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Tips for keeping your hard-working kitchen organized

The dreaded drawer. - The Chronicle Herald

Following my last column about bathrooms and all the stuff you need to store there, I’ve been thinking about the other space in your home that has a lot of different categories of stuff and requires customization — the kitchen.

Depending on how much cooking you do, your kitchen organizing needs can vary greatly. I’ve got kitchens on the brain after being invited to an Italian cooking night with friends who have been taking cooking classes. We had the easy job of eating the food they prepared. It certainly was quite an undertaking. And they sure did need a lot of pots, pans, food processing equipment, bowls, spoons and a wide variety of other items for flattening, mixing and chopping.

If you enjoy a production of that magnitude, then you’ve got a lot in your kitchen. The best way to keep your kitchen organized is to be sure to buy the best organizing tools you can find. Everything from fridge organizers to drawer organizers to functional under-cabinet systems. I have many favourite products for customizing kitchens, but each kitchen is slightly different, so the solutions are rarely ever the same.It amazes me that some people find spending eight hours prepping and cooking fun. I would be happy to be a taste tester for them any time. I lost track of how many courses we had but I know it included bruschetta, stuffed mushroom caps, asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, squash gnocchi, risotto and more.

Pullout rack or door-mounted rack? Whatever's closest to your stove is usually best.
Pullout rack or door-mounted rack? Whatever's closest to your stove is usually best.

In Nova Scotia we are excellent recyclers, which is sometimes one of the most difficult solutions to design for the kitchen. The best system seems to be to have rollouts with two large bins, one behind the other. If you’ve got room, you need two sets of those. One might be a garbage can/compost bin all in one. Those are pretty cool.

Spices can be tricky to organize and depending on where you plan to store them, you’ll need a different solution. I do love a spice tray if you’ve got the drawer space. You can sort your spices alphabetically and you can see what’s in each bottle. If you don’t have the drawer space, a pullout rack or door-mounted rack either in a low cabinet or an overhead cabinet also works nicely. Location is key — as close to the stove as you can get it.

Utensils are also hard to keep organized if you don’t have the right solution. Even though I am not a huge fan of stuff on the countertop, a utensil container next to your stove with all the ones you use every day is very practical. Then the ones you don’t use as often can go in a drawer with the proper dividers for the size and type of utensil. Sometimes spring-loaded drawer dividers are the most logical choice. The utensil trays that are sold in most places often don’t hold the larger utensils. Most annoying.

For under-cabinet organization, rollouts are always the best solution. In that nasty blind corner cabinet, if you have the budget, a Lemans is your best choice. You might even think ahead to what your needs might be in your kitchen in the future. I had one client who thought they would eventually want a built-in coffee system, so we designed an empty cabinet for that with a plug all ready to go.

I could keep going and going and going. However, I am out of time and space. Happy kitchen organizing!

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