And so we’ve reached the end of my kitchen reorganization inspired by The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. If you haven’t been following along, I read the book in April and began a bit of a home purge because two years ago(ish) I married my husband and we combined households into a small(ish) townhome with the type of open floor plan that looks so beautiful in Dwell magazine and shows every bit of mail left on the counter in my all too real life.
If you’d like to catch up in detail (and please do, won’t you?), here are some reminders of what I’ve been doing.
- Using the KonMari Method to Spark Reinvention
- How I organized My Clothes Using the KonMari Method
- My KonMari TidyUp – One Month Later
- My KonMari Kitchen Cabinet Reorginization
If you just want a quick catch-up, here’s an overview of the space I’m dealing with.
Still too cluttered for my taste, but way better now that the kitchen table and bar cart are gone.
Technically, I suppose, a pantry reorganization isn’t necessary for my overall goal of making the downstairs an airy, non-cluttered space to live. But I took on the project for two reasons: 1) I’m hoping to clear up space in the pantry to hold items that are currently out in the living area and 2) I’m realizing more and more that clutter stresses me out and the more I can get rid of it, the better I feel.
So, let’s start with the unvarnished truth: the before picture.
I would say, look, I took this on the afternoon of December 31, I had been cooking a whole lot right before this, it was at peak disorganization, etc. These things are all true, but Marie Kondo wants us to be organized at all times. And if I did this organization correctly, I should be able to take a picture of my pantry on December 31st this year and be proud to share it. Goals!
I started with the usual process: I took everything out and I discarded! As a child of a child of the depression, this made me deeply uncomfortable. Throwing out food! In fact, I didn’t. It’s in my garage, waiting for the right place. But here’s what I removed: Duplicate spices. Too many duplicates of other things (that’s why you organize!). Spices which I had to admit I never noticed when I added them to my food (I’m looking at you oregano). Multiple boxes of popcorn. The cocoa we bought in Paris and then didn’t like, but we bought it in Paris! Basically, anything I touched and then said, “This does not spark joy.”
When I finished, I still had quite a bit of food left and here’s where Marie Kondo’s guidance was no longer helpful. I don’t think the Japanese pantry, if there even is such a thing, is quite the same as an American pantry. In her book, she is very against buying containers for organizing, but once I saw everything in front of me, it seemed clear to me that I needed containers. And so, I turned to my other organization guru for guidance. I went to Pinterest.
After spending several hours in research (and you can check out my research efforts here), I ended up organizing my pantry with the following types of containers:
Stackable containers for items I don’t access every day
This would be sugar, different types of flour, crackers, trail mix, an astonishingly large amount of small candies, etc. I had previously been keeping most of these in their original containers and they were getting shuffled to the back of the pantry shelves. This way, they are clearly visible and easily accessed. As a result, our candy and trail mix consumption, rather minimal in 2015 because our impulse purchases always got shelved to the back of the pantry has, I believe, doubled in this month because we see it every time we walk in the pantry. Full disclosure: I ate a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, which I probably previously wouldn’t have found until June, during the writing of this post tonight.
I got mine at Wal-Mart, where they had tons of choices, but these are very similar.
I also finally came on board with keeping your spaghetti in pasta containers because it does indeed keep everything nicely corralled and we eat a lot of pasta.
My pasta containers came from Ikea but these are similar.
Standing Shelves from Ikea
I’ve tried a variety of things for cans over the years, and I did already have one of those can stands in the pantry that I kept. But I actually found these standing shelves from Ikea to be really helpful. I’ve photographed them here so you can see them but the way I actually used them was to not put anything underneath them but instead simply to raise the items on the second level high enough so they could be seen behind the first row. These shelves are wider and more stable than the typical can stand and help make the space on deep pantry actually useful.
(I bought this at Ikea and couldn’t find them on their website on anything similar, but as soon as I do, I’ll update the post. If you know of anything, please let me know in the comments.)
Bins with Handles
Bins with handles for items in boxes or pouches that didn’t transfer easily to containers and are accessed pretty frequently. These were things like sauce pouches, noodle side dishes and these containers were quickly elevated to the rank of “How did I live without you?”
I bought this at Wal-Mart, but this is pretty much the same thing.
3 Bin Stacking Unit
On the top shelf, I put a clever stacking 3 bin unit for potatoes and other root vegetables (although right now I have potatoes and nuts in it). Oh, Basic White Plastic Stacking Bin, you are selling yourself too short! You are so much more than basic! Sadly, I didn’t take a picture of you, but that is no reflection on your usefulness.
I bought mine at Wal-Mart, but this is the same one.
Finally, I took the door space and turned it into a paper towel/grocery bag/pen & paper holder through a lovely all-purpose kit from Ikea. It’s been possibly the most useful change of all, I never realized how often I asked myself, “Where is a pen and piece of paper?”
(You guys, Ikea’s website is the worst. Why would a search for “paper towel organizer” show me a bunch of rugs? If I find a link for this, I’ll post it because it’s really great.)
So what’s next on the organizational agenda? Not a damn thing at the moment. It’s always a good thing to make a few changes and then live with them a bit to refine them and let them become true habits. I have big plans for my living space in 2016, but that’s a bit down the road. For this weekend, I’ll hunker down in front of the weather channel and think of my friends (and my daughter!) just a bit north of me who are experiencing yet another storm of the century. And I’ll send the first commenter who asks some great cocoa from Paris! How about some oregano?
Here’s the final result. It sparks joy in me every time I open the door. And I’ve been cooking more since I’ve finished. I’m going to throw out all that candy though.