Corner shelves can be an efficient use of a sometimes awkward space. The brackets supporting these shelves are local architectural salvage pieces that add character to the kitchen.

Photo: Roger Davis

It may not be hiding on the aisle you think it is. 

When I first moved into my apartment almost two years ago, the kitchen was absolutely the hardest part to organize. The apartment itself is actually a fairly open, spacious loft, but the kitchen has been crammed into a small corner. Not only that, but it’s still haunted by a few ghosts of past DIYs gone awry. (Telltale signs include cheap particleboard cabinets painted two different colors, laminate countertops in three different colors, and an uneven, absolutely tragic “earthy” backsplash.)

Now, I’m very grateful to have a working kitchen. Do not get me wrong. But I am also very grateful for innovative solutions dreamed up by other renters in similar scenarios.

I would say one of my primary laments is that, not only are the cabinets made of particleboard, they are a very…custom size. Whoever built them seems like they also like to cook without recipes and drive without using their blinker. A real winging-it type. So I have one and half drawers, but really, even if you could combine them, it’s more like 1.25. Drawer one is about ¾ the size of any drawer that’s useful. Drawer two fits one roll of foil. (Neat!)

So I’ve opted to store my flatware on my counter top, since it’s the most-frequently grabbed item from my would-be drawers. (That, and no flatware organizer fits in the drawer anyway.)

WATCH: The Hack That Will Give You So Much More Storage in Your Kitchen

 

Unfortunately I’ve been dismayed by the assortment of flatware caddies available. Many are too short, too campy, or wildly expensive for what it is. While bemoaning this to a coworker, she changed the game with this tid-bit: she got hers from the office aisle. And at Target, at that. She’s using pencil holders. Why the market is so much better for pencil holders, I do not know. Why had I not thought of this? I also do not know.

Luckily a pencil holder (well, a couple) have made all the difference in drawer space. Line a few up on the counter, plop in your forks, knives, and spoons, and throw all those other random kitchen tools (hello, avocado dicer!) into the drawer. To get the same effect try these pencil holders:

For old-world patina: St. Laurent Pencil Cup, $9.99; worldmarket.com

Like a Lazy Susan, but better: Rotating Pencil Holder, $42; etsy.com

Gilded, with a built-in divider: Cylindrical Pencil Holder, $10, gilt.com