At heart, I am a minimalist. Clutter bothers me. It makes me feel extremely distracted. Doing dishes twice a day makes me feel exhausted and like a time waster. Not having the tools I need close by for the job I’m doing frustrates me. So me and the kitchen had it out last week. A few months back, we moved out of our RV and into an empty home that a friend (and God) has blessed us with. It was fully furnished. And I’m talking down to the toothpaste. (They moved in with her mom and just left most of their stuff behind, due to her mom’s house being fully furnished.)
At first, I was so glad to have 40 plates to choose from and gobs of silverware to pluck out at a whim. Not to mention, she has every small appliance that Sams Club has to offer. (Pressure cooker, electric water boiler, ice cream maker, George Foreman grill, and the list goes on and on. And on.) But after a while, I started feeling uneasy when I had to walk into the kitchen. It was become daunting. Stuff was falling out of the cabinets. Dishes were constantly piled up in the sink. The drawers were crammed full. I didn’t enjoy being in the kitchen any longer. And that’s a biggie for me.
Before the Free House
When I was a teenager (who knew it all, of course), I made the statement to my step-mom that when I had my own house, I was only going to have one plate, one fork, one spoon, one cup, one bowl, and one knife. Even back then I just did not understand why we feel the need to dirty every dish and wear every piece of clean clothing until we force ourselves to clean. At least, that’s how we did it in a house chock-full of kids with two working parents. So fast forward several years to when I finally had my own family, and I did actually implement that “everybody has their own set of dishes” rule. I color-coordinated it, so everybody knew which items were theirs. They were to keep their own set clean. And it worked. We still had that system in place when we sold our home to go into ministry full-time and moved into the RV.
Let the Purging Begin
So this past week, I grabbed some cardboard boxes, and I packed away all of my friend’s belongings. (Except for a few really cool Pampered Chef products. She can get them back. Later.) I removed an old water filtration system that was the elephant under my kitchen sink. Tore out the rotten board that was caused by said water filtration system. I packed up dishes upon dishes and silverware upon silverware. And, oh my, the coffee cups! I took everything out of the cabinets and drawers. I got out some of that good rubbery shelf liner stuff. I minimalized and organized my kitchen.
Now on to the creative organizing.
Thumbtacks and Magnets
I am a big fan of thumbtacks. Partially because I can never find a good nail when I need it, and the other partially is because they are just handy. Also, I hate those jars of utensils that everyone except me seems to have on the countertop. Just because I hate clutter. I do not like things on my countertop. But my drawer that housed my cooking spoons and spatulas was behind me and out of reach of the stove. However, right next to the stove I have cabinets. Enter thumbtacks. I push-pinned my way into having at-hand cooking spoons and spatulas. I also ended up super-gluing some very small magnets to the cabinet, so that when I opened the cabinet door, the spoons and spatulas would not rattle and clang. So pleased with myself!
I also used one thumbtack to tack up one of our most excellent Goodwill finds—a Cutco knife set. It was previously taking up space in a drawer. It’s missing two knives, but we got this for $5. Each of these knives sell for at least $30 on Ebay. At least. Hubby is handy with the knife sharpener (a real one, not one of those cheesy single bar ones), and he got them in good kitchen working order. This is my favorite knife. It allows you to create a scissor effect for slicing and dicing. Note: hubby prefers knives made out of a higher quality, hand forged steel, but for $5, he was in.
When you live 30 minutes from town, you learn to use what you have on hand, because a $2 solution becomes an $18 solution by the time you factor in gas. I was so sick and tired of my pantry cabinet and spice cabinet being clogged and difficult to use. Yes, the cabinet space is optimal, large even, but you just throw everything in on top of each other, never knowing what unforgotten goody is lurking in the back corner. I knew that I needed one of those cabinet inserts that is like step-ladder for the back items, but in all of the kitchen clutter, my friend neglected to add these pieces to her stash. Then I had an aha! moment. Bricks. There were lots of bricks by the garage. Would they fit? Why, yes, they would!
Insert mother skill here: Son, bring your mother some bricks! (He just does these random things without asking at this point.)
I used the two baskets to keep like-minded stuff in. The basket on my middle shelf has baking powder, baking soda, cocoa, and nuts in it. The basket on the top shelf has seldom used items, like duplicates (for some reason I have 3 garlic powders) and the pretty baking stuff.
After I had lovingly and methodically placed each pantry and spice item where I wanted it, it was on to the larger cabinet that had previously housed mounds of plates. I held back 5 plates, each one a different design. That freed up part of the rack for a few of my most-used pots and pans lids.
I enjoy reclaiming wasted space. So I lowered the plate shelf in order to create a small space on the bottom for our bowls and our bread. Now I almost lost my religion messing with those stupid shelf-height clips, but I did survive long enough to pray back through.
I raised the top shelf, so that I could fit larger items next to the plates. As you may notice from some of my pictures, my husband happens to be a knife-guy. We have a knife for every function. We butcher our own deer and hogs, and we spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so knives are important to us. (Check out this tutorial he did on how to carve a strawberry rose. My husband rocks!) So instead of having this knife block on the counter, it is now in the cabinet. The top shelf is now just right for some mixing bowls and the such.
Okay, so this next thing is not the highlight of my crafty skills, but I was limited to working with what I had on hand. I had seen this concept before, and I loved it.
Just so happens I had some a box of plastic spoons and a box of plastic forks and I also have one deep drawer that I keep my rags in. (No, I don’t always fold my rags.) So the silverware got relegated to these two boxes inside this deep drawer. I held back 10 silver spoons, 10 silver forks, and 5 butter knives that are in the miscellaneous utensil drawer above it. We have plenty of steak knives. (But who can afford steak these days? Sheesh.) Maybe later, I can make something prettier, but I probably won’t.
A Few Other Pieces and Places
So here is a snapshot of my pots and pans and serving/storage bowls and other drawers. Everything has a lid and the lid is placed either on it or under it. (Or my three favorite ones are in the plate organizer doohickey in the cabinet.) I’ve got three more pots, but my big pot is in the fridge with some delicious chicken tortilla soup that I made in it, and the others are on the stovetop. One with fruit and veggies in it for the chickens and one with water in it for the coffee (French press style.) I really don’t have much kitchen ware, as compared to other people. And I like it that way. Baking pans are in the shelf under the stove.
I hope you enjoyed your tour of my kitchen. I have a massive countertop that I love to work on, and it also serves as our table. I am sure you will see more of it in coming sewing tutorials. Please leave any quirky tips you have for organization. Redneck ingenuity at its best : )