Your Kitchen Desk

Is this your desk? (Click on image to enlarge.)

The kitchen desk. Such a practical addition, but so difficult to maintain. Are you using it for its intended purpose or is it your dumping ground?

We tend to have dumping grounds in various spaces throughout our house. These are things that do not have a home or we have not made a decision with regard to where said item should live.  On this kitchen desk, we need to determine what needs to stay and what needs to live elsewhere.

I like to start many jobs like this with the “MACRO” sort.  This is where we just quickly pick up items and put them together with like items on another surface, for instance the kitchen table or a nearby counter.  Within the 2 hours needed to sort this, each of the listed items became a pile.  We didn’t really look at the medical mail, but could tell by a quick glance that it was medically related. And so on with the other things. By seeing the types of things to sort, the client was able to make decisions much easier.  Looking at the desk in its messy state is overwhelming.  Breaking it down into smaller decisions gets the job done. Junk mail got tossed, recipes went into a file near the cookbooks, medical mail went with bills to pay and so on.

2 hours may seem like a long time to take to clear off the desk, but it certainly wasn’t created in 2 hours, considering I found paperwork from 2 years ago. “That desk hasn’t been that clean in years,” was the comment from the client.  As the pile begins to represent that messy state again, take a smaller amount of time each week to prevent you from having to spend a long time in the future. Or wave the white flag and say HELP!



Refrigerator Organization

 Yes you need to organize your refrigerator. You shouldn’t have to wear a respirator mask when you open your refrigerator. If you get that smelly waft of air when you open your fridge, something needs to be addressed in there.

Start with a bucket of soapy water and paper towels. One shelf at a time, empty the contents and toss any “fuzzy” food. Wipe off the shelf and the sides near that shelf.  You can also take the whole shelf and wash it in the sink if it really needs more of a scrubbing.

Before you put the contents back on that shelf, wipe off the bottoms of each item.  Glance at the expiration dates. Most condiments will last beyond their expiration date for a short time, but when we’re talking YEARS, you might want to consider replacing those items.  There are many condiments/sauces that were bought when you tried a new recipe. Maybe the recipe wasn’t as good as you thought. Can you use that condiment for something else, or is it past it’s useful life and needs to say good-bye.

 Don’t forget the drawers. There usually are many a science experiment growing in there. There is a liner that you can put in your drawers that is like the mesh drawer liners. It helps let some air circulate under the produce in the drawers.  And the door shelves. Those in particular get nasty quickly.

When you return the items to the fridge, think of like things together. Most condiments would go in the door.  But even those can be organized. Dressings on one shelf. Sauces, condiments etc on another. Pickles and jarred items together.  On the shelves, put dips  and the like together. Yogurts together and other dairy.

While you are at it, the freezer probably needs attention. Shelf by shelf identify what you are pulling out. If you can’t identify it or know what it is, it is probably time to go.  The freezer requires extra hot water to prevent your rag from sticking to the walls.

 To keep things in check, consider dating items as you store leftovers. The product label once from The Container Store allows you to write the date on the label, with the special marker included, and then easily wipe it off when you empty that container. Same with the freezer. If you use freezer bags, write on them as well

Now that you are done cleaning out the fridge, close the door, now open it and take in a deep breath. Isn’t that refreshing!

Cabinet Pullouts

A simple and my favorite kitchen organization solution is to install pullouts. That might not be the official name, but that’s what I call them.  Simply, you pull them out and you have access to all that stuff in the back of your cabinet. Even better, you can reach it without crawling on your hands and knees.  There are a variety of pullouts and at different price points, but whichever you choose, just get them. 

Some are easily installed into the base of a cabinet.  If you can handle a screwdriver, you can do this. It would be easier if you had an electric screwdriver, but it can be done manually. A small pilot hole would speed up the  installation too.  If you must hire a handy person (many women are handy too, including Organized by L), the labor charge shouldn’t be too high.  Others have the gliding tracks installed on the side of your cabinet.

Now if you have those cabinets with the small shelf in the back, that’s a different story.  That shelf would have to be removed and a differnet kind of pullout would be installed.

All cabinets and pantries would benefit from pullouts.  You can order custom ones that fit your cabinets exactly from Slde a Shelf or Shelf Genie or Shelves that slide.   With the slide a shelf, you would most likely need to install an L bracket in the back to prevent the shelf from tipping forward with the pullout fully extended. These are installed on your exisitng shelves. Shelf Genie is it’s own pullout shelf. Some can be ordered on line and shipped to you. Keep in mind that you should be relatively handy if you want to venture forth to save a few bucks and install them yourself. Or sometimes it is worth the extra $ to have the job done quickly and correct.

 Pullouts are not limited to kitchen cabinets. Wherever you have a cabinet, you can install a pullout.