I don't know about you, but the idea of having someone examine every cabinet, cupboard, drawer, bench space and shelf in my kitchen is almost as intimidating as having my body measurements taken on live TV. When the lovely people at Open Haus presented me with a Howards Storage World makeover challenge, I originally found it as daunting, as it was exciting.
But I've listened to one too many Tony Robbins audiotapes not to know that I can turn fear into power.
And so that's what I did!
Now to give you a bit of background insight, I gave up my spacious Inner-West three level terrace last year to move Inner-City into this pet friendly teeny weeny double storey terrace. Zen and I were faced with new circumstances last year when my dog (a large German Shepherd X) had to move in with us; for those of you out there who are renting, you'll know how tough it is to find a place in the Inner-West or Inner-City that is pet friendly!
Downsizing is one of the most painful tasks I've ever had to experience.
When we decided to apply for this house, we acknowledged all the compromises we'd have to make. I was moving my home-office out anyway, which meant we longer needed all that space, but the bedroom was one third of the size of what I was used to (I had to really condense my wardrobe!), we no longer had a spare room, we'd have to give up entertaining, and I'd have to put up with a shitty 80's style oven. We had already spent several weeks inspecting other houses that were in even worst conditions (sometimes, smaller!!), hence in desperation, we accepted that this was the best we could find at that time. It did afterall, satisfy my criteria of location, having a gas cooktop and a decent size courtyard with nearby dog parks.
So as a busy professional couple, we tried to unpack in a few days to minimize down-time. And since then, I've kept telling myself that because this was a temporary solution (until we buy, or move to a larger space once our lease is up), it was OK that my kitchen wasn't set up perfectly. We eat out so often anyway...
But then Howards Storage World sent their organisation expert, Cathy, to my place for a personal consultation and she made me realise that there was plenty of small things I could do that would completely makeover and organise my space.
This turned out to be such a fantastic opportunity, I can't thank them enough! Even though our lease is nearly up, it's great to know that I no longer have to settle with my daily frustrations in the kitchen while we are here, and the best thing is that everything I've bought or applied, is transferrable for when I move!
I think it's like riding a bike... Once you learn how it's done, you never forget. I'll be sharing these tips and tricks with you so keep reading!
Terraces are usually built with clever hidden storage spaces all over the house. In our previous place, we hid things beneath the staircase and scattered many other non-essentials in various concealed areas. With this new place, shelves are built all the way up to the ceiling so I found that despite the kitchen being a third of the size, I actually had lots of space to work with.
The main problem was reaching those top shelves. I used to have to take two buckets in from the courtyard to create a make-shift ladder! A step ladder was one of Cathy's first suggestions. She of course also suggested that we use the space on top of the shelves to store appliances or things less used. You'll see that I've done exactly that, in the above before/after shots!
Another critical frustration I had, was how little bench space I had! Again, see the photo above.
Funnily enough, when I had to explain these issues to Cathy, it felt like I had excuse after excuse for why things were placed where they were. I've always been an extremely organised person so this came to me as a surprise. (Tip: Always get a fresh set of eyes on any issue!)
For you to truly understand the extent of my
issues excuses, you really have to see them:
Stuff that was too tall to fit elsewhere, was thrown into the space beneath the sink because those shelves had the greatest height allowance. Cathy classified this as an A-grade space which meant it was easily accessible so only things that I needed to use frequently really should have been placed here.
The same theory applied to the microwave, which we could actually live without.
I had the same excuse for all the tall stuff that was spread out across another bench top!
I grew up in a house where the rice cooker had a permanent spot in the kitchen, so I didn't think twice when we placed ours on the bench top. However, upon further calculation, I discovered that I only cooked rice maybe once or twice a fortnight so it definitely didn't deserve to hog up all that precious bench space!
The top shelf in my pantry was basically empty because I couldn't reach it!
Meanwhile, the awkward corner cabinet which doesn't open completely because of the ill-placed oven, was used as a junk storage area. Cringe!
As a kitchen gadget hoarder, I had the most chaotic drawers... It was organised mess in my eyes but Zen never had a clue where anything was!
After weeks of reviewing my situation and sorting out all the various components, the day finally came to visit a Howards Storage World store!
Two hours later, I left, equipped with the tools that would change my daily life!
Not sure where to start? Well, don't try to do it all at once!
The tip to starting I received from Cathy were to:
- Stop, and assess what the problem is before going any further
Ask yourself, what is it that annoys you about a particular space? Whether it's lack of storage, cluttered pantry or an inefficient system, this is your opportunity to stop and indentify what could be better organised.
- Sort everything into groups and prioritise the different areas
Pull everything out, group similar items, discard unwanted or unused items and finally, prioritise. Then you'll be able to put things away in the appropriate place.
- Solve your problem by using the best HSW products for each job
The catalogue is full of ideas or bring your drawers or photos of your problems in-store for assistance!
She also passed on invaluable advice, like how bulk-grouping similar items into three zones on each shelf will make things feel more orderly.
To give you some inspiration, I thought I'd share my most favourite changes!
The 'under the sink' space was the easiest to start because during the consultation, Cathy had already changed the layout of the top shelf! By simply lifting all the chopping boards and storing them vertically, it instantly created it's own zone. Now the chopping boards are a bliss to access!
I also tidied up the bottom shelf by using these amazing Wide Separators ($9.95) which makes the most of deep shelves and feature high sides and sensible handles. Plus it's clear plastic so you can see what's inside. I bulk-grouped all these tall items into Oils & Vinegars, Asian Sauces and Miscellaneous Oils.
The same baskets were used in the pantry to store things like baking stuff, which allowed me to group everything from cocoa power to dry yeast. Now every time I need to bake, I just pull out the entire basket!
The pantry was probably the largest task of all... but I really had momentum going once this was sorted and organised.
By using the same strategy of grouping 'like' items, I discovered that I could create zones for:
- Chinese & South-East Asian
- Herbs & Spices
- Dried Noodles, Pastas & Rice Paper
- Cans & Packet Stuff
- Baking Stuff
- Things For Frying
- Coffee Beans
And the top shelf (a little empty in the photo because I was low on supplies) was reserved for spare kitchen supplies such as napkins and paper towels.
You'll notice I also borrowed my sister's label machine and bought these gorgeous gold on black labels. My pantry is now so organised, a complete stranger could walk in and start cooking from it without any hesitation!
These Aamina Easy Access Storer ($14.95 - also available in large, $19.95) containers are perfect for the pantry because they have flexible airtight lids, are clear, stackable and feature a large handle which makes it safer and easier to access! I had a moth problem in my old pantry so these will definitely come handy!
I also adore the Xox Pop Containers (ranges from $19.95 - $49.95) which offer an airtight seal with the touch of a button!
There are some really innovative storage options (such as racks, expanding shelves, turntables and stadium shelves) for cans which help increase visibility and make accessibility much more simple, but Cathy pointed out that I didn't have many cans so I simply stacked them up behind this nifty Linus Packet Organiser ($29.95)! This packet organiser is easy to pull out which means the cans are easily accessible, and because it keeps the packets upright, I'm able to quickly see what I have on hand.
Moving onto the next cabinet, I used four Marie Baskets ($4.95, or $6.95 for large) to seperate my teas, chocolates and junk food supply. They're cheap and effective!
Now, with the cutlery drawer... We had to work with rather unique dimensions so I actually brought the drawer with me into Howards Storage World and custom configured each drawer to my own needs. There were several styles available including one made from bamboo and one with a grip base, but I went with the Linus Modular Organisers (from $5.95) as they were clear which meant it would definitely go with whatever look my new kitchen would one day be. Yep, I'm thinking ahead!
Our cutlery used to explode out of the standard tray but now these deeper containers hold a lot more and we're able to make use of the entire drawer space.
For all the other drawers, I used larger, wider containers to custom configure a layout that would fit 3 different zones. In the photo below, we have miscellaneous things, sharps (peelers, graters and scissors) and tongs. I discovered I had almost 10 tongs!?!
Continuing with the theme of modular solutions, check out my new wine rack!
It definitely made the most of that odd space I had between the fridge and the staircase!
The Cellarstack modular system (15 bottles, $42.95 or $109 for 35 bottles and $159 for 55 bottles) are flat pack modules which can be joined as your needs grow. I love that they could be configured to any arrangement!
Because this is such a small kitchen, I also followed Cathy's advice to get as much off the bench tops as possible. This Everloc magnetic rail ($29.95) is the coolest thing you've seen yet! The Everloc suction cup is removable, transferrable and requires no screws to install! It's some pretty impressive technology! I used the magnetic rail to get my frequently used knives off the bench.
Although, it'd be a tough choice between which I love more, if I had to choose between the Everloc magnetic rail and this cute sink top caddy ($12.95)! It holds just the right amount of things and has a well designed driptray and grip base!
By the way, here's the ladder I ended up getting - it's the Snazzee 3 step ladder ($69.95) which folds up very slimly and slides right in between the fridge and my 'appliances' trolley!
So the 'appliances' trolley used to hold our wines and other random things, but it is much more useful now holding the mini-oven and microwave!
What you see beside it, are double stacked Tallis 21.7L Bins ($21.95 each). We go through a lot of fresh fruit and veg in this household as we're juice maniacs so this is great for storing our rapid turnover of fresh produce. We keep our rice in the bottom one.
But I'm not done yet! In the below photo, you'll notice how handy the Wire Corner Plate Stacker ($13.95) is! Now I can easily reach any plate I like without having to take the top ones out first. It used to be such a nuisance!
Furthermore, I used the Chrome 7 Plate Stand ($13.95) as a baking tray stand and turned the corner cabinet beside the oven into my baking wares shelf!
The last product I wanted to show you, are these Over the cabinet towel bars (from $26.95) which are a fancier and neater way to hang tea towels!
Once these makeover changes were implemented, I was able to organise the remaining cabinets more thoughtfully!
Naturally, some cabinets went untouched because they were perfect as is (such as my cookwares, tea cups, mugs, glass cups, wine glasses, etc), so I'll just show you the ones that were revolutionised!
Above: on the bottom shelf are my semi-frequently used items; my mini food processor/blender and accessories and rice cooker. On top of it is my pasta machine and my collection of slicers and graters, and on top of that is the never-been-used blender and some vases.
Below: neatly arranged plastics!
My very clean bench...
The new hot beverages station!
My makeover was completed over four weeks and cost $1000 which included a selection of premium Oxo airtight pop containers and various kitchen gadgets like this super fab Joseph Joseph Quicksnap Ice Tray.
Ever since the makeover completion, I've found myself spending heaps more time in the kitchen. Sometimes, I'll just open cabinet doors just to gaze at how neat and tidy everything is. It's a wonderful feeling :)
Win Gift Vouchers For Your Own Kitchen Makeover
I'm so delighted I'm able to extend this makeover opportunity to three lucky readers! Thanks to Open Haus and Howards Storage World, I have $500 worth of gift vouchers up for grabs!
The PrizesThe winner of the major prize will win a $300 Howards Storage World gift voucher! And two runner-ups will each win a $100 Howards Storage World gift voucher!
This makeover has taught me that little things can go a long way. To enter the competition, leave a comment on this post in 25 words or less, select one of the products I've used in my makeover and tell me how it would change your life.Terms & Conditions: Competition closes 21/3/2012 at 11:59pm AEST. Winners will be judged on originality, creativity and entertainment value. Winners will be announced on this page on 22/3/2012 and will be notified via email. Competition is open to Australian residents only. Competition entry is strictly 25 words or less only, if in doubt, do a word count in Microsoft Word. My decision on the competition winners is final.
*** UPDATE 22/03/12: THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED.
This makeover was made possible thanks to Open Haus and Howards Storage World.