Kitchen Remodel: Improve Storage Part 1

Kitchen remodel - improve storage part 1 -- A Pinch of Joy
Kitchen remodel - improve storage part 1 -- A Pinch of Joy

One of the goals in our kitchen remodel was to improve the amount of storage available.  This is the pantry wall.  For this wall I wanted it to be storage from floor to ceiling and to make the refrigerator look like it “belongs”.   We met — and exceeded — the goal so much that I’m going to make a separate post on just this wall.   Here’s how we gained a huge amount of storage space ending with the takeaway for planning your kitchen remodel!

Before Kitchen Remodel 1 -- A Pinch of Joy

Before: the upper cabinets were a standard 12 inch depth.  I couldn’t even reach the handles on the cupboard above the refrigerator!  Because the kitchen was built before the microwave was standard, this was the only bit of counter space available to put a microwave.  I actually liked it at this height (have I mentioned I’m not a tall person??).  My original idea was to “build in” this microwave like the refrigerator, but changed my mind for several reasons.  The lower cupboard had one of those half shelf arrangements so it was not worth much in terms of storage.  I wanted to replace it with several drawers, but found that to be a costly storage solution and not as efficient as I had hoped.

Pantry wall After Kitchen Remodel -- A Pinch of Joy

Love the after!!  We were able to remove the soffit above the old cupboards which gave us the unbroken floor to ceiling storage we were after!  Our preliminary check showed a four inch heat duct ran diagonally across  the right hand corner of the soffit.  We really wanted that soffit gone and thought about opening the back of the the upper cabinet and building around the duct.  When our experienced advisor arrived on the scene, he determined that we could rework the heat duct to fit in the wall and ceiling (like it probably should have from the beginning).  Bingo — soffit gone and open space.   We had room to install usable storage above the refrigerator and an eight foot tall cupboard between the refrigerator and the opening to the dining room.

24" deep Storage above refrigerator -- A Pinch of Joy
The cupboard above the refrigerator is 24 inches deep.  I can reach the knobs to open the door!  I can reach everything on the bottom shelf!  Standing on the floor!   Well, except the cake decorating stuff in the blue lidded container at the very back — but since I don’t often decorate cakes I will gladly get a stepstool for that.  The upper shelf is also requires a stepstool which is just a few steps away in the garage.  Wheels or Bytes are usually willing to reach up (so easily!) and lift them down for me if they happen to be passing through.  (I may or may not plan retrieval from that shelf based on their arrival in the kitchen.)     I might add another rack on the left someday for smaller baking pans but for now this is perfect! 

Improved Kitchen Storage -- A Pinch of Joy

This is the top of the eight foot tall storage cabinet.  It is also 24″ deep.  Lots of room!  The upper shelf holds two deep pots on the right that I don’t use often.  The left is seasonal.  It’s too chilly to eat on the deck so right now all the dishes, glasses, pitchers, the box with napkins, salt, lighter, etc.  that are used there are on the top left hand side.  In the summer that space held extra mugs and “winter” things.  Never thought I had seasonal kitchen stuff — but there it is.  And there is room for it! 
    Second shelf:  Drawers are scarce in this kitchen.  There is no place to put them!  And they are more expensive than shelves.  So compromise.   This shelf holds three plastic baskets of odd-shaped, space hogging kitchen tools.  Like the pastry cutter,  the grater, that handy little rolling gadget from Pampered Chef (about the only PC piece I own and so handy).  And other such things.  I can snag the handles and pull the basket out to reach the tools.  Behind are more  things I use less and don’t mind grabbing a step stool to reach (yes, I’m that short!  Think I have a complex about that?) 
     Third shelf:  Food bloggers will recognize the frequently used photo props. (There’s more in the dining room buffet.)  Actually this shelf is thinned out quite a bit right now since we’ve had two garage sales this year.  I’m always picking up interesting pieces here and there, some I keep, some I use once or twice and rotate out.  But I can rearrange and choose standing on the floor.  And there is room! 
      Bottom shelf of the top unit:  Prime real estate.  Glass refrigerator dishes are here.  The glass ramekins have lids so work for both leftover storage and microwave reheating.  An extra measuring cup.  The salad spinner in the back. Bowl for loyalty cards and odd keys.   Any one who answers “Hey, where’s the. . . . . ” question 99,999 times a day,  will know why these items are at eye level and very visible!!!! 

 Improve Kitchen Storage - A Pinch of Joy

You can see the bottom half of this storage unit holds mostly appliances.  More about the Kitchen Aid mixer later.   I need to get over the learning curve on the food processor.  It was a gift several years ago, but I didn’t have room to actually store in the kitchen before.  Now that I do, I don’t think of it when I could use it.  Any tips on that?  The blue basket is another no-drawers in this place compromise.  It holds kitchen towels.  That arrangement works fairly well.  The rack with parchment paper, foil, etc has travelled all over.  I found a better home for the most frequently used clear wrap, but these are still nomads.  Oh, the thick rubberized shelf liners . . . . you’ll see those on shelves where things need to stay put or need a bit of extra protection, etc.  Shelves are bare where things need to slide across them. 

Wanna see where many of these things were stored before?  A BEFORE before picture? 

Poor Kitchen storage
Yeah — in a big cabinet in the garage. But I could reach everything while standing on the floor.  In the cold.  Or blazing heat.  :-) 
I love my new kitchen storage!!!!

TAKEAWAY for your kitchen remodeling: 

  • Know what problems you hope to correct, like the ten I listed in Reasons to Remodel Your Kitchen.  
  • Know what limitations you will have.  I mentioned in a previous post the limitations we had — like not changing the door, the flooring or the old kitchen footprint.  Some of these you won’t know until you get more into the process. 
  • Get more specific and think about the individual items you use, how often they are used and collect ideas on how/where those items can be accommodated.
  • Think about the space you have available and how it can be maximized.   Our removing the soffit was “free space” that wasn’t affected by any of the limitations.  Same with making the over refrigerator cabinet 24″ deep instead of 12″.  And choosing a different place for the microwave so we could have a 24″ deep cabinet from floor to ceiling in it’s place.   
  • Think about how YOU and YOUR family use things and wonder how that can be made better or how you can arrange things to accomodate your habits. 
  • Be flexible and willing to try something different.

You will love the results!!!   Next time, more storage decisions. . . .

I’m so glad you stopped by today!   Be sure to follow A Pinch of Joy so you don’t miss a thing! 

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3 Reasons to Remodel a Kitchen

1aKitchen North
3 Reasons to Remodel Your Kitchen -- A Pinch of Joy

Below are pictures I used to show designers of the old kitchen and the problems I needed to solve.  Using pictures made it easy to compare the designs and to keep the focus on what needed to be done.  Improving storage is the number one reason given for remodeling a kitchen.  It certainly topped my list!  Improving functionality is a second major reason.  Our kitchen was built in the Seventies before microwaves became common in every home!  That’s just one change in lifestyle that has taken place since the neighborhood was built!   An improvement in appearance is a third major reason for remodeling a kitchen. 

1.  Improve storage. 


The Kitchen Aid mixer took up fully half of the storage space available in the peninsula!

Some of the storage wasn’t even in the kitchen!  Cookie sheets, baking pans, crockpot and more were stored in the garage. 

2Corner cabinet
Some of the available storage was not accessible, like this blind corner next the kitchen range. 

2)  Improve functionality


Behind the door with the writing is the Kitchen Aid mixer, pots and pans are jumbled on the other side.  The second shelf was only half the width of the cabinet and you could find a pan only by standing on your head while peering into the black hole. 

1aKitchen North

The upper cabinets especially did not make the best use of the space available.   The soffit did indeed contain plumbing — and heating and electrical.  It was stuffed full of utilities which meant it had to stay! The same was true of the soffit above the stove.  This limited  upper cabinet space to the existing height.  Sure, these pictures were taken in early February. Don’t you have the fall pumpkin hand soap setting next to the sink and a Merry Christmas plate on the cake stand in February? 

7bSouth wall

The cabinet above the refrigerator literally had an old coffee cup and two vases that were never used — nothing else.  It was such a pain to get to it.  The soffit had a four inch heat duct that cut diagonally across one end.  Straighten it out and the whole area was free.  We took out the entire soffit, which gave us lots of space and lots of options! 

3) Improve appearance 

3aBase Corner

When we moved in these cabinets were a DARK brown and the grooves were on the outside of the door.  We flipped the panels around so the smooth side showed and painted the cupboards white.  HUGE improvement, but that was also a long time ago and doors were literally starting to fall apart.  (See that top shelf that uses only half the depth — not a good use of space!) 

10aLazy susan

The lazy susan  was functional.  It was one thing that I actually liked about the kitchen.  Except when it was closed there was a good half inch gap all the way around the doors.  Note the dated hardware.  That was changed.  The  white dishwasher we kept — for now anyway. 

I wanted this wall to look like everything was built in from floor to ceiling, including the refrigerator and microwave. We came up with a different microwave solution.  Sometimes the criteria changes mid project — what can I say.  We also were keeping the Pergo floor that had been laid around the cabinets.  That meant the cabinets had to fill in the original footprint.  Keeping the floor was an easy decision because it was cost effective, the floor is relatively new, easy to take care of and we like it.  Keeping the same footprint was a struggle, because we had hoped to make some changes — for appearance, functionality and more storage.  The more we discussed,debated, drew and worked at things, the more apparent it became that  changes in the existing footprint were just not feasible.  We decided to stuff as much improvement as we could into the same space. 

This corner was a major eyesore with functionality issues.  We discussed all sorts of changes here — again with no real solution for improving functionality without creating more problems elsewhere.  Improving appearance was a different story.

Next — how we solved some of these problems! 

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Garage Storage

Garage Storage -- A Pinch of Joy
Garage Storage -- A Pinch of Joy

Since we are in the garage looking at the turquoise door and the mini mudroom,   I’ll show you the cubby storage that gets a lot of attention whenever we have a garage sale. Everyone comments on it!   It was born from the different styles Wheels and I take toward storage — and a little desperation! 

Wheels — and Bytes — and Bytes big brother — are visual people.  They have to see something for it to exist.  It’s literally out of sight out of mind!  I am the polar opposite.  Out of sight and in its place means it doesn’t get lost.  They have piles here and piles there and they can reach in without hesitation and tease the hammer out from the bottom of a stack of tools.  I tear my hair and will NEVER find that hammer.  Because who puts a hammer in a pile of wrenches????  Really!  

Then one day, Target had clearance on some shoe cubbies.  A light bulb went off.  They could see everything.  But in little piles where I could find things.  So the shoe cubbies came home with me and went on top of the 52 inch tall cupboards on the garage wall. There is a larger unit with 25 cubbies.  It’s on the left.  Two smaller units with 18 cubbies each are stacked on the right.  Those cubbies are also smaller in size than the larger unit.   A pre – made sorter for visual folks.   

A short time later, Kraft started selling mayo in these cool oval plastic jars that fit perfectly in each cubby.  They hold things like steel wool, hooks, batteries divided by size, locks and other small items.  They are all labeled so if they end up on a different shelf, you can still see the label and know what you are getting. It was a real bummer when they switched back to round jars!  

However, it didn’t take long for a problematic pattern to surface.  The guys are WAY taller than I.  You can guess where THEY put the tools they used most often! 

So in the dark of night one night when I couldn’t reach a tape measure, I made some labels, climbed my trusty step stool and rearranged things.  You can see the labels — the most crucial items that MOI uses.  They can put the rest of the items — boxes of nails and screws, large size latex gloves, stud finders, and the like –in cubby storage wherever they want and feel free.  I can reach the screwdrivers, tape measures, levels, sharps (knives, scrapers, etc), pliers and garden cutters  I need and feel organized.  I still find the hammer in the pile of wrenches but the little stuff is where it belongs! 

Is that win-win or what?????

I’m so glad you stopped by today!   Be sure to follow A Pinch of Joy so you don’t miss a thing! 

Subscribe by email  on the sidebar  or follow on Facebook, RSS feed, bloglovin’  twitter  and check out my  pinterest boards.   If you found this helpful or inspiring please share below!  Your support of A Pinch of Joy is  appreciated!

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