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Any ideas how to make my kitchen more functional?

Shanny Reimer-Haider
last month
last modified: last month

I hate my kitchen. It’s not so functional and the bottom cabinets are worn out and i want all bottoms to be drawers and leave the top cabinets. I can’t afford to overhaul it for over $5000. we don't eat as a family anymore since the table is so crowded and always filled with clutter. we never have space. I hate the corner sink. Only one person can be in there. It’s too crowded to have two ppl cooking. There is six of us plus kids friends. It’s about 12 1/2 and 14 1/2 ft. In the 2nd picture, we added shelves for appliances and the microwave. The wired drawers are filled with cans and boxes of food since it all didn‘t fit in the cupboards. No where to put cereals but the on table. I’ve purged as much I can.

Help! And thank you!












Comments (65)

  • Shanny Reimer-Haider
    Original Author
    last month

    I have no dining room as well.




    I hate clutter. So I feel less is more. But the kitchen is where I’m at loss. I do a lot of cooking and do cake decorating as well. I keep my cake stuff above the fridge and the rest is in the garage. Took a pic of my living room which is next to the kitchen to show that I dont have a dining room. I tried to have a table in the living room and it didnt work well in the space since my teens use it for their video games such as Dance so they are physically active in the living room. I have patio doors in my living room as well. ingore the mess. i have teens.

  • housegal200
    last month


    Delcuttering and layout changes should always precede renovation. Both those negatives are causing you to hate your kitchen. I'll add another thing to that. What is outside your big kitchen window. It looks like a catch all for "stuff." Get those teens to clean it up and eventually think of it as an extension of your kitchen with nice plantings. But clean it up. Remember, everyone is saying taking down the curtains. So you need a nice clean space to look at.


    1. Please provide measurements for kitchen and living room. Do a drawing of both and give us the measurements. Photograph the living room and, yes, we'll probably tell you want to get rid of in there! That's how organization and design happen. The two spaces, open to each other, need to be dealt with at the same time.


    2. You absolutely need a professional organizer to take this on. You've been living like this for too long to see what needs to be done. Honestly, they will give you the best advice.


    2. Do you have a dining room? If so, when you eat together, that's where sit-down meals need to happen, even if it's a small corner of the living room, You are going to completely clear out stuff from under your island and put two stools there for when someone just want to have coffee or a sandwich. You need a round dining table in any case--rounded edges take up less room.


    3. If you do not have a dining room, then show us the living room. It may be possible to set aside a corner for a round table and chairs. Replace your long kitchen table with a round one by the kitchen window if possible. This is why we need measurements.


    4. Moving the current kitchen table out means:

    --you can put a long, low sideboard/or bottom cabinets, with a nice back where the railing is. It could be a thrifed piece painted a harmonizing cream color or it could be kitchen cabinet lowers with the new countertop you should be thinking about.

    There are some possibilities here, but your information is too piecemeal--no photos of living room; no measurements. Please provide us with more. Meanwhile, for my peace of mind, please get rid of the second stepstool under the counter. And hire an organizer.



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  • bpath
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I put things on the table, too. Then I got married, and that drove my husband crazy. So now, it takes a lot of self-discipline but I keep it clear, except for a small flat pretty dish with tealights and the salt and pepper on it. I also keep the sink clear and empty. Those two things guide the rest and have really made a difference for me.

    I like your corner bookcase, it’s a good use of that space.

    You have quite a bit of space in your kitchen, it just isn’t a good layout with sink, DW, and cooktop crammed together, but it is what it is.

    If you do not use the breakfast bar (and really, who wants to eat over the sink and stove?), add narrow short bookshelves under it, between the corbels. Or drawers, which could hold placemats and napkins and candles. Or put the plastic drawers on the shelves. At least it will collect and unify them. I have tons of those plastic drawers, too, and if they are in a bookcase they look more intentional. You can find matching bookcases at thrift, resale, or rummage sales pretty easily.

    It’s hard, but if it doesn’t have to do with meal prep and dining, or doing homework at the table, get it out of the kitchen.

    By the way, I do recommend lighting candles at dinner. We’ve been doing it since the kids were little, and it’s just, well well, nice.

  • ker9
    last month

    Do you have a basement for storage?

  • bpath
    last month
    last modified: last month

    You’ve been busy today! How does it FEEL? Looks stellar!

    Put the cereal in a basket. It’s amazing how containing things makes them look better. I had my vitamins etc on the bathroom counter, but putting them in a plastic tray makes them almost disappear, or at least not look like clutter.

    Put two candles on the table and enjoy your evening. :)

    Okay, one more thing. One day I walked into a neighbor’s kitchen and asked if she had repainted. No, she smiled. Well, I said, somthing is different. She laughed and said, ”I cleaned everything off the front and side of the refrigerator.”

    Well, just one more thing. The counter from the dishwasher on around the right is your prep space. Do you have room to prep? I’d think the area on top of the Dw to the corner is where you usually prep, can you clear that completely?

  • apple_pie_order
    last month

    Wow, good decluttering.


    Your kitchen is holding a lot of stored food, either for the heavy winters when a shopping day is too difficult or for the growing teens. You just have more food to store where many people with smaller families would have sets of china, glassware and infrequently used appliances. i think this arrangement is practical for you and your family.


    Now you can scoop up the cereal boxes at dinner time, put them on the bar, and have a family dinner, put them back on the table after dinner. Are there more wooden chairs somewhere? The table could be moved out enough to let the teens squeeze in next to the railing. If it blocks the traffic, consider putting it on wheels to move easily.


    Two more questions:

    1- what three (or five) things do you hate most about the kitchen? Color? Floor plan? sink? Other?

    2- what three (or five) things do you like most? Sunny window? coziness? easy reach for favorite cake supplies?

  • roarah
    last month
    last modified: last month

    You did a great job! I find your kitchen exudes warmth and realness! If you do not have under cabinet task lighting I woukd add light strips. They really helped brighten my kitchen.

  • Shanny Reimer-Haider
    Original Author
    last month

    This is my table. im planning to build a long bench on other side so when its time to eat i can pull the table out and push it back when done. However, I hate the table and thinking to get a bar table that seats 8 since there is 8 of us all together. (i have 2 adult sons who doesn't live at home) I'm not sure if a bar table would work in the space?


    i dont have a big enough container to hold the cereals. The red basket holds the fruit. The wired basket holds the school snacks for teens to grab in the am.


    good idea about the under counter lighting.


    what i hate the most is no kitchen window in front of the sink. the only window i have is the bay windows you see in pictures. And having a corner sink sucks too. kitchen is too small for two people to fit in. so I dont let my teens help since its too crowded. Also the kitchen looks too dark and gloomy. I plan to put up white backsplash but don't want to do it if I reno the kitchen in the future. That would be like 5 years from now to overhaul it.


    i do love having a wall oven. i usually put all the food on oven door like a brunch style and the teens help themselves off the oven door. Guess thats the only thing I like about the kitchen is the wall oven.


    as for prep-I open a drawer and put a cutting board on it so I have room for my casserole dishes on the counter as I make dinner.


    i have only 3 pots and 2 frying pans. i have my instant pot that I use daily. i have oil fryer. i dont use it much but my teen almost burnt down the house making french fries so I bought it for her.



  • zennifer
    last month

    I think the bench idea sounds great!

  • H D
    last month

    Following

  • PRO
    JAN MOYER
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Do I see a dining room beyond? I'd say USE it, and replace the kitchen table with storage...........you're allowed to use it ( a dining room ) on a daily basis, in fact this was once very common in older homes with small kitchens! . The peninsula corbels removed? Yes, more storage. The mug rack and doo dads? Float some shelves for every day dishes, and free up a cupboard. Cookbooks? It's all online! Now you have a cereal shelf possibility.....an air fryer is an OCCASIONAL appliance. Or make the frozen variety in the oven.

    It isn't a space for both types of seating, in any scenario with six kids.

    Lets see the dining room, please.

    Jamming eight folks in here for a meal, is jamming a square peg in a round hole. Dim, and crowded. :

    PS.. don't get me started on cereal. A waste of money, expensive $$$ sugar calories, and a set up for mid morning hunger. Better off with hard boiled eggs, a slice of whole grain bread topped with peanut butter, almond butter.......ANYTHING but junk cereal. You could eat half a BOX and be hungry again at ten am. No wonder kids love it, it's nothing but sugar in the end, excepting oatmeal.

  • bpath
    last month

    Jan, this is the dining area. The living room on the other side of the railing does not accommodate a dining table. The OP tried it. So this IS the dining area.

  • shirlpp
    last month

    If you can get a teenager to eat a boiled egg with whole grain bread - then good luck.

    I'd be happy if my teen would eat junk cereal, rather than walking out with nothing in his stomach.

    Let's face it, teens are going to eat junk - regardless!

  • Melissa R
    last month

    I understand you still want a nice looking kitchen but the reality is you don't have enough storage for your big family!


    Can you add a shelf above the table to store cereals and such?



    Also, I'd get rid of the shelf here and add three or four shelves...as long as you can make them which would add a bunch of more storage.



    Also, how about getting a pot rack ($43 from Amazon) and hanging it from the ceiling for your pots and pans. I find things like colanders also work well hanging...heck, anything that can hang can hang from a pot rack. Then you can free up the space on the side of the cupboard for another standing shelf/bin This one is $46 from Amazon, it has wheels and has a small shelf on top






  • zennifer
    last month

    Jan, you can come cook, meal plan, shop, and force my kids to eat what you choose at my house any day. You judge, you get to fix.

    The judgement of us parents for our choices and needs drives me batty. It doesn’t matter what we choose. We are always wrong. 😹😹😹

  • zennifer
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Shanny, I’m thinking one of those big cloth utility totes might be the cereal answer for them living on the table but also being movable for family dinners when wanted? They are lightweight, easy to move from place to place, etc, and the large ones would definitely fit all that cereal. It would look “organized” and could be in a color you live. If it’s big enough you could even house the bowls and spoons there. :)


  • zennifer
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Long term, you almost wonder if knocking the bottom off of the passthrough and widening it as much as possible (will be structural- do it with professional guidance) would allow for a table and seating that is even more functional; you'd have to scoot the couch forward a foot or so, but gaining that PLUS the width of the wall would give a lot of breathing space around the table, retain and even improve the natural light into the kitchen, and not take a huge amount of space out of the living room (only about 8sf). Something to mull over longer term.

    Another longer term option might be to actually move the cooktop, shift the sink slightly so it's all on the side wall instead of in the corner (shouldn't be too expensive for that little bit of a move- I mean, it will cost probably $500 or so to move that distance depending on location) and then remove the pennisula AND the table, and instead of the table and penninsula put in a counter height island that is also your dining table, but has lots of storage in the middle underneath? This is really dependent on the measurements of your kitchen, and it would have to be a narrow table/island, and backless stools under the part that's more workspace. But...it's something to play with in a sketchup type program to see if it works for you? It might increase the amount of people who can help cook/be in the kitchen simply by dividing into zones a little bit?


    Shanny Reimer-Haider thanked zennifer
  • PRO
    JAN MOYER
    last month

    Sometimes I have chicken for breakfast......: )

  • Yvonne Martin
    last month

    Think about it--do you really need to have nine boxes of cereal open at one time? There are only six people in the household. Can you as a group agree on two or three until they are finished and then agree to switch to another set? The same thing goes with the snacks, etc. Prune down and continue to declutter. Your teens will appreciate the lessons maybe 20 years from now.

  • herbflavor
    last month
    last modified: last month

    cereal box set up suits your needs for busy mornings/ some people use airtight canisters....look for a collection of those maybe ..just a little tweak. then the cereal can stay there...I take it you pull out bowls and milk and set it all there in the morning etc . you dont have to abandon what works .....just "work it " as you clean/tidy your space you'll want to do as many small easy things as you can. people react to it I think, naturally.... as most kitchens have the boxes put away.

  • Kathy Furt
    last month

    Jan she only has 4 kids and of course that was your first mistake!! Just kidding!! You will miss them when they grow up. I think you need to use a professional organizer for this. They can recommend storage options. Looks so much better clean. You sound a little depressed too. Takes one to know one! My dad just died too.

  • mjlb
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I don't have any advice - just want to say that OP did an AMAZING declutter in only 24 hours!

    Is there an elevation change between kitchen / living and kitchen / hall? In some photos it looks like the kitchen steps up? In some photos it looks like the arched opening to living room goes all the way to the floor?

    Shanny Reimer-Haider thanked mjlb
  • partim
    last month

    One of the most convenient shelves has the rice cooker and deep fryer. My guess is that these are used maybe once a week each? Could a less-prime spot be found? Cereal can go on the very handy shelf where they were. One spot for the appliances could be the top shelf, but first you'd need to prune the number of cookbooks and find another spot for the remainder.

  • ker9
    last month

    You did a great job cleaning up! I hear you and agree your sink area is awful. I wish I had a good suggestion to help you. For the cereal I wonder if you added a shelf in the tall pantry toward the bottom you could rearrange that lower area to fit the cereal boxes. If not, any kind of decent bin would help make it feel like it has a place to live and can be moved.

  • Mama Cita
    last month

    Great work Shanny! I am watching your progress instead of tackling my own hot spots. See all that space above the spices on your pantry door? Install a few slide-out spice racks on a shelf, move the spices to the slide outs, and use the door racks for taller bottles. I think you could free up a few shelves this way. I have the Vertical Spice brand. There are other brands, all sizes and price points. Go Shanny go!!!



  • Shanny Reimer-Haider
    Original Author
    last month

    You guys make me giggle.


    Actually I have 5 kids but only 4 at home. And I haven't bought cereal for 8 years now. Those cereals belongs to my teens. They bought them. I dont care as long they eat. Chicken eh? You make me smile Jan. Personally I don't even eat breakfast. I usually stock the fridge with yogurt tubes so the kids can grab and run. Yup they are full of sugar but my teens are skinny and always on the go.


    Also the top shelf are the cook books. I wittled them down from 2 shelves to a half shelf. 😬😬 Also they have heritage recipes from my friends and family.


    Good idea to move the oil fryer. I should do that. Love the idea of shelves above kitchen table but it would look cluttered?


    Yes you are right. Its a step up kitchen. Not one whole floor. I have thought of getting kitchen floor dropped and the table area where the railing is removed to make it one whole floor but it will cost a lot to do that. 🤕


    More mulling and planning to do this week and putting it to action this weekend.



  • mjlb
    last month
    last modified: last month

    I did a rough draft of your floor plan, existing and proposed. WIth the budgetary constaint, I'm not sure how much could be done. Not moving the plumbing more than a short distance will help keep costs down. IMO, the key issue is removing the peninsula so that there is more room for your dining table. To eat together as a family, the dining table should be centered and have room to pull chairs out all around, but that's a tight fit for your kitchen. I thought an oval table might work better than rectangular. Or an extendable table, if you would not mind the extra step needed to extend or contract the table. When the window is fixed, I'd fill it with plants - always makes me feel cheerful!




  • Kathy Furt
    last month

    We had 5 kids growing up but 2800 sq. Ft. Single story. My hubby is one of 9!!! Very small house

  • Kathy Furt
    last month

    There’s no way she can fit a table in there

  • gingerk52
    last month
    last modified: last month

    Agree, the dang tables to big as is. I would cut the table down to a counter top and add it to the end of the counter top going towards the living room. Counter tops only need to be wide as a plate. First thing I would have done is taken that rail down and move the sofas into an L shape in the living room. Never seen a rail in an arch before. One thing for sure no one is going hungry with this little mama.


  • Kathy Furt
    last month

    Or they’re headed for a diabetic coma!! Never seen so much sugared cereals!! And then a ginormous zucchini!! I think I saw twinkies too

  • bpath
    last month

    Hey, we are not here to tell people’s kids what to eat. Those boxes could just as easily have Total Raisin Bran, or nuts and grains and dried fruits for mixing, or graham crackers, or Oreos. The point is, how to organize it.

    I like the idea of shelves on the wall where the coffee mugs are. That’s a lot of opportunity!

    How much space is above the upper cabinets? Is it enough to have covered boxes for things you use once or twice a year? (and if one of your teens is tall, all the better!)

  • mjlb
    last month

    Fitting a table is indeed difficult and it will necessarily feel tight. But you gotta eat! Perhaps a bench in the opening to the living room would allow a bit more room for table.

    something like:


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  • Mama Cita
    last month

    I find the low-sugar comments exceedingly low value.

  • Kathy Furt
    last month

    Good for you

  • zennifer
    last month

    😎

  • zennifer
    last month

    Out of twinkies.

  • Kathy Furt
    last month

    Got any captain chrunch!!

  • decoenthusiaste
    last month
    last modified: last month

    New idea! Remove the railing and build out the opening between rooms with a two sided bar using 3-4 stool stools on each side. That should give you 6-8 seats. Make it dining or bar height; whatever floats your bunch's boat. Get smaller, backless stools that can shove completely under the counter on both sides, clearing floor space. Put shelves on the wall at the end of the peninsula and offload favorite cereals into clear airtight canisters. Add a stack of bowls and a container of spoons. Keep sugar in a sugar dispenser like restaurants sometimes have on the table. In the morning, all you have to do is set the milk out under the shelves and let the kids self-serve. If you want to put a bowl of fruit and a knife there, some may add that to their cereal or just grab some on their way out the door! Under the lowest shelf hang mugs, a different color for each family member (maybe with their names on them.) Might match them to the bowls, so any mugs/bowls not in the DW after they leave for school will ID the kids that get to unload the DW and handle trash duty that day! Otherwise, I would do mjib's proposed changes for the appliances.


    Anchor Hocking 97286 Glass Sugar Dispensers, 5.5"L x 3"W x 3"D, 11 Oz. · More Info


  • quasifish
    last month

    It looks like you've been doing a great job decluttering and organizing. Your kitchen reminds me a little bit of mine- shape and lay-out wise.

    Best advice I can offer (if you even need any more advice) is to move things to other areas wherever possible. For example, my cookbooks live in the laundry room, some extra kitchen equipment that is rarely used is stored elsewhere in the house, garage, or even a shed. If you have something that you think you might be able to do without, but aren't quite sure, put it in a box elsewhere for several months and then revisit it. I've gotten rid of crock pots, bread machines, waffle irons, etc. that I thought I should keep initially by doing that.

    Most importantly though, don't add anything more until you are sure that it's going to be helpful and not just more clutter- even if it's disguised as organization equipment :)

  • Melissa R
    last month

    Well...uhhhh...if it doesn't matter WHY EVEN COMMENT?????? Bizarre

  • rtpaige03
    last month

    Ridiculous comments on here. Just because you see some junk food doesn’t mean that is the entirety of the diet or that it is ANY OF YOUR BUSINESS. She asked for organization help. How would you like it if you asked for help organizing a closet and the posts were about how ugly your clothes were???

  • rtpaige03
    last month

    Now for some practical advice.
    I too have a storage issue in my kitchen. I converted a coat closet downstairs to storage for my crockpot, food processor, salad spinner—all the things that take up a lot of cupboard space. Coats are now in each family member’s closet. Because I live in an area prone to natural disasters, I also have an emergency food pantry with canned goods in a spare bedroom closet. Since you have so many kids, I can see where even having a week’s worth of food for your family would look like enormous food stock to a smaller family. Is there somewhere else you can install an overflow pantry or put your appliances away? Laundry room, basement, garage, etc… Be creative, and good luck.

  • rtpaige03
    last month

    Also, when you speak of clutter, you keep apologizing by saying “I have teens”. I have teens as well. They can be slovenly, I know. But be firm, and set a rule. They want to be messy in their rooms, fine, but the public rooms in the home belong to the family, and they need to show respect for mama by cleaning up after themselves. Get DH on the same page as you, and then have a family meeting. All this work you put into decluttering, they need to keep it looking good for you! Explain to them how the clutter makes you feel—stressed and dissatisfied with your home. But you have to work with what you have, so you can’t live feeling dissatisfied. I’m sorry I missed your comment about not having coat closets or an attached garage. I like the suggestion given about taking down the small shelf over the peninsula and adding more substantial storage.

    In the living room, consider finding furniture with storage. For example, if you got a piece with closed storage for the aquarium, you could put the fryer and instant pot in there, and use their current shelf for cereal. Storage ottomans on wheels instead of a coffee table to store games and blankets for snuggling to watch a movie. Consider having kids declutter and consolidate their rooms, utilize under bed storage, and coats may be able to be stored I rooms. Having access to your coat closet for kitchen storage would help you tremendously

  • H D
    last month

    In your pictures it looks like there is another room (family room maybe?) with another sofa and blue walls? Or is that the same room with the TV and just how the photo turned out? If it’s a separate room, that might be a good place for a free standing cabinet you could use as a pantry.

  • partim
    last month

    Maybe an idea for you. My fave uncle Norm was very orderly in his kitchen, and he found that when there was just a bowl or so of cereal in the box, nobody wanted to finish it and it got stale. So he started a mixed cereal box where he put the odds and ends. It was sort of a family joke but the kids seemed to enjoy the mixed one.

  • suedonim75
    last month

    “In one place you say you have six kids, in another you say 5. Not that it matters”

    She said there are 6 of us. She never claimed to have 6 children. So, her and her 5 children.

  • shirlpp
    last month

    Beating a dead horse!

  • momof5x
    last month

    We have this butlers type kitchenette upstairs and we always need the refrigerator for drinks etc as we mainly use upstairs family sitting area- formal one is downstairs. We put our refrigerator in a corner of the sitting area / dining area for easier access and more space upstairs. Many people have started to do this, perhaps if you could find a place for yours just directly outside the kitchen area, you can use the refrigerator space. Just my thoughts anyway.

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