Maximizing kitchen storage space in an apartment

Joan Fieldstone

Armed with some tips from a home organization expert friend of mine, I've been helping my son declutter and reorganize his apartment.

I blame myself for the current state of affairs. When he was a child, I'm sure I made a lot of empty threats that I'd throw all his belongings in the trash if he didn't put them away, but I really didn't want to stifle his creativity - or lose my own sanity - by insisting he worry about returning them to their "proper places." I did make sure to confine his clutter by not allowing him to play with his toys all over the house. That way, I could just keep his bedroom door closed and maintain my own somewhat less-than-perfect part of the house.

How to organize an apartment kitchen

As I've been working with him a couple of days a month since the beginning of the year, I've blogged about some of the ideas we had for maximizing kitchen storage space. We didn't use all of them, but we came up with other great solutions along the way. One example is the collapsible dish drainer I bought on clearance for $6.98. It was missing its utensil holder, but my son rigged a $0.99 Ikea plastic plant holder to it that came with holes for drainage and works quite well.

Finally, last weekend, we finished the kitchen declutter and reorganization project, stopping short of making any home improvements that the property management won't sanction or take responsibility for, such as painting and flooring modifications.

Using inexpensive finds to improve the kitchen's functionality around, we even managed to brighten up the formerly dingy surroundings. Some tasks were truly dirty jobs, like rummaging under the sink and in the cabinets -- both so damp that anything made of cardboard had disintegrated. Once completed, however, we breathed a sigh of relief. Here are a few photos of his now cheerful and easier to navigate small kitchen.

  • A 2-by-4, painted to match the rest of the kitchen, bridges the broom closet and upper cabinets to hold a new-in-the-box pot rack purchased at a garage sale for only $6. Hardware, paint and the 2-by-4 cost another $35. The baker's rack bins ranged from $4.99 to $2.99 at The Home Depot.

DIY pot rack

  • A Magic Holder mounted to the wall of the broom closet ($9.99 at HomeGoods) organizes long-handled cleaning equipment -- previously leaning against each other in a jumble -- and allows room for the upright vacuum to stand on the floor of the closet. The hand-held vac hangs from a bungee cord on the opposite wall. We reduced the shopping bag collection that was jammed in between the mops and brooms to less than 10 bags that fit perfectly in a plastic magazine holder. The reduced bag stash now lives right next to the recycling on the bottom shelf of the reorganized baker's rack.

Magic Holder in action
Magic Holder

Broom closet floor organized
Broom closet, organized

Organized shopping bags
Shopping bags, neatly put away

  • A tiny colander in the sink holds compostibles until clean up time when they can be disposed of in an outside can. A washable dish sponge holder and a dish soap dispenser keep the sink area tidy, while a bamboo rack holds the assortment of cutting boards out of the way but close at hand where they can dry fully.

Organized sink area

  • We eliminated all the expired and questionable foodstuffs from the damp cabinets. Some cabinet organizing bins with handles - so they can be pulled out to see what's in back -- corral similar small items, bags of noodles, and loose sacks of tea and beans that don't stack.

Pantry before cleaning
Pantry before

pantry after organizing
Pantry after

Unorganized cupboard
Tea and spice cupboard before

Teas and spices organized
Tea and spice cupboard after

  • The refrigerator got a thorough cleaning. A few small trays and bins, easy to remove and clean, can help keep the fridge from turning into a mess of mega proportions.

Cleaned fridge

A few additional kitchen accessories like a cooking utensil holder, over-the-cabinet door hooks and towel rack, new pot holders and cheerful orange dish towels make keeping things tidy pleasant and simple.


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