Thoughtful organization ideas keep kitchen activities streamlined. Plus, they are easy to incorporate.
Pots and Pans
Use pull-out drawers to store your pots and pans so that they don't get lost or overlooked. Many kitchens are equipped with such drawers, but if yours isn't, don't fret--they're easy to add. Stock sizes are available for less than $50 at home-improvement stores.
If your kitchen doesn't have pull-out drawers, you can add them in one of two ways. Attach them with drawer slides to the top of your existing shelves (which often limits the amount of storage space you have), or remove your existing shelves, and add new ones with side-mounted slides. If you don't feel confident doing this, a carpenter or cabinetmaker can easily retrofit your cabinets for drawers.
To prevent pots from shifting when the drawers open, we lined the Rutlands' shelves with sheets of vinyl flooring, which were painted to match the colorful floorcloth. Separate stacked pots and pans with inexpensive dishtowels to keep them nick free.
You probably have one or more of these handy dividers in your kitchen drawer already. Don't let them go to waste; organize your drawers by task. For example, keep flatware and serving utensils close to the dishwasher or heat-proof spatulas and whisks near your cooktop. Never store knives loose in a drawer. For more information on knives, see "From Our Kitchen" on page 126.
The logical choice for these items in the kitchen is an upper cabinet within arm's reach of the cooktop. We found a mini version of the stair-stepped can shelf used in the pantry. This allows the rows of spices to be easily identified, especially if they are in alphabetical order.
The Rutlands have a bank of windows above the sink that helps bring natural light into the kitchen. Because they decided to forgo drapes, they have the perfect spot to ripen fruits and vegetables or to grow cooking herbs and small flowers such as primroses or African violets. However, because the windows span almost from the corner to the side of the cabinet, the couple had very little space to mount a shelf.
To solve this problem, they engineered a simple glass shelf that is suspended from the underside of the top cabinets. Because it's mounted in a place that's hidden behind the decorative wooden valance, another advantage is that the shelf can easily be removed if they want to add a window treatment or open up the view.
For step-by-step instructions to build this shelf from easy-to-find materials, see "Glass Plant Shelf Project How-to" on the next page. This project provides a no-bracket shelf option; however, any glass shelf in a window helps bring the beauty of your garden indoors.
To read more about this updated kitchen, see "Living in the Kitchen," beginning on page 93 in the February 2003 issue of Southern Living.
Glass Plant Shelf Project How-to
Step 1: Measure the width of the space for the shelf; ours was 53 inches. Then determine how deep you want to make the shelf; 6 inches should be about right for small pots, but don't make it so deep that the overhang gets in the way.
Step 2: Have a glass company cut a piece of 1/2-inch-thick glass to your dimensions; sand and polish the edges, and then drill two (1/2-inch) holes at least 5 inches in from each end. The closer the holes are to the end, the more likely the glass will crack. Try to line the holes up with the vertical muntin bars in the windows. For longer spans, be sure to have the glass tempered to resist shattering.
Step 3: Cut threaded rod to desired length, being careful not to ruin threads. If your windows have muntin bars, try to line your shelf up with the bottom horizontal muntin bar in your window. Thread a nut about 1 inch from one end of the rod. Add washer, and run the rod through one hole in the glass. Add washer to other side of glass, and then hand-tighten another nut to sandwich glass between two washers and nuts. Be careful not to overtighten, which can crack the glass. Repeat process in other hole to create second support.
Step 4: Hold the shelf in place, and mark where supports meet cabinet bottom, being careful that supports are square to shelf. Drill 1/2-inch holes at each mark in cabinet bottom. Cut two (2-inch) lengths of metal conduit; you can also cut conduit to the combined thickness of two nuts, two washers, and the cabinet bottom, but shorter than the threaded rod. Slide metal conduit over threaded rod, and add nut and washer to the cabinet end of the threaded rod. Hand-tighten to hold metal conduit in place.
Step 5: Slide two support ends through holes you drilled in cabinet. Add washer and nut, and tighten with a wrench to sandwich cabinet bottom between two washers and nuts just as you did with the glass shelf. Repeat on the other end. To level the shelf, loosen or tighten the nuts accordingly.
- 1/2-inch-diameter threaded grounding rod from electrical department*
- 1/2-inch-diameter interior dimension metal electrical conduit*
- 8 (1/2-inch) nuts
- 5 washers