Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Tips and Tricks for a $0 Kitchen Makeover

A lot of us are thinking about getting more organized.  After all the extra clutter of Christmas decorations we're all craving a more organized house.  I hope you'll like some of the little tips and tricks I came up with...but first I wanted to give you the punchline...

...Take a good hard look at how you're using your space in your biggest problem area.  You might not need to buy anything to create more space if you just use the space you have in a better way.

Last week I cleaned my kitchen...really cleaned much so that seriously this qualifies as a kitchen make-over, even though nothing new was installed, painted, nailed, etc.  Our kitchen has never looked this good since the day we moved in.

I have never been an impeccable house keeper...and with three kids running around the house and a tiny kitchen...well it's not always pretty.

To our kitchen's credit though...for a tiny kitchen it really does have a lot of storage and is pretty well designed.  Hubby's parents gave us a new mixer for Christmas, so I knew we had to make room for it...

but where...

...when our kitchen counters look like this...

Some days our counters look better than this...some days they look worse.

Sadly, I didn't even take a "BEFORE" picture of the most transformed corner because I didn't intend on doing anything with it when I started rearranging things.

Something had to give...because I really wanted to use that mixer (which I've still be too scared to use...but I think I might go back some bread when I'm finished writing this post.)

So here's a little of what I did...

Remember that cute little can I made to hold the measuring spoons?  Well, it didn't really hold them all very well, so Hubby took matters into his own hands and found another random can to be a second one.  Which of course meant that we had two cans taking up space and had two places to look for a measuring spoon.  I like having a lot of measuring spoons so I don't have to constantly rinse and dry them while I'm cooking...and I don't like them all hooked together with a ring because then you get them all dirty, even if you only use one.

So I decided to try this pretty little crystal dish.  It is a wedding gift that has mostly gone unused, and it's the perfect size and shape...narrow at the  bottom for the handles, and wider at the top for the spoons...

and just right to sit on our Little Red Shelf...

...which has been de-cluttered and cleaned a bit.

The main breakthrough for this kitchen clean-up was moving the dry goods containers.  One of the first things I did when we were unpacking was line them up along the back of the counter, in front of our raised bar.  We had a space behind and around our dish drainer that did nothing but collect junk.  I figured if I moved the dry goods containers there...then we wouldn't be able to fill that space with junk...and since they're in sealed plastic containers if a little water drips on them now and then, it won't matter.
 (That painting is one my parents picked up for me when they went on a trip to Guatemala several years ago.)

Of course the dry goods containers neatly lined up, made me want to do something prettier with those little corner shelves.  They'd mostly held our vases...which mostly gather dust, and some other random objects that Hubby would put there from time to time to get them out of the way.  I also thought it would be fun to add a few more touches of red... I washed out the vases and put a red wash cloth in one vase.

The red wash cloth and the little red dish were both part of this gift, and can act as pretties for the shelf and are still easily accessible when I want to use them.  That little flower tile is a souvenir from a trip Hubby and I took to Mexico 10 years ago.

For the other vases, I added some old sweater scraps from this scarf and this hat.  (Now those scraps are not taking up space with those craft supplies...and if I find they're in the way, I can always just toss them.)

Those sparkling cider glasses were given to us in the hospital when Sweet Pea was born, and the little cream pitcher is from my Nana.

I used the rest of the sweater scraps to add a little red to one of the glass bowls.  It's a pretty bowl that I picked up from a garage sale...It's kind of a weird shape though, so we've never really used it.  I don't think we'll keep the bowl long term when we move, but for now I like how it looks in the cupboard...up at the top because I don't really need to use it.

It's in our see-through cupboards, which already had the red bowl I painted a while ago and the pie plate and casserole dish from this gift.

The wooden bowl I'd been using for the oven mits was really too big and therefore collected other things that didn't belong, so I switched it out for this little red basket.

I thought the Pi Plate would be a fun decorate piece, but I think it will go back in the cupboard soon...It's already slipped down a few times.  Maybe when I move, I'll get a hanger for it and actually put it on the wall.  You can see how I made the fabric covered can for the spoons and spatulas here.

And then I used the wooden bowl to help contain some of the runaway fruit spread across the counter.
I also put away many of the cookbooks that I almost never use into an upper cupboard and sifted them so they'd be against the wall, rather than against the raised bar.  Unfortunately the printer needs to stay there for the time being.  I also moved the knife block to this counter to free up space on the other one for...
(See that Junior cookbook squeezed in there...Firecracker got that for Christmas and she LOVES it.)

...the new mixer.

I picked up that red vase at Goodwill a while back and added it to be pretty.  I may put it away's too tall for those corner shelves and it does seem a bit silly to have it on the main counter without a functional purpose...and that jar of cornbread mix has since been delivered to the neighbors.

There are still a couple of things  I'm not entirely happy with...but haven't thought of a great solution.  Maybe you have an idea?  We'll be moving in a couple months to our new house, so if an easy solution doesn't come up, I'll find something more permanent there.

Here they are...a weird spot behind the printer.  I put this cute little white glass jar from Goodwill there.  Right now it's empty.  I don't quite know what to put in it.  I'm thinking that it could use maybe some black vinyl lettering or something...but I don't know what to put on it or in it...or even if it should stay in my kitchen.  If I decide it needs to go, it could be a great container to give a gift in.

I'm also not super happy about the placement of my wheat grinder.  It's something I use probably about once a week, give or take.  If it was put away in a cupboard, I'd probably be too lazy to get it out and end up just using white flour instead of the healthier wheat flour. 

And of course...what is better to do in a clean kitchen than cook in it?!?  This is Firecracker making our New Year's Cupcakes.  It cracks me up how she's lined up all the measuring cups.


  1. Okey Doke, You asked, I can't resist...I love this kinda thing. My kids never know what they will find changed next.LOL. White jar-hard to really see the details and the way it opens (Like how wide mouth is, how heavy it is, etc.) I wouldn't letter it until I was sure it worked with it's new purpose (whatever that may end up being...LOL) BUT, could it move to the left of the red shelf (where the wood cutting board/red vase are) and hold the pieces, manual and any quick mixer notes you might have in it? Could it go to the sink area to hold clean dish cloths? Love the jar. On the Wheat grinder, I would simply move the plug in from that outlet to one that needed a bit of color, move the grinder back and left (closer to the wall, and covering the view of the plug) I know this sounds obnoxious (sorry) but it looks like the grinder and the plug in are competing for attention or something. I love what you did. Adding the clothes and scraps to the vases/bowls is fantastic! Adds color, stores something AND they are much less likely to be dusty when you need them...Off to find some stuff to fill mine!!

  2. Thanks for sharing some great ideas. I love the spoons in the crystal jar. I think all things are cuter if not just lying around so your containers on the shelving is cute and your little measureing station makes all kinds of normal things look so much better. I am working with a tight space as well so can empathize with your challenge. Happy New Year!
    Karah @ thespacebetweenblog

  3. How about a red scrappy bow tied around the white glass jar? The kitchen looks GREAT! Hooray for organizing! Kudos for posting the true-life "before" pictures. :)

  4. nice arrangements... Found you via Sugar & Spice linky party.Would like to invite you to
    Midweek Fiesta

  5. Saw you at Whatever Wednesday Linky party. I loved your makeover. My favorite is the little red shelf. I have thought many times about putting something on the wall between my cabinets and counters. I love the red as well.

  6. Yep - kitchen is on the chopping block here too - clean, clear and organize in that order. You have some good ideas - especially the reevaluating what we use and how we use the kitchen.

    Nice mixer! Did you know you can shred chicken with your mixer? If you poach chicken - you can add boneless chicken to the mixer bowl with the paddle attachment while it's still piping hot. Turn it on 4-6 for 30-40 seconds and you have perfectly shredded chicken. :D

  7. Great job! To be honest, my counter space gets filled up with a little bit of everything, too! This gives me the inspiration to rearrange my kitchen! Thank you :)

  8. These are some great kitchen tips! I would love for you to share this at my I ♥ Fridays Link Party @ :)

  9. Your kitchen looks like my whole house did this week. Blogged about it here:

  10. looks great! i really love that red shelf under the cabinets!

  11. Wow! Love your ideas! I would love for you to link up with my party at:

    Thanks so much! Happy Monday!

  12. You want to come over tomorrow say...3. For tea of course ;). Cause your skills are just great! Good job!

  13. You did a wonderful job! I'm in the process of trying to do the same with our kitchen, thanks for some great tips!

  14. I love your may be small but it has a lot of is very cute!!!!!
    great inspiration for me!!!!!

  15. Great job!! Everything looks spectacular.

  16. Okay now you just need to come over to my house.. LOL!!! thanks for sharing at

  17. For me, your kitchen counters are much too cluttered, even after you redid them. If you remove at least three quarters of what you have there now, your kitchen would look better and be easier to clean. I have the same type of dry goods containers, but I keep them on a shelf in the pantry (a small closet with wire shelving). Measuring spoons are kept in a drawer and measuring cups in the cupboard above. I keep only 2 appliances out—the coffee maker and the toaster oven. I keep cookbooks in a bookcase in another room.

  18. Wow what a nice transformation - I need to clean up ktichen like that one day...

    If you get a chance, love for you to share this at my Link Party:



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