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Spice Cabinet Re-org

January 10, 2012

Everybody has at least one: a closet full of crazy disorganized shoes, a junk drawer full of random odds and ends, a Tupperware cabinet that never has matching lids… the messy spot. I have a few of these, but my most embarrassing and most frustrating is our kitchen spice cabinet. Containing more than just spices, my cabinet contains a horrible chaotic array of flour, sugar, corn starch, oils, and basic baking ingredients. Beyond having to devote at least a few minutes to find what I’m looking for, I get annoyed with the cabinet because I end up buying repeats of spices that I already own but didn’t know it because I couldn’t find them.

I didn’t exactly do this secretly, but I started keeping an eye out and looked for other people’s solutions to their spice cabinets. Overall, I found I wasn’t alone… the spice pantry is difficult to manage. But, I found particular inspiration in JD’s cousin Amanda’s awesome spice cabinet, and I was so thrilled with her organizational prowess that I took a picture of it:

So impressive. She claims that she needs to be organized since she has very limited pantry space, but seriously folks… what a work of organizational art!

Amanda’s pantry was just what I needed to really encourage me to think critically about this project. I had only tossed around half-baked (ha) ideas and didn’t really nail down any manageable, sustainable and inexpensive solutions. I knew this would be a difficult task. My cabinet was deep, and small spice jars are hard to find and read. But I also had large quantities of flour, sugar and oils that needed to be in the same area.

Here’s what the cabinet looked like first:

Yes, I know, I have a LOT of space. I’m extremely blessed to have such space in which to play. But, I needed to make the most of it.

My first thoughts were… take everything out of their original containers and put them into jars that were cohesive and looked the same. That’s when I did this DIY project with the chalkboard paint. I felt good about putting my basics: flour (both kinds), sugar (both kinds) and coffee sweetener into these containers. I then tossed around if I should do the same thing to all my spices. But, this seemed tedious, annoying and expensive. So I nixed that idea.

Another one of my ideas was to use velcro and to put velcro tabs on all the spice containers and stick them to the doors of the cabinet. It was a great use of space, but it didn’t seem smart for the long-term solution of the organizational mess.

My personal deadline was looming. I really wanted to finish this project after Christmas, but I still couldn’t figure out a smart tactic. While breaking down some cracker boxes after a New Year’s Day chili dinner, it dawned on me… I could display the spices on a selection of stair-stacked levels. No, it didn’t really create more space, but it was the perfect way to show everything I needed without extra purchases or funny fixing.

So I emptied out the boxes that had food in them, stuffed them with newspaper so they would have some substance, and then I wrapped them in neutral wrapping paper I had from this project. I wrapped them just like I would gift-wrap something.

Then, I started arranging. At the end of the whole process, I ended up wrapping five boxes plus an open-at-the-top box for easy access.

And, here’s the finished product… what do you think?

Let me explain just a little bit. The top shelf is full of flours, sugars and Splenda, with the tin box you see full of cake and cupcake decorating supplies that I rarely use but I like having (muffin tins, food coloring, toothpicks). The middle shelf has a section of salts and peppers on the right side, with the open-top easy-access box full of dry seasonings and rubs, next to the range of sauces, syrups and cocoa.

Then, the bottom shelf gloriousness… all the spices have easy viewing of their labels, and if something is behind it, it’s usually the spice’s kin. For example, behind the crushed red pepper is the red pepper flakes and the cayenne crushed red pepper. It’s just… logical.

And for my favorite cooking partner/husband who has a habit of asking where something is without thoroughly looking, I made a graph to help him (and me!) know where specific things are, especially if they are behind other objects. It is hanging inside the cabinet for easy reference.

I know it can’t stay this nice-looking and arranged forever, but I sure hope it works for now. I definitely was able to reorganize it, clean out items I didn’t want or never use, and make the whole arrangement less chaotic.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Amanda permalink
    January 11, 2012 7:31 am

    Your solution is definitely more cost effective than mine. I have to wait until Christmas and Birthdays to receive those lovely POP containers. But thanks to your wonderful sister-in-law, my cabinet is looking even better these days! (She gave me 3 for Christmas.)

  2. Kim permalink
    January 11, 2012 4:18 pm

    My Spice Cabinet is begging for you to visit Ponchatoula soon.

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