Organizing a kitchen and finding out your friend secretly is a cat person

Step one of the great Phoenix remodel: Organize the kitchen.
 
Anil loves to cook and he’s really good at it, so he deserves a kitchen that is easy to work with. And the first few days of the redecorating project were spent window shopping, trying to figure out the official plan for the condo before making any major purchases. And while that was being done, I figured I could do something free – clean. I started with the kitchen, thinking it would take a couple of hours. It actually took a couple of days.
 
Anil’s main issue was the lack of any organization system whatsoever. He’s lucky that’s something I thrive on! As I went through the cabinets I realized that stuff was pretty much everywhere. He had Corningware dishes in at least 3 different cabinets. He had food sharing a cabinet with pots and pans. He had baking dishes with serving dishes. I kept texting him with laughter about the random things I was finding in his kitchen. He asked me to come up with the Top 5 weird things I found. I can’t remember what I told him at the time, but:
 
Here are the Top Five Weird Things Found in Anil’s kitchen:
5. Flour that was best used by June 2006
4. Some very important looking legal paperwork in the cabinet underneath the sink
3. Mail stuffed in random cabinets (I already covered that topic here)
2. A driver’s license belonging to someone that does not live there anymore 
1. Kitty litter (he does not, nor has ever, had a cat. He explained it was bought to help clean a grill. However, he does not own this grill anymore, but he still has the kitty litter. I teased him that I thought I’d uncovered a secret cat lover, which he insists is absolutely not true. Riiiight.)
 
So, my grandmother grew up during the Great Depression. And as a result she never throws anything away. She rinses out bread bags and hangs them on the line to dry. She saves butter dishes to use as Tupperware. She reuses Ziplocks. And when I first started helping Anil clean out his kitchen, I forgot for a second I wasn’t at my grandmother’s. His food storage system rivaled hers:
Anil's tupperware supply before the organization.

 

Anil's Tupperware supply after reorganization, shown on the top shelf of cabinet.

 

Another thing that needed help was his food storage. This is what it looked like before:  

All of his spices, flour, sugar, etc. were in this space shared with the pots and pans. Much of it had spilled out inside the cabinet and into the area the pots and pans are stored.

 

A close-up showing some of the spills

 

He also had food in the pantry (a more likely place to find food.)  

Nothing too bad here, but there wasn't much of an organization system as to what food went where.

 

However, the top shelf of the pantry was a bit unusual. It was the home of the infamous kitty litter. Also stored here were tape and paper bags and plastic cups and mail.

 

So, I consolidated all of the food into one area.  

On the left side, the top two shelves are spices and other cooking items (flour, etc.) I got containers to keep these items from spilling (shelf 2, glass containers). The third shelf is cooking oils, vinegars, etc. Shelf 4 is bottled water. I got baskets to organize the food on the right side. Top shelf is snacks. Shelf 2 is bread items. Shelf 3 is breakfast items such as cereal, oatmeal and pancake mix. Shelf 4 is pasta, rice, etc.

 

Top shelf closeup: I picked out a spice shelf so he can see what spices he has. He had many duplicates - probably buying things over again since he didn't know he had them already.

 

I found a bread maker under the sink, along with various other appliances in random places (above the fridge, in the tupperware cabinet, etc.)

 

This left that former spice shelf available for pots and pans, a crock pot, George Forman Grill and cutting boards.  

No more worries about sugar in the pots and pans.

 

And speaking of under the sink, this is what it looked like before:  

Cleaning supplies, plastic bags, a breakmaker ...

 

And here it is now:  

I would like to grab a couple more baskets for this area, but at least the cleaning supplies have a home of their own, not shared with other things.

 

You may have noticed one thing missing from the “before” pantry shelves, and that’s tea. But to tell you about tea, I should tell you about the coffee. The coffeepot was formerly located next to the refrigerator on the cabinet. The filters and coffee and cinnamon were all on the counter next to it. I’m a fan of decluttering the counters as much as possible, so I wanted to find a better solution for the coffee that didn’t make it inconvenient.  

During the organization, when the kitchen looked like a bomb went off in it:  

  

Anil needed access to one very important thing: coffee. So he moved the coffeepot to the island just to be out of my way. And it got me thinking that having access to coffee from the island might really be helpful – one could get coffee from the dining room if someone else is cooking. So, I moved it to the island counter:  

Coffeepot now accessible from two sides. I should also use now to point out the new utensil holder I picked out for Anil - he now has better access as he's cooking. The knives stayed where they were originally.

 

I used the cabinet under the coffeepot to store the coffee, filters, grinder and stovepot coffeepot.  

Everything is easily accessible, yet tucked away when not being used.

 

I used the bottom space of the coffee cabinet for tea storage, shown in the basket above.

There was a toaster oven on the island counter before, so I moved that to where the coffeepot had been. It puts the toaster oven near the microwave and oven, which seems logical to me:

The other changes aren’t as dramatic. I found a stockpile of wine, liquor, beer and other glasses above the refrigerator which I pulled out for Anil to go through. He was shocked to see how many he has and promptly got rid of some of them.

I also pulled out all of the liquor bottles for storage in the new bar we hope to find for Anil's living room.

I used the above-refrigerator cabinet to store vases and pitchers, things rarely used but still nice to keep.

I also consolidated the corningware into one cabinet above the sink:

I still haven’t gone through his baking dishes above the oven, and I haven’t gone through the silverware/utensil drawers other than to pull some out for the countertop. I hope to do that later in the week. I also hope to get a couple more baskets for below the sink, a plastic-bag storage holder and a mug storage hook. When all the dishes are clean the coffee mugs take up just a little too much space. He’s also planning to replace all of his feminine plates, etc (picked out by his ex) with nice, white plates that will showcase the food he’s so good at cooking.

And now he has an organized kitchen to cook it in!