Real-Life Kitchen Makeover

Thomas LoofThomas LoofReal Simple brings some order to a cluttered kitchen.
By Nicole Sforza

Wendy Odabashian (pictured here) found her old, 50s-style kitchen only about 50 percent functional-and often overtaken by clutter. Real Simple recast it as a calm cooking and command center, where family flow and food prep could live in peace.

See More: 24 Smart Organizing Tips for Your Kitchen

Thomas LoofThomas LoofAfter: Sleek Outside, Clever Inside
Spotless surfaces.
With interior-cabinet space maximized, counters stay clear for cooking. A clean white refrigerator, free of photos and notices -- it holds only caddies for pens and paper -- opens up the room; it's like adding a window.

To buy: Memo center and cup, from $10,

A stove that fits better. Wendy's old, 30-inch stove didn't fill the space (there was a five-inch gap on each side). This commercial-style model is wider and serves as a sparkling focal point. Under lower cabinets, aluminum toe kicks replace peeling wood baseboards; they match the stove, the vent hood, the cabinet pulls, and the countertop edging to unify the room subtly.

To buy: Fisher & Paykel 36-inch European gas range, $2,499, for stores. Perfekt toe kicks, $15 for 88 inches,

See More: How to Buy Major Appliances

Lively hits of red. The new overhead fixture plays into the kitchen's retro vibe and draws the eye up, making the room feel taller. The indoor-outdoor rug widens the narrow space, like horizontal stripes on a sweater.

To buy: Newbury fixture, $141, for info. Willoughby rug, $178 (four by six feet),

Powder blue walls are an unusual choice for a kitchen, but they make the gray painted cabinets (original to the house, complete with some chips) blend in rather than scream to be replaced.

To buy: China Blue Aura paint No. 2052-60, $60 a gallon, for stores.

See More: How to Pick Paint

Thomas LoofThomas LoofBefore
The narrow spice cabinet was near the front door, where the family needed a spot for pocket-emptying. The nook on the right was a dumping ground for a slew of random objects.

Found in (and tossed from) Wendy's kitchen:
* 1 manual for a long-gone toaster
* 2 pairs of cracked mirrored Vuarnet sunglasses, circa 1980
* 6 keys to mystery locks
* 5 CorningWare tops (no bottoms)
* 18 insulated mugs
* 23 spices, some brought back from Mexico 15-yes, 15-years ago

See More: The Well-Organized Kitchen

Thomas LoofThomas LoofAfter: Hidden and Open Storage
Stash zone.
A puzzle-tight pattern of hooks and holders utilizes every inch of this cabinet (spices were relocated; see next page), with spots for keys, cameras, scissors, and glue. Wendy keeps school directories and other papers that formerly cluttered the refrigerator in the wall pockets below.

Message center. A wall-mounted organizer and a kitchen cart make a non-area work hard. Wendy uses the bulletin board to hold to-dos and gift cards. The small bamboo newspaper caddy is also ideal for to-be-mailed bills, and key rings and money clips can stick to its magnetic surface.

Purposeful pantry. The family goes through a lot of cereal; clear bins let Wendy know when to restock. A charging station keeps gadgets juiced, and a hand vacuum rescued from the garage is at the ready. Wine bottles previously scattered around the kitchen stay secure in a floor rack.

See More: How to Purge Your Pantry

To buy: Bekväm cart, $60, In cabinet: Formbu key racks, $16.50 each,; Wall pockets, $25 each, Above cart: Umbra bamboo organizer, $14.50, for info.; Daily System Office organizer, $54,; Corkboard, $34: for stores. In nook/pantry: KangaRoom charging station, $25,; Handled containers (cereal), $7 to $10,; Desk organizer with drawer, $60,; Letter bin (on wall),; Cru wine rack, $180,

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