How do I inventory/measure my stuff for best effect?

JessHSMarch 17, 2014

I have heard lots of people comment to inventory or measure their stuff to help in planning their new kitchens. I feel like that is what I need to do now, but I'm kind of stuck with how to actually do this. Is there a worksheet or some other guide to getting this done? Anybody have any advice?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I just got out a sheet of paper, my tape measure, and my items and went at it. A spread sheet sounds like a good idea.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 10:32AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I did the same as illinigirl. It ended up being several pages, however!

First I made a general list of what was in my existing cabinets, as well as things I had stored elsewhere that belonged in the kitchen. I didn't specify every thing, but groups.

Next I went around the new kitchen (still in draft form), and figured out what I wanted where. I did my best to start with a fresh slate in my head, and not put things somewhere just because they were in that spot in the old kitchen. This step is a combination of logic and how your own family operates. Logical things include potholders and cooking utensils near the range, dishes near the dishwasher, pots and pans near the range.

Large items like roasting pans and stock pots - definitely measure! They aren't usually used too often, so could go in less accessible space (I like to think in terms of prime real estate for most-used items).

"Way you live" things: in my house, I know we always have a supply of pop and beer on hand - which used to be stacked on the floor next to the fridge (it was lovely). So I made a dedicated cabinet, with the shelves positioned so beer bottles fit on the bottom, pop cans on the top.

The most important measuring for me was items that went in drawers. I wanted one drawer for canisters of sugar, flour, etc, so I specified that the useable height of the drawer had to be 10.5" (to accommodate my 10" canisters). That was the bottom drawer of a 3-drawer stack. The middle drawer got what was leftover. I also wanted to store cake pans vertically in a drawer, and measured to make sure that drawer would be deep enough (the 10.5" worked fine here too).

I also laid out the interior dimensions of a 24" drawer with masking tape, and arranged all my canisters in that space, to make sure it would be enough. I as still at the point where I could have added a couple of inches if necessary.

Finally, I wanted small appliances in my Super Susan. My tallest appliance is my rice cooker, so I told the cabinet maker where it needed to fit, and he adjusted the shelves accordingly.

In my kitchen, even though it was specified on the drawings, they screwed up and made lower two drawers in the 3-drawer stacks the same height - which came put to just under 10" each. Neither my canisters nor my cake pans fit. Had I left it to chance, I would have been stuck - but because the numbers were there, the cabinet maker rebuilt those cabs.

Good luck! A few hours of planning pays huge dividends (or avoids costly mistakes).

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 11:02AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I measured out the actual interior drawer space on my counter and moved my things onto the imaginary drawer. Then I could see how I could configure them within the drawer and how deep it needed to be. One thing I was not willing to do was make an extra deep drawer for one or two items, like a seldom-used stockpot. Since I have all drawers, I put that in the cabinet over the fridge. I wrote the contents down on one of my lay-outs. When the cabinets came, I had everything put away in less than an hour because I knew exactly what went where.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 11:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I also did an inventory and tried to do it by function but I only measured the big things or the oddly shaped things that I felt were always so hard to store. I didn't measure utensils or smaller things because I did not intend on asking the cabinet maker to create super-customized drawers such as cut-outs for utensils and things like that. I wanted flexibility to move things around and change my mind after moving back into the kitchen.

I agree, measure the things you will want to put in drawers especially. For example, one of the things that has always bugged me is that we NEVER used our juicer, blender , or food processor because they were hard to get to and I didn't want to leave them out on the counter all the time. I had to get down on my hands and knees and dig through a bunch of other things in base cabinets under the island.

My DH had only 1 request of the new kitchen - that he can easily just open a drawer and ta-da! there is are the juicer and blender sitting ready to simply lift out and use.

What helped me was to print out a birds-eye view of my kitchen layout and a regular front view of each cabinet/drawer run. After thinking over how we tend to use the kitchen I labeled zones for function and then imagined what would go there. I measured and wrote on the printout. Now, I didn't measure every single thing I own, but doing it for the big things,oddly shaped things like woks with long handles, or your favorite most important things, or things that you absolutely know where they should live...that should help a lot. I guess if you want super-customized inserts like some of the cool things you see online, you really would have to measure absolutely everything.

Here is the drawer stack that holds my DH's juicer and other things that I used to have to climb into the "cave" to find.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 12:23PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here's the inside of the big drawer. Sorry I don't know how to post more than 1 photo. In here I have: big juicer, big blender, sifter, mini-prep, smaller smoothy blender, salad spinner, citrus juicer, big cuisinart food processor, and there's some room in there for maybe 1 or 2 more things. I might move the spinner after I get the under sink pull out installed, sticking it in there so it's right by the sink.

Below it is another big drawer with slow cooker, large turkey roasting pan and all the BBQ tools since they are so LONG and I don't want them in the regular cutlery drawers. Oh, my wok is in there too - that is the one things I forgot to measure and I wish I had. The handle is so long that it doesn't fit with the rest of my pots and pans which are under the cooktop.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 12:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The other functional zone I wanted was all related to the kids. We have 4 kids and when they "help" pack lunches they were always in my way in the morning. I put everything in this area that the kids tend to want to grab for lunches, running out to sports, plastic cups, etc. It's over to the side away from where I would be working by the cooktop or prepping so they are not always criss-crossing me.

Top drawer: lunch sacks, brown bags, sandwich wrappers
Next: plastic sppos and forks, wet wipes, zip lock bags
Next: plastic cups, paper bowls, small plates, paper plates
Bottom: sports bottles, insulated soup containers for llunch

I FORGOT to plan where the dog food would go, so if you have pets, plan for that. I saw some cook things on Houzz related to pets.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 12:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You're probably sick of me by now, but we also decided to put all the coffee and tea in a small drawer right under where I figured I wanted my coffee maker to go. The drawer stack there is only 12 inches wide so there's coffee and tea in the top drawer, then there are dishtowels and in the bottom drawer there's nothing right now because I am just moving in.

Colanders tend to be wanted near the sink, so measure those and see if you can store them in a drawer near the sink or even under the sink for easy grabbing. Mine are across from the sink because I couldn't put wide enough drawers right next to it.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 12:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Not getting sick of the information at all! This is all really helpful and I appreciate everyone chiming in. My takeaways are:
1. Think in zones of what you want stored together
2. How much space does that stuff take up and will it fit in planned area- for this measure large or odd sized items to ensure they will fit, mock up drawers as needed
3. What am I willing to store elsewhere because it will cause weird dimensions- like large or rarely used items that might be better in a pantry rather than make a super huge drawer or special shelf for them

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 1:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, and one thing I realized by doing this is that I actually wanted one lower cabinet. I had initially assumed that I would want all drawers. Just based on some of the things I wanted to store in different places, a regular cabinet in this one area made sense. So as you measure and think it over you will discover what works best for you. I also realized that I have too many things that I don't need, so I started making "First Apartment" boxes for my older kids so that they can have some hand-me-down kitchen things in just a couple of years from now.

Also what do you do in the kitchen other than cook? Feed the dogs? Work on your computer? Kids do their homework and crafts there? Have a fishtank to take care of? What ever else you do in the kitchen other than cooking should be considered as well so that you plan for those activities also.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 2:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Also think about things you use in more than one zone. For example, we had all the pot holders over by the stove, but needed a couple over by the microwave too. It's quite a walk between them and crosses the prep zone.

I ordered drawer organizers when I bought my cabinets, but wish I would have waited. Although I had everything mapped out, we ended up moving a few drawers around. If I'd waited a few weeks, the organizers would have been a bit different.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 3:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I also taped out the interior drawer size on my counter and fit the stuff into that area and measured the height of the tallest item to make sure of clearance. It was helpful to do this even though I put it off in spite of reading over and over on here that one should do it. And it helped me realize that I needed more height in my drawers which drove the choice of side mount glides vs. under-mount.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 3:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

From "kitchen design with cooking in mind." The author was a designer and a restaurant chef. Lots of great info.

Once you have a list of all items, you figure out where to keep them based on frequency of use. Just like the grocery store puts the fantastic items right within reach, and the obscure ones on the bottom shelf.

About once a month
About once a year.

The author of that website said anything used only 1 time a year is kept in the basement or garage. So don't put that huge turkey roaster where it hogs the best storage.

Daily use items are either attractively out, or get the primo storage so they are easy to use and put back. So if you use that bread machine daily it is stored on the counter or in an easy to access appliance garage. If you only use it for Thanksgiving and Easter it goes in the basement.
And yes if you use hot pads in 2 spots then designate 2 places to keep them.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 4:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Be flexible.

I don't know about others but our cooking style and needs change constantly. We went through many stages when the kids were young. Now they are adults but live at home. Things are still changing. My DD started making a lot of cakes and now we have to find room for cake decor supplies. My cooking changed dramatically when the kitchen was finally remodeled. I now cook more than ever, often from scratch. Had to find room for things I never had before. I would have never anticipated all these changes. As I look to the future I don't see the changes stopping. As while planning is necessary stay flexible. While you will purge a lot before and during your remodel you will probably immediately start accumulating new stuff. You new kitchen may inspire you to branch out in your cooking.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 5:28PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

For me, it was a matter of physically measuring our various things - I didn't measure every single thing (most utensils, etc. weren't measured), but I measured a lot.

And I used a list that had approximate dimensions of important things then used an elevation style drawing so that I could label exactly what was intended to go where.

In doing that, I found that I had a few things in my initial layout plan a bit wrong. I revisited those things and was able to come up with just about everything that I wanted where I wanted.

As someone earlier mentioned, keep in mind that you will possibly find that you will have some need for a few things in more than one place for ease of use. For example, I have a measuring cup and measuring spoons in a drawer next to the cooktop. I also have the same in my island. I have pot holders in a drawer next to my cooktop, and more over in a drawer by the oven.

My aluminum foil and parchment are over in a drawer by the oven - near the are where my cookie sheets and casserole dishes are. My plastic wrap and baggies are near where the fridge is. These are the places where I will most use them. Initially, when I started planning, I was putting all those items together. Because...wait for it...that's they way I've always had them...and the way that my parents and grandparents always had them. Luckily, someone from GW asked WHY I was going to do it that way! And I realized that she was right...that way didn't make sense at all.

So, when you are planning, plan for the IDEAL locations. Recognize that there may be more than one ideal location for certain items, so you may wind up having them in more than one place.

My goal in putting together my kitchen right now is that someone with a moderate knowledge of how a kitchen should work would be able to step into my kitchen and find just about any of the tools that he/she would need to prepare a meal without my intervention. I feel pretty certain that most GWers could feel "at home" even if it isn't exactly how they might have done things. I would bet that if I showed my kitchen and gave an item and it's general use/frequency of use, most GWers could come pretty darn close to nailing the location. Actually, that might be a fun thread..."Guess what is behind drawer number 1?"

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 7:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

When we had a home built a few years ago, I measured and recorded EVERYTHING (width, length, height), including the wraps and Ziploc boxes, even the dog's treats box. I measured every stack of dishware, Pyrex, mixing and serving bowls, plastic ware, pots and fry pans, roast pans, linens, "stuff" under the sink and every small appliance we had (didn't forget the utensils and BBQ things either). My wonderful DH mocked up cabinets and drawers for me from cardboard , cutting and taping them to exact measurements.
Then I stood with plans open and my mock-up boxes, and imagined going through a typical day of prep, cooking and clean-up. I also imagined having larger family dinners and how the "flow" would be with more than me in the kitchen.
Once I had determined that "x" would fit into a certain box, I emptied it and reused it for the next fit. Doing it this way, things popped up that I hadn't thought of in the original plan, and we "tweaked" cabinets and drawers as needed When the house was finished, I knew just where everything was going when we moved in.

We don't still have that house, but I still have my lists (some things have been discarded and others added, guess I should update).
Maybe someday I'll need my lists again...aah, to dream.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2014 at 9:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

As a KD ; I need an easy, efficient way to get an idea of people's stuff. Start at one end of kitchen and photograph inside cabinets, work in blocks- this run of uppers with same run of bases. Measure big awkward things, note difficult to store items, things that there are more than average of, size of things that will go on counter. Then photograph anything in closets, pantries, basement, garage, or the quonset hut out back (actually had one of those!!)

I then print contact sheets of the photos, 3 or 4 columns by 2 or 3 rows. I include wide shots of the areas to stay oriented.
Naturally there is an interview: how you work, how many people, what bothers, what likes....

As I work I make notes on the sheets of what will go where. I don't do every single item, this is not a fitted case, and aesthetics will be a major factor. Occasionally an area, drawer, cabinet must be treated like a fitted case certainly not everything. Allow for change.

Strive for perfection but don't let it become your enemy.

Might be good to measure the cabinet sizes, I can generally tell from photos since dealing with this so often.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2014 at 8:34AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Help needed with this beam!!!
We had part of a wall taken down in the kitchen &...
What are your thoughts on Ikea Sektion base cabinets?
I've commented here over and over that since this little...
White on White & other (mis) Matched Kitchens
I was at a friend's house, an artist, last week showing...
Carrie B
Sexist or Fun?
Trouble from young feminists over this billboard.
Joseph Corlett, LLC
Soapstone in the Midwest/St. Louis area?
Hi everyone. I've been lurking here for the past year,...
Sponsored Products
Olde World Silver One-Light Crystal Swarovski Elements Wall Sconce, 5W x 15H x 5
$372.00 | Bellacor
Elf 3 Plus Bath Bar by Illuminating Experiences
| Lumens
Westinghouse Ceiling Fans Replacement Fan Blade Arms (5-Pack) Polished Brass
$15.47 | Home Depot
White Pebble Plant Holder
$18.99 | Dot & Bo
Serena & Lily Gingham Sheet Set
Serena & Lily
Freejack Bling I Down Pendant
Ivory Oriental Rug, Hand Knotted Wool & Silk 8 X 10 Persian Tabriz Mahi Rug S437
BH Sun Inc
Kraus C-GV-500-14-12mm-1005 Broken Glass Vessel Sink and Riviera Faucet - C-GV-5
$239.95 | Hayneedle
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™