Soul of the home: A Kitchen Redo

When Good Kitchens Go Bad

This client called me as she had trouble keeping her kitchen organised. It was a real chore to cook, empty the dishwasher and to keep the bench tidy. Everyday, she was fighting a losing battle to maintain order in the space.

Her goals were:

  • The kitchen should be easy to keep neat (even by her husband when she travelled)
  • To stop work clutter encroaching/landing in the kitchen
  • To feel inspired to bake again - an old hobby she had neglected
 We've just started emptying the cupboards here. We laid down towels to ensure the benches were protected.

We've just started emptying the cupboards here. We laid down towels to ensure the benches were protected.

What we noticed about this kitchen was that when it had been set up, there had been no planning about what went where. The kitchen had been newly renovated, and what had happened was the items that had been packed up for the renovation were unpacked before the everyday items that had been in a temporary kitchen were put in. 

Basically, the things that you don't need every day were in the easy to reach cupboards, and everything else was crammed in the leftover drawers/cupboards. 

 These cupboards are vital and easy to access, but they are full of things that the client rarely/if ever used. While, the coffee mugs and cups were all in one tiny end cupboard. 

These cupboards are vital and easy to access, but they are full of things that the client rarely/if ever used. While, the coffee mugs and cups were all in one tiny end cupboard. 

 We're still unpacking here. The client parted with roughly 1/5th of the items stored in the kitchen.

We're still unpacking here. The client parted with roughly 1/5th of the items stored in the kitchen.

To meet her aims, we prioritised being able to empty the dishwasher easily/efficiently and to conduct daily food preparation (tea/coffee etc) without being crammed down one end of the kitchen. 

We unpacked all the items from the cupboards and went through them with the client. She decided to part with some of her servery items, wine glasses and other unused-kitchen appliances. 

 Once the kitchen cupboards were sorted, we moved on to the pantry. 

Once the kitchen cupboards were sorted, we moved on to the pantry. 

Once the kitchen items were sorted into more thoughtful locations, we moved on to the pantry. 

In the photo above you can see one of the systems of 'order' that celebrity organisers commonly recommend - using tubs. I have rarely seen this system maintained well. It contributes to a lot of food waste and overspending on your grocery bill. People (especially those where multiple people grocery shop) often have many duplicates of the same items stacked on top of one another. For example, there are often 5 bags of half-used pasta packets all stacked on top of one another. 

Tubs in pantries are handy for smaller items (like having a baking tub or a medicines tub) but not for cereals or fast moving goods like tins. 

 End of day one (you can see the edge on the left of clutter which we dealt with another day).

End of day one (you can see the edge on the left of clutter which we dealt with another day).

At the conclusion of the first day, we had reorganised and sorted the kitchen cupboards and pantry. A large number of medicines, food goods and inherited items were removed from the kitchen. Main actions we undertook were:

  • We spread out the bench appliances as best we could (the client wanted them to stay on the bench), to reduce pressure on the pantry corner zone.
  • We created a dedicated 'food preparation' zone between the sink/fridge.
  • Whereas, the other end of the island bench was dedicated to plates/bowls/cups, as it was adjacent to the dishwasher. 
  • We moved some items out of the pantry so they could be easily accessed (medicines)

The client reported that the kitchen was much easier to use and she also was able to get back into baking - she made her daughter a lovely birthday cake not long after we finished organising.