Could You Share Ideas for Cookbook Storage?

amck2February 8, 2011

I've been storing my cookbook collection on 2 shelves of my pantry cupboard. The shelves are very deep and many of my books get "lost" back there. Yes, I organize them from time to time, but they always seem to end up a jumbled mess from when I'm hurried trying to find one from the back pile.

DH & I decided that it's time we figure out a better system. I've always liked them hidden behind closed doors because it keeps the kitchen space less cluttery looking. But I'm beginning to think I should entertain having them in open shelving.

Would you be willing to share where/how you keep your cookbooks?

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I only have three that I keep in the kitchen, and I plan on storing them in the shorter cab over the OTR microwave, along with different types of vinegar, cooking sherry, Worcestershire sauce, etc. The cabinet doors will remained closed, so this won't be visible.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 2:34PM
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Mine used to be in the kitchen. I wanted them in the kitchen. I wasn't even open to the idea of not having them in the kitchen. During the remodel they were moved to the laundry room on a set of shelves. This was temporary because the shelves were just shoved in there for this. Couple of weeks ago, I got a brilliant idea.

We have an old bookcase that I used to keep crystal in. Glass doors, it was in the dining room, then moved to the living room, and then we remodeled the living room, and I thought, this has got to go. BUT all of a sudden a lightbulb went off in my head...replace the glass with mirrors. Yep, took the doors to a glass shop and they replaced them for me. Now the piece looks great in my living room and all the cookbooks (and there are a lot) are hidden in there! Yay!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 2:50PM
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beekeeperswife that's BEAUTIFUL!!!! I love your taste.

Mine are in a secretary in our breakfast room. I sit at the breakfast room table to read cookbooks, menu plan and make up my grocery list, so it's the perfect place for me:

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 3:01PM
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Sorry to get OT, but... Oh, beekeeperswife...... you have an Arco lamp! Can we see more pics of that room? Is it a "real" one or a reproduction? We're considering getting a repro sometime and I'm interested in how they are in real life. Also would love to see a photo of the scale of it in your room! Pretty please?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 3:06PM
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I just love that beekeeperswife!

This is a bad bad pic, but I got a bookcase to house my new microwave along with my cookbooks. We're still a work zone, so I haven't made it pretty yet. But I like having access to all of my cookbooks, which I haven't had easily available for the last couple of years. Right now, I'm using the 2 shelves under the microwave for my cookbooks.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 3:16PM
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staceyneil--That's arc'n but not Arco, more of a Lamp du Home Goodes....fancy Frency

It just has a drum shade on it....I have no photos of it on Photobucket, (don't tell the lamp, its feelings will be hurt). I'll snap one when I get home and post it. I do love it. (I think it was all of $100). Just imagine me with a cart in that fine French store pushing this monster down the aisle...."xcuse me, xcuse me, coming through, xcuse me...sorry lady....xcuse me.."

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 3:19PM
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I second Staceyneils' request! Beekeeperswife - your home is gorgeous. More pics, please!

Oh and in the new kitchen I will store a few cookbooks on open shelves, but most will be hidden (well-used, grubby ones will probably be hidden)

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 3:22PM
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Tee hee... I'd love to see a pic! Also of the whole room if you have any. I've finished the kitchen (almost) and the bathrooms.... living room is next up. I spent all day today drawing bookshelf plans :)

BTW, cookbook-wise: my DH is building a small built-in bookcase for me in the kitchen, just for cookbooks and my radio so I can listen to NPR while I cook. It's on a wall at the edge of a well-used passage, not wide enough for cabinetry, but a 9" deep bookshelf will be just fine.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 3:25PM
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Thanks for all the responses so far!

Beekeeperswife, I echo the others who think your cabinet (& home..) are beautiful. What an inspired idea to do mirrors in the doors! Arlosmom, your secretary is lovely - what a perfect spot to enjoy looking through your cookbooks. BTW, I love your wallcovering.

I don't have space to dedicate to a freestanding bookcase in the kitchen, but I like what noellabelle has in hers.

I'm sure there's a way for me to combine form/function...

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 8:12PM
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BKW, your home is so go along with your gorgeous kitchen. And arlosmom, saw your pantry in another thread - LOVE that marble topped hutch and all your clever storage!

Amck, we have some of ours tucked away in a pull out that looks like a pantry. The photo is in the link below that's an old thread on this very topic. Lots of great pics here from many kitchens. Seems to me there was another, but I can't find it. So frustrating that you can't search this forum without going to Google.


Here is a link that might be useful: Show me your cookbook storage

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 9:18PM
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We're commissioning the building of a 7-foot high, 6-foot wide wall-mounted bookshelf to match our cabs. One half will be cookbook storage. Yes, I have a lot of cookbooks. They are organized by topic, not size. I love them.

The Betty Crocker old beat-up standby will be kept in baking drawer, though, I predict.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 9:19PM
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I can't imagine there's anyone on here who hasn't seen mine

I used space over the basement steps for this cabinet.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 9:43PM
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Florantha, who's doing your shelf? I remember you were debating several options; what materials did you decide on?


    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 10:03PM
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arlosmom - love your wallpaper!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 10:04PM
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Here's what we did, though I don't know that you could retrofit this very easily. It's a shelf over the refrigerator that's adjustable (one big driving factor in our remodel was a 1940s fridge cubby that wouldn't fit a modern fridge, so I wanted to build in flexibility for future fridges of varying sizes!) It has moulding that hangs down in front to match the rails between the other cabinets and hide the air space for the fridge.

Originally our cabinetmaker had planned to make a false back for it at 10" deep to keep books from getting pushed too far back, but I asked to experiment with using various storage pieces there instead. Probably going with the one in the photo, which is from Crate & Barrel Outlet---cheap but sturdy enough to act as a back, and comes in varying sizes so we can get pretty close to filling the space exactly. The shelf is at its lowest setting right now and will probably be up about three inches from here once a fridge is in, so the cookbooks will be a little more snug, but otherwise it seems to work pretty well.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 11:24PM
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Artemis, do you have other photos of your kitchen? I like that solution!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 1:19AM
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I love cookbooks! Currently, most of mine are on the built-in bookshelves in the FR, although I think there are a couple more boxes in the basement somewhere. When we reno the kitchen, I'm hoping to put a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf (maybe library-style with glass depending on $$) on the end of a run of cabinets. Overflow will probably remain in the FR. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one with a cookbook fixation!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 2:17AM
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My current plan has a four foot shelf for cookbooks, but I'm a little leery of them getting dirty, since a quick wipe down is unlikely. I might hang a little washable curtain over the shelf to keep out the worst, but that's a finishing touch for next fall. Until then, it's a shelf. But there is room underneath for a laptop, which is where I suspect many of my recipes will end up.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 5:47AM
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Cookbook storage was the one thing I forgot when designing my kitchen! In our old kitchen, they were stored in the cabinet above the rangehood (ineffective, undersized, underpowered, noisy!).

In the new kitchen, I initially stored them in the pantry on the 15" deep shelf I had originally planned for a second MW...two deep. Like yours, some got "lost" or forgotten.

I then realized that if I rearranged & consolidated some storage, I could free up a shelf in an 18" wide upper cabinet. So this is what I came up with:

The "overflow" cookbooks are still in the pantry. When we re-do the Library, I will probably put them on a shelf in there.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 7:48AM
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Eliz, thanks for asking. I humbly feel like I'm addressing the Queen of Kitchen Library Units.

Our order hasn't been sent in yet. Local shop who made our cabs--North Woods Cabinetry. It will be unstained oak in same general spare lines as rest of our "sea of oak" kitchen. We mulled all kinds of possibilities, had the guys draw up 6 different options and we've decided to go for the one with the max storage and forget the glass doors, fancy niches, etc etc etc. Although I really wanted display shelving also, we really need book storage. If the shelves are 15 inches deep, we can put some display stuff on the outside lip. Current plan is to make unit as tall as the door it abuts, giving me a clean line of paint above both and room to show off a few of my screwy antique items at top. We'll have two columns of shelves which just pass the Sagulator test.

We'll send in the order pretty soon now. DH has finished the door frames and we're nearing completion of the room. And we've paid off our December and Jan big bills so there's more room in the budget to start spending again.

In the meantime, I lucked into a pair of sad but still useful spare Scandinavian teak shelf units at the donation enter. For $30 I've had temp shelving of the cookbooks within the in-progress kitchen--a godsend. It's like old book friends are with me, my teddy bears, even if they're rather sawdusty. (The temp shelves already have a designated future home, out of sight in another room.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Sag info and The Sagulator

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 9:09AM
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When we redid our kitchen, I had some shelves built over the refrigerator. Previously we had that typical stupid little cabinet set so far back that it was useless space. So I had the carpenters pull it out, and we use the cabinet part for cereal, and the shelf part for cookbooks. The shelf is adjustable, so we can move it as needed. At the time we did it, I thought I'd get one of those little flat, collapsible stools to slide in beside the fridge, but honestly, it takes one second to pull the chair over, so that's what I do. I also keep about half a dozen of my most frequently used cookbooks on the counter, in between two bookends.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 9:51AM
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arlosmom-cool wallpaper!

I found this old hutch at an auction; it is in the dining room next to the kitchen. Very convenient for cookbooks, and bottom is great storage for paper plates and cups, etc.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 12:54PM
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I originally wanted an open bookshelf at the end of the island opposite the cooktop, but my cabinet maker asked to see my cookbooks first. They are not at all pristine - stickinotes galore - pages askew - old covers etc. He asked me if I really wanted to showcase them or would I be happier with a cupboard door. After reflecting on it I decided keep the cookbooks at the end of the island on the two shelves just opposite the cooktop and add the door. This area houses my "go to" cookbooks. Overflow books go in a deep drawer, (with the spines up), just around the corner at the baking center. But I must confess, I have additional cookbooks, 4 feet of shelf space, in the den. When I really looked at my useage of the cookbooks I realized that I only use a handful of books regularly, plus a couple more for desserts. I have a three ring binder with recipes off the net which I keep in the drawer. I find more and more I use recipes that I've found on the net.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 1:03PM
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elizpiz, thank you for attaching the link from a previous post on this subject. Lots of clever ideas in there.

I am eyeing the blank wall around the corner from my kitchen that is opposite our stairway. Wondering if it's possible to cut into it and insert bookshelves. It wouldn't impede passage through the hallway, and the cookbooks wouldn't be far from where I'd use them.

The suggestions you've given me are making me rethink the idea that they have to be in the kitchen.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 6:28PM
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The wall in the hallway around the corner from my kitchen works for me.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 7:05PM
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Here's ours. It's completely full now. So there's discussion about DH building a book case at the end of the hallway. There's space and it's a great idea. Plus, it appears we need it.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 7:20PM
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Florantha, I'm so glad you're doing a custom shelf! I know you had a specific vision and the unstained oak sounds wonderful. I also love that link you posted. I have to admit I sometimes look at our bookcase and imagine sagging. I know that one day we're going to need more bookshelves and I'll clip this post for future reference.

Please post pix!!


PS. and thks for the nice compliment :-)

    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 10:25PM
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I put two 12" deep cabinets at each end of my island. Deeper cabinets would have caused the same problem of the books in the back being lost. Door on them to keep the mess hidden.

But like lucypwd, I use a lot of e-recipes more and more. (For those of you that are interested in recipe software, I recommend BigOven - it's convenient, and really easy to copy a recipe from the internet and add it to your "recipe book")

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 3:53AM
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Honestly I don't "cook" that often as in recipes/sweets/casseroles...we prefer fresh salads/stir frys with a plain chicken breast or piece of I don't have a lot of cookbooks but we just finished our total DIY kitchen reno and took an idea from a few kitchens I saw here.........
hubby built this unit onto the end of the existing cabinets

I'm taking photos of the entire kitchen tomorrow during the day to post my finished product.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2011 at 6:00PM
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I designed two shelves at the end of my island facing the rangetop. From Cavendish house From cavendish

    Bookmark   February 22, 2011 at 4:49PM
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LOVE Beekeepers style (and HG)! that bookcase is gorgeous. If you get rid of it just post it here and I'm sure the bidding will start high.

I just had a similar conversation with my husband. When we nixed the plan to push out the wall and lost 16lf of cabinetry, open cookbook storage was chopped so to speak. Then DH reminded me that mostly I print or view recipes I've seen on FoodTV (made my own cookbook with them) and anyway, why do they have to be IN the kitchen when our LR and DR are open to the kitchen. Duh. I think sometimes I'm so obsessed lately, I miss the obvious.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 6:32AM
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I put some shelves into my hutch to hold some of my favorite cookbooks. With the internet now, I usually go online to look up recipes so don't need all my cookbooks out in the kitchen.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 9:39AM
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We have a lot going on visually in our kitchen between open cabinets, glass door cabinets, windows and the stuff that isn't supposed to accumulate on the counters but does. I keep my most used cookbooks (many with broken bindings) and my collection of recipe clippings behind closed doors. They are just below and to the right of the toaster oven The cabinet is just 13" deep--it butts up to a 24" deep cabinet on the dining side. The 13" depth is also handy for mixing bowls and colanders. Our lesser used cookbooks are kept in a small bookcase in our dining area. I can't figure out how to take photos without the awful window glare (my now broken 1st digital camera--only 1 or 2 mb--was much better.)

Good thing we have doors!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 11:24AM
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Hi, I haven't been on GW in a while, but happened by today. I got great ideas from everyone here when planning my kitchen. I never considered where all of my cookbooks would go in my initial thinking, but taking ideas from different people, I came up with a plan.
My cabinets were built by a local cabinetmaker, so I was able to design some unusual storage. I have a 24" deep glass fronted cabinet next to the frig. It's 36" wide. What the cabinetmaker did was build 3 approx 11" wide boxes out of wood and put them on file drawer-type runners. The three boxes are next to each other. When you look into the cabinet, you see the three side by side, each one full of books. I have two shelves with the boxes, for a total of 6 boxes, or 12 running feet of cookbook storage. I slide them in and out to reach the books in the back. The pretty ones are in the front and can be seen when the glass doors are closed.
Even after all of the instructions given, I still can't figure out how to post pictures here, or I'd take some shots to show you. Everyone who has seen the new kitchen oohs and aahs over the fact that the books are there, that there are so many of them taking up so little space.
good luck with your project!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 1:10PM
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