Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tiny Kitchen Survival

We learn a lot about subsidies in urban planning.  Basically you are making something doable for someone else: subsidizing housing costs, giving subsidies or similar to businesses to locate to your city, blah blah blah.  Well, I have had two tiny kitchens in a row.  And I am starting to understand subsidies.

I have found myself having to subsidize space in order to organize things.  In order to make organization even remotely possible, I have had to make concessions and get really creative in where things go.  Now, I will be the first to say that I am not an organizational guru by ANY means, and in fact usually I am more like a hurricane and just leave a wake of destruction and disarray wherever I am.  Case in point, my craft spaces.  But, I am tired of juggling things in what few cabinets I have, so I decided that it was high time to come up with some creative placement.

This picture is a score because it is two organizational feats in one shot.  The bar was actually already there when I got here.  I don't know if it has always been there or if the last people just did not feel like taking it with them, but I greatly appreciate it either way.  It was probably intended for towels, but it makes such a great place to put cleaners on the end. 

Now, they can't go all the way across because of that horrific insinkerator in there, but that is fine because a towel can go on this end.  I pretty much am over that stupid disposal system. 

My second under the sink feat has been using a cheap dish drainer to hold my pot lids, plastic storage containers, and a few of my smaller glass dishes that I use for storage.  I am pretty sure this dishdrainer cost me about $5, but it saves me a lot of annoyance in having all of my plastic containers everywhere under here.  Not only that, but my pot lids had YET to find a good home and were almost always on top of my stove before this point.  I cannot stress enough that there is a severe lack of cabinets in this apartment.

In fact, let me sum it up like this: my spices live on top my fridge with my paper towels, my bread is homeless and lives on top of my electric griddle (when it is not in use obviously), my cheese shredder, knife block, and utensil holder all live on top my microwave...which lives on a TV stand just around the corner from my actual kitchen in my dining area, and my "pantry" style cabinet is all of 1-1.5 feet wide if that.  I probably have the equivalent of 3 full size upper cabinets, 1 weird skinny tall pantry thing, and 3 lower cabinets.  And part of the uppers are above my fridge and it is nearly impossible to get things out of there, so those basically are rarely used.
 This might help explain it a little better...this is my kitchen.  Ignore the cluttered look of the counter, I had just gotten back when I took this and things had not yet been put up.

Essentially, I have turned my entire kitchen into a walk-in pantry.  I bought wire racks from Wal-Mart (for cheap) and put one above and below my menu board.  The lower one holds my noodles because I use them most days out of the week, and the upper one houses my wraps and similar because I rarely use them. 

If it looks really high, it is.  I am about 5'8" ish and have pretty long arms. 

The hook on the wall holds my potholders, because they were definitely homeless in all this.
I wanted to put the wire shelves in here so they would not be visible. 

However, I think my cabinets are made out of sawdust.  There was just no getting new screws in and every nail I had was too long, so I used screws that were already in there from previous stuff and put up these baskets. The placement of the nails did not work with my wire guys.

I booted my sponges out of a drawer and into this basket.  They make a lot more sense being here.

I have no idea really what I am going to put in the bottom on yet, but I am more than sure I will find something that needs a new home.  I might put towels down there, since I currently have them sitting in a bowl in this window thing that is in my kitchen...
 HAH! Here's a funny one I have been pulling since I first got here.  Allow me to shed some light on this:

I have a single tub sink.  It is porcelain, and I hate that.  I also hate that it only has one tub.  I much prefer divided sinks, and I very much prefer metal.  I had bought a dish drainer that I was going to keep in my sink, keep in mind I had bought most things BEFORE I really saw the apartment because that is just the reality of college.  I had been here enough to know that I would not have counter space, so an in-sink one is what I bought.

Which is all great and good except that just logistically is impossible to even use with as many dishes as I use and the size of my sink.  I had tried turning it front to back, putting it around the sink head, but that still did not work and stuff was constantly pouring off whatever I was washing into my clean dishes. 

And another sink issue, it does not have a tall sink head.  So clearance is next to non-existant with a dish drainer in there.  So I got crafty and put my dish drainer over a tub.  Is it beautiful? NO.  Does it drive me insane? A little bit.  Does it get the job done? Absolutely.  In all reality, considering I almost always use at least 2 pots/pans per meal and sometimes use my huge skillets, it is the only reasonable way to get anything done.  And let's face it, how am I going to wash that big TFal back there with this drainer in my tiny short sink?  I already wash out the bucket of my ice cream maker in my bath tub.  True story.  Again, the only way to make work.  Haha!
Now this little guy here I actally really like.  I consider this reasonable and actually really efficient.  I put my trash bags and my ziploc bags here, which some might find odd, but to me it is just indicative of the fact that my ziplocs had nowhere else to go unless I buy more shelves. 

Having your trash bags right above your trash can is pretty darn handy, I must say.

Other apartment organizational things that have really worked for me:
- A shower curtain with pockets.  I found a curtain with mesh pockets in it in all of the college stuff.  I got it at Wal-Mart, and it is a similar idea to this one on amazon .  However, I think it is super goofy that people hang the pockets on the outside, so I turned mine around.  With my pockets on the inside, I have all my shampoo and stuff in there with me, my razor, shave gel, etc. and it all neatly tucks itself away with the shower curtain.  Mine is purple and not clear, so you really cannot see any of the bottles or anything else.  My shower always looks bare, except my yellow duckie treads on the bottom.
-Closet organizers have saved my sanity.  I don't like to hang up T-Shirts, I think it is a waste of hangers.  I also don't like to put my shoes in hanging shoe organizers because it is frustrating.  What I DO like to do is to put my Tshirts in a hanging shoe organizer, with shorts on the other side.  I did not bring a large dresser here, I only have a beautiful antique vanity dresser with tiny drawers.  I also brought nearly every article of clothing that I own here...see the issue? I also use one of those closet organizers that is a series of hanging cubes to put other foldables on like jackets and tank tops and similar.  Don't get me wrong, my bedroom closet here is gigantic.  But that still does not make me want it to be messy. 
-I have not done this yet, but I think I am going to measure the cabinet where my plates are and get another dish drainer for it.  If those plates were vertical, I could put both sets in there (I have a square and round set) instead of having them each on different shelves.  This would give me a whole extra shelf for something.  Maybe my homeless bread.  Or maybe my bowls could live in that cabinet again, since they had to be booted to a different cabinet. 

I feel like this will be a continuing saga of organizing the tiny kitchen.  I only am going to be here for another 18 months, so I need to move fast!

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