Organization vs. Convenience

I have a moving date: July 13. We’re downsizing, moving out of a 1200 sq. ft., three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom house into a 900-ish sq. ft., two bedroom, two bathroom apartment (awaiting final confirmation).

Still bigger than I wanted, but significantly cheaper and almost 300 sq. ft. smaller.

As I’ve been decluttering over the last almost-year (stalled for the last few months), I’ve struggled mightily with the conflict of organization vs. convenience. For instance, in my new, smaller office, I have all my office supplies in two small bins that fit on the shelf above the desk. Nothing overflows and I have exactly what I need.

But getting out a pen is annoying. So is fishing out tape.

Not prohibitive enough to break my organization system, but noticeable.

My biggest problem, though, is in the kitchen.

The Kitchen

I’ll be the first to admit (no really, the first) that we have an overabundance of kitchen equipment. I’ll be the second to admit that some of it’s my fault in my desire to please my cooking-crazy partner in crime. We have: an ice cream maker, a waffle maker, a stand mixer, a salad spinner (one of my symbolic pet peeves), a food processor, a blender, a hand mixer, a crock pot, a mandolin, a popcorn maker, and a bread maker. Now, we didn’t buy all of these, which mollifies me somewhat.

I like the idea that if you don’t use something about once every month or two, it should be shed.

We don’t use the hand mixer (since getting the stand mixer) or the waffle maker at all. The food processor doesn’t see use every two months. The ice cream maker gets used about once every six months, despite having all sorts of sorbet-able fruit around.

But even with what’s left, how do you organize everything so that they’re convenient to access, but don’t take over the kitchen?

About 1/3rd of our plastic containers.
About 1/3rd of our plastic containers.
Okay, smaller case in point: tupperware. Oh my goodness, how obnoxious is it to maintain a perfectly-organized, mismatched set of containers? A tidy pile of lids slid in next to kinda-sorta nested-by-size containers… looks great when it’s in place. But when you’re emptying your dishwasher, and you’re reaching over your head or at knee level to put that mid-sized piece away and stack it all back and tuck the lid away and they all spring out and…

In. Convenient. Then you start just throwing the containers in the cabinet–angrily, of course–and you’re back where you started.

I’m not going to go out and buy a huge set of new tupperware and throw away all my good existing ones just to have an inherently perfectly stacking set. That’s such a waste.

Many of our lids, sans pots.
Many of our lids, sans pots.
Pots are similar: we have some nicely-stacked saucepans/big pots, then stacked skillets, then cookie sheets, but the pile of lids in the back is both a bit embarrassing and hard to sift through.

Spices? The best we’ve done so far is to have a shelf of “simple”, unmixed spices (straight rosemary, basil, etc.), a shelf of complex spices (Cajun spices, etc.), and a shelf of miscellaneous big things (olive oil, big salt containers, big container of bay leaves). Lots of rifling happens with almost any spice need.

Plus, you know, I can barely reach the top shelf or the back of the second shelf.

Our spice cabinet.
Our spice cabinet.
One of the end results of things like the spices is that we have a standalone shelf that serves as a pantry to hold canned goods, pasta, teas, and all the things our dishes and spices are pushing out of the kitchen proper.

I don’t want my kitchen to overflow the kitchen, just like I don’t want my office to overflow the office.

Possible Solutions

Here’s some of what I’m exploring:

Getting rid of kitchen appliances. The specifics need to be worked out, but things like the waffle maker and hand mixer can go, hopefully. For blenders and food processors, I totally get that the blades and bowl shapes are different, but I’m not convinced that a blender can’t serve as a basic food processor.

Our new apartment may or may not offer a closet near the kitchen in which to hide the standalone shelf (we’re using the laundry room in our house), so I’m looking to find a way to empty or organize shelves. I love the idea of using cabinet door-mounted spice racks to make spices more visible and get them off the shelves without resorting to giving up counter space. That’d be appropriate for the bigger doors typically reserved for pots.

For pots, I’d love a ceiling-mounted pot rack, but the idea of them falling scares me, and I’d feel a bit weird installing something so big in an apartment, although I’ve seen it done. It would be a perfect combination of organization and convenience, though.

We now have a knife block (yay!), but still have a drawer of “destructive” items: meat mallets, miscellaneous knives, can openers, etc. Both that and the drawer of “constructive” items (spatulas, ladles, measuring cups) are just kinda piled in however still lets the drawers close. Are organizers like this the answer?

The problem with most of these is that they require buying something in order to organize, while I really want to be simplifying.

  • New York life has definitely trained me to love small-space solutions (though goodness knows I need to do some decluttering too). My favorite items for the kitchen that may help you out: magnetic spice racks (just stick em to the fridge!) and hanging pot-lid-organizers. The former I got at BedBath&Beyond, the latter Mom buys me at her local discount-housewares/department-store place. Five lids slide into the holders one behind the other at a slight angle, the entire thing goes on a wall. Haven’t found a tupperware solution yet.

  • I’m definitely going to look into both of those. If the new kitchen’s fridge door is placed right, the magnetic spice racks could be perfect. The pot lid holder idea is awesome! How did I not run into that before? 😀 I found a bunch of different variations, too.