October Organization: PhD in Pantry

Ever heard the joke about getting a PhD (piled higher and deeper)? Our pantry has earned its PhD for sure. (Anyone else?)

We’ve continued our fall organization mission in the kitchen.  After the guest hall closet and the master bedroom closet, the kitchen pantry was next on our list.  After taking down our upper kitchen cabinets, we are maxed out on space, which means our pantry needs to be as organized as possible to handle some of the overflow.We don’t intend to keep this pantry once we do our major kitchen renovation, but in the interim, it has to multitask as food storage, appliance storage, and storage for portable food storage (cake carrier, trays, etc.).   Here’s how the pantry looked Thursday morning before we cleaned it out.  Not bad, but not great.

Before

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Here’s how the pantry looked afterwards.

After

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Doesn’t look much different, huh? That’s probably true.  We just shifted some things around to maximize the utility of the space.  If you look carefully, you may be able to spot a few places with some extra room that didn’t exist in the before shot…as well as fewer things stacked precariously on top of each other.

Speaking of stacking, one thing we really do love in the pantry is our collection of OXO POPs storage containers.  Our measuring cups have plenty of room in them for scooping, and they easily stack, minimizing wasted space.  The lids are easy to manipulate with one hand, and they clean really easily, too.  The only difficulty we have with our OXOs at present is that the wire shelves were installed at a height that makes it hard to get the containers in and out when stacked on top of each other, hence why we leave a little space at the front to facilitate shuffling/tipping. It kind of reminds me of one of those sliding number sequence puzzles.

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I used dissolving labels for canned goods to label them so that when I empty a container and wash it, the label disappears.  I can relabel to my heart’s content without worrying about having to clean off sticky residue or dealing with those “erasable” chalkboard labels that don’t come as clean as you might like.  I really do like the looks of the chalkboard labels, but these serve a dual purpose in our kitchen, which means I already had them on hand.  Labels are really essential if you want to ensure your family can differentiate between different types of sugar and flour; otherwise, your baked goods may not turn out very tasty.  Voice of experience here.
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We did add an ancient Command hook for hanging our aprons.  Much better than having them fall on us (or the floor) every time we open the door.

IMG_3237Now everything in our pantry has a designated place, which will help both of us return things to their rightful locations on a regular basis, at least until we get to revamp the kitchen completely.  Right now, we plan to move the fridge to where the pantry is presently located so that we can open both doors easily (the right side is hard to open because it is against a wall with a window). Instead of the kind of pantry we have now, we will do one of those awesome pull-out pantries that blends into the rest of our cabinets.  So excited for when that day comes!  Right now we are gathering ideas for our design board.  Hopefully we’ll get to share that soon!

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Basketcase: Hall Closet Reorganization

When I first joined Chris in the new ‘Zoo, he had not unpacked many boxes, other than what he needed to survive in semi-bachelordom  while I was still in the ‘city.  Once I arrived, I had two weeks to get settled before traveling out of state again for my research, so I quickly unpacked and put things away wherever I could find space.  This resulted in a guest hall closet that looked like this for three months:

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Not so bad, but not so great either.  It stayed relatively neat (other than the looming avalanche of comforters) because it didn’t get much use, other than reaching in for the vacuum cleaner.  We haven’t had guests often enough to merit a fully stocked hotel spa-like closet of linens, and the other items we only use in the cooler months (comforters, board games/puzzles, heated mattress pads, etc.)

Maybe it’s the former teacher in me, but something about back-to-school time starts the organizational cogs turning in my brain.  Although the master bedroom closet was the first on the ‘hit list,’ this guest hall closet promised to be a much faster fix.

The longterm plan for this closet is to convert it to a coat closet.  We have another linen closet, but we don’t have a coat closet right now.  You’re probably thinking, Why would you need a coat closet in a beach house in Florida?, but we do get chilly nights on the beach and lots of rain. We also need a place to store our winter gear for when we travel to colder places to see family and because we do actually get cold weather down here–it even snowed on the beach this past winter!

Right now, it’s serving as a multipurpose closet, which is the worst kind if you are an organizational nut like me who likes thematic storage.  Nevertheless, I tried to organize things a bit better than they previously were, using some baskets and containers that I had emptied after our recent master bedroom closet purge (details to follow in another post!).

IMG_3132First, I relocated items like the games and puzzles that were occupying prime real estate to the spare bedroom closet.  Working my way up from bottom to top, I used an old laundry basket to store our air mattresses, pump, and sheet sets.  Air mattresses never seem to go back in their original container, and they’re so bulky that I always have a hard time finding a way to store them.  Not anymore.  Now if we have more guests than we have beds, we can simply pull out the whole basket, and everything we need is in one place, just the way I like it.

IMG_3136The two larger box-bins hold extra tissue boxes and toilet paper. Because you can never have too much toilet paper. Or tissues, if you have allergies like I do.

The woven baskets hold vacuum accessories, decor not currently in use, and my sewing and quilting fabrics.   The plastic containers hold curtain hardware, electric controllers for winter blankets and mattress pads, gift tags, and tea light candles.  You can never have too many tea lights either.  The plastic tackle box holds other sewing supplies like spools of thread and straight pins, the wicker utensil basket holds lint rollers, and the plain brown woven basket holds things that are beyond our abilities to fix, such as shoes to be repaired and a hand-me-down leather skirt needing alterations.
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One thing I have learned in over eight years of marriage is that Chris is better about putting things away if he knows exactly where to put things.  Enter labels–they may look cute, but they are also extremely functional.  I used fake luggage tags purchased from Michael’s a few years ago to label the smaller baskets and used regular mailing labels for the plastic containers.  The larger bins and the laundry basket need larger, hardier labels, but it’s fairly obvious what’s in these anyway.

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Overall, this took less than an hour to redo.  After putting the vacuum cleaners back in the closet, the labels are still readable and the containers still accessible.  I’ll be opening this closet a lot more often now that some of my craft supplies are stored here, so we’ll see if this organizational scheme sticks.  Even if we change this closet in the future, having somewhat of an organizational scheme makes me feel like less of a basketcase–at least for the next few months!

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