Kitchen Nooks and Crannies: How to Make Every Space Count Kitchen Nooks and Crannies: How to Make Every Space Count

How many of us would love to have more space in our kitchen? Tearing out the old and replacing it with new, however, may simply be out of the question. In my own kitchen there were cabinet spaces that looked like deep, dark caves. The ceiling was totally blank, except for the large florescent light. Over the stove was an ancient exhaust fan which vented grease and smoke inefficiently to the outside. Ugh!

My plan was to replace the exhaust fan with a newer, more efficient model; hang a large pot rack overhead; and buy slide-out inserts to make my cabinets more functional. Heavy items can now be pulled out from their "holes" on slide-out shelving, and I don't have to go poking around in the dark. So how can you make your kitchen fulfill your needs? Well, by using what you have to its fullest potential is a good place to start.

Begin by taking snapshots of each section of your kitchen. Start at one end and click your way, carefully, to the other. Take pictures of each level, from the floor to the waist; the top cabinets, and everything in between. Open the cabinet doors, and take pictures of each opening. When the pictures are developed, or your digital camera is full, study the images carefully and identify any wasted space. Finally, take these pictures to your nearest home-improvement warehouse, and spend some quality time in the kitchen storage isle, picking out appropriate storage solutions.

The following are some useful tips to help you to make your kitchen storage more serviceable:

Door-mounted racks, hung on the inside of the cabinet doors, are a perfect solution for what to do with those bottled herbs and spices. When adapting existing cupboards, make certain that racks fit between shelves when doors are closed. Properly sized, these racks can also be a good place to store unopened condiments, such as soy sauce, ketchup, and mustard.

Pull-out drawers behind the lower cabinet doors create easy access to many odd-sized foods and supplies. Make certain that these drawers are of varying depths, so that you can store your oddly sized pots and pans.

A pull-out table or butcher block is a wonderful accessory for the quintessential gourmet cook. It is perfect for rolling out pie dough and cookies. (Caution: Do not use the same surface for meat cutting. A cutting board should be separate. I prefer to cut meat on an acrylic cutting board that will fit into my dishwasher after each use.) A pastry board can simply be wiped off with a damp paper towel, after each use.

Appliance garages are wonderful for providing neat storage for large equipment, when they are not in use. Mixers, toasters, and coffee-brewers are difficult to keep clean, since they gather dust particles like magnets. So keep them undercover between use.

Sliding racks are useful tools for those of us who can't seem to organize those pot-lids, cake-pans and cookie sheets on those lower shelves. Simply store them sideways and slide them in and out on moveable storage racks. Nothing could be easier.

Under the sink storage is essential. There are racks to hold cleaners, aluminum foil, paper sacks, recyclable plastic bags, and many other items of varying sizes.

Wall space can also be made to work harder in the kitchen. Flat metal racks and grids that protrude slightly from the wall, are great for awkward areas above the stove. They can keep a variety of kitchen utensils handy.

If you have other available wall space, do not neglect to use it for storage. Hang some easy shelving, and line the shelves with lidded glass jars filled with pasta, whole nutmeg, and other good things. This will keep your cooking necessities right at hand.

Be careful with knives. Always keep them sharp, since the dull knife is the one most likely to slip and cut your hand. Keep sharp knives sheathed. (There is a reason why ancient swords were kept in scabbards.) Knives should never hang exposed on a wall, since it can be a safety hazard for the busy cook.

Everyone's kitchen can be made more efficient, if one takes the time to study available space, and uses it wisely. Your gourmet kitchen can become your little kingdom on earth, simply by making the most of every nook and cranny.

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