Making the most of cabinet space

marti8aMarch 30, 2010

I have some cabinets that are under-utilized, some because they are those deep lower cabinets and some because of their location. I have been trying to think out to pack more into them without having to unpack them every time I want something.

I looked at L*we's yesterday as I was walking through and they have some nifty pull out shelves that can be installed into cabinets but they are fairly pricey. I bought some similar several years ago at Container Store, but these seem sturdier.

I have also been thinking of lining those lower cabinets with white vinyl tile (the stick on kind) so it won't be such a dark abyss under there.

What have you done to make your cabinets work harder?

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I use wire racks under the kitchen sink for most of my pots and pans. I use flat plastic wash basins for small drawers on the lower shelves so it all comes out easily to reach things like my canning kettles stored in back of them. Roasters are in back too. I keep cook books in one pan so they all come out at once and there are not that many. I purged big time and only kept the ones I really use.

Love the idea of the slide out drawers. I wonder if there would be wasted space between them??

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 1:21AM
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On the ones I already have, there is no wasted space (or not much) on the sides, but there is a little over 2" at the back. I put those bulk spices in the big bottles back there after I refill my small bottles.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 1:41AM
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My whole h0use is a work in progress, but I'm pretty happy with how I've organized the kitchen. Here's my inexpensive solution to fitting almost everything I need (for cleaning on a day-to-day basis) under the sink (36" wide cabinet):

1) group items into dishpans (if I need to use the dishpan I can easily take the items out, and if anything leaks the dishpan contains it). It's easy to slide out the appropriate dishpan to get what I need.
2) purchase a narrow bucket to fit it easier into awkward space
3) store small amounts of vinegar, ammonia, bleach in labeled containers inside the house and keep the large containers w/the main supply in the garage (where the l4undry is located)-- oh yeah, don't have a bunch of random cleaning products. I mostly use bleach, vinegar, ammonia, and alcohol. I do have a bottle of 409 in the bathroom :-)
4) add shelving to door (I store all my washcloths and hand towels in rolls, as you can see I need to do some laundry!)

I think light tiles on the bottom of a dark cab will make a big difference!


    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 5:33PM
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Melanie, is that what you have in your under sink cabinet? Gee, yours looks so CLEAN! I'd be too embarrassed to show you mine.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 5:54PM
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Here is under our sink while we were under construction. The racks are the same now and the only added thing is the garbage can. I had to keep it in the pantry when we did not have a door on the cabinet.

Excuse the dogs toy laying there. She dashed in and dropped it when I told her to move. LOL

You can see I also use Melanie's pan thing to keep cleaning things in. I know the rest of the shelves are empty. I took all of that away while he was working on the cabinet front.

Melanie I too am curious on your cabinet bottom. Did you use flooring and glue it down? I have vinyl on the shelves but it keeps curling up. I think maybe I should glue it down. Yours looks so nice.


Here is a link that might be useful: Under sink.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 6:21PM
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Heh heh, I wouldn't have taken a photo if it was messy :-) Seriously, though, the area practically keeps itself clean due to how I organized it. The bins accumulate debris/particles in them so I have to wash them out occasionally, but that's so much easier to do than wiping the floor of the cabinet.

I've been wanting to get a small garbage can for the right side, in front of the bucket, but I haven't found one. I might actually get another narrow bucket to work as a double-duty garbage can and bucket.

Chris -- your shelves look great! Yes my DH got a vinyl remnant from a flooring store and glued the vinyl down (I think he used either liquid nails or gorilla glue) and put bricks on it while it dried. Then he caulked the edges. I read to do this on the kitchen forum.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 6:37PM
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Housewares dept.

Strange that you should ask about the rollout cabinet inserts. I bought THREE of them from Lowes. They are all different. One for the narrow cabinet is attached to the door, which pulls straight out. HEAVY DUTY and GREAT GLIDERS.
It is by Rev-A-Shelf. These things are sold online too, and many many options.

If you happen to have a base cabinet with NO DRAWER, you will gain a LOT of high space on the top shelf. The ones that you open the door and then roll out the shelves one at a time, they come in N, M, L, XL widths. I put in one XL and one M. I have a drawer above the door of all my cabinets. You can buy just a single rollout tray, not a double, if you have one of those huge mixers. They can be either wire or wooden, to suit your fancy. In my cabs, there is no space left behind the frame.

Now. In the dead space in the corner of my kitchen, which is accessed from the sink cab door, I put my massive collection of extra paper towels, one item I buy in bulk. I also keep a gallon of white vinegar for cleaning up messes, especially birdy poops! My favorite cleaning product for polishing the sink or cleaning stains off the old Formica white countertop is BARKEEPER'S FRIEND. That stuff can take galvanized pipe and polish it up to look like chrome--with some dedication, of course. (My deckhands had to do that when I was a boat captain.) Then of course the Windex for the Lexan, & a stainless steel cleaner because DH's hands seem always to wreck the fridge doors!

Maybe tomorrow I can take some pics of the Rev-A-Shelf units I installed.

The rollout pantry inserts that I was looking at cost up to $1500 and that was too much for my taste. So now I'm thinking about putting those flush little strips for the triangular shaped brackets running up each side of the cabinet interior. Only I want THREE strips of these shelf bracket thingys, three on each side. That way, I can put a full depth adjustable shelf in pretty far apart where needed. And in the back half, using the middle slotted bracket insert, I can put in an adjustable HALF DEPTH shelf to use the entire space more efficiently. I think this will keep me from having to get down on my hands and knees to see the lower shelves. Taller items can be stored way up high in the pantry I am planning (in the dining room).
If I am confusing anyone, I'll try to get a picture of the hardware I plan to use. Sort of like the tracks they use to install wire closet shelf brackets, only those are surface mounted strips, and the ones I want require routing to put the tracks into the sides of the cabinets, and then the clips sit under the shelves which simply lay on top.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 12:21AM
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Chris, I see you do the same thing I do with your toaster. I have a small baking pan that the toaster just fits in and keeps crumbs contained.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 12:53AM
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Thanks Melanie,

I am going to glue my vinyl down. Yours looks so nice and I get so annoyed with mine curling up.Thanks!!!

Yes Marti I do. Does a great job of catching those crumbs. AND it is so much easier for me to pick up by the pan instead of trying to pick up the toaster.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 1:24AM
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Melle, that is the cleanest under sink cabinet!
ML, please post a picture of your shelf 'thingy'. I'm not sure I understand what you are talking about.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 11:11AM
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Ok, I took some pics this morning and put remarks on several of them. The first three are our installations in the kitchen of 3 Rev-A-Shelf units for base cabinets. Our cabs all had drawers above the doors, so we did not get the advantage of high storage on the top shelves. But it works.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 1:07PM
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WOW ML you have really given me some ideas. That narrow door one would work in our pantry. And I LOVE the second stainless shelf picture. That would work here too.

And another thing I thought of. Marti mentioned my toaster on a small pan. I also have it sitting ,pan and all, on a larger plastic tray. After all went back into the cabinets. Think lunch counter tray. I have several of these on my lower shelves and use them as slide out shelves only you can not let go of them as they are not self supporting. But it makes it easier to get things from the back of the cabinet with out crawling on the floor. Not to mention cost almost nothing at the thrift store or dollar store.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 6:13PM
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I absolutely love the rollout with the garbage bags! And the storage on the wall is a great use of space also. Seeing under Chris' and Melle's cabinets and now seeing yours makes me think I can certainly do better!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 7:39PM
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All you folks have great ideas, very creative minds. And we all have different ways of using our spaces too. But I think what we have in common is a desire to keep it attractive and convenient to use.

The trays are a great idea. No matter how good a toaster you have, the danged crumbs always make a mess. But a TRAY is super efficient and neat.

One thing I want to install/use/whatever in the drawer of the cab below the big microwave, is a half cutting board (something like that), which I can slide out to set the hot pots on to stir before moving somewhere else. They have such drawer inserts for double layer silverware trays, and all I want is one that is a fairly thick wooden insert flat, that would take the heat. Anyone have such a thing?
The drawer would support it when loaded with a heavy pan.

Idie, the rollout w/ garbage bags, foil, and saran wrap and ziploc bags, that was the first one I installed. DH was not sold on it at first, but I sure was. But after a couple of weeks, he was wanting to put them in the other base cabs, so somewhere somehow he changed his mind.

We did have to remove the fixed half shelf in the backs of the base cabs for the two shelf rollouts. But maybe if you have a single shelf rollout you can get by w/o modifying the cab. It would only let you put tall things on the front space though.

Glad to see that this forum has a lot more action of late. I guess spring has awakened the troops.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 8:49PM
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ML, those are exactly what I was looking at the other day. I did have to gulp at the price though. We drove right by a Container Store today and dh wouldn't stop! I wonder how much the pull out tray is there now. But that one at Lowe's looks a lot sturdier than mine from Container Store.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2010 at 10:21PM
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Marti, up north my DH put rollout wire trays in his lower cabs. They were much lighter weight than the Rev-A-Shelf trays. So I have to be careful when I load them down with the canned goods. And they do not hold as much cookware in the rollouts adjacent to the stove. I'm not where I can take a photo of them now, but will be up that way by the end of May. I'll upload a shot of those roll outs.

After he installed the first RevAShelf for me, which attaches to the cab door and the whole thing pulls out, he was the one who insisted on doing the other two. Those top/bottom shelves in a base cab roll out individually, and are absolutely great. He did not complain about installing them. Now I can access all sorts of things.

If you have a base cab without a drawer, the top rollout of the RevAShelf can hold really tall objects. You could put your blender or mixer on those. Heck, they do make the roll outs with wood instead of wire, but all are good quality.

I wanted a roll out pantry from them, but just the insert/metal part, not the cabinet which we'd have to provide, was up close to $1500, and I had sticker shock. I did let my DH know I was not planning to install that, so he would feel consoled by my frugal nature (hehehehe). Now it does not seem so bad to him that I want all the shelves in that pantry to have metal tracks to make them ADJUSTABLE. And he likes that too.

When I lived AND worked on boats, I discovered all sorts of ways to use "lost" space. Then when I moved into MoccasinLanding, the house felt totally empty and had so much wasted space!! But over the 17 years I lived there, I gradually expanded (like a gas vapor) to fill the available space. If you have it, you will fill it. Sometimes it is easier to just hang on to something, if there is a place to put it, instead of tossing it. I try to avoid doing that. But I am a real nut about nice pots and pans, which makes me enjoy using the kitchen.

When my son was little, he told me, "Mama, you are a good cook for somebody who does not use the stove." It is still true....we don't presently HAVE a stove...just a 2burner hot plate. :) But when I save up, the 24" Berta Italian stove is my dream range for a small kitchen.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2010 at 11:12AM
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ML, I looked up your dream stove, but could not find a picture. Do you have a pic of it?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2010 at 3:15PM
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