Last year, each month I posted a to-do list for 2012 from Get Organized Now. I still love them and highly recommend checking them out. This year I want to swap out how I plan my household to-do lists. I want to give each room in my house equal amounts of love and opportunities for improvement. Each month I plan to write out 5 ways to improve each room in the 28/30/31 days.
For this month, I’m starting with the kitchen. This is the most complete room in my house and only needs some finishing touches. Here are 5 things I want to tackle:
1. Paint the ceiling
I repainted the room but some paint hit the ceiling. A good new coat should make the room look more complete.
2. Seal the grout
When I did all my tile I had to let the grout rest before sealing it. I think 6 months is plenty.
3. Clean out the fridge
Time to check those expiration dates and use up some condiments with some creative recipes.
4. Create a dog station
My dog Nova has a little corner of the room with a dog bowl but I think something that says she has her own little spot would be more than welcome
5. Un-Christmas the Kitchen
I still haven’t taken down my Christmas decorations from my ladder bookcase. In fact, the whole room has little touches of Christmas all around. It’s time to pack it all up and give my bookcase a new look.
What room of your house will get updated first in 2013?
When I got my KitchenAid Mixer the first thing I did was buy a beater blade for scraping down the sides. This meant I now had 3 extra attachments just hanging around when I wasn’t cooking something. I had a habit of losing them in drawers or the deep space of my baker’s nook.
As part of my kitchen makeover, I’d built a little baker’s nook to hold all my extra baking supplies. That might sound a little silly but I have a lot of supplies. The baker’s nook was actually built to accommodate our lower window and give me a surface to roll out cookie dough (or bread dough or pizza dough) on easily. The nook was made by substituting vanity cabinets for kitchen cabinets and then just using a separate piece of countertop.
One side holds all my baking sheets and cake pans while my drawers hold things like cake piping tubes and tips, food coloring, sprinkles, and just general odds and ends. I had one lower cabinet left to fill. I added in my cake and cupcake stands, my hand mixer, and my double set of springform pans. The whole thing felt a bit empty still.
Enter those pesky Kitchenaid mixer attachments. There was plenty of space in there for them but I didn’t want them to get lost in medium springform pan #2 (heaven forbid!) so I came up with a solution that seems so obvious I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner: 3M hooks. Look how easily I can find my hooks now.
And a closeup
For under $5 I’ve got an easy storage solution that my college self would be proud of.Pin It
I have this giant chalkboard in my kitchen that has at times had anything from a dart board drawn on it to shopping lists and meal plans and even a cock fighting ring drawn on it. (Yes, that really happened)
For summer I envisioned an actual theme to the board. I wanted a big banner with all my summer goals below it so I could try to do all the cool hipster things like picnics in the park, a drive-in movie, and music festivals. I had no clue my summer would have so many days over 100 degrees and my summer goals would shift from fun outdoor things to hiding inside with the air conditioning. Before that reality hit, I did manage to make myself a cute banner for free.
To make this banner I took 16 paint chips, 4 in each shade I had laying around. It’s a good thing I went through a pastel phase last year but I wish I’d been into blues and purples too. Still, my color selection was pretty nice and coordinated with my walls very well.
I cut the labels off each paint chip and then cut each paint chip into 3-4 usable pieces vertically before cutting each color into its own strip. Don’t try to be perfect here, having some variation makes the banner have more character. I separated each color into a pile (so green, pink, orange, and yellow) and pulled 5 or so at a time randomly from each color stack. I started with my pink stack choosing 5 of the different shades and overlapping them while sewing slowly over the top. Then I added on orange, then yellow, and then green before returning back with yellow, orange and red. Just go slow while sewing through paper and you’ve got it.
I left long ends at both the beginning and end of my banner rather than cutting them off so I could easily hang them from my chalkboard.
The banner hung for a month because I just couldn’t think of anything worthy of the fun design. Luckily, my husband is much more creative than I am. My birthday was at the end of July and I woke up on my birthday morning to see him designing a masterpiece.
I don’t talk too much about my husband Daniel but he’s a very talented man. He wanted to be an art major in college before settling on computer science instead. He’s really the creative talent in our home. I’m more abstract in my ideas but he can put anything to paper and make it happen. He designed the chalkboard and the artwork on it. Back when we made this room while I decided I wanted a room “full of sunshine” and I chose tile and paint to make it bright but I think he delivered the sunshine for my rainbow with his masterpiece.Pin It
Centsational Girl is having everyone share their favorite kitchen gadgets and I wanted to make sure I chipped in. When I was getting married I was also moving into an empty house with no kitchen. I had never lived on my own outside of a dorm room, I didn’t like cooking (only baking) and had no clue what I needed. It should come as no surprise that I had no clue what to stock my kitchen with and ended up with a pinata. Luckily I had some advice from others, some relatives who stocked me up with items and gift cards, and I learned a lot along the way. Now I have a bunch of favorite items but here are 10 I couldn’t live without.
My cousin Allison was hosting Pampered Chef parties around the time I was getting married and she stocked me up with some amazing tools. I have added to my collection since then but these 4 are my must-haves. I love the bamboo spoons, I put them in my dishwasher and at 4 years old they look brand new. My Mix n Chop makes bulk cooking so much easier; I can have finely ground beef or shredded chicken in an instant. My bar pan gets most of its use as my pizza stone and it’s held up remarkably well. I also have the round stone in this collection. Finally, the scoop- I use this for cookies and I’ve tried buying the ones at Target and never again. My Target scoops both broke when they got caught on chocolate chips or M&Ms while scooping but my Pampered Chef one is going strong 5 years later. I don’t sell these products but if you go to a party I wouldn’t hesitate to stock up on every single one.
True story, my parents once went to a conference and met George Foreman. That’s the closest I’ve ever gotten to a celebrity. I know he’s more of a figurehead for the brand but I love my George Foreman grill, celebrity BFF or not. It has 5 removable plates that I can wash in the dishwasher including waffle plates and grilling plates. I cook burgers, chicken breasts, and kebobs on mine all the time. My other favorite way to cook with it is to put in the griddle plate and use it as a panini press. My turkey sandwiches always feel classier after a go in the George.
I see so many people who add the KitchenAid Mixer to a registry and I was no exception. I also see a lot of people who break them out to make cookies at Christmas and to collect dust the rest of the year. Why would you do that? I use mine to make pizza dough, bread, shred chicken, whip pie, not to mention mixing up all sorts of desserts. You can even make butter in a mixer. I like mine with the beater blade, it scrapes down the sides of your mixer which is perfect if you’re making something with a high liquid ratio.
I also like my immersion blender. I use it to mix up soups or spaghetti sauce and the chopper attachment is perfect for anyone who wants the functionality of a food processor but doesn’t use them often enough to justify the space those devices take up. I haven’t used all the attachments yet but I like what I have tried.
My next item is a bit of a cheat since it’s 3 items in one. I know a lot of people just starting off spend money on a giant knife block with 20 knives. Save your cash and instead invest in 3 quality knives. I use the Wusthof brand and all I need are the paring knife, the bread knife, and the 7″ Santoku knife.
My last item was such a help when I was first learning how to cook. I wanted to make sure I was cooking recipes that weren’t likely to fail and didn’t call for any ingredients I’d never heard of. The Taste of Home Cookbook is on its third edition now and each cookbook comes with a 1 year subscription to Taste of Home magazine.
I have many more items that would make the honorable mentions list but that would drag on even longer than all these did. Like I said, most of my most beloved kitchen items came to me as gifts over the years. Some smart people shared their wisdom with me in gift form so I try to pass along the same knowledge to those around me. I usually do it in gift form but I don’t quite have the cashflow to buy all of you an item. Do you have any items that you couldn’t live without in your kitchen? I’d love to know what I’m missing.Pin It
After I had the cabinets installed, I struggled to know how to keep them organized. I have a ton of space but I also have a ton of stuff and I wanted to use the space to the best of my advantage. I’ve already shown you how I failed with my lazy susan but I wanted to show you an arrangement that’s worked for over a year now.
This is the cabinet I use most minus the ones that hold plates and cups. It holds my tupperware, gladware, mystery brand-ware (I have no brand loyalty) and my tall appliances.
So I found a new home for my rolls and used the undercabinet baskets in a new way. They were the perfect size to fit under my shelves and hold all those tricky lids. Tupperware lids in one basket, gladware lids in another basket. Then I just stacked up all the plastic containers how I like to use them. An easy solution to an annoying problem.
In the middle I store my rice cooker, blender, and ice cream maker. You’ll be seeing a lot more of that last one soon. I keep the blender in the middle because I use it the least and I keep my most frequent tools right at an arm’s reach. Don’t be afraid to switch up the standard placement of your shelves. I tend to start at the top and work my way down when setting shelf height.
At the very top I store 4 bowls. 3 are usually in my freezer holding chili but chili season is over so all 4 are ready for ice cream and sorbet duty this spring.
What do you do to keep your cabinets organized?Pin It
Hello and welcome to my lazy susan.
Sure it looks safe from the outside but inside it was a wild and dangerous place.
Let’s take a look at the offenses.
Poorly labeled containers with a dirty stand? Check. Giant duplicate containers? Check. Even more poorly labeled containers that could lead to a baking powder and baking soda mixup? Check. A hodge podge of spices and poorly bagged sugar? Check. A giant mess that makes it hard to find things? Check.
It was rough in there. Confession: I had never emptied it since I piled stuff in there after its installation in 2008. I empty out my pantry regularly but this area was out of control and hidden so I just never addressed it.
So I followed my simple organizing plan. I removed everything and cleaned it up. Then I consolidated any duplicates and threw out all the junk and expired goods. I started cleaning out all the containers and bought new ones to put all the bagged and boxed goods into.
I buy spices in bulk (if you’re a St. Louis local you won’t believe the deals for spices at Old Town Spice Shoppe in St. Charles, $2-$4 is how much I pay for most spice blends) so sometimes I just plop them in my lazy susan rather than putting them away (because I’m lazy). I finally put them all in the right place and refilled old containers that needed it.
Then it was time to put everything back. I made labels using my Cricut and some chalkboard contact paper (if you don’t want to go that route try these Martha Stewart chalkboard labels from Staples). I put the items back so I spin one way to reach all my baking items and another way to reach all my cooking items. The results speak for themselves.
It took some work but it’s so much easier to spin that lazy susan now. It’s also very empty in there so I might be able to fill it up more or jest embrace a nice, accessible cabinet. The real key to this project was having plenty of jars and plenty of labels and now I don’t dread looking at 4 years of mess that had accumulated.
Walking into the kitchen you now see the new door leading up to the attic and the chalkboard my husband built from scratch.
Here’s the way you just came from leading back into the dining room. That ladder bookshelf is one of my favorite things.
Here’s another shot of it along with the pantry and my little baker’s nook. Can you believe all of this used to be in the bathroom of the house?
Here’s another shot of the nook with a glimpse at the full row of cabinets. I use those tiny little stacked drawers to hold all my spices and they fit amazingly well.
Here’s a shot into the corner where we have a few more glass front cabinets.
This shot shows off the schoolhouse light we bought a few months ago from Lowe’s and the tile. Here’s a detailed tile shot.
It’s from Home Depot and so incredibly amazing looking.
Remember how we built a nook where a door once was? This shows off the new layout pretty well.
We still have some very minor things to touch-up in this room but we’ve hit the 95% mark so I think that my husband and I did amazingly well so far. Here’s some before and after shots. Check them out while listening to Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You” for an authentic experience.
It’s been a few years, a ton of work, a chunk of change, lots of yelling, lots of love, but it all came together. You can’t believe how wonderful it is to cook a meal in such a beautiful and organized space and knowing how much I did and my husband did with our two hands (along with those of family and friends). I just feel so proud of this space. The rest of our home has quite a ways to go but I really believe we’re on the right path and some day all the rooms will look this good.
Linking up to Thrifty Decor Chick’s Show Us Your Kitchens! link party.
When it came time to order cabinets, one look stuck in our minds. We had seen it while collecting brochures and this one in particular came from Home Depot.
It was everything our first kitchen wasn’t: bright, airy, and open. Obviously we weren’t going to be able to replicate the entire look but we knew that those were the cabinets we wanted. We loved the simple modern lines but the classic Shaker style of the cabinets. The name of the cabinets were Del Ray in Maple Spice from Woodmark Cabinetry, available at Home Depot. Another shot:
Virtually the same kitchen, just with different tile. Check out the detailing on the doors:
When you get cabinets installed, you might be surprised how long it takes for the actual installation to begin. First you have a consult where you schedule the measurement and discuss your basic budget and plans. Then a contractor comes to your home to measure the space from walls to windows, outlets to doors. Then you meet with your consultant again and plan out your space. We started by discussing our preferred cabinet design, placing the appliances and sink, and building cabinets around those needs. From there we talked countertops, sinks, faucets, and the ordering process. We sat on it for a few days, then placed our order. That was about a 10-day process in itself.
After that we had the long process of waiting. When the cabinets arrived they had to be inspected for defects before they could be installed. The installation took only about 3 days but we ran into an issue where one cabinet was the wrong size (but not defective so it was missed in the inspection) so they had to reorder it. While we waited we bought handles but the downside was that our counters would be delayed until the new cabinet arrived and could be installed. Finally the new cabinet arrived and we could schedule our countertop measure. Another 10 days from the measure and we got our counters in. It took over 2 months from start to finish while we lived with just a laundry sink, a stove, a fridge, and a card table as a counter. Be prepared to rough it folks. But here was the result of all the wait:
The kitchen view from the old doorway.
Look at that huge open workspace!
Here’s that former bathroom area (and my dog’s behind). On the left is the pantry and on the right we installed what was actually a bathroom vanity as a baker’s nook to fit below the kitchen window.
Here’s that nook we built by building a false wall where the door once stood. Now it holds a stove, a fridge, a microwave, and cabinets.
The countertop we ended up choosing was a Corian sold surface counter in Silt. We wanted the look of a slab without the high price of granite and it’s held up pretty well over the last 4 years.
But our kitchen wasn’t complete yet. My husband and I had failed to agree on a wall color before the cabinets went up so we just decided we’d paint it later. (Huge mistake by the way) We also had the cheapest lights on the market installed and we had held off on putting up window trim till the counters were installed. Plus, we wanted to add some decorations.
Here’s a sneak peek at the look we ended up with. You can see the actual room tomorrow in its final form.
Welcome to renovation time! It’s about Spring 2006 in this timeline and the wall between the kitchen and bathroom is coming down along with a lot of other walls.
Here we are with the inner walls torn out, the outer walls torn out, and working on tearing out the soffits too. My husband is on the step ladder working on demolishing everything. Can you believe we didn’t find a speck of insulation between the inner and outer walls? Suddenly the chill in the house made sense.
Here’s a shot that gives you a better look at the layout of the house. On the left are the stairs leading down to the basement (with yet another brilliant shade of aqua) and on the right are the stairs leading up to the attic.
The bathroom wasn’t safe from destruction either. No insulation here either, though we did find some nice old razor blades in the wall.
Meanwhile my brother-in-law rests after helping haul out the cast iron tub. I’m very thankful no one asked me to help haul that thing.
Next, we installed new windows and had an electrician come out to install new lights and upgrade the existing electrical to work with modern appliances. I have two brother-in-laws and one worked as a plumber and the other worked in HVAC so both were able to help us out with the necessary plumbing and ductwork changes. After that we were ready to drywall.
You can see here that we built onto an old wall on the right of the screen. This is actually where the original kitchen door stood. In that nook we built we planned to fit in a full sized range, fridge, and even cabinetry.
This is the same wall where that awful sink and toilet once stood. Is drywall better than pink tile?
Find out how we decided to fill the space in tomorrow’s post.
To show you my kitchen I have to show you it in stages. When we first saw the house, the kitchen wasn’t in very good shape. Don’t believe me?
This was the view from the old doorway. There was a soffit wasting valuable space, and very few cabinets.
Even this side wasted space. And the color, ugh!
Over here we had an old stove, no counter, and a space so small that a specially-sized fridge used to be here.
The sink wasn’t bad but the counters could use some work.
The cabinets left something to be desired both inside and out.
We started thinking about how to manage the kitchen and what to do with it. The room was closed off and down a little hallway, it wasn’t big enough to hold a fridge, and it needed a makeover. When we thought about it, there was an obvious solution.
The bathroom next door also had a problem. It was tiny. So tiny I could reach from my place in the bathtub in the photo above and touch the mirror without even leaning forward.
So tiny that the linen cabinet inside of it had a notch cut out of the door so it could open without hitting the bathtub or entrance door.
Not to mention that the bathtub could use some work
The tile wasn’t exactly my #1 choice
And don’t even get me started on the toilet or sink.
When it came down to it, it was a fairly easy choice to make. The kitchen was opening up. Unfortunately, that was the last time anything about the kitchen was easy. Tomorrow I’ll show you what a home renovation looks like.