Tag Archives: Kitchen

Looking for Inspiration

Yesterday was Day 3 of Apartment Therapy’s 20/20 Home Cure. Maxwell talks about looking for inspiration to help find your style and ideas for your own home. Definitely not a new idea on Fabulous in Four-Hundred Square Feet:


A fresh and organized fridge.

Washington, D.C. native Alejandra Costello provides some great tips on keeping your fridge fresh and organized.

Design Dissection: My more organized and usable small kitchen (Part 2)

I’m so excited! I finally received all of my purchases and had some time to put everything into place last night. I love love love the result.

I already walked you through how I completed steps 1 thru 4 of my process. Here is what I did to complete the 5th and final step:

Step 5: Implement

In Part 1 of this Design Dissection, I mentioned to you my acquisition decisions and now you will get to see how I was able to utilize them to improve my very small kitchen space.

Starting with my entryway/kitchen closet and pantry:

  • I did not make any big purchases for the first half of this closet even though it looks completely different and is much more organized.
  • I had previously had a plastic drawer that I used for cleaning storage. Under the side table in my living room, I had two more plastic drawers that stacked together. By cleaning  out the two drawers under my side table, I not only got rid of many things I simply didn’t need or know I had, but I also created two more drawers to be used in my closet. I stacked all three next to the coat bag in the closet. The bottom drawer contained candles and air freshener in its old location, and since I kept some of these I simply kept them in the drawer when I moved it to the closet. The middle drawer was already in my closet and didn’t need any cleaning out. The top drawer I was now empty to use as needed! This turned into part of the storage for my plastic containers and serving dishes. While these drawers had been purchased years ago – you can still buy them at The Container Store and they are currently on sale for $16.99 each.
  • Remember all of those large containers and pans on top of my cabinets? They are no longer there. I have now stored them on top of the three stacked drawers so they are out of sight!
  • Being the frugalista that I am, I needed to find a way to use that three-tier hanging basket I purchased. One of my biggest storage frustrations is my plastic container storage. No matter how many times I have reorganized them they inevitably end up in a mess a few weeks later. I figured that the solution to this problem was more accessible and visible storage which was perfectly solved by the hanging baskets! The containers are easily visible to me when I need to find one, but still out of sight in the closet.
  • The top shelf of the left half of this closet didn’t need any real organizing this time around. A few months ago I had reorganized this shelf by using an expanding shelf that I already owned to make the space more functional. Using this shelf allowed me to better see and access the sandwich bags, garbage bags and what-not I had stored there. This shelf is also not factored into my budget, but you can still purchase it at The Container Store.
  • The other half of my closet is more for food storage. Here I already owner an ELFA organizer from The Container Store. This has been great addition storage for my pantry. As part of this project, I cleaned out the drawers and reorganized the space with my new storage purchases.
  • My favorite purchase for this project is the hanging shelf I bought for my pantry. This has allowed me to finally make use of the empty space above my ELFA unit and utilize the closet pole.
  • For the top shelf, I purchased a can dispenser. I also used many of the plastic storage containers I purchased to store my bulk items (ie. flour, pasta, sugar, etc.).
  • Lastly, I was stuck on how to best organize the many bottles on this shelf. My struggle has been finding a way to see and access all of them easily. My aha! moment (thanks to my best friend) was using the lazy suzan I had on my dining table for these bottles. I couldn’t have imagined a better solution!

Moving to the other half of my kitchen, I also reorganized my cabinets. I was thrilled at the amount of space I opened up through this project. Much of the space was not so much from discarding old or unwanted items but from simply better utilizing the space I had.

  • I have three cabinets above my stove and sink, as well as, two hard to reach cabinets above my refrigerator. The only item I purchased for this part of the project was an expandable tiered shelf for my spices.
  • For the cabinets below my counter-top, I had done much of this reorganizing earlier. One great idea to help contain the cleaning supplies under my sink was to use a plastic container. This not only contains them but also allows me to take the whole container out with everything I need for cleaning.

There you have it! My newly reorganized and much more usable small kitchen!

My 'bad' is great for you!

As I mentioned, I was planning to receive the last of my kitchen organization purchases yesterday – and I did! I started organizing everything and realized that I over purchased and do not have a great use for the hanging 3-tier basket I bought.

Why is this great for you?….because you can win this great organizing item simply by commenting on my blog and/or “Like”-ing the “Fabulous in Four-Hundred Square Feet” Facebook page. You can comment on absolutely anything you would like and you can find the Facebook page by clicking the “Badge” for it on the right side of my blog.

Here is what I am giving away:

From StacksandStacks.com

I will announce and contact the winner on Sunday, August 1st, 2010.

My ‘bad’ is great for you!

As I mentioned, I was planning to receive the last of my kitchen organization purchases yesterday – and I did! I started organizing everything and realized that I over purchased and do not have a great use for the hanging 3-tier basket I bought.

Why is this great for you?….because you can win this great organizing item simply by commenting on my blog and/or “Like”-ing the “Fabulous in Four-Hundred Square Feet” Facebook page. You can comment on absolutely anything you would like and you can find the Facebook page by clicking the “Badge” for it on the right side of my blog.

Here is what I am giving away:

From StacksandStacks.com

I will announce and contact the winner on Sunday, August 1st, 2010.

More great kitchen re-do tips:

bossy color Blog just posted some great tips: “Kitchen renovation: 3 cheap ways to avoid it (at least for now)“.

While those of us who are still renters aren’t even considering a renovation of any sort, this post by blog author Annie Elliott provides some great ideas to spruce up your kitchen.

Some Great Kitchen Organizing Blogs

While I am impatiently waiting for the last of my kitchen acquisitions I have also been browsing to find more ideas on the best way to use my small space.

Organizing Small Kitchen Keeps Things Cooking – Rented Spaces.com

A Systematic Approach to Organizing Your Space – I’m an Organizing Junkie Blog

Less is more in our compact kitchen – DIY with ADD Blog

How to Organize a Small Space – Apartment Living

How to Learn to Get Organized – Organize Right Now Blog

Simple Kitchen Storage Ideas – Suite 101

Kitchen Organization – Spotless Kitchen Blog

If you come across any great resources please share. Happy reading!

Design Dissection: My more organized and usable small kitchen (Part 1)

Steps 1 – 4:

Inventory: It was great to fully empty all of my closets and cabinets. I realized I had quite a few expired food items. I finally cleaned out my food storage containers and now have a top for every bottom. It was almost odd to see my closet and cabinets empty.

Cleaning: I actually really enjoy cleaning, so I am always up for making time for a thorough cleaning. I must say that now having everything out of the closet and cabinets there were definitely some corners that needed to see a vacuum. It was great to see my kitchen in tip-top shape.

Inspiration: Searching for inspiration for this project was a bit different from other redecorating projects I’ve done. I needed to find organizational inspiration. I sought to find pictures that explained: What does organization look like to me? I looked for photos of spaces that appeared uncluttered, easy to access and practical for my budget (we weren’t going to be building any amazing cabinets in my rental). Here are some of my findings:

Shopping: As you already know this is my favorite part! Fortunately, I had already made some attempts at organizing so I had a few things I could use, but I definitely needed to make some organizational investments as well. For me, I have realized that part of making a space feel organized is cohesiveness. Things need to seem to match for my mind to feel like they are organized. Since I already own a white Elfa storage unit from The Container Store, I kept with white for most of my other organizational items.

While taking inventory of my pantry and cabinets, I realized I had quite a few items that would be better stored in plastic containers than their original packaging, such as – flour, sugar, oatmeal, rice, pasta, crackers, chips, nuts, cat food, etc. (I already had storage containers for my cereal). I found some great Snapware containers that come in tons of sizes and considered how much storage I would need for each item.

Being that I have such limited reachable cabinet space, my one kitchen drawer and the cabinet I use for many of my cooking and baking utensils were very crowded. I realized that this was in large part because I owned many sets of measuring spoons and cups that were all over the place and hard to find. It is very hard for me to rationalize purchasing something when I already own something that does the same job; however, I finally broke down and bought some great space-saving measuring spoons, measuring cups and a colander. I also purchased three containers for my silverware which had previously all been dumped into one container and would take me a while to find the silverware I needed. For my upper cabinets, I found a great expandable shelf at The Container Store that would allow me to stack spices so that I could much more easily see where things were.

My last organizational obstacle was my closet/pantry. I already owned a shelf that I could use to create more usable and visible storage space. I realized, however, that it seemed there was a large amount of space between the shelf and my Elfa unit that was unused. Being a rental I couldn’t make any major shelf installations, so I decided that the best way to utilize this space would be to take advantage of the closet bar and buy some hanging storage items. I purchased a hanging shelf which I found by looking through clothing storage items. Lastly, I purchased a 3 tier hanging basket that I think I may hang outside of the closet from the ceiling.

So there you have it, and here I am waiting for the last of my purchases to arrive. I am waiting for the 2 hanging units and they are supposed to be delivered next Tuesday (7/27). Until then, I’m at a bit of a stand still with organizing.

Now that I have a clean and organized kitchen – how do I give it more color, or are the plates and posters I’ve added as part of my “entryway” makeover enough? What do you think?

A More Organized and Usable Small Kitchen – Step 4: Shop

The step I am sure many of you have been waiting for; this is certainly my favorite part.

Hopefully you have picked up and made note of some ideas of what you may want to do with your space from you search for inspiration. If not, get going and then get back to me.

Now that you have some ideas, its time to start seeing what would be feasible in your own space and on your own budget. To do this efficiently, under budget and effectively here are a few key recommendations:

  • Know the space: It is important that you take thorough measurements of the spaces you are reorganizing. This includes, but is not limited to, cabinets, closets, floor space, etc. Make sure to measure every dimension (length – width – depth). I find it helpful to draw the space on graph paper so that I can better visualize how to use different organizational tools.
  • Solve problems: Look at everything you have taken out of your kitchen and see where you could condense storage of an item (ie. cereal), make items more visible (ie. canned goods), make items more accessible (ie. spices) or simply need to create storage for something that previously did not have a home.
  • Know your budget: If you end the project having the most amazing organizational items on the market, but stressed out because you have overspent, the project really hasn’t achieved its full potential. Have a budget and stick to it. Make sure your budget is reasonable – for your finances and for what you think you will need to purchase. Remember that you may have things already that you can re-purpose to better organize your kitchen.
  • Research: This is vital to staying on budget. I am a fan of using Microsoft Excel. I typically set up a spreadsheet to keep track of items that I think I want to purchase. This way I can get an idea for what the end cost will be before making any purchases. This helps to prioritize purchases when you near the end of your budget and helps you find the best deal for your purchase. Here is an example of the spreadsheet I use:

If you are like me, and are pretty tight on your spending, here is one piece of advice when organizing. Sometimes you need to spend the money to make your life simpler. Sounds silly and like a shopaholic justification, but hear me out.

My best example would be my lower kitchen cabinet that I use to store my baking ‘stuff’. My biggest pet peeve with this cabinet is that I would constantly have to dig through everything to find the right measuring cup; every time I would organize the measuring cups by stacking them in one another, I felt it never lasted very long at all and was hard to keep organized. I really didn’t want to purchase new measuring cups since I already owned more than one set, but I finally got fed up enough and purchased a set of collapsible measuring cups and got rid of all of my other ones. GREAT IDEA! This has saved me time, frustration and space. It is now simple to keep that cabinet organized and I never have a hard time finding just what I need. Just some food for thought.

When looking for solutions to your organizational problems, keep in mind that you can find the perfect solution. There are so many stores and items out there that you don’t have a reason to settle. Also, think outside of the box a bit. You don’t only need to buy organizational items that are labeled as being used for the kitchen or even labeled as being organizational tools. For example, I used a clothes hanger to help organize my umbrellas. When working in a small space, like my efficiency, it is important to utilize as much space as possible. In my pantry, for example, I have a clothing rod across the top and a decent amount of unused space between my storage unit and the top shelf. To find a way to utilize this empty space I have been looking for closet organizers since they are often made to hang in a space.

I hope that helps get you started. Patience is certainly a virtue for this project. I certainly need practice in this area, but it is better to wait and find a perfect solution than to settle for something that will do for the moment but you will end up buying a replacement for – and spending more unnecessary money – later on.

Happy Shopping!

A More Organized and Usable Small Kitchen – Step 2: Clean

It is time to get down and dirty!

Now that you have taken everything out of your kitchen, take advantage of the easy access to every nook and cranny. To start with a truly clean slate, your kitchen needs a thorough top to bottom cleaning. To make sure your kitchen gets a real good cleaning, there is a great resource – List Bean. ListBean.com has a great kitchen cleaning checklist to help you remember to clean all of the spots your usually forget or skip over.

I would recommend taking this time to clean out the items in your refrigerator and freezer. Use the same method you did to clean out all of the cabinets and pantries.

Happy cleaning!

A More Organized and Usable Small Kitchen – Step 1: Inventory

It’s time to jump in! Take everything out of every cabinet, drawer, closet or shelf in your kitchen. Everything.

It is best to have a clear space to put these things while you work through your kitchen. I have a table right next to my kitchen that I used to lay everything out on, including the floor, chairs – whatever space I needed. Being that the items in your refrigerator and freezer are perishable, we will approach those last. For now, focus on all of the dry goods, cooking utensils, etc. that you have in your kitchen area.

That wasn’t so hard, was it?

Now that you can see everything you are working with, sort the items in a way that is logical and works for you. For instance – I keep items that I use to bake with together. While this includes chocolate chips, which some may consider sweets/candy, and dried fruits, this is the best and most logical method of organization for me. While you are sorting through everything, make sure that you aren’t keeping items that are of no use, for example:

  • food storage without matching lids
  • pans that are so old you don’t like to use them
  • expired food (keep in mind that just because it may not have an expiration date doesn’t mean that it doesn’t go bad)
  • things you don’t ever use
  • duplicates (you don’t need four pasta serving spoons)

You have just accomplished what is, in my opinion, the most overwhelming part of organizing your kitchen. You have an empty kitchen to work with and you can easily see every item that you own that will need to go into that kitchen.

Even though “Inspiration” is not until step #3, I would recommend that you start browsing now for two reasons:

  1. Eye on the prize: While your kitchen is currently spread out in your dining room (or whatever space you have chosen) you can keep in mind the rewarding end result.
  2. Start looking for options: When looking for inspiration for this part of the project, you should focus less on style and more on methods of organization. There are many ways to organize the same things in the same space; it is all about what will work best for you.

5 Steps to a More Organized and Usable Small Kitchen

Being as my kitchen and entryway are one in the same, it is only logical that the kitchen should be my next place to tackle.

It is my philosophy that organization is necessary to allow for truly great decoration to shine through. For many people, the kitchen is one of the most overwhelming rooms in their home to organize. When you live in a small space, like I do, the limited storage options and space add to the challenge. To make this process less overwhelming and more self-gratifying, I have broken it down into 5 clear steps. Only 5?! Yes, I know that may seem like false advertising, but it is true – trust me.

Before we go into the 5 steps to a more organized and usable small kitchen, I think it is important that you realize this is not a one day project. I’m sure it could be if you really tried, but I think it is best to allow some time for this. Moral of the story – I would recommend against beginning this project if you are planning to have house guests this weekend; maybe it is better for you to just tidy up for now and begin the project after they leave.

Here, in a nutshell, are the 5 steps:

  1. Inventory
  2. Clean
  3. Inspiration
  4. Shop
  5. Implement

Start with “I” and end with “I”. Corny, I know, but I think it reminds you that reorganizing or better organizing your kitchen, or anything for that matter, will benefit you and make your life just a little bit easier and stress-free.

To help encourage you to not cram this whole project into one day, I will provide you with one step a day.

Design Dissection: Entryway Vintage Makeover

Looking at the changes I made to my entryway/kitchen this weekend, I think I’m quite pleased.

What I love from the Entryway Vintage Makeover:

  • The price tag! I was able to do everything for under $50. My only new acquisition for this makeover was the poster order. The plates were already owned (along with the plate hangers), and for the door mat I simply switched the larger mat I had been using under the cat food dishes with the small door mat.
  • I was finally able to use something I had purchased for my “big girl home”. The Oneida Vintage Label plates have been moved from my bedroom at my parents’ house to storage in my apartment. It is wonderful to see them up on the walls.

To go back to the design elements that should be considered in an entryway:

  • Function. From the pictures I have posted thus far, the design elements addressing the functionality and organization of the entryway are not visible. The sliding closet to the left as you enter my apartment, serves two purposes – coat closet and pantry. I am a firm believer that everything needs a place and that like things should be kept together. Working in my limited space, I am able to keep item divided by function with some work. For the coat closet/pantry, I purchased a clothing storage bag from IKEA (I would share the link but I can’t seem to find it on their site). This keeps coats protected and in their own space. I use a hanger to keep umbrellas in one place and off the floor.
  • Style/Personality. I clearly went BIG with my theme/style for the entryway – Vintage. Since I am unable to paint the vintage posters and decorative plates served well to add color to the space. While the rest of my apartment is not nearly as overloaded with vintage items, I like that the entryway has such a strong and defined personality.
  • Lighting. This element is, in my opinion, one of the most important in any room. At the start of my apartment redecoration, I purchased an under-cabinet light. As a renter, I am unable to install nicer looking (and more effective) under-cabinet lighting. Wireless lighting options are the perfect solution to this.
  • Mirrors. There aren’t any mirrors in the space (as you can see). Being such a small and multi-functional space, I’m not sure if a mirror could work here. The only place I am considering is to mount a mirror on the back of the door. This would be a great last look-over before I leave the apartment, I’m just not sure if it will be too much….To Be Determined.
  • Artwork. There is clearly plenty of artwork in the space. The artwork is pulled together to appear better matched as a collection by its common vintage theme.
  • Door Mat. Not much to say here – I have one. It is nothing very colorful or fancy, but I think with all of the color in the art it is unnecessary.
  • Furniture. No room.
  • Organizers (an “In Box”). My “In Box” happens to be just outside of this space. I typically place my keys on top of the refrigerator, but as you can see in the photos above, all I had to do was add a serving bowl I had lying around to take away the cluttered look of keys and what-not lying on top of the refrigerator.

And there you have it. One entryway redecorated and ready to go…kind of. Being that in my apartment the entryway is also the kitchen there is still work to be done. Now we will move onto looking at organizing and decorating your kitchen.

Birra, Bier, Bière

There is nothing quite like a good lunch time acquisition to get my creative juices flowing. I happened to be near a World Market yesterday and found, and purchased, my inspiration for the first step in my entryway redecoration. Sadly the item is not on the World Market website so I will take a photo of it later today for your viewing pleasure. In brief, it’s a metal sign in a vintage style of wine bottles. This inexpensive purchase (only about $13.00) sparked a great idea!

Thanks to PosterCheckOut.com, I was able to purchase 10 vintage advertising posters. The posters are varying sizes but they are all advertising various alcoholic drinks. I figured I would keep with my very small start at a theme (bottle cap magnets and Yuengling sign). Being the budget savvy person I am, I saved by not having the posters laminated (it was about $10 extra each poster) and plan to cover them with the extra clear contact paper I have from my bookshelf project. This will help them to resist wear and tear a bit. Also, the matte finish of the clear contact paper will stay with the vintage feel of the theme rather than the high gloss look laminating would’ve given them. My plan for these posters and metal sign is to put them on the large sliding closet doors.

Here are the posters that I’ve purchased:

I’m very excited for these posters to be delivered!

My next step is to find some sort of rug to complement the colors of the various posters and to add color and warmth to the space.

Welcoming the World to Your Unique Style

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. – Maya Angelou

Your home is a great place to make others feel welcome, wanted and warm. As such, I think that the best place to first display your design style is in the entryway – set the tone for the rest of your home.

Having realized this I’ve been thinking about how I might give my own entryway a splash of my style. My entryway, however, poses a particularly challenging situation; the entryway is also my kitchen. With limited wall space, and a need to maintain functionality I’m having a difficult time coming up with ideas to add style and color to my kitchen/entryway.

Here’s what I’m working with:

Not much space to work with. This is to the right as you enter my apartment.

This is the "above cabinet storage". Really its just space above the cabinets that I've used to store larger items.

As you can see, there is a closet to the left of the front door. I use this closet for coats and as a pantry.

That's all there is to it. Very small.

So there you have it. There is a lot going on in a very little space.

When first looking at redecorating this space I got very overwhelmed and so I stopped. My beginning efforts were to give it a theme of beer/wine (real classy, I know). Here’s what I’ve done so far:

  • The wine rack has been there for a while
  • I made the “cork” board
  • I purchased the tin Yuengling advertisement replica
  • I made magnets from various beer bottle tops for the refrigerator

Not much but it’s a start. What I think is missing is some color and character. Some ideas that I have:

  • I like the ‘vintage’ feel of the tin advertisement and want to do something more with that. I have collected some interesting beer bottle labels from around the world and am thinking of framing them in small square frames to put on the wall above the cat food.
  • Color: I can’t paint (yay for renting) so I need to look for some other ways to add color. Artwork is one way – which I hope to do with the project above. Another way is with a rug. While my entryway mat is functional for keeping dirt from the rest of my apartment, it is also dull and very small (the cat food mat is bigger – pretty pathetic). I’m thinking I can pick up the blue in the Yuengling sign in a rug and/or maybe the colors from the labels I will be framing.
  • That big closet door takes up a lot of the space in the entryway/kitchen and I’d love to do something with it. I think this could be a good place for storage and/or more artwork.

So that is what I have thus far. A much better start than before, and when I’ve broken it down it is much less overwhelming. I think that by the end of this weekend I will be able to make a big change in this small space and on a small budget.

I’m still trying to think of more ideas and options so what are your thoughts….