Keeping your kitchen organised and neat with smart storage solutions

2:20 PM

 


The perk of having our kitchen renovated is that we got to rethink how functional our approach to storage was. 
Having all the old cabinets, countertops and sink stripped has pretty much forced us to get everything out and sort through our mess for probably the first time in almost 5 years (we moved into this place in April 2017).

The new kitchen cabinets while almost all similar to the old layout,  came with a few welcome changes. We had had a few "dead space" in the form of a overhead wire rack cabinet to drain dishes that we never used and could not accommodate our plates, a completely gutted out, rotten to the core under the sink cabinet we couldn't use and last but not least a gas cylinder cabinet with no shelves inside that was all but useless since we have piped gas in the building. 

This was 3 whole cabinet we could not use properly at all, and forced us to cram a lot of stuff in other areas of the kitchen, including the countertop space, that is VERY limited to begin with, the joy of compact Mumbai apartment life.
The new kitchen means 3 whole new cabinets we could use, and since we had time to purge a lot of crap and rethink a few of our storage strategies, we ended up gaining a lot of space. 


Clutter gives me a lot of anxiety, and by nature I tend to be leaning toward the side of minimalism, of all the rooms in a home, the one that stress me out the most when clutters is the kitchen. 

I'm the type who needs a clean, neat kitchen counter, the type of space where I can walk into, and immediately can go to the task of cooking or prepping food without having to shuffle things around first. Of all the places I have lived over the years, Mumbai kitchens are the ABSOLUTE WORST when it comes to space management and having enough countertop space to just chop a few veggies. 

Before the renovation, we had about 2 feet right beside the sink and 2 feet on the other side of the stove to prep food, but in reality one side of the stove was crammed with a spice rack, oil bottles, all the knives and the roti daba you can see in the first picture (affiliate link). 
The other side of the kitchen had (and still has) a narrower kitchen counter where my tea kettle fought for space with the soup maker that fit in no cabinets, and the toaster that had no place anywhere else, along with it were all the glass water bottles, the cat food, and the basket in which we kept our medicines. 

The new kitchen cabinets have neat drawers in which our knives can be stored safely, the bottom drawer also has this neat bottle rack : 


That bottle rack has been a game changer and I am not mincing my words here, if you are about to renovate your kitchen, make sure at least one of your drawer basket has that compartment, you'll thank me for it. First all the drinking water bottles and sippers that were crowding one of the cabinets are not neatly organised in that tiny space, we also got two big glass oil bottles, and this is where they live when they are not in use. No more oil canister or bottle on the countertop getting messy and dirty. Those bottles also have a drip free spout and the flow is a lot easier to control, so we actually use a lot less oil while cooking, it's really a win-win for us. 

When the carpenters asked me at which level I needed my shelves in the bottom cabinets, I took my soup maker and told them the shelf should be high enough to accommodate it at the bottom, they used it as the standard measure for all cabinet shelves under the counter. 
Having more usable cabinets also means the roti daba has a place to go when not in use (it disappear in a cabinet after lunch) and all my appliances, toaster included now have some storage shelf space out of sight. 

One of the thing we did was rethink how we store certain items like small pantry staples and small lids and boxes in the drawers : 


In the picture above, I stored smaller bottles of condiments, olive oil and vinegar that were too small for the bottle rack into a storage basket. That storage basket was the one we used to store the medicine in (said medicine shifted in smaller boxes in another cupboard). The advantage of storing small things in bins and pullout baskets is that it takes a lot less shelf space, and when you need something, simply pull the basket out, take what you need and then put back the basket on the shelf. 

In kitchens, too much time is spent rumaging through rows of jars and bottle and picking something at the back of a cupboard can easily get all the other things stored in the front to come falling down. This basket system put an end to that. In the case of the small condiment bottles, it also means that if a leak or a spill occurs, it will occur in the basket and not on the glass shelf, keeping the cabinets clean longer. 

We also have a tiered spice shelf in that cupboard which is not shown in the picture above, we bought it earlier this year to contain the near constant spice cabinet mess situation we had. 

When we emptied the kitchen, we had several baskets and boxes we could reuse differently, and we all put them to good use in deep cabinets and kitchen drawers like this one : 



This drawer is the one right below the microwave and I use it to store some mixing bowls, some baking supplies, the kitchen towels and the plastic boxes we had crammed in another cupboard before the renovation. a small plastic rectangle box we no longer have a lid for is containing all the small lids and boxes that didn't fit in the segmented next to the stove. 
The oven/pantry cabinet also has a bottom drawer that has the less often used baking supplies organised in another bin, as well as all the small plastic bags I keep around to use to pick up the dog's poop when I go on walks. 

Another cabinet life changer add-on has been this pan rack


The old pots and pans cabinet drove me completely batty because it was narrow, and quite deep and we used to pile up all the frying pans and tawa on top of one another and each time we needed one, we had to yank to set it free. This rack pretty much eliminate that hassle, each pan can be grabbed without disturbing the other. 
We relocated the "roti tawa" to another cabinet because thanks to more storage space, we now have a dedicated "Roti making essentials" shelf where the roti daba, the board and bowl to mix the dough all live in along with the tawa. It's easier for my cook to get the job done, everything is in one cabinet, and everything returns to that same one cabinet. 

One thing that makes using the kitchen a lot simpler for everyone is to have dedicated zones for everything and have all the essentials one need to function in that zone easily accessible. For example, this is our "wash up zone" :


The wash up zone has now a fully functional storage space under the sink in which all the mops and cleaning wipes live happily next to the cleaning products and detergents (stored in different baskets). The sink area is kept clean at all time, we do not make old bones clearing the dishes. 
If you've been following the blog for a while you must remember that we made the decision to no longer have a maid back in 2017. We invested in a dishwasher at one point, but before we had one, we would simply do the dishes as they came so that the sink would never be crowded, and neither would the tiny space next to it. 
We still do exactly just that, the dishes that can go in the dishwasher end up in it quickly, and the pots and pans that can't end up being washed quickly after they've been used. 

To make the task a lot easier, we have two soap dispensers in a soap dispenser holder that we got from IKEA 2 years ago, one of the dispenser is filled with handwash, and the other with dishwash, two products we buy in those big bulk refill pouches. The pouches go in the cleaning product under the sink until a refill is needed again. 
The rack also has two compartment to put cleaning sponges and brushes and draining holes at the bottom so that nothing molds in there. 

When the kitchen renovation came to an end, I purchased a towel ring and had it screwed in place right next to the sink. Why? Because until then, we would walk all across the kitchen with dripping hands to wipe them clean on the towel that was hanging from the microwave oven's handle. It made the floor a hot mess, and it also ensured we would not wipe pots and pans dry, leading to them crowding the countertop until they drained and dried. 
I change that towel daily, so I bought a few new ones along with that towel ring because while purging our kitchen we found a lot of our old towels would make a lot better dusters than they would towels. 

Having the towel right beside the sink where we need it the most means we are using it a lot more readily and no longer run around to wipe our hands...or worse wipe them on our t-shirt when we need to answer the doorbell quickly.


The wash up zone is not the only zone in the kitchen, now more than ever before everything has a dedicated area : the roti making essential cabinet, the tea making zone, with the breakfast essentials cabinet right above it, the pet food storage shelf, the spice section, with the most used spice directly on the kitchen counter where we need them, the pantry zone, the pulse and flour cabinet and an appliance cabinet. 
Each zone has enough free countertop space in its direct vicinity so that we aren't roaming around to get to work. 

For example, the cabinet storing all the appliances is directly under the area of the kitchen that has the one and only set of plug points, so the task is a simple as squatting to pick up the appliance we need and lift it to the countertop to plug it directly where the plug point is. 

This system also means that two people can work in the kitchen at the same time without constantly stepping on each other's toes. The one on stove duty stays in the stove area and the one on "mixie" duty stays in the appliance zone and the access to the sink is possible from both zones without coliding. 

Hubby and I tend to spend a lot of time in the kitchen in the morning, him to fix himself his own breakfast, and me to do the cleaning up I, that's usually the room we chit chat in before we get ready for the day, an habit the pandemic hasn't changed one bit. It's the room we really like to connect in and goof around, so for us it's essential that this room stays functional and non messy since it's really the secret ingredient to a happy day ahead. 

Actually one of the thing I miss the most in all the kitchens I had in India is the lack of space for a breakfast nook. In Switzerland, most kitchens, some even tinier than the one we currently have, have a dedicated dinning area that is used for everyday meals. Culturally it's the room in which the family catches up at the beginning and end of each day. 


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2 comments

  1. Your kitchen is fantastic. I especially like the spice shelf, pan rack and bottle cabinet. Storing and finding big utensils is such a pain. What's that pipe over the sink? must be the RO machine inside the overhead cabinet. Quiet innovative. Does the cabinet under the sink not interfere with the drainage pipe?

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    Replies
    1. That pipe is the water purifier, and no it is not an RO, just a good old fashioned UV + filter Aquaguard, RO is not needed in Mumbai and isn't recommended because it removes all minerals from the water. Mumbai's water isn't hard at all and a simple purifier is enough.

      The sink's draining pipe goes through the cabinet, there is room all around it to store bins and baskets for the detergents and dusters, all we have to do is check the draining pipe for leaks periodically so that the cabinets wont get spoiled the way to old ones were.

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