Kitchen Pantry Organizers

Even “convenience foods” become inconvenient when they’re a cluttered jumble of cans, jars, bottles, boxes, bags and packets. A well-organized pantry lets you easily view and quickly access your inventory of packaged ingredients.

A pantry is simply any space where nonperishable foods and condiments are stored. The separate pantry room (essentially a walk-in closet lined with shelves) used to be a commonplace element in houses, and this concept has experienced a renaissance in newer dwellings. But in many homes today, a pantry is often just a closet or cabinet in the kitchen area.

You can create effective pantry storage in even the most limited space, thanks to these cleverly designed helpers:  Slide Out Storage Tower by Jobar Image

• Pantry caddies are rolling shelf units designed to fit in narrow spaces such as the gap between a refrigerator and cabinets. Shelves are “lipped” to keep items from falling off when the unit is rolled out. The three-shelf Slide Out Storage Tower is just 5 inches wide but over 21 inches long, providing plenty of storage in a super-slim profile.

• Over-the-door and wall-mounted racks are another efficient way to “pantrify” your kitchen. The FreedomRail Over The Door Pantry Rack is a good example–it includes
three spacious baskets and two can-holders, all with adjustable spacing options.Five-Shelf Cabinet Lazy Susan - White - D-Shaped Image

Lazy Susan turntables have long been used for accessible storage in deep corner spaces below or inside cupboards.                                                           A new twist, so to speak, is the Five-Shelf Cabinet Lazy Susan, designed to fit tall cabinets (rectangular or corner) and featuring five individually rotating D-shaped shelves that make it easy to find anything you put on them.

Organizing dorms and other small living spaces

If you live in a small home–whether it’s a dorm room, a studio apartment, a cramped condo or a “cozy” cottage–it’s a challenge to find effective ways to store what you already have, not to mention what you’ll accumulate as time goes on.

In small spaces there’s often nowhere to go but up, so utilizing vertical space is essential. (This does not mean piling up stuff to mountainous heights.)  Dorm or apartment restrictions on making holes in walls and ceilings may prevent you from installing wall-mounted shelving and rack systems, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of your vertical space. Here are three vertically oriented storage solutions that will stop you from climbing the walls:

Baker’s Rack.   Despite the name, baker’s racks aren’t just for kitchens–they can be useful anywhere you need a combination of multipurpose surface and storage.  Urban Baker's Rack by Honey Can Do Image

The shallow upper shelf can hold everything from tech gear to grooming supplies, while the wood-slab work surface and larger lower shelves are handy for storing bulkier stuff such as books, storage baskets and file boxes.  Detachable wire hooks that hang from a bar or grid are good for keeping a variety of frequently used items accessible: caps, keys, scissors and anything else hangable that tends to get lost underneath other stuff left on horizontal surfaces.

Over-Bed Shelving.  For some people, a nightstand is merely a nicety; for others, it’s a necessity. It does make sense to have a bedside spot for keeping within easy reach things like an alarm clock, a box of tissues and various personal items. But dorms and other small bedroom spaces rarely have room for a nightstand. Fortunately there’s another option that goes over the bed instead of beside it:  the InterMetro Over Bed Storage Shelf fits over a standard twin bed and features two adjustable-height shelves, each with a 100-pound capacity (although you won’t want to store anything that heavy on it in case of an earthquake).

Hanging Closet Organizers. Vertical storage isn’t limited to stand-alone units. There’s a whole range of hanging closet accessories that utilize vertical space inside closets and on closet doors. These organizers are designed to accommodate everything from sweaters to shoes.  The 6-Shelf Hanging Closet Organizer is a good choice for storing folded clothes; to store smaller items such as underwear and socks, just add these canvas drawers.

Laundry Room Organizing

Although most of us no longer have to drag our laundry down to the nearest river and beat it clean on the rocks, “doing the wash” is still a time-consuming, ongoing chore. The now-commonplace luxury of having constant access to a washing machine and dryer doesn’t eliminate all the time and effort that go into getting the laundry done: gathering and sorting items to be washed, pretreating stains, loading and unloading the machines, folding, hanging and putting things away — not to mention washing certain pieces by hand, line-drying and ironing.

Over the Washer Storage Shelf ImageA well-organized laundry center can help to streamline and simplify your laundering chores. But creating a functional home laundry in a small and/or awkwardly shaped area is a challenge. Fortunately, there are innovative products designed to utilize every nook and cranny of limited laundry room space.  Here are some of my favorites:

 

  • The Over the Washer Storage Shelf turns the wasted space between the back of your washer and the wall into easy-access storage for detergents, fabric softener, stain removers or other frequently used laundry products.
  • The slim Rolling Laundry Room Storage Cart is just 7 inches wide, designed to roll into and out of the narrow space between your washer and dryer, with three shelves for storing laundry supplies.
  • Pop-up laundry baskets are also great space-savers.  The typical plastic or wicker laundry basket is a bulky space hog that’s hard to hide when not in use. A pop-up is a more efficient alternative–it instantly folds down flat for storage (hang it on a wall hook or slide it between washer and dryer) then pops back open easily whenever you need a wash basket.
  • Large Telescoping Drying Rack ImageThe most space-efficient system for drip-drying is the wall-mounted Telescoping Drying Rack, which functions as a towel bar that cleverly expands into an extended rack with 26 feet of drying space. The steel bar is handy for when you only have one or two items to air-dry, such as damp dish towels; when more drying area is needed, you just flip open the sides and presto — a 21-inch-deep, eight-rail rack pops out and locks in place, retracting easily (to just 2 inches deep) after your drying is done.

More laundry room tips:

  • Keep a wastebasket near your washer/dryer for discarding dryer lint and emptying junk out of pockets.
  • Put a box or bin labeled “Donate” in the laundry area, to help you continually weed outgrown or outmoded clothes as they pass through the laundry.
  • Two other clutter-reducing labeled containers you might want to have, if you don’t already: one each for “Mending” and “Rags.” (But beware—these can get cluttered up if you’re not careful.  You need to periodically let items “devolve” from rag status to trash.)

Answer: Too many supplies

​Q.  I always seem to have more supplies than I have room for: toilet tissue, paper towels, disposable cups…office supplies…cleaning products… What can I do about my tendency to stockpile too much of this stuff?!

A.  Over-stocking household supplies is a common problem, so at least you’re not alone.  My advice is to start by acknowledging this truth:  There are special places designed to store many, many supplies.  These places are called “stores”–and unless you’re planning to open one of your own, you must make a conscious effort to limit the number of supplies you accumulate.  So before you allow yourself to acquire any more of what you already have too much of, you need to:

1. Identify which types of supplies are creating a clutter problem for you.
2. Choose the best places to keep them. I recommend storing supplies as close as possible to where they’ll actually be used.
3. Decide how much space you want to devote to storing supplies.

The chapter “Conquering Stuff and Space” in Let Go of Clutter includes more detailed advice on this topic.

Answer: Storing baking pans

Q.  I love to bake and have built a sizeable collection of baking pans, of many different sizes and shapes. Is there anything I can use to help me establish some order out of the chaos that is my baking closet? Thank you!

A. The secret to organizing baking pans and similar types of cookware is upright storage (think books on a shelf).  Instead of piling your pans, use shelf dividers or vertical cabinet organizers to keep them standing on end–they’ll be easier to access and put away. Vertical organizers also work well for storing trays, cutting boards and pot lids. The Wire Bakeware Rack is an economical yet effective example.

Wire Bakeware Rack Image

A more deluxe option is the Roll-Out Tray Divider and Storage Rack which can make deep cabinet spaces more accessible.

Roll-Out Tray Divider and Storage Rack - 9 Inch Image

 

 

 

 

Entryway Organizers, Part 2

Backpacks, purses, caps, umbrellas, outerwear, shoes, stuff to return – these are some of the typical items that live by the door in many homes. (Of course, if there’s a dog and/or children in the house, the list of “doorway stuff” increases exponentially.) With all those incoming and outgoing necessities to juggle, it’s challenging to keep entryways organized and clutter-free.

Having an efficient storage system for your household’s coming-and-going needs can make life easier.  A peg rack or series of individual coat hooks attached to the back of an entry door (or on the wall behind it) may be all you need to keep almost everything from jackets to backpacks off the floor; a small shelf and a bin for shoes could take care of the rest…but if not, there are several types of furnishings expressly designed for creating orderly entrances and exits:

  • Updated versions of old-fashioned hall tree benches are now readily available in a wide range of styles and prices. The Hall Entry Bench is a streamlined example. This type of entryway organizer–which combines storage, seating and hooks for hanging outerwear–is most effective if the features match your needs.Free Standing Entryway Organizer Image
  • The Free-Standing Entryway Organizer offers a much slimmer option, without seating but with a drawer and a divided shelf.
  • If your entryway has more open wall space than floor space, consider a wall-mounted organizer that combines shelving, compartments and coat hooks.
  • For shoes and “kid stuff”, the Storage Cubby is a good catch-all.

 

 

Answer: Clothing storage on wheels

Q. ​You were so good about answering another question, I thought of you when facing a new problem. We moved recently, and my daughter decided to switch rooms (she doesn’t like the room she has).  The room she is getting has no closet space for clothing, and we are going to need to get her some type of clothing storage – but it will have to move around to make it easier to get to other things. (It’s a small room.) The ones I’ve seen are open – she prefers her clothing covered. Do you have any suggestions?

A.  The wheel is one of humankind’s greatest inventions, so it’s nice to honor that achievement by investing in wheeled furnishings whenever possible.  For your daughter’s new room, there are several different wheeled wardrobes that could work for her needs as long as she doesn’t overload them:  Clothes Armoire With Shelves Image

Answer: Shower organizer

Q.  I am looking for an organizer for the shower area, to hold shampoo bottles, etc., with hooks for hanging shower sponges & washrags. I have ceramic tile and find it somewhat difficult to use suction cups. Would you have any suggestions for something so I wouldn’t have to drill holes in the tile?

A.  ​ Luckily there are several types of shower organizers that offer the type of storage you’re seeking and don’t use suction cups or require drilling:

  • Over-the-showerhead caddies are the simplest and most economical, but are the most limited in terms of storage space.
  • The 3-shelf Corner Shower Caddy is designed to sit on the floor of a stall shower.
  • Tension pole shower caddies, made to fit in the corner of either a shower stall or a tub/shower, offer the most storage. The best ones have adjustable-height baskets or shelves.  InterDesign Corner Shower Caddy Image

 

Answer: Keeping old diaries and journals

​Q. I’m in the midst of de-cluttering, having emptied out a house (lived in for 38 years) and moving to an “independent cottage” in a retirement facility. As I go through all this “stuff,” I wonder about those diaries and journals from 30 and 40 years ago. Some are very revealing —​​ too revealing to be left behind. But it feels as though I’d be tearing away a part of my life if I shred those pages. And perhaps I’d want to read through them more closely in another few years… ​​Any suggestions about what to do, and how to feel about it (i.e., either shredding these or keeping them)?

A. Since you sound conflicted about getting rid of these pieces of your past, my vote would be for keeping any diaries & journals you think you might want to read someday.  The ones that are “​too revealing to be left behind” you can label “Destroy upon my demise” (if you’re serious about this you should leave instructions for your executor or trustee so that your wishes will be followed).

Whether the storage system you choose for your diaries & journals is a classic glass door bookcase or stackable plastic containers, my advice is that you keep them:
1) In a place that’s easily accessible and also safe from damaging elements such as moisture and bugs; and
2) In a way that lets you feel positive about them.  (My book, Let Go of Clutter, includes a chapter titled “Shedding Sentimental Clutter” which provides more specific tips on how to do this.)  A good rule to follow is:  Let go of any items that make you feel stressed or upset, unless you’re legally required to keep them.

Answer: Kitchen wrap holders

Q. ​ I have a small kitchen, with cabinets that do not have the depth for my aluminum foil, wax paper and saran wrap boxes, so right now they are on the counter, and it is very annoying, as the boxes get wet. Is there some type of counter holder for these? Maybe even one where I could use the item without removing it from the holder? I did look online, and the ones I found were either very expensive, or for cabinets. Thank you for your help.

A.  There are several economical kitchen wrap organizers that could work for your small kitchen:

  • The Food Wrap Dispenser, designed to mount under a kitchen cupboard, is both a space-saver and a time-saver; however, it holds just one roll of wrap.
  • The basic Kitchen Wrap Organizer can sit on a counter and efficiently store all your wraps–just don’t keep it near the sink since it won’t keep them from getting wet.
  • If you have a bit of wall space, the Silver Mesh Mounted Kitchen Wrap Organizer is compact but roomy enough to hold all your food wraps plus other items.Silver Mesh Mounted Kitchen Wrap Organizer Image