Organising the kitchen

31 March 2009
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?