Adventures in home upgrading and repair. Fun!
All I can say is that this has been one heck of a project. Technically I’m still not even done really, I have to wash down two of the walls with ammonia and clean and dust knick knacks on the wall opposite the kitchen sink–but the majority is done, including all the areas that I took before pictures of.
Before I post the pictures, I want to be clear that I have maintained this level of organized and clean since I’ve done it, going on two weeks now. The reorganization and tossing helped immensely in making daily cleaning easy, and reduced the time I spent doing other things too, like digging out pots and pans, hunting for storage containers and dealing with tons of Tupperware that I never used.
I feel relaxed and happy when I go into the kitchen now, and my inspiration to bake is coming back (I think the cooler weather has something to do with it too, but I digress.)
I really hope you won’t judge me too harshly for putting myself out here like this. My hope is that there are others like me–clutter queens who want to have organization–and we can be an inspiration (or as in my friend Rita’s case, a competitor!) to one another.
Without further adieu:
Above is my freestanding pantry. Needless to say, before it didn’t look like this inside:
It may look unkempt to you, but remember I am a cook and a baker. I actually use the things that are in my pantry, and my kitchen is a working kitchen that I do not spend time cleaning especially to be photographed. I am an every day person, and to me this is fabulous!
Next we have an overall kitchen shot. I live in an old Victorian home. How they cooked any kind of elaborate meals in a kitchen this small is beyond me, but then things were different back in the day. I manage big holiday dinners just fine in my kitchen, so who knows? Click on the images to see them in better detail.
The thing that kills me about the before shot is that I would declutter once or twice a week and it always came back. This is because things didn’t have permanent homes. Once I found a home for everything, nothing has come back. The items on the table in the after shot will be removed by Saturday, when I hit Kohl’s to return the pants that are too small for Little Man, and when I reframe an old cross stitch piece I cleaned. Other than that, it stays clear of clutter. I’m loving it.
Kitchen Table Before:
Kitchen Table After:
Which leads me to the part where I found a home for everything, and what didn’t got a home got tossed or donated. Doing this on the cabinet side of my kitchen has made a tremendous difference in a few ways.
- My cooking and baking are streamlined now to take significantly less time
- My family knows where everything goes and puts things away appropriately
- The cleanliness level, especially of the flat surfaces, makes me happy. It’s easy to maintain too.
Keep in mind that everything got a good deep cleaning with home made cleaning solutions and straight ammonia. All shelves. All cabinets. All storage containers. I can’t begin to tell you how much grease I removed. Again, with an old Victorian home, you don’t have a range hood…there is an old fashioned exhaust fan above the kitchen window. You can see this in the overall kitchen shots. That thing was crazy greasy…now it’s clean as a whistle.
I think you can tell that I sold Tupperware once upon a time. I still have tons of it, even though I tossed a lot of it and donated some. You can see here very haphazard organization. I ‘kind of’ had centers for things, but nothing definite. If an item made it back to the general vicinity it was good enough. Not anymore:
There are clearly defined centers (cooking and baking) along with special bins for food colorings and flavorings and cupcake and cookie items. Flour and sugar got moved to 20 lb. containers, and items frequently used were stored at the front of the baking and cooking spice centers (peanut butter, cinnamon sugar, baking powder, nonstick cooking spray). The counter also remains clear. There are four jars of something that I’m making something with soon on the left, but they’ll be gone soon and that section of counter will be bare once again.
On the right of the sink I keep my dishes and glasses. As you can see in the before pictures, I had too much junk. My pitchers were also stored so high up I never used them because I couldn’t reach them.
The counter was just a cluttered mess. Valuable counter top real estate was clogged with stuff and clutter. Although, in all fairness, I tended to keep this side comparatively clear.
After some reorganization, tossing and donating, I ended up with an area that looks like this:
Again keep in mind that this is a working kitchen and I use these items daily. I am in the process of selling the knife set on the right hand side, so that area is now clear.
The last areas were the microwave, refrigerator and dishwasher tops. Automatic clutter magnets because they are flat surfaces, I gave everything a home and watched the clutter disappear.
In House Works, author Cynthia Townley Ewer suggests that everyone in the household have a ‘junk drawer’. This entire area tended to be one giant junk drawer–and thanks to some hand-me-down baskets from my friend Twyla, the junk at least has a home. It’s not organized, it’s messy…but I know what’s in there, and I can find it quickly. It also looks good on my dishwasher top, tucked out of sight. This area also got a lot of reorganization, center making, tossing and donating. All the daily vitamins and meds for my family are now in their own box, complete with mini cups for water to take pills with (these were a find in the cleaning closet reorganization that I featured in the first part of this series). They are up and away from any little hands that might come through my door. And breakfast center on top of the fridge, is at the ready with cold cereals and oatmeal for busy mornings.
It doesn’t seem fitting that hours and hours of work can be showcased in just a few photos. I really busted my butt on this room, and on the room the freestanding pantry is in. I feel so much better for having done so. Tomorrow I will wash the remaining walls and dust knick knacks, sweep and mop the floor and at last fully enjoy the fruits of my labor. Then I’ll move on to the downstairs bathroom and laundry room.
So what do you think? I know I’m pleased with it. It works for me. Most of all, it gives me that sense of inner peace I’ve been looking for, at least when I’m in that part of the house.