Three space-saving secrets for your cabinets

By Tom Phelan - ReminderNews
Feature Article - posted Thu., Sep. 29, 2011
- Contributed Photo

I like to save money, but I also like to save time and space. So I have developed and implemented many solutions in my home that save at least two of these, and sometimes all three. I have found that, with a little thought, research and ingenuity, ideas will surface that will make daily life a little easier by saving space and time. Here are three space-saving solutions that will cost very little to incorporate into your home, yet save you time and effort almost every day.

Within a year after moving into a pretty small house, I discovered that small pantry closets and scads of little containers of this-and-that, such as spices, are a bad combination. You can never quickly find the ones you need, if indeed you have them at all, and the search is a time-consuming and frustrating exercise at best. Stacking them on a shelf is punishment just waiting to be inflicted.

After thinking about designing and building a solution to maximize the limited space in our pantry closet, I found a ready-made alternative in a local store. A door-mounted “spice rack” used absolutely none of the shelf space in the pantry, and, in fact, added space for small- to medium-sized bottles, jars and cans of food, medicines and other sundries. My solution from Closet Maid cost less than $40, and it was in place on the back of the pantry door soon after I brought it home from the store. Now I can see the labels on the smallest of containers, and spot the spice container or pill bottle I want without the frustration of ferreting through all the pantry shelves.

Since the door-mounted rack will not tolerate a heavy load, I also snatched another solution off the store shelf that was even less expensive, and that immediately reduced by 50 percent the storage footprint occupied by cans and jars. The freestanding shelf-multiplier (my term) is a sturdy wire shelf-on-a-shelf solution that returns the wasted space above rows of cans of vegetables and such. It is just high enough for most cans and jars to slide under, and provides a second story to stack even more cans and jars, without having them slide off at the slightest touch. When organized properly, the items are readily visible and easily retrieved.

I am not one to tolerate thrashing around in a cupboard or cabinet in search of the cooking implements I need. And when looking for the correct pot and lid combination, the exercise often becomes noisy and quite unattractive. It usually ends with the cabinet contents scattered on the kitchen floor, sometimes without successfully locating the necessary equipment. The scattered utensils, of course, then have to be put back into the cabinet, oftentimes rendering it an unattractive mess for the next go-round.

Pots are fairly easy to stack, making it easy to find the right stack and remove just the pot I want. Lids, on the other hand, do not stack one inside another, and it is impractical to match each pot with its lid. The matched sets take up too much room in the cabinet.

The solution I needed was an organizer that could hold lids separate from the pots, and make them easily retrievable. The wasted space in any cabinet is usually the several inches immediately behind the cabinet door. I decided I needed a cabinet-door-mounted lid organizer.

At the time I began my search, ready-made solutions seemed to be few and of poor quality. There are now solutions from Organize-It, Rev-a-shelf, Rubbermaid and others. But I was forced to design my own.

All you need is a straight rod - a length of wooden dowel or even a curtain rod will do - to mount on the back of the cabinet doors where your pots and pans are stored. Mounted parallel to the cabinet base, the rod will need to stand away from the door about 2 to 2 and a half inches. You should be able to find some curtain rod hardware to create the necessary spacing. I used a length of dowel, and cut mounting brackets for each end from 1-inch pine wood stock. Then I drilled a hole through the brackets the same diameter as the dowel, and mounted the brackets on the door about 2 inches in from the vertical edge. Finishing nails, small screws and/or carpenter's glue will work just fine to secure the brackets.

The knob on the lid rests on the rod, holding it against the door. Measure your own lids to determine both the distance of the standoff and the vertical location on the back of the door. You should be able to mount four to six lids on every cabinet door.

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