Ideas for organizing my kitchen - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 01-14-2012, 08:54 AM - Thread Starter
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We have a kitchen/dinette combination in our apartment. This is what it looks like right now:




This area also serves as our entry, as the back sliding door (to immediate right of frame) is our main ingress/egress since it's closest to the parking lot. The kitchen part (behind me as I snapped this picture) is small and can only hold the necessary items.


Please help me figure out how to organize this area!


This is the deal with it right now:

At left: recycling, paper shredder. Paper shredder is rarely used and could probably move.


Table: probably a little big for our family of 2 adults and one baby, but we do fairly regularly have enough friends over to fill it. I thought about getting a smaller table and supplementing with a card table, but I'm not sure. This also sometimes gets used as my husband's desk space--it was when this picture was taken, hence the laptop. The counters are small so it's overflow kitchen workspace as well. We have tried having the table parallel to the wall and this arrangement provides the better space utilization. Pulling it out much makes the doorway unusable.


Wire bookshelf: used to organize every last thing that used to just build up on the floor of this area. To wit:

Top shelf: baby bottles and feeding items. As I work part-time, these get heavy use.

Second shelf: "to go out" tote, containing items we are supposed to return to their owners, take back to the store, or give away. We have experimented with having it elsewhere, but we never think to use it. We're still bad at using it here... I'm not sure if somewhere else would really be all that much worse. This shelf also contains the diaper bag, which really does need to be in this area (we come in and if there's no spot for it, it just gets dropped on the floor)

Third shelf: winter wraps. I'd love a hanging rack or a shoe organizer or something for these, but I don't know where I'd put it. At the immediate right of the frame is the sliding door, so there is no wall space for it.

Fourth shelf: tote of my husband's bike stuff (again, this would just get dropped on the floor if not for this space here) and his backpack (ditto).


Coats and jackets get hung on the upright pegs of this bookshelf, or on the chairs.

The floor in front of the wire bookshelf is covered in shoes. We experimented with having shoes on the bottom shelf of the wire bookshelf, but it didn't happen. Other junk also tends to get dropped here.


Any bright ideas? I am not averse to buying another organizey thing, but we do plan to move within the next year or two, and so I would want something versatile.

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#2 of 10 Old 01-14-2012, 02:44 PM
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What are your main goals? To make it look better? To make it less crowded? Both? Something else ?


As far as how it looks- you might like it more if that stuff that you need by the door, was just behind some doors. You could get an armoir of some kind, store that stuff in there- have it be about the same size as those shelves. Then you can just close the doors and at least it's out of sight when you want it to be.


Something like this?


We have a small dining area too- so I ended up getting rid of our high chair; we just simply felt way too crowded with it.  As soon as our youngest could sit up on his own we just got a booster seat and sat him in a chair with us.  By the time he was ready to eat any food anyway, 8-10 months or so, he did fine in a chair with a booster seat.  If you think that could work for whoever uses the highchair, it might clear up enough space to make your dining room feel easy to walk around.

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#3 of 10 Old 01-14-2012, 09:45 PM - Thread Starter
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I think both looking better and less crowded. It just seems like there is not enough space to store everything and the space there is gets used inefficiently because I can't figure out how to use it more efficiently. We don't need a shelf for winter wraps; they don't take up the entire shelf, but I can't figure out what else to do with them. Coats on chairs bug me, but there's really no place for a coat tree. I am still thinking about this space, but thought more brains on the problem couldn't hurt.


High chair actually attaches to a regular kitchen chair, so it doesn't eat up that much space. Usually we have 4 chairs plus high chair (attached to 5th chair) at the table. When friends come we bring up 6th chair. We could conceivably, now that I think about it, go down to 3 chairs plus high chair for daily use.


Upon reflection, an armoire wouldn't be bad, but I have reached the point where I don't want to buy any more modular pressboard furniture. The most recent piece of furniture we bought (a dresser to use as a changing table) falls into that category and it's already starting to fall apart; by contrast, we have 3 other dressers that are solid wood that will survive the next 20 years. It's a pain in the butt to deal with this flimsy stuff and I want to hold out for REAL furniture, and it'll take some time to find the right piece.

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#4 of 10 Old 01-15-2012, 07:54 AM
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 I would remove the bookshelf altogether and put some shelves on the wall either to the left of the table or above it (where the picture is) for some of the stuff, and then I would place pegs/hooks on the wall where the bookshelf is for coats and bags and a shoe rack for shoes underneath those.


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#5 of 10 Old 01-15-2012, 03:56 PM
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I've got a couple of suggestions. We're in a small space with multi-use areas too and I'm an organizational freak, so maybe these will work for you.


- Swap out the shelf for four heavy-duty two-prong coat hooks (like these). One for each family member, plus an extra for random stuff/guests. Hang a bag on the lower hook to hold scarves, hats, bike parts, whatever. Coat and scarf goes on the upper hook. Your to go bag can hang on the fourth hook.


- Underneath the hooks, place a bench with pullout baskets, which can hold shoes, the baby bottles, bulkier bike stuff, etc.


- Get the paper shredder out of there (if you rarely use it, you might consider getting a smaller model that can tuck into a drawer). Make sure your husband has a dedicated space to stash his work stuff when he's not working, like a briefcase or bag (that could hang on his hook) or a bin in the bench, etc.


- You need to more clearly define the entry area versus the dining area. Instead of centering the Adams print in the middle of the wall, center it over the dining table. Put the chair with the high chair on it in the far back left corner, with the other three chairs on the sides. Get the extra chair out of there if you can. A rug in front of your sliding glass doors will help define that area, as well as keep water, dirt, etc. from outside at bay.


- Depending upon the age of your baby, you might consider a tablecloth in a color complimentary to the dark chairs, to make the table and chairs look more unified.

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#6 of 10 Old 01-15-2012, 05:43 PM
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I'd do something like this:




I'd turn the dining room table, placing one short end against the wall, and you could pull it out for guests to seat six. Then I would store one of the chairs so you'll only have four at the table (the lighter square is the high chair). I would use a coat shelf/hook/shoe rack combination in a dark wood to match your chairs, then use light tan accents to tie in the dark/light wood combo you've got with your table. I'd get an entry rug to lay lengthways coming out from under the shoe rack in front of the sliding glass door to tie it in and anchor the space as well as being functional (wiping feet etc). It would also make it so you could occasionally leave a pair of shoes or two on the rug without it looking messy (it would look more intentional. The baskets on top of the shoe rack could hold all your odds and ends including  in the cubbies above, and even on top of the shelf you could put small baskets for keys/wallets/change etc. I'd get rid of the shredder or store it if possible. Id take another poster's suggestion and center the print more over the table area. I found all the stuff on Amazon, hope that helps :)



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#7 of 10 Old 01-15-2012, 05:47 PM
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Oh whoops, I just read that having the table in the manner I suggested didn't work for you! Ah well, sorry! Maybe the ideas for storage will help -- the posters had some great ideas too!

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#8 of 10 Old 01-17-2012, 09:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the suggestions, guys. Complicating matters is that we rent and that wall is wallpapered. I checked with the landlord and he does not plan to replace the wallpaper since it's still in good condition and would prefer if we didn't put holes in it. (Similarly, we can't move the Ansel Adams print since we used a hole that was already there. We would have to leave it where it is or take it down.) I was at Home Depot the other day looking for hooks, and the heaviest stick-on hook I found held 7 lbs. I could probably get a few of those for coats, but a system that relies primarily on hooks and/or stuff hung on the walls is not going to work right now.


I did move the recycling can to the other side of the room next to the trash can and moved the paper shredder out entirely, which helps free up some space on that side.


I appreciate all the suggestions. I really wouldn't have thought to get rid of the wire rack, but I'm starting to think there's some merit in that idea.


Any further ideas are appreciated!

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#9 of 10 Old 01-17-2012, 09:54 AM
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*If* you were able to swap the wire shelf with a taller shelf, or something with an extra shelf, or with doors, that might help.  I don't notice that a lot of your storage requires the full shelf height (though I could be wrong) and upgrading to taller shelving has made a big difference for me.


Otherwise, my biggest suggestion is to get some baskets/boxes for the items.  Anything that doesn't need to get grabbed quickly, try to contain - group them too.  Maybe use a tray for things that need to remain visible.  It will seem a lot less visually cluttered even if you have all the same things there.  


Consider finding a storage bench for somewhere near the table and swap some chairs out, if that could contain some of the things (maybe office-y or computer-y stuff? that you need nearby).  Might be able to get some of your dh's other stuff in there too?  For shoes - I have one of those cheap wire carts for our shoes near our basement steps.  Not too pretty, but cheap (since we had it already) and it holds most of them.  Since it's on wheels, something like that might work out okay in front of your sliding door or even on the side of the shelf since it moves easily  and could block something sometimes, if necessary.



I've never had good luck with the adhesive hooks myself, so not sure that'll be much of a help. 

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#10 of 10 Old 01-17-2012, 02:46 PM
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First of all, I would take EVERYTHING but the tables out of the room and do a serious inventory. If it's not essential to that room, don't bring it back in. There's a lot of stuff going on in this room and it just looks cluttered and messy. I would get rid of the bookshelf as well. The dining room table I would put one the wide sides against the wall. That would clear up a lot of space. For the entry I would do the following:

Replace the wire bookshelf with one of these:

Buy 4 bins to coral all the different things that need to be by the entryway.

Place a nice mirror on top with a bowl or something for keys, if they are placed here. 

A nice vase or picture of the family.

Dalila, mom to two boys, 7 and 5


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