Limited kitchen counter space needn't cramp your cooking. Linda Cobb, author of The Queen of Clean Conquers Clutter, shows you how to maximize cabinet space, keep frequently used utensils within reach, and turn empty walls into extra storage.
Look around your kitchen and you're sure to find plenty of wall space that can be put to use.
- Consider installing a shelf above the kitchen counter for your cookbooks. This keeps them handy but frees up valuable counter space.
- Everyone has a collection of favorite recipes. Did you know that your local bookstore carries blank cookbooks with divided vinyl sheets that can be used to hold your treasured family favorites? Assembling a family cookbook is a terrific project for summertime, when kids are out of school. When your recipes are all grouped together in one place, there's no more guessing where you wrote down Grandma's favorite bread pudding.
- Think of using shelves and wall hangers to hold other things you use daily too. Small hooks can hold mugs, kitchen towels, pot holders, and utensils.
- Storing Tupperware® and other plastic storage containers can really be frustrating. Of course, you can purchase storage systems for them, but you can also be creative. I like to devote a small upper cupboard, perhaps the one over the stove, to plastic storage. I stack my containers, by size and type, inside each other. Don't get the stacks too high or they will be frustrating to reach for and use. Stack the lids by size, with the largest against the cupboard wall, and use a bookend or a clean brick wrapped in plastic or fabric to hold them up. For smaller containers, use a low rectangular storage container to hold them. You can lift the large container out, select what you need, and then replace it without all of the plastic tumbling out. Weed out the bowls that are old and sticky and ones you never use-after all, you only have so many leftovers. If you run out of bowls, check the back of the refrigerator to see what is lurking unnoticed in a plastic bowl from dinner two months ago!
- Don't forget to use the space around your kitchen window. You can hang shelves here and arrange dishes, mugs, or even plants for a decorative and useful display.
- Store canned goods in a cool, dry cupboard. Group like items together, and for real ease, alphabetize them so that you can find what you are looking for in a hurry.
- Stored boxed items on a separate shelf and try the alphabetizing here too. This will also make quick work of putting the groceries away. If you have open boxes on the shelf, consider storing the contents in clear plastic containers. Keep any cooking directions you may need and tuck into the container.
- Once cookies are open, store them in a cookie jar or clear container on the shelf. This prevents scattering crumbs everywhere, keeps the cookies fresher, and also eliminates temptation for bugs.
- Spices and other flavorings lose their oomph after about six months (and in less time than that if they're stored near or in excessive heat and humidity), so replace yours frequently.
- Consider a tiered platform to hold spices. (You can find them in kitchen stores and catalogs.) The tiered rack allows you to see spices at a glance, making it much easier to get at the cardamom, or whatever spice you seem to use only at holidays.
- Make your own tiered spice racks by affixing three small shelves about the width of your spice jars to the inside of your cupboard or against a wall. Set up your spice center near the stove and baking center.
- Alphabetizing your spices is smart. Starting with anise in the front and tarragon in the back, you'll save yourself the time and trouble of having to look at each jar.
- Use pegboards for instant storage. Hang near the stove for ladles, spoons, and colanders. I have a friend who painted her pegboard to match her decor, then traced on it the outline of each item so that she could easily replace them after use. You can also stencil your pegboard to match a country, contemporary, or even high-tech kitchen.
- Pan holders that hang from the ceiling have been used in professional kitchens for years. Consider these especially if you have a center island in your kitchen (the pot rack can be suspended over the island), if you have a plethora of cooking pans, or if storage space is tight. Look in kitchen stores or catalogs for these racks, or even make your own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Previously the owner of a cleaning and disaster-restoration business in Michigan, dealing with the aftermath of fires and floods, Linda Cobb, author of The Queen of Clean Conquers Clutter (Copyright © 2002 by Linda Cobb), started sharing her cleaning tips in a local newspaper column. After moving to Phoenix she became a weekly guest on Good Morning Arizona -- then the product endorsements and requests for appearances started rolling in. A featured guest on radio and television shows across the country, Linda Cobb lives in Phoenix with her husband.