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31 March 2009

Organising the kitchen

We had a major problem in our kitchen in 2007. Our dishwasher hose started leaking water and before we knew what was happening, the floating timber floor had a cushion of water under it. We claimed on our insurance and to make a long story short, had to have everything in the kitchen removed to dry out the flooring, then, when they realised that wasn't going to happen, the flooring was replaced and everything put back, including the cupboards. They had to replace the bench tops too because when the cupboards were taken out the bench tops split. Great news, we had a new floor and bench tops, but the truth of it was that we were without a kitchen for a week and it was a major inconvenience.

However, I always try to mine even the smallest piece of gold from every disaster. When we moved everything back in, I rearranged the way I used my kitchen. When we first moved into this beautiful home of ours, I was working outside the home, so the kitchen was set up for quick meals and teenage boys. Over the years I'd changed a few things to better suit how I worked, but when we put back the contents of our cupboards I thought about how I wanted the kitchen to work and made more changes. The large sliding drawers under the stove now hold all the plates and bowls we use every day; they used to house the saucepans. Now I can easily take a plate from a drawer as I'm cooking and the saucepans, that are needed much less often than the plates and bowls, are in a cupboard.

Now my electric kettle is sitting with my tea canister, a little cupboard just above them holds instant coffee and different types of tea, the cupboard next to that holds the tea cups and coffee mugs. The zone is right beside the sink so the water is close. The toaster and bread bin are close together, next to the sandwich toaster. My pantry and fridge are at the end of my main work bench. The pantry holds my bread flour, sugar and salt, the fridge holds the yeast and butter, so when I'm making up my bread dough, I just move from the bench to the end of the bench and for that small job, everything is within my reach. They say the best design for a kitchen is to have the stove, fridge and sink in a work triangle where each side of the triangle is no more than 9 feet and no less than 4 feet. We do have that work triangle configuration in our kitchen but having areas broken up into smaller working zones works better for me.

I wonder if it would help you too. Our kitchens are probably our main work area, we work in there a few times each day, often much more, depending on the size of the family. Setting up your kitchen according to the tasks you carry out each day may help you do your work. If you decided to try this, it would work if you did the entire kitchen in one go, but it would also work if you chose one job, like tea and coffee making, and made a zone for that. When you had more time, you could rearrange other areas into zones for their purpose. You could also rearrange your pantry to have all your baking requirements in the same place. That is my next job - the next time I clean out my pantry, I'm going to place all my regular baking requirements in one area; jars holding chick peas, lentils, beans and rice in one line; the smaller containers of different flours - self raising, plain, gluten, soy, corn and barley flour in another line. At the moment, I have a general idea where everything is, but often I'm moving jars and sealed buckets around to find exactly what I need. And that reminds me, I have just picked up five two litre size, food grade buckets with lids and I need to label them. They were free. :- ) Does anyone know a site were I can download free kitchen labels?

When everything is sorted in the way you work, all the tasks you carry out everyday will have the requirements close at hand. Those things you rarely use will be in those hard to get at spaces. My kitchen isn't perfect, for instance I'd like my cutlery drawer to be next to the plate drawer, but it's opposite it. It requires my turning around to get a spoon for stirring on the stove. But I don't worry about the things I can't move, I just move everything as close as possible to the zone it should be in, and am happy with that. I'm sure many of you have already done this but I know there will be many who haven't. So if you decide to give it a try, I hope it works as well for you as it does for me. Let me know if you do any rearranging and if you have a blog and post a picture, give me the link and I'll have a look at your handy work.

And just to finish off, I haven't done much square knitting lately because I've been writing a lot, but I will get some done later this week. I am still very interested in my rug, and yours, so how are you going with your knitting?


  1. Rhonda..I too try to organize my things in the kitchen so they are convenient and same as you..I don't stress if some things can't be changed.
    Most of my pantry supplies are in jars and I love's easy to find what I need and I think it looks so pretty!
    I have not been knitting for a few days but will resume after our company leaves..

  2. Hi Rhonda

    Just a quick question - I know you eat a lot of organic produce from your garden, but what do you do when buying goods - do you buy organic flour, rice and other staples etc? What about dairy?

    I just wondered as I am not sure which way to go with buying organic.



  3. what a mess it makes when there is a leak in the kitchen.
    I am very lucky to have a husband who is a kitchen manufacturer here in the mountains and his designs are the best, very functional, so my kitchen already has the work triangle! That is something I remember learning in Home Science when I was in high school.

    next to my stove I have an old enamel milk jug that holds my old tablespoons which I use for stirring, that way I can use them when and as I need them. I also have my cooking utensils in an old fruit box on the bench next to my stove. My home is old, built in 1927 so it is probably a little quirky in the way it works. :)
    what I want is one of those brackets to hang my pans above my stove.

    knitting? I have made myself 4 dishcloths and one face washer. Now I must start on the beanie for my 1yr old grandson.

  4. Oh, I love your countertops!

  5. Morning Rhonda....I googled "free kitchen labels"....what atreasure trove turned up. I thought rather than link to a particular site, I 'd let you have some fun, so many colours and designs, some already printed, lots of others blank with pretty borders. You'll be able to colour coordinate :)


  6. Hello everyone.

    Donna, I have a limited budget so I try to get what I believe is the best value for my money. I buy organic flour for baking because we eat that every day, rice is from Aldi (not organic), lentils, chick peas, dried beans etc are all non organic. I live in a dairy area so I buy local milk, yoghurt and cheese - it's not organic but is from pasture fed cows that I see grazing in the sunshine every day. It's more expensive than regular milk but I want to help support this important of my community and it's the most delicious milk, much tastier than supermarket milk. I don't think it's a blanket decision if you're watching your pennies. You might need to break it up into smaller bits, pay for organic in the areas that are important to you or that you eat a lot of, then buy non organic for the rest to same money.

    Thanks Belle! I'll do that tomorrow.

  7. I have cleaned out a lot in the recent past, kitchen included. But I'm not through in there, I'm going to rearrange all my cabinets and probably will get rid of a lot more while I'm at it. I am generally very organized, I like my kitchen to be that way too.
    I'm done with crocheting my squares, I just need to start attaching them to each other but a lot of my spare time has been helping my husband with the quilt he made for me. He's now made 4 quilts and he's having a blast.

  8. Rhonda, just wanted to let you know that I had made that banana and walnut cake within two hours of reading your post yesterday afternoon, and we ate half of it while it was still hot, and we hadn't yet had dinner LOL! That breaks all of my rules, but I couldn't resist :-P It was probably the best cake that I've ever made too, certainly in the oven that I have currently (been renting a friend's house since last July) which hasn't yet produced a good cake, scone or biscuit. I'll have to try the water in all of my cakes then. I was just starting to fret about how I can make a decent cake for Miss 3's birthday in two weeks time but it looks like I might stand a chance with this water trick after all!

  9. It's often the case when I pop over to read your blog that you are doing things that are exactly what I'm preoccupied with.

    Just yesterday I was having a hard, long look at my kitchen and rearranging things so that it's better set up and more conveniently organised.

    It makes such a difference doesn't it? I love the way you've organised your little area there.

  10. Just this week I have been reorganizing decluttering my kitchen. It has always worked okay but I am sure I can make better!!

  11. Funny you should write on this right now. My husband and I are right smack dab in the middle of remodeling our kitchen. Well remodeling might be a bit of a stretch but we reconfigured cabintetry, moved the fridge and deep freeze and buil new cabinets to fill in blanks that were existing. I LOVE it so far. to that end we now have a "coffee station" and I love it. I didn't realize how much of a time saver it would be but it is huge. I would also like to get all of my baking trays, bowls, sifters, cups, and supplies together in one place but I haven't figured out how to do that yet....but I will.

    Love your blog, it is on my "check everyday" list and I do too, sometimes more just in case you have done more posting. Thank you for taking the time to share your life with us!

    Jen S. in Southern Arizona, US

  12. It is amazing how such a bad situation could turn out to be a wonderful blessing. Sounds as if you have your kitchen just the way you want it. I found your blog through another. I am interested in raising chickens. Is this a good idea? How has it worked for you?

  13. I'm a bit manic about kitchen organization. We have our "breakfast center" which has canisters for coffee, tea bags, sugar, and sweetener. Also on that counter (the smaller one in our kitchen) is the electric kettle, the coffee pot, and the toaster.

    The larger counter has a knife block, the cutting boards, a vase containing my most often used cooking utensils, and our microwave with fruit basket ontop.

    It's nice having everything in the right region. But I may be trading where my mixing bowls and pots rest. Who knows? It's great fun! Hehe.

    I don't knit. But I do fumble with a bit of crochet, and found a cute skein of baby multicolored yarn I'm going to use to attempt a simple scarf for my niece. It's been awhile since I crocheted, so we'll see!

  14. my kitchen is the one area i just cant seem to keep tidy. i get the counters cleaned off and it looks so lovely i pull out pots and pans and bowls and start cooking up something new. there seems to be a steady stream of dishes

  15. Hi Rhonda

    It is a beautiful Autumn morning here outside Bundaberg and my new vegie seed plantings are all popping their heads up.

    So far I have completed two strips of five squares for our knitted rug and also four crochet squares for my grandaughters rug. The cooler weather makes it easier to do more knitting now.



  16. We just moved in, and renovated the kitchen, so it's set up to my liking. However, I am finding that I'm already tweaking some stuff so that it works better--I'm sure I'll have a system all worked out before too long. This kitchen is about 3x bigger than our old one, so I feel like I'm always walking around to get stuff!! But I wouldn't trade the counter space for less walking EVER!
    I haven't been knitting too much. I'm rather slow, and have been very busy this spring. I'm working away on my swap stuff, though (trying to get it done before the baby gets here), and I do plan to make the rug some day!
    -Melanie in Canada

  17. Hi Rhonda,
    I am still knitting, slowly but surely. This is the perfect project as its small enough to be transportable. My 4 year old grandson is showing interest in it and is looking forward to 'snuggling' when the blanket is finished.
    I did a silly thing tonight and fell asleep in my armchair. I slept for three hours ! ! ! Now its midnight and I am wide awake so I think I may bake that banana cake and a few more things as there is no point wasting my time going to bed for a few hours yet.

    Cheers, Eileen in England.

  18. I finished square number four this afternoon. I am going to make another dishcloth next and then get back to the squares. I am enjoying using the different patterns and I think my knitting skills are improving! :)

    We remodeled our kitchen last summer (and fall) too! We live in the farmhouse that my husband grew up in. We actually took out a wall and made a very small kitchen and office into a nice, big kitchen. I have a work island in the middle for veggie prep, a plate rack with shelves next to sink above the dishwasher, several work areas (beverage-next to sink, baking-next to stove and mixer...) and a large pantry cabinet. I spend a lot of time in my kitchen and it is fantastic!

    My peas and beets are up today and life is great!

    Also, can you freeze cream that you will be making into butter. Even though we have the cow, after we feed our four bottle calves I never have enough cream at one time. I was hoping to be able to skim off the cream and freeze until I had enough to make butter. Any thoughts?


  19. When we were building our house 7 years ago, I had the hardest time "seeing" how it would look when finished. If I don't see it with my eyes, live, then I can't get a mental picture of it. So when our kitchen was finished, what I thought was going to be this humongous work space, turned out to be a galley type kitchen! Still works for me, cause I would rather not have anyone else in the kitchen while I am working. More than one, perhaps two of us, and all hell breaks loose! GET OUT OF MY KITCHEN!

  20. I am onto my 7th or 8th square. Going a bit slow for me. Some of my squares are a bit small - different thickness of wool.. I solve that by crocheting around the square which increases its size nicely.
    My best time for knitting is after dinner. Parked up in front of the tv with the dogs next to me and DH near. Very cosy.


    Here is the post I did last week on the baking center.
    The use of work space designed to save your step saves your energy. Your time and strength can be made to better use.

    I have a post on pantry organizing in one of my old files. I will see if I can find it.

    Using a grist mill can safe you huge if you can find one. they sell now more modern mills for flour, but I love my 30 yr old grist mill.


    This post is on seasonings, organizing and such.

  23. The Martha Stewart website has PDF's for various labels (kitchen labels). I have downloaded them to my computer for use just haven't gotten down to it yet! Check out her site and see what you think. Let me know if you can't find the specific link, and I can give you some detailed direction!!


  24. Sigh. Kitchen organisation is a bit of a bugbear for me. One of the selling points of this house to me was the kitchen. It looked great! Only when I started working in it did I realise how impractical it is. It is so impractical on so many levels that I won't even begin to say how.
    Pantry organisation is my thing, though. I have different shelves for baking, canned goods, bottle and jars, flour/sugar/rice/coffee, a pasta shelf (we eat a lot of pasta, and breakfast corner. Breakfast corner was put on a low shelf when my kids were much younger, so they could reach stuff for themselves!

  25. Rhonda
    I found some label links below which may be helpful....

    have fun.. it inspired me tenfold!

    Lynette from Adelaide SA

  26. We're just now cleaning up a winter water leak from an 'ice berg' that melted in our back yard and made its way into our basement's storage room (canning shelves ... etc.) Oh, what a mess it's been. I don't think old man winter realizes it's spring up north. More snow predicted this week. I built our new home two years ago and was able to design it from the floor up. There's still room for improvement in organizing the drawers and 'stations' I like your suggestions give here. Being efficient is important. Thanks for all of your helpful hints.

  27. Cabinet looks great.My problem is I'm always reorganizing.Life is constantly changing so what was good for me last year just needs to be tweeked a little more.Change.It's a good thing.

  28. Hello Rhonda
    My dear husband has just finished re-arranging our kitchen cabinets to make way for a new eye level oven. Oven will be fitted on Saturday. So I will be re-organizing next week, thank for the tips.
    No knitting this weekend as I have been travelling home to the UK from Australia.I did get forty something squares done before I left. Trouble is I took all my stash of dishcloths to my daughters and need to knit some re-placements. Afghan will have to take a back seat until I catch up.


  29. Hi Rhonda!
    I’m an everyday reader of your blog, but it’s the first time I leave comment. We move in to our house just a half year ago, so our kitchen is still new. My husband and I designed it from ourselves that is why I am absolutely pleased with my kitchen. It’s the best place in our home!

    About knitting and crocheting - I am on to my 12th square yet.

    Lilia from Latvia

  30. Hello Rhonda,
    About a year ago I was looking for somewhere on the internet to download labels for my preserves,jams etc, and when I typed in 'labels',
    up popped your blog.I didn't even know blogs exsited or what they were. I can tell you, it was one of the most amazing discoveries of my life. I have always lived the life of a homemaker but was always a rarity, a few of my friends and none of my family did the things that I do. And now I am no longer alone in my quest for this lifestyle we share. I enjoy reading and being inspired by the countless blogs here.Discovering your blog confirmed for me that the way I live my life is very normal and very relevant. This is the first time I have left a comment so in regards to the jar labels, I have an idea Im very proud of that I am dying to share with you. The NZ Gardener magazine, on 4 separate occasions, published a sheet of lovely stick on lables for preserves and jam in an A4 size, all glossy and beautiful. I photcopied 2 different sheets in colour and then laminated them, and cut each label,12 on each sheet, and using double sided tape can stick these on any jar at all and I use a whiteboard marker to write on them. They look stunning!They are a perfect size as well. And so neat and tidy. Then they are easy to take off and reuse or they can be a permanent label. No need to purchase any more labels. Ever! I use them in the freezer as well on plastic bags or containers, especially for labeling soups and casseroles with name and date. As you can tell I'm quite enthusiastic about them. I hope by sharing this with you that it will simplify the whole label hunting thing.
    Thankyou kinderd spirit.

    Donna M
    from New Zealand

  31. After I left my comment, I realized that I had plenty of time and nothing to do. So I got my kitchen cabinets done. I still need to go through my glassware, but I cleaned out a lot of my cookware and found a whole bunch of stuff I didn't even realize I had. It's all going to be donated today, and I'll probably fill the car trunk with it because there was so much!

  32. Hi Rhonda,

    I will be finished with squares three and four by the end of the day today. I sketched out a pattern for how the squares will be put together, so I will knit them in order and then seam them together as each square is completed. Looking at a blanket in progress is more motivating sometimes then looking at a stack of squares!

    I know you were looking for a way for everyone to see each others progress - have you checked out It is a wonderful knit and crochet community and we can start a "Biggest Kitchen Table Knitters" group. You have to request an invitation to join, but it usually takes two days for them to send you the invite - but it is SO worth it! So much inspiration...


  33. Can you come and organize my kitchen? My current organization consists of stuffing everything into the cabinets! hahaha

    Charming pot holder, by the way. I like the idea of hanging it on the wall instead of keeping them in the drawer. :)

  34. It all started here ( with me arranging a small grouping of food items, that I use daily, near the stove. I couldn't believe how much satisfaction I got from that. Not only was it practical, it was beautiful! That started a chain reaction that has me reworking almost every area of my house - and I'm having a blast!

  35. I love to have everything close by... my husband helped me do it and its such a good feeling to have everything at finger tips! Lovely post as ever.

  36. I'm up to about forty-something squares now, so about a quarter of the way to my full-sized blanket, if it is to cover my bed. I have to put it on hold for a while, though, otherwise the items for my swap won't get done!

  37. I'm really pleased some of you tried the cake and liked it.

    Jen, good luck with your remodelling.

    Mrs Mac, I hope you clean up progresses well.

    Pippa, I hope you enjoyed your time in Australia. Where did you go?

    Hello Lilia, I doubt we could be further apart in our two countries. It's good to have you reading here. : - )

  38. A few years back I did the same in my kitchen. Along with some other things that I moved, I realized that it was quite impractical for me to have my dinner plates at the far end near the fridge and my drinking glasses in the cabinet next to the stove. I swapped the two and it has been great ever since, although, it was quite for for a while to watch everyone return to those old cabinets over and over again for the wrong item!! I guess some habits really are hard to break!!

  39. Dear Rhonda! Once again I turn to you for a good advice :) We are currently trying to create the functional kitchen plan for our new home. I do want to make it ideal for our family, without breaking the bank. So I have already a lot of ideas how to make it functional and convenient to use (like double sink, non-slip floor, large pantry...), but my hubby encourages me not to stop and gather even more ideas, so "we do not regret it later" :) I wonder if you could suggest me please some good literature/blogs/websites that are discussing a functional design of a small family kitchen as well as some suggestion as to what works and what does not. F. e I never owned a dishwasher, and I did not think I would ever add it to my future kitchen, but now my family expanded to 4 hungry people, and I just cannot keep up with dishes on my own. Thank you so much, I read your blog every day! Ana

    1. Hi Ana, I don't know any sites to send you to but I can tell you what I like in my own kitchen. I love the deep drawers under my stove. Originally I store pots and pans in them but now they're full of plates, bowls and platters. I wish I had a set of three more deep drawers instead of cupboards. I'm short, 5'2", and I find the top shelf in over head cupboards impossible to reach. If I was doing my kitchen again, I'd have my cupboards only one level high, not two. I like my large pantry with the stockpile cupboard just around the corner. If I ever had to have another dishwasher, I'd have drawers, not a regular dishwasher. I don't like the corner cupboards because things get lost in them and now I'm older it's difficult to search around in there. I love my double sink but I wish I had draining boards on both sides, not just one side. That's about it Ana. I hope it helps. Good luck with your planning. xx

  40. That is fantastic, thanks so much, Rhonda! I was thinking of draining boards on both sides too, I am glad you mentined them, Now i can show my husband that it is not my weird wish, but other people find it useful too ;)


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