The kitchen takes a beating during the holidays with food preparation for dinners, brunches, parties and food gifts. So now, with that season behind us, it's a good time to take stock of what works and what doesn't in the most-used room in the house.
Good storage is the key to how well your kitchen functions. To help determine what kind of storage you need, answer some key questions:
-- How big is your family?
-- How much do you cook? What is your lifestyle and your cooking style?
-- Do you entertain often?
-- Do you like to do a special type of cooking?
-- Do you need cookbook storage? What appliances do you use?
-- Do you prefer utensils, small appliances and mugs within easy reach, or do you prefer uncluttered countertops?
-- How often do you shop for groceries? Do you cook mostly from the freezer or from the pantry?
-- Where does your family eat most of its meals? Do you need to store linens, dinnerware and flatware in the kitchen?
There are ways to make your kitchen more efficient without gutting existing cabinets. Carve out a pantry from a sliver of wall space. For narrow but deep space, fit the space with pullout shelving. Install shallow shelves between wall studs to store canned goods one row deep.
Store dry staples -- rice, beans, flour, sugar, cornmeal, cereal -- in sealed see-through containers. Use a small container to corral packets of sauce mixes that can get lost in a cabinet. Squared containers are more efficient than round ones.
If you are remodeling cabinets, consider that drawers with dividers can hold plates and bowls. Also keep in mind that existing cabinets can be retrofitted with pullouts. Visit a kitchen cabinet supply showroom for more ideas.
To save time, store appliances used every day on the counter. Hang others from hooks, on pegboards or on a metal grid with S-hooks. For small items, such as mugs or salt and pepper shakers, add a small shelf above the backsplash to keep them off the counter.
Store fresh produce in baskets for an easy reach, and consider adding a lazy Susan to a corner cabinet for more efficient use of space. If space allows, consider a freestanding cabinet or baker's rack for display and function.
Check home centers for racks for glasses and hooks for cups. There are other inside-the-door attachments for space-savers, too.
If space is really at a premium, buy a multitiered plate rack to store dishes used every day. Use baskets with compartments to store frequently used flatware and napkins. Collect baskets in one style to arrange on the top of cabinets to hold extra tools or napkins. Kitchen storage ideas:
-- Drawer dividers: Organize everyday flatware with dividers. Laminate, plastic, wire and wood dividers are sturdy and easy to clean.
-- Double lazy Susans: Make the most of cabinet space with double lazy Susans. With an adjustable top shelf, there's room for tall canned goods, spices and condiments.
-- Spice stairs: Staggered shelves let you see what you have on hand.
-- Wire baskets: Use attractive and durable baskets to organize nonrefrigerated produce, such as potatoes, onions and bananas, or to store linens.
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