on using a sticky pad just in case they didn't work out for her and she wanted to return them. But I think it was a good decision and now they function almost like shelf risers because more items can be stored on top.

And that's all folks! I didn't touch every cabinet and drawer since the rest of them were already in good shape but I think I made a few positive changes and she seems to be enjoying the new function and organization! And of course, I was happy to help. Because I'm weird and organizing peoples' homes for them while they're at work is my idea of a good time. Oh yeah.

Budget Breakdown:

  • 4 plastic bins from Walmart: about $2 ($1.35 for 3)
  • 2 acrylic drawer organizers from BB&B: $14
  • 2 plastic drawers from BB&B: $14
  • 1 wire cabinet shelf from BB&B: $5
  • TOTAL (with coupons OF COURSE!): less than $35
*To see the virtual tour of her kitchen and all the before and afters check out the video here!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Living Room Built-Ins Are Finished! (For Real)

I know that I called these turkeys done waay back when (last August to be precise) but the truth was they were not actually finished. Even after they were featured on Young House Love I still could not find the motivation to finish them! From afar they looked done but when you got up close you could see the unfinished side trim, the missing base trim, and the unfinished crown molding full of nail gun holes and un-caulked seams. Now I wasn't trying to be dishonest and actually did say that they were not finished. My exact words were: "Now I have to confess, the built-ins aren't 100% done. There is still more trim work and paint touch-ups to be completed..." So even back then, over a year ago, I knew I had more work to do but just couldn't find the motivation to do it. Now here we are, mere weeks away from the Christmas buzz and I finally found the motivation! So here are the true Afters I've been meaning to share with you:

For the side trim I used two different types of trim to conceal the areas where the original book cases met the wood we used to bulk them up a bit on the sides so they weren't flush with the wall.

Then it came time to caulk and paint every seam. That was the most tedious part but in the end it was the most rewarding!

Now they are all ready for the next season's decor and a beautiful fat Christmas tree right there in between!

To see how we transformed these fugly creatures:
check out this post!
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