Kitchen Storage Improvements: Do This at Home!

Today we’re showing you how to maximize kitchen storage.

But first, a big thank you to everyone that supported our Amara Blog Award nomination as the Best DIY & Home Improvement Blog! Birdz of a Feather has been shortlisted!!

Our Improved Forever Kitchen

With any kitchen reno, there are some ‘must haves’ if you plan to stay long term – but storage is a biggie! In our last post, our kitchen was renovated with the intent of putting our house on the market. After deciding to stay, and living with the kitchen for a while, we got to work changing a few things to make it more liveable for us. Our kitchen is fairly small so storage is key.  Our improved ‘forever’ kitchen was accomplished with three key features: better storage (pullouts and pot drawers), electrical placement and lighting. Electrical placement and lighting will be covered in a future post.

Maximize Kitchen Storage with Pullouts and Pot Drawers

Pullouts

Standard cabinets with doors are fine for reselling a house, but are not great when you have a lot of stuff to store. Who wants to kneel down and dig around a cupboard that’s so low to the ground? Not us! It’s hard to reach items in the back and a nuisance to move all the things that are stacked on top of the one thing you really need! Pullout shelves not only help organize kitchen items behind closed doors, but put everything within reach!

Since we weren’t sure if we were going to like pullouts as much as the pot drawers we had in our pre-reno kitchen, we only purchased enough to do a test run on the set of cabinets beside the dishwasher (and for the pantry).

Here is one of the pullouts; they’re pretty shallow.

Install Glides

We removed the shelves and installed these drawer glides.

The part circled below fits into a hole in the back of the pullout:

Here’s a closeup of the back of the pullout where it connects:

To install the pullout, the glides get fully extended, then the back goes in first.

The front of the glides then snap into the clips on the underside of the pullout (shown below):

Ensure that the front is properly connected by trying to lift the front. If it stays put, you’re good to go!

Then you can start loading things in.

Verdict on the Pullouts

After testing out the pullouts for a while, we decided that we weren’t fond of using them in the lower cabinets. Things kept getting knocked over because they were too shallow. We also didn’t like having to open things twice: the doors and then the pull-outs. We made the decision to replace the doors on the next set of lower cabinets with pot drawers instead, as you’ll see later.

Having said that, the one place we absolutely loved using pullouts was in the pantry.

The Pantry

Like the first set of lower cabinets, we switched out the shelves for pull-outs. To install them, you have to plan ahead by gathering the items you want to store in the pantry. That’s so you’ll know exactly where to set the height of each pullout. We started by installing the bottom one and placing the items into it, leaving adequate space above the tallest item and marking the approximate height of the next one.

Now, perhaps there’s another way, but I developed a great little trick for installing the rest of the glides. For the next pullout, I inserted shelf pins closest to the height marked and temporarily reinstalled a stationary shelf. Since the shelf was level, I rested the glide hardware right on top of it while I marked the placement so we could drill (shown below). Easy peasy!

We continued in the same fashion until we reached the uppermost pullout.

The pullouts didn’t necessarily give us more storage space, but it sure was a convenience to be able to slide a shelf out to get to our canned goods and appliances at the very back! We would absolutely recommend pullouts for a pantry!

Pot Drawers

For the rest of the lower cabinets, we removed the doors and shelves. Then we installed two pot drawers in each section for a total of four new drawers.

With all the practice on the pullouts, the pot drawers were just as easy to install. They’re really just a deeper box with a drawer face on the front!

Coordinate the Hardware

We replaced the door knobs that were on the old doors with the matching cup handles that were already on the upper drawers. We debated about whether to centre the handles on the drawer additions, but ultimately decided to position them near the top.

The large, deep pot drawers we swapped out are just the ticket for storing pots and pans!

Finally Tons of Storage – Yay!

In the two wide drawers, we were able to store Hubs’ entire collection of Paderno cookware.

And no kitchen would be without a variety of non-stick pots and pans. Can you imagine what a mess this would be if we had to stack ALL OF THIS into a cupboard?

The pot drawers we added to the narrower bank of cupboards are great for storing glassware and a few other utensils.

You really can’t beat pot drawers for being able to easily retrieve items.

Inside the Drawers

Shallow drawers are perfect for storing spices. Don’t forget about drawer organizers for inside the drawers! Although our spice drawer already had an Ikea insert, it still looked disorganized (it suffered from ‘square peg/round hole’ syndrome).

In contrast, I designed and printed spice labels then transferred our spices to the same-sized round jars (again, from Ikea) which made a big difference. The lack of visual clutter really helps and keeps all our spices at our fingertips!

The Transformation

The next three photos will show the transition from before to during and finally after. Sadly, here’s how our kitchen looked before:

Here is the kitchen as were were about to get started on the pot drawers:

Overall, the upgraded kitchen is not only beautiful, but it’s super functional because of the addition of practical storage in the form of pullouts and pot drawers!

Even we didn’t expect the plot twist at the end of our last post – when we decided to stay after our kitchen was specifically renovated to put it on the market. The improvements we made helped solidify our decision to stay!

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Kitchen Renovation to Sell a Home

Without a doubt, kitchens and bathrooms sell houses so when we were thinking of selling our house a kitchen renovation was a must! Unfortunately, the previous owner of our house didn’t think that way. Below is the actual real estate picture of how the kitchen looked before I bought the house!

The kitchen sported the original 80’s builder cabinets with some improvisation on the part of the previous owner. For instance, see that cabinet holding the toaster oven? It looked like something that had been dragged in from the curb. Not that there’s anything wrong with upcyling (it’s what Birdz of a Feather thrive on!), but it didn’t even have a proper countertop – just a grungy piece of painted plywood.

The counter space was about the size of a postage stamp (between the sink and stove and beside the fridge). It was hardly a kitchen you’d enjoy cooking in!

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Behind Closed Doors: Easy Dishwasher Tab Dispenser

A note of caution before proceeding: if you have young kids and want to implement this, make sure you have a child proof safety latch on the door; these pucks look temptingly like candy and you wouldn’t want the wee ones to ingest this stuff; it’s toxic!

I absolutely hate some of the packaging that’s out there for dishwasher tablets; it’s hard to get those pucks out when they’re in a ‘clamshell’ and trying to dig them out from under the sink can be a challenge in itself – even when they come in a resealable bag!

I was browsing Hometalk when I came across a fellow blogger’s solution for storing dishwasher tabs. I thought this was a great solution, but I wanted mine to be easily accessible without having to dive under the cupboard to pull them out every time I needed one. I have a bad back, so I don’t do dishes. It has actually been hubs’ job to do the scavenging hunt when we run the dishwasher. The solution I came up with is easy for me to access without bending down and with a few simple office supplies, I didn’t even have to drill a hole into the back of my kitchen sink cabinet to mount it!!

Opening Pic_Diswaher Tab Storage Solution_BOF2

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Ikea Stenstorp Kitchen Cart Hack

We ran into a problem with our kitchen design when we couldn’t fit two pantries along the fridge wall. Due to traffic flow issues, our renovator had no choice but to change the plan. That left us with an awkward blank spot to fill at the entry to our kitchen. Not only was it awkward to look at, but the lack of a pantry left us terribly short of storage space!

Kitchen 1_bof.jpg

Ikea’s Stenstorp kitchen cart seemed like a great solution, but I wasn’t a fan of the open storage. As you can see by the before and after pictures below, we were left with a big empty space, but now the cart fills it in nicely.  The best part is that we can move it completely out of the way if we ever need to bring anything wide in or out of the kitchen!

Before and After_final_bof.jpg

We needed extra drawer space to hold things like our kitchen knives and towels.  However, I didn’t want to permanently alter the cart in case we ever wanted to convert it back one day. The solution was to design a removable two drawer unit that simply slips in and sits on the top shelf. Friend to the rescue: as a woodworker, our friend has the leftover scrap wood to build the drawer unit for us!

I liken this project to the ‘Turducken’ of Ikea hacks: the removable drawer unit is two boxes within a box that sits between the two rails within the top portion of the cart! It’s a mouthful to say, but it works beautifully!

At first we weren’t sure how we would build the drawer, so we started our transformation of the cart by taking full measurements as shown below. We have a friend who’s extremely knowledgeable about furniture building so we asked for his advice. He came up with the brilliant idea of making something that wasn’t permanently attached. That was when we decided on a self-enclosed removable unit with drawers for only the top half with open storage on the bottom for some baskets.

Our friend not not only came up with the idea, but he also offered to cut and assemble the pieces for us. He then handed it back over to us to paint, clear coat (the top and drawers), add hardware and, of course, add finishing touches like baskets and artwork to decorate the space. Who could refuse an offer like that?

In the end, we really only needed the inside dimensions of the first section and also the inner dimensions of the sides, so we could add a panel to hide the fact that that the drawer isn’t ‘built in’ (A,C,I & J).

Stenstorp Dimensions_FINAL_bof.jpg

We only used measurements for A, C, I and J

We made the final size of the box 1/8″ less in both height and width so there’s enough room to slip it onto the shelf. That way we wouldn’t have noticeable gaps that would give away that the drawers are not built-in.

Box sits on shelf_bof.jpg

Here’s how the box looks resting on the shelf from the side and back view; we didn’t build the box to the full depth of the shelf, as you can see in this picture:

Side and back view_bof.jpg

Below you’ll see the inside and outside dimensions of the box;  the finished dimensions were 25-3/16″ wide x 11 -1/8″ high x 16-7/16″ deep.  Since it sits so snugly on the shelf, we taped off about 1/2″ around the face and painted only that part white (it’s the only part you actually see – the rest was clear coated).

Stenstorp Ikea Hack 054_inside dimension_bof.jpg

Stenstorp Ikea Hack 050_outer dimensions_final bof.jpg

We used 5/8″ maple to build the box; again, our friend mitred the pieces of wood 45 degrees on each edge with a table saw and then glued and clamped it all together with a biscuit joint.

Stenstorp Ikea Hack 053_bof.jpg

Close-up of mitre joint

Watch the first minute of this YouTube video to see the process of biscuit joining a 45 degree mitre:

We used Blum drawer glides that were 13-5/8″ in length. For the bottom drawer, the hardware sat directly on the bottom of the box and the distance between that and next glide we installed was 4-3/4″.

Drawer glides_bof.jpg

The finished size of your drawers will depend on the thickness of the wood you use to build the box and also the clearance you need for your particular hardware; we used 1/2″ maple for the drawers.  The drawer itself was built 23″ wide x 3-7/8″ high x 13-7/8 deep” wide to accommodate the drawer glide hardware inside the box; both drawers were built to the same dimensions.

You could join the wood of the drawer using a pocket hole jig, countersink screws or even brad nails and glue, but our friend used a dovetail jig then glued and clamped it together.  He also routed out a slot to accept 1/4 plywood for the bottom of the drawer (which was also screwed on along the back edge only as you can see below).

C_Drawer_bof.jpg

From left: drawer dimensions, front face and pull installed, blum hardware on underside

C_dovetail_bof.jpg

Dovetail joints in drawer

While it’s great that we had access to a friend who could help us fabricate a professional looking drawer, not many of you will have the tools or a friend to do this. Jenn over at Build-Basic has a great tutorial for building a simple drawer that anyone with some basic tools could do. Once the drawers were complete, my husband sprayed them with a clear finish to seal the wood.

Our drawer face measured 4-11/16″ high x 23-11/16″ wide. As you can see in the picture of the drawer below, we positioned the face 1/2″ from the top edge of the drawer and centred it from side to side. We drilled pilot holes through the box and then drove 1″ screws through the holes into the backside of the drawer front (which we also painted to match the rest of the cart).

Stenstorp Ikea Hack 011_bof FINAL.jpg

We installed the drawer glides into the box, then slid the box onto the first shelf of the cart. Maybe one day I’ll take off the blue protective plastic coating on the stainless steel shelves – lol!

Stenstorp Ikea Hack 057_bof.jpg

Then drawers went in:

Stenstorp Ikea Hack 076_bof.jpg

Once the drawers were in, we attached the drawer pulls, then we could fill our drawers up!

We tried our knives in the second drawer, but then moved them up to the top for better access. We’re currently using a bamboo knife tray to hold them, but it’s not a perfect fit so I may build custom dividers for the drawer!

C_4 drawer_bof.jpg

Drawers hold knives and dish towels/pot holders

The final touch was to put a panel on the side you see as you walk into the room (I have one for the other side too, but haven’t gotten around to putting it on!). We used 1/8″ MDF (14-1/8″ wide x 28-1/2″long) and painted it white inside and out. The cart is the first thing you see as you enter the kitchen so it’s nice to have the panel there to hide the side of the drawer and also the baskets I placed on the bottom shelf that hold our onions and potatoes.

I used 3-M Command Strips to hold the side panels on, which are typically used to hang pictures.

They can be removed in the future, if I ever want to restore the cart back to original, without leaving a mark! Since the panel is pretty light, three strips worked perfectly. I applied one to each rail of the side and then removed the paper to expose the adhesive backing. I carefully positioned the panel and firmly pressed it into place where it meets the rails to make contact with the adhesive. If you don’t position the panel just right the first time, avoid the temptation to lift it off.  Give the adhesive backing a chance to set up for at least 24 hours and then you can finesse the panel. Once the glue sets up, it’s just like removing something that has been velcroed; you can easily re-position the panel and snap it back in where you want it.

c_Side Panel_bof.jpg

Clockwise from top left (side views of cart): the drawer, applied 3M-strips, completed panel and 3M strip

Repaint the Cart

Did you notice in the picture below that the colour of the Stenstorp on the left is a yellow shade of white?  To match the rest of the kitchen (seen below), Hubs colour-matched paint to our kitchen cabinets and repainted the Stenstorp. We also bought matching oil bronzed cup pulls to tie in the hardware.

C_Opening_bof.jpg

It was great to be able to move the microwave from the counter top on the other side of the kitchen to the cart; it freed up some much needed prep space! While my husband was repainting the cart the same white as our kitchen, he also clear-coated the wooden top so we wouldn’t have to worry about spills.

Here are some comparisons of the space before and after the cart:

C_Befores and Afters_fin_bof.jpg

And here is the final shot of the cart with the drawer unit in place:

Stenstorp Ikea Hack 102_After_bof.jpg

To finish off what was once a blank corner, we added some framed pictures of vegetables that a friend of a friend took at a market; I love the pop of colour! I also added a plaque that says ‘indulge’ – appropriate for a kitchen, don’t you think?

Stenstorp Ikea Hack 095_cropped_bof.jpg

What’s a kitchen without a little indulgence?

To eek out even more space in our galley kitchen, my husband and I also built this pull-out cabinet.

Before and After_FINAL BOF

After the cart and pull-out cabinet were done, my husband turned his attention to finishing our basement. He’s building a craft room for me and a mancave for him (so he can finally relax after all the sweat equity he put in to building the basement)! I’ll have more how-to’s coming up in future posts stemming from the basement reno (i.e. tiling a backsplash in the laundry room, installing engineered hardwood flooring and how to install baseboard and trim).

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