Advice on this spice/flour system?

mandydeanDecember 3, 2012

Hi all,

In browsing around for spice storage solutions, I came across an image/idea which I love:

Of course, BHG gives no information on product sources or how to implement. :-) I'm sure this was probably part of a custom cabinetry, but wondering if any of you have advice on how to DIY something like this, or even if you think of it as a good/bad idea in general. Love the idea of using that under-cabinet wall space to store spices, and also love the pull-out bins for flour, as I'm constantly baking.

I'd love it if any of you have something similar to this in your own kitchens, or photos or links online to anything like it. I can't find anything other than pull-out flour drawers inside of cabinets. Looking for all the inspiration and product links I can find.

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I like this functional use of otherwise pretty but not very useful backsplash area. It depends on how deep your counters are as well. I wonder if this will run into any code issues for required height above counter..

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 3:23PM
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They last longer in the dark.

Cool is also good.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 3:30PM
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I was about to tell that a year or so ago I started buying a spice container system from Table Fare, and I absolutely adore it . . . but as I googled to find a link to share with y'all, I learned that they've stopped making it!

I am so grateful that someone brought up this subject. I'm now motivated to go NOW and figure out how many more I need and buy them NOW while they're still available.

They're the greatest system: They're sized to fit into a Lazy Susan, and they stack. THey're perfect for people like me who buy spices at a specialty store (by the scoop rather than in bottles), and they're perfect for people who mix up their own spice blends. I like everything about them. Sorry not to have shared earlier.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 3:53PM
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It looks cool (I bake a lot too and am planning to cater when I get to my new kitchen), but by the looks of that I worry about how air tight it is for the pull our containers. I imagine if they don't close to make a tight seal then little bugs will get in.

Flour is also suppose to be kept in a dark, dry, cool place so away from the stove and sink (especially if you are a very messy washer like I am).

My number one concern would be a tight seal though. Otherwise it looks like it would be rather easy to DIY. You could buy some pretty air tight containers and use those as the bins and then have shelves above those for your spices (as long as they're away from sunlight and not next to a heat source of course).

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 5:37PM
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Unless that's a very deep counter, it wouldn't really be practical to prep in front of all that stuff. But if it were a 30" counter, or else a counter that's not the main prep space, it could be interesting. I agree with finding opaque containers.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 8:18PM
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I store my spices like this. (old pic)

This system is flexible in that I can add or delete spices or my spice blends as I get into different cooking styles, cuisines, etc. That shelving system on display would drive me batty if all contents weren't at the same level, turned perfectly straight, or if the whole shelf wasn't full as pictured. My OCD would kick into high gear. Plus, dark and cool storage is better anyway.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 8:59PM
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Reminds me of the baking center in this movie somehow.

Here is a link that might be useful: Step saving kitchen

    Bookmark   December 3, 2012 at 9:27PM
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Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I do wish I had a drawer that would work for spices! Unfortunately I just don't have enough drawers near my cookspace. I'll keep thinking on this idea - if I can find containers that are opaque, this might work for me.

BTW, drbeanie, I really enjoyed that Step-saving kitchen video! Surprisingly had a lot of interesting and useful ideas! Although all I could think while watching was how difficult it would be to keep all those "useful features" clean!

    Bookmark   December 4, 2012 at 8:39AM
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Goofy, off the wall suggestion. For a long time, my spices were in a rack on the back of the pantry door. Most are no longer there, but the rack is. It had the advantage of darkness most of the time.

Any door would do. I made the rack easily out of stock lumber and fittings. Worked for a long time.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 6:44PM
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The smaller spices are just on a shallow shelf. That part's easy.

The larger ones are resting on the top of the drawer run - also easy.

The flour drawers? I'd make them of plexiglass - easy to cut, solvent-welded, food-safe - and slide them into a custom wood frame.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 7:51AM
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I love drb2K's video - I want that kitchen! The 1949 version doesn't make the counter area shallower, but the BHG idea does, make the space less useable. All of the functionality in the BHG version is in the bs,but in the 1949 version, it's in the wall proper, if you understand what I mean. I like the idea of making the bs a useable space, especially in a butler's pantry or a tiny kitchen. What a way to delineate a baking zone!

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 8:25AM
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Hi Breezygirl,

I like your spice drawer. How deep is your drawer and where did you find your spice containers?


    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 8:38AM
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I like that video too - I think it's a riot. Especially the part about how there was a reservoir behind the flour bin that could hold 40 lbs of flour. Otherwise, pretty darned mise en place and well lighted.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 12:09PM
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Hi MJ.

My drawer is about 3.25" deep. The tins are from Specialty Bottle. The four ounce size fit most of my spices perfectly, except for the few in the back of the drawer that I either use a lot of (chili powder, cinnamon) or are difficult to store in the smaller tin (bay leaves, star anise). Those are in eight ounce tins. The lids fit tightly, don't spill, and are high quality. In fact, I'm ordering more tonight to hold a spice mix I'm making as holiday gifts. HTH!

Here is a link that might be useful: Tins at Specialty Bottle

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 8:57PM
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I ordered some of the round tins and some of the square ones the first time I saw your spice drawer. They are great for small tools (drill bits, screws....) I am intrigued by the square tins with clear lids for spices. They would fit tighter, more to the same space, than the round ones. Is there a reason not to use them?
Here's a link to the square, clear-top food-grade specialty bottle tins. If there is no reason to use the round over the square, I may go with the square.

Here is a link that might be useful: Square clear top tins

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 10:08PM
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Bellsmom--I figured that it would be easier to reach into a crowded drawer of round tins and find finger space than it would be with square. That's the only reason. If one's drawer has less residents, it probably wouldn't matter. Or, if one was to measure well ahead of time. :)

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 10:35PM
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Thank you. One more question; how wide is your spice drawer? I think I will be using your spice drawer idea, it looks so efficient. I will look up your finished kitchen. Do you show where/how you store everything?


    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 9:26AM
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I put my spices in a deep Ikea drawer and organized them with 3 of those deep drawer organizer things. I aspire to one day have my spices look like Breezygirl's. This is what I could manage for the time being.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 11:11AM
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MJ--you're welcome. To be fair, the spice drawer idea was one I copied from other GW members. I think Lascatx was one of the first to store spices in this manner. Every time I open the drawer and enjoy the great visibility and ease of use, I'm thankful for finding the spice organization thread!

The interior drawer box is 15.75" wide. In the pic I posted, you can see six rows of six (four oz) tins and four of the larger eight ounce tins in the back. Btw, I now store them offset from each other so they stay nicely together instead of me constantly arranging them back in perfectly straight rows as you see in the pic. I have added a couple more tins recently while experimenting with flavored salts and my own spice mixes and found out that I can stack two small tins and still have enough clearance to open and shut the drawer.

To my great joy, I finally found the box with my label maker so say goodbye to the silly blue tape labels! :)

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 12:10PM
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Regarding my kitchen, it's not finished yet. I did post some pics in the linked thread below. Somewhere in that long thread I have pics of some drawers and talk about how I store things. The storage pics are old though. If you have any more questions, you can ask them on the linked thread. I was fanatical about storage and zone planning as I wanted every kitchen tool exactly where I needed it and making sure I had the appropriate size drawer or what-have-you was key to that. Happy to help!

Sorry for the hijack, Mandydean!

Here is a link that might be useful: My kitchen pics

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 12:19PM
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Mrs. Pete, do you have a link to your system? I don't buy in bulk, but I dry a lot of my own spices.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2012 at 12:30PM
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DH made these custom spice racks for me. Here's the one in my baking area:

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 6:33AM
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That video is great! They had some interesting ideas in 1949. I am so relieved that my baking zone exceeds the 1949 standards except I don't have bins under the cabinets with 40 lb storage behind the bins. I must be a latent leftie as I originally set up my mixer to the right side of the bake zone but hated it and moved it to the left (which also hides the only outlet/swtich) in the bake zone area - the others are under cabinet.
I also loved the lighting recommendation for the era - now we have so many more options!

I used a Spice Stack to store my spices - I can use regular jars and it is very compact. I haven't labeled the shelves yet - until I finalize my spices/herbs.
Closed position - Final plan, I moved it to the right side of the cabinet to be further from heat source

This is in the "open" position (not actually mine but a web photo)

Now, maybe I should look at the flour and sugar bins - but my problem is I have about 10 different types of flour... So despite the DOA recommendations, they are stored in tubs - some glass and some Tupperware as I am petrified of creepy crawly things visiting my kitchen.

In any case, thanks for sharing. Makes me think that I should have a couple of those tilt out bins below my cabinet - but then it would block my backsplash..

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 7:26AM
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Thanks everyone.. still reading and enjoying your ideas! I actually found and purchased a hoosier cabinet this weekend... an amazing local find that I'm thrilled with. So now I have a new option to play with. It doesn't have any built-in flour/spice storage (probably a good thing.. like others, I keep four different kinds of flour, in large glass airtight containers), but I may build spice racks on the insides of the cabinet doors, or keep them in the drawers.. so many new options to consider. Also considering these spice stacks.. but they are kind of pricey for what they are, and would still need to buy jars to repackage most of my bulk spices. But a clean and simple option, I think. Thanks for the tips everyone :-)

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 10:16AM
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Old bat, I love your DH's creations!
If he ever needed a quick online job, he could easily sell these. Etsy, maybe? They're very sensible for many things.
There. Retirement income.

You guys are far too organized. I used to keep probably 30-40 spices alphabetically in drawer organizers. Then with a fire, they all got thrown out.

Now, barely cooking, I have what's the most important to me:
Salt & Pepper
Dill (for [dark meat] chicken or turkey salad)
Nutmeg & Allspice (for jambalaya!)
Bouillon cubes of all sorts
Cayenne & Dave's Insanity Sauce
Dry mustard
Cinnamon (for Algerian couscous)
Oregano & basil (for spaghetti & Italian things)
Worcestershire & soy sauce
Rice, white wine, champagne, red wine vinegars

and that's about it. Don't bake, so that's fine.
Anyway, just a little lazy Susan in my cabinet by the stove.
I actually just got up to see if I had anything unusual. I hit everything in my cabinet. Now that's a memory.

(I didn't mention alum, because it's gross and I don't can. My grandmother said every medicine cabinet needs alum for canker sores. In this day and age of vitamin C, etc., those are rare to nonexistant in my family.)

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 12:07PM
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If you can find Simply Organic, you won't need to pay extra for a nice bottle. I usually pay around $3 on sale. It's a heavy, square bottle that I lay on its side in my spice drawer. They don't roll around like the round bottles, and the labels are easy to read. I refill them with bulk spices. I checked their website and they're sold in a lot of stores all over the country.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 1:47PM
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I like the pic from BHG... love the idea of the spices on little skinny shelves, if not the pull-out drawers. DH made me a skinny shelf like that in our current kitchen and it's so handy to keep stuff up off the counter, like s&p, butter dish, box of tea bags, whatever.

Another skinny spice shelf is something I'm seriously considering for the next kitchen.

It makes me nuts when (esp. BHG, it seems) posts such neat pictures with NO 'buying info' or resource links.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2012 at 2:06PM
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breezygirl, are your spice tins airtight? Would they also work for loose tea? I know tea needs to be stored dark and as airtight as possible.

The Simply Organic jars that I get aren't nearly as attractive as those pictured above, either. Boo hoo. Maybe only the bigger size is the pretty one? I'll have to look next time I'm at the store.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 7:46PM
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Jen--The smaller 4 oz tins are very air tight. The 8 oz tins are not quite as tightly lidded. I didn't notice until Lascatx asked about the 8 oz lids on a thread a few months ago. This hasn't caused an issue for me. I ordered more of both sizes last month along with some glass Boston bottles for some holiday gifts I was making and noticed the same slightly looser lid on the 8 oz tins. Maybe they are manufactured in different places.

I think they'd be great for loose tea. I just adore my tins and look forward to other around the house uses as I reorganize rooms. Someone here (I'm blanking on who) uses them for screws, nuts, and such in the shop!

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 8:50PM
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The price is so right too! Thanks, breezy!

Here's what my Simply Organic jars look like. I'm so fed up with my spice system. It's pretty with all the little jars, but I'm fed up with the disorganization of a bunch of little jars of all different types. I love the tins, even if I don't have a drawer (yet) for them like yours. They look stackable, and I'm going to get a label maker too.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 9:05PM
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Built this spice shelf over 25 years ago, recessed into wall to maintain full counter depth.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 11:27PM
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You're welcome, Jen! Just passing it on, really. I found the tins here on the forum. Yes, the price is great too. The little tins are stackable. In fact, I've had to do that in my drawer a little now that I've been experimenting with so many different salts and more homemade spice mixes. My drawer can't hold them all in a single layer now. I found my label maker a couple of weeks ago!! with the holidays and a houseful of sickees last month I haven't been able to go buy the right tape for it to make my labels. Can't wait!

Ctycdm--That's so awesome! And ahead of your time. Christopher Peacock has an uber fancy storage area like that in one of his kitchens. And you did it yourself! I bow. :)

    Bookmark   January 4, 2013 at 11:59PM
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