How to work kitchen drawers in small spaces

No waste Wednesday this week, but back next week I promise.  This is also my 92nd post! I hope to do a ’20 questions+’ for my 100th post, so please feel free to email questions to me at livetolist@gmail.com  It’s ok, I won’t reveal who asked what, and I’m a pretty open book, so feel free to ask whatever you’d like.  If I don’t get any takers, I’ll just share some random facts!

Who’d have thought kitchen drawers would have so many uses?  See, when you live in a smaller place, you need to think beyond the confirms of the room and it’s function.  You need to make what storage you have work for you, even if it’s not ‘conventional’.  You’ll see what I mean…

Just in case you didn't know where my drawers were, they are shaded here!
Just in case you didn’t know where my drawers were, they are shaded here!

The drawers are all 600mm wide, with each drawer being roughly the same height.

Top Drawer

Sure, I have my cutlery (flatware) in the top drawer, but I also have my recipe binder and my measuring tape.  Cause that’s a mighty handy drawer and I ALWAYS seems to be measuring something!  See, there’s even a plastic ruler on the left hand side (cause I can’t recall the dimensions of my cake tins)

Top drawer: Cutlery (or 'flatware'), recipe display books, tape measure. Excess matches (cause I bought the paper wrapped bulk amount over plastic wrapped for less)
Top drawer: Cutlery (or ‘flatware’), recipe display books, tape measure. Excess matches (cause I bought the paper wrapped bulk amount over plastic wrapped for less)

Second Drawer

You’re starting to wonder if I’m really that strange – ok, maybe I oversold you on that.  This is just regular old utensils.  Save for the three hanging on my rail, this is all I got.  Oh and my two knives live on my one shelves – where I can safely see them and not slice my hand off rummaging for other things

Second drawer - utensils.  When there's a colour choice, I go blue :p
Second drawer – utensils. When there’s a colour choice, I go blue :p

Third Drawer

Manuals go here. And those pesky single use items, like alfoil and parchment paper.  Neither compare to the sins of cling film/wrap or saran film but I’m still not happy that I have these 🙁

Manuals, manual and more manuals mixed wtih very seldom used paper towel, baking paper and alfoil, with some zip lock bags (reused from other purchases) and abeego wraps.
Manuals, manual and more manuals mixed wtih very seldom used paper towel, baking paper and alfoil, with some zip lock bags (reused from other purchases) and abeego wraps.

Fourth Drawer

You what?  You store electrical items in your kitchen drawer? Well why not? I don’t have a study or a proper entertainment unit.  And I like to charge my phones on the power point directly above the set of drawers.  It just makes sense to toss spare batteries in there too.

Fourth drawer - from the top left and circling round: adapters (international and USB to SD), AA battery chargers x 2, excess batteries for torch and excess cooking utensils (there's a red spatula hiding, wouldn't match my colour scheme in drawer 2!), mobile phone packaging, trash bags for church flowers, hand mixer
Fourth drawer – from the top left and circling round: adapters (international and USB to SD), AA battery chargers x 2, excess batteries for torch and excess cooking utensils (there’s a red spatula hiding, wouldn’t match my colour scheme in drawer 2!), mobile phone packaging, trash bags for church flowers, hand mixer

Bottom Drawer

Somehow I’ve broken with my mother’s (counter) convention, and my bottom drawer does have tea towels in it (I think they may be quaintly called kitchen towels on the mainland US of A).  I also store my microfibre cloths – which are a god send!  There’s a magic eraser, good, but not God sent.

Fifth drawer - tea towels, serviettes (mainly fabric, but the remnants of paper ones), microfibre clothes, a magic eraser and shoe cleaning stuff
Fifth drawer – tea towels, serviettes (mainly fabric, but the remnants of paper ones), microfibre clothes, a magic eraser and shoe cleaning stuff

If you’ve missed it, I’ve also shown you inside my pantry, and my cupboards here and here.

There you go – that’s my kitchen drawers. Anything you wonder – where does she store ‘x’? How do you organise your drawers?  Anything strange lurking where you someone might not expect?

What’s in your cupboard? (My Kitchen Inventory)

Galley kitchen in a loft apartment

By a tiny majority, inventory posts were the ‘winner’ category in my recent poll (not too late if you haven’t completed it!).  Lucky, cause you’re about to get a whole week of them!  Get excited.  See what’s in those cupboards and drawers…  And feel free to ask where something is, or why something is where it is!

One day, I’ll publish my house’s inventory. But it would be one L-O-N-G post, and so I’ve broken it down, and I’ll share snippets over time. Then, in the end, you’ll have the whole picture.

Today, let’s look inside my kitchen cupboards – scroll to the bottom if you want to orient yourself with my kitchen in a photo, but you could just let me draw a little sketch for you:

Galley kitchen in a loft apartment
Sketch of the kitchen, with today’s cupboards shaded

The reason there aren’t more cupboard to the right is due to the kitchen and cabinetry being built into/under the stairs. It’s an effective use of otherwise dead space!

First, I’ll be showing you the two stacked cupboard to the right of the fridges.  The first selection of pictures are for a set of two cupboards, with two shelves in each.  The top shelf houses the microwave, then under it is baking tins.  In the second cupboard is saucepans on top, and miscellaneous on the bottom.

Microwave, with baking dishes underneath
Microwave, with baking dishes underneath

Bottom shelf / upper cupboard:

10 items

IN the baking cupboard, there is: 2 cookie sheets, a dozen patty cakes pan, a brownie pan, a square cake tin, and smaller round cake tin, a loaf tin, a small 'cookie sheet' (for nuts etc), two lidded Pyrex dishes
IN the baking cupboard, there is: 2 cookie sheets, a dozen patty cakes pan, a brownie pan, a square cake tin, and smaller round cake tin, a loaf tin, a small ‘cookie sheet’ (for nuts etc), two lidded Pyrex dishes

Top shelf of lower cupboard:

6 items – see this post for the bigger frying pan’s lid

Saucepan cupboard - not how I usually store things, but so you can see everything
Saucepan cupboard – not how I usually store things, but so you can see everything
Really how I stack them, cause this suits the use more (the little flying pan and lid are not 'hiding')
Really how I stack them, cause this suits the use more (the little flying pan and lid are ‘hiding’)

Bottom shelf of lower cupboard:

4 items

Cupboard below the pots and pans - colander and bowl, ceramic jug, pyrex jug mainly for stock), seldom used pie dish
Cupboard below the pots and pans – colander and bowl, ceramic jug, pyrex jug (mainly for stock), seldom used pie dish

Thin edge of the wedge cupboard (Catch all!)

The cupboard under the ‘thin edge’ of the wedge under the stairs is a little multipurpose. It holds my wired appliances with lower rotations, such as

  • the food processor,
  • the hand food processor/whizz stick and
  • the blender

Of those three items, two were 100% free from freecycle – I’m sort of proud of that! I also store my grandma’s old china – not for sentimental reasons, but for big parties etc. I’d prefer stockpile china than use single use.

I also store ‘excess’ bathroom products such as hand wash, perfume & facewash (the last two were gifts). The cardboard box holds all my plastic tupperware (mainly former yoghurt pots and take away containers). Whilst I’m mostly anti plastic, it can be useful to ‘gift’ things in reused plastics. It’s also good for small quantities of leftovers.

A overview of 'everything else' cupboard under the stairs
A overview of ‘everything else’ cupboard under the stairs

Let me break that down some more with some snapshots of ‘areas’:

Top Shelf:

OK I give up counting here, where I get to the catch all!

The food processor is out so you can see to the back.  There's the excess toliteries to the left, and then some serving platters under the food processor attachements
The food processor is out so you can see to the back. There’s the excess toliteries to the left, and then some serving platters under the food processor attachements
The blender jug is also out for simplicity - but there's some excess beer (for guests) and the blender's base.
The blender jug is also out for simplicity – but there’s some excess beer (for guests) and the blender’s base.

26 ceramic plates
5 stick blender attachments
3 items to the blender

Stick blender storage
Party plates, and the newest addition, the stick blender (with all the attachments, which I didn’t need… :()
Cheap tupperware storage solution
Reusing a paper box makes for a ‘pull out drawer’ to store my plastic containers. Mainly reusing store bought goods containers, which are great if you can’t ‘bring’ something home with you. Oh and my mandolin slicer (I’m lazy!)

Where, you ask, are all the eating things? Bowls? Well, they are all on my open shelves, which are pretty self explanatory:

(73 items on shelves, not incl pen jar 7 contents.  7 items in hanging rail)

Everything within arm's reach and in regular use here
Everything within arm’s reach and in regular use here

If I was more minimal, I’d not have a mandolin slicer. Or a blender + food processor + stick blender. And I’d probably just not entertain and do away with additional plates. And beer, well I don’t need it, so it shan’t cross the threshold. But compromising is part of life.  And I like how the ‘tools’ make things easier than doing it by hand – I seriously get a sore wrist from grating and I can’t imagine slicing as finely as the mandolin, even after my knife skills course!

Is this a lot of stuff, or a little?  What can’t you imagine doing without, and what would you toss if you took over my kitchen?

Linen closet audit

I’m not sure what it is about Bea at Zero Waste Home that sometime rubs me up the wrong way. I’m sure she doesn’t mean to make me feel inferior (actually, only you have the power to change how you feel).  But I see some things in her life, and flat out reject that it could ever be me!  So her recent Facebook photo has riled me up, and when my comment got eaten by an e monster, I figured I’d rather type out a whole blog post instead!  Here I look at her (very white) zero waste linen closet, and look at my (not so white) line closet.

Bea, at Zero Waste Home's linen closetsource: www.zerowastehome.blogspot.com
Bea, at Zero Waste Home’s linen closetsource: www.zerowastehome.blogspot.com

 -VS-

Linen closet. Top shelf (r to l): Doona covers and matching pillows case, pillow cases & cushion covers, surplus fabric Bottom shelf (r to l): Bath towel, bathmat, box containing hand towel and face washers
Linen closet.
Top shelf (r to l): Aqua doona covers and matching pillow cases, guest sheets and pillow cases, pillow cases & cushion covers, surplus fabric
Bottom shelf (r to l): Bath towel, bathmat, box containing hand towel and face washers

My sheets:

1 set on the bed (with two pillowcases), 1 set in the cupboard (with two pillow cases).

Justification: I air dry everything, so I need sheets the night of washing day.  I won’t compromise on owning a dryer.  And I don’t have central or other heating to ‘speed’ things along.

Linen cupboard off site storage. Sheets lives in the top of my wardrobe cause sheets dry upstairs AND get used upstairs, so why store them downstairs?
Linen cupboard off site storage. Sheets lives in the top of my wardrobe cause sheets dry upstairs AND get used upstairs, so why store them downstairs?

My ‘other’ sheets:

1 single pink flat and fitted sheet – there’s a small stain on the flat top sheet, so I avoid using it.  With two pillow cases.

1 double pale blue flat and fitted sheet – there’s no need for the fitted, but I use the flat with the pink sheet above. With two white pillows cases

Justification: I have a single foam mattress for guests.  Need to return the blue set to my parents I think – no need for it in my house! <- drafting posts works wonders, I’ve done this already!

My bath towels:

2 white towel: 1 in use, 1 in the cupboard

Justification: I don’t wash daily, more like weekly.  As soon as the towel noticably smells, it goes in the washing basket til I generate enough washing to run a white load

My ‘other’ towels (guests included)

3 small blue towels – one for guests (ie BF, therefore in regular use), one for water polo, one excess (currently for my use at the BF’s place)

1 small navy towel (damaged) – gym towel (or spills etc at a pinch) <– this is headed to an animal shelter, I never like it when I use it, cause of the hole

1 large navy towel – additional guests, spills, mishaps, protect furniture as needed

Justification: I don’t wash the polo or gym towel after each use, therefore they are single purpose. I could perhaps have 1-2 less towel though.

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE
Towels in action at my house recently!

Why was my towel in the kitchen? Well I usually hang it upstairs but I didn’t want to wake the sleeping guests.

Bathmats, hand towel and face washers

2 blue bathmats

3 blue hand towels

3 blue face washers

My doona covers:

1 on the bed – Navy and white + 2 pillow cases *usually on my bed*

1 for whilst the other dries – Aqua stripe + 2 pillow cases

1 that’s become a drop sheet – Black and white check (bless your hearts, professional painters, I’m not sure what I was paying for!) + 4 pillow cases!

My blankets:

1 cotton queen sized aqua blanket *lives on the bed whilst the weather warrants it – 9 months of so*

1 thick knitted grey wool throw *this lives on the sofa in winter, and on the foot of the bed in summer*

1 knitted teal throw *this lives on the sofa in summer (and likely winter too, it’s new and I love it)*

1 single sized quilt cover (signature quilt from school) *this lives on the bed in winter and the sofa in summer*

Overall, I have some excesses – duplicate doona covers and sheets.  And a lot of pillow cases!  Writing this list has promoted me to donate some excess bathmats, and return a sheet set to my parents.  I could have one less face washer and hand towel, but they aren’t ‘nice enough’ for the local op shop, so I’ll just ‘use them up’.

How about you? How’s your linen closest supplies?

Making less work

I read an interesting post that I’d missed when it was first published at Extra Organised.  It was all about how you can make decisions in your home to help you have less work (or cleaning!)

Firstly, I agree that vertical blinds limit dusting, but I just can’t stand them! So that’s one thing I won’t be implementing. However, I do know I’m lazy with closing (and opening) my roller blinds out to the street.  They are my only source of natural light into my loft apartment, so it’s easier to leave them open (especially when I often leave for work in the dark).  Given that pedestrians can see into my apartment makes my laziness a problem.  It’s also an area where ‘break and enters’ aren’t entirely uncommon.  So I decided to ‘make less work’ for myself by getting the windows frosted.  This was I don’t have to open and close blinds – no one can see me, and my assets, and I have natural light streaming in! Win Win! (save for the finances – I did outsource to the fantastic two person team at Bannerama (also incredibly local) this due to the double height windows).

No frosting
Sunny day without frosting
With frosting
With frosting on a more overcast day

My fridge was chosen from the short list (that fitted in the existing space), because it didn’t have in built gadgets – like built in ice trays. Or a cheese drawer. With a 248L fridge I didn’t want single purpose spaces eating into the ‘general use’ space.

Source:http://www.appliancesonline.com.au/248l-fisher-paykel-fridge-e249trs/
Source:http://www.appliancesonline.com.au/248l-fisher-paykel-fridge-e249trs/

Things live where it’s ‘easy’.  Whilst it might seem puzzling to strangers, my water polo bag lives in the entry buffet.  This makes sense to me – the swimmers and towel dry in the bathroom, only a step or two away.  I never usually ‘get changed’ at home, so it makes sense to grab the bag out of the cupboard on training or game days.  Likewise, I have a drawer in the buffet for socks – cause my shoes all live at the entrance, so there’s no point in putting socks anywhere further away!  This is also a great place to store things I need to take with me when I leave the home – letter, things to return etc.  It’s even where the handbag & shopping bags live (with the other handbags in the cupboard below).  Gotta love having a landing strip!

Entry buffet to the left, shoes to the right.  Socks in the second drawer and wate rpolo bag in the left cupboard.
Entry buffet to the left, shoes to the right. Socks in the second drawer and wate rpolo bag in the left cupboard.

Sadly, I do have some clothes that require dry cleaning, but I have been recently thinking of limiting my ‘dry cleaning’ purchases to outwear, which tends to need washing less often.  I also buy hand wash/delicate wash stuff as well.  But none of this really bothers me enough, and I love the fabrics that require this care.  I also have a great way to deal with ‘partly worn’ clothes, and things to be ironed.  I installed a tension rod above my washing machine, and conveniently around my storage cabinet – as I wrote about here.

Don’t get me wrong, these things all make life easier and more streamlined, but there’s still dusting and cleaning to be done, and ways to improve and make other processes more efficient.

Categories of Clutter

Thanks to Cindy’s post at www.365lessthings.com (which I love, and happy to have ‘worked out’ how to get the emailed posts now that I can’t read the blog at work), I’m inspired for another LIST!

She mentions categories of clutter, and I’m going to go through each one, and see which I could work on more.  Then I’ll share my little list of identified things to thin out

– things from put off decisions: a little bit,  I do have a ‘use it or lose it’ list (also to come)

– craft supplies: don’t really have any.  I have brown paper for wrapping presents, and a few sheets of white and yellow tissue (the white is reused from a brand that wraps stuff I buy).  I have three types of ribbons (leftover from weddings I did) to make florist style bows on the brown paper.  I have coloured pencils (since I was 12 I think I’ve had those, how much I wanted that 72 set of Derwent Water Colours).  But I don’t have any scrapbooking decorative stuff or the like.

source: melstampz.blogspot.com
source: melstampz.blogspot.com

office supplies: worked hard to thin out the biros I don’t like (yes, I WANT people to ‘take’ my pen when I loan it sometimes….!)

toys and games: I move most puzzles on as I do them. I have two lingering – one a gift from my mother for Christmas (from France) and one I never did that I got from freecycle. Might need to rehome both of those!

books: again, anything that’s not a library book, I try to rehome once read. Mum gave me a book she’d read, Leon and Louise, not sure where that’s got to. And when I’m finished the one I’m reading, I’ll need to pass it on to someone, or donate it somewhere. And I really must decided on the few books on my bedhead – the one about Israel is tiresome reading, and I may never crack it!

papers left over from school: I have a container for ‘school’ and one for ‘uni’. The school one is not 100% closing, cause I have an old uniform and a jumper passed from all my siblings to my God daughter, and I want to keep it (as it’s still 100% usable!).  So I need to thin out that box.  The uni box is rather emptier since I moved my 3 travel journals downstairs, to somewhere more accessible when I want to show someone something.  My thesis paperwork is now all stored in the garage as I never want to access it regularly, but I feel it’s important to keep proof of such a major amount of work.

technical books: I always sold my textbooks from semester to semester to fund the next batch.  I also inherited some from a friend.  Pleased to say, I have NO reference books for my field.  Perhaps this isn’t ideal, but it is what it is!

– career related magazines: don’t have any, but I am fighting my professional organisation to STOP sending me them monthly, as they just end up in the recycling (or making me feel guilty!)

– electronic this and that: I have a drawer in my kitchen for there – charges for AA batteries and  Li Ion battery, plus some international adaptors, earphones.  I also have 2 HDD (at the moment, one I bought last week).  I work INCREDIBLY hard to have a minimal amount of electronics.

– garage items: I have one length of wood leftover from a project, and a caulking gun with silicon.  Both of them bother me, as they aren’t in active service, however it’s rather minimal.

outgrown clothes and toys: I don’t grow out of stuff anymore!  And I’ve mentioned toys above

art supplies: just the Derwents, above, really!

things girls collect: I have some Indian bangles that I seldom wear (they make too much noise), so they could go.  And too many hair clips (and no hair now), so they are in the ‘declutter box’ now.

– unwanted gifts: as soon as I open them, I tend to know.  So the vanilla scented stuff gets passed straight onto my mother (two items recently!).  But mostly, I get cheap jewelry and wine, both of which I use.  Anything that doesn’t suit me, I move on – such as tolitieries not to my taste, books that are… inconsiderate.  There is a travel souvenir from a friend that’s just collecting dust, it may move on v v soon!

– impulse purchases  I am the QUEEN of returns (and store’s policies).  Anything that doesn’t suit/fit goes back for a full refund (even unopened groceries)

THINGS TO DECLUTTER – the strike through items have found new homes since I drafted this! 😀

hair clips (still in packaging)

– excess bubble wrap: why does no one want this when I put it on freecycle?

– two lamp shades: can’t be returned as they were part of a set

– 4 wine bottle gift bags: I never give wine, but I get a fair bit!

– broken (cheap) jewelry: not sure if the bin is the best way, or if there’s hope of fixing them

– travel souvenir from a colleague