Tips to Add Extra Kitchen Storage (and Salvaged Shelves Reveal!)

Back in March, I blogged about how upcycled some worn pieces of wood for my future salvaged shelves. I thought they would look nice, but I’m thrilled with the results!

Salvaged open shelving

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I have a mini apartment sized kitchen: 7 by 7. This does not give me much to work with (especially since I’ve been downsizing from the much larger kitchen we had in our last place), and when we unpacked our kitchen items, it all ended up looking like this…

Kitchen before Kitchen Before


With little cabinet storage to spare, extras ended up above the shelves or onto precious counter space. Here are a few tips I’ve found helpful to create more space:

1. Add a cart. (Admittedly, you can see snippets of it in the before pictures.)

Ikea Bekvam Cart

It’s been said before, but that’s because it works! We got this one off Craigslist for $40, but it’s originally from Ikea for $70. (I probably should have bargained a bit more for this one, but apparently I was feeling carefree that day…) The colour isn’t my favourite so I might paint it eventually, but it’s fine for now.

Not only does it add counter space, it holds some small appliances, a little tool box, and our kitchen linens. As a bonus, it’s a perfect fit for my stool! Yes, being 5’3, I own a step stool, and it’s so worth it.

2. Make use of vertical space.

Crate and barrel baskets

There is often a ton of wasted space above kitchen cabinets, and I needed to make use of every square inch. I had used it as you can see in the before picture, but all those exposed boxes were a definite eye sore.

Instead, I bought these baskets from Crate and Barrel. I love the warmth and texture they bring in (not to mention how well the complement the shelves!), and having three of the same baskets creates a clean uniform look.

And of course…

3. Hang open shelving.

Salvaged open shelving

Not only is it functional, it’s a lovely way to display your dishes and favourite pieces. I’m especially fond of the handmade blue and white pottery I bought down in Mexico.

Open shelving  Open shelvingOpen shelving

Again, here’s the before:

Kitchen Before

And after progress!

Salvaged open shelving

Let’s take a look at the to do list:

  • Replace hardware
  • Add one or two new rugs (to cover up our ugly lino) : 1/2
  • Paint an accent wall in the eating area
  • Make a bench and coordinating cushions
  • Hang salvaged wood shelves 
  • Decide on artwork (if needed)
  • Create storage systems

Progress for sure, but still work to be done. I’m not sure if I’ll still feel the need to replace the hardware and make a bench, but we’ll see. Enjoy the process, right..?

What about you? Any projects you’ve been dying to finish? Anything you’ve envisioned and been over-the-moon about the results?


Small Spaces: Creative Storage for Linens and an Entry Way

I’ve only recently started reading Apartment Therapy regularly. Crazy, I know. I don’t know what stopped me, but I love their articles as well as their whole community!

I was recently reading Apartment Therapy’s Article, Create a Landing Strip. One point jumped out at me: Maxwell, the author of the Eight Step Home Cure, says an entry should act as a “filter” from the outside world to your home. It should have a space to “filter” your shoes (and the dirt that goes along with them), keys, umbrella, purse, and so on. I think this is one of the hardest aspects I’ve found in keeping my house clean. When I get home, I just end up dumping all my things on the nearest surface (usually our kitchen counter) and things pile up. This article inspired me to make a proper “landing strip” in our place.

However, being a 650 sq ft apartment, there isn’t a proper foyer or mudroom to speak of, obviously. Thankfully, I do have a hall closet, but our “entry” is really a small hallway of 9’ by 4’, with either side leading to the kitchen or bathroom. I have seen a number of projects highlighting closets turned into mudrooms, but I was not about to give up one of our two closets in our apartment for a mudroom!

I decided to think outside the box and turn our tall narrow dresser into multipurpose storage unit: standing in for both a linen closet and for a designated landing strip. A dresser works well for me because it adds lots of storage, and doesn’t give me a huge surface to easily dump my stuff on. (For some reason, I never leave things on the ground, just on surfaces. This is much to my boyfriend’s annoyance, because he does exactly the opposite.) Plus, this one has a number of very shallow drawers, so it allows me to access smaller items, like wallets and keys.

Here’s what I started with:

Dresser Before

Before pictures are supposed to be ugly… right?

As much as it looks a bit crazy as we move in, there was some degree of organization inside.

Drawer before

I took everything out and sorted through what needed to be kept inside, what should be kept elsewhere, what should be tossed, and what should be donated. Here is the (messy!) pile of contents:

Unpacked linen

As much as this is a mess, you’ll also notice I don’t really have that much linen. To live in a small space, I try to edit as frequently as possible. We just don’t have the room to keep eight extra towels or five different sets of sheets.

In my dresser, I ended up keeping only extra fabric (I always seem to have some lying around from future or past projects) and place mats. I put extra kitchen towels in a basket in the kitchen (keeping things in the zones we use them in keeps our home neater) and extra sheets and travel towels up higher in our closet.

Organized bed linens

Keeping them in a plastic bin like this one stops them from falling and ending up in a crumpled mess.

I replaced remaining linens nicely in our drawers:

Third drawer

Fourth drawer

I was left with three extra top drawers for our “entry” stuff.

Inspired by Jen from I Heart Organizing, I took the time to line the remaining drawers with pretty wrapping paper. Love!

Unlined drawer Lined drawer

I created one section for the things we take for Bali’s walks:

Second drawer

(We don’t need the sunscreen quite yet, but I’m one day this will be useful. I swear.)

I created another for the little things we drop off at the end of the day: wallets, moisturizers, ear phones… I didn’t have any extra drawer dividers, but I think the bowls look prettier anyhow:

First drawer

I even have an extra empty one that I’ll fill up as unpacking continues. I’m hoping pretty drawers inspire me to keep things from piling up in my purses. Can’t promise that one though…

I sanded off the moving marks on one of the drawers, and cleaned up the top. Here’s what it looks like now!

Dresser after

Ok, still not all that special… It’s all very beige… but it is functional. Once our belongings are all properly stored, I plan on painting the back wall, replacing the hardware, maybe adding a mirror…

I put our keys in the top bowl, but that’s it. Again, I purposely placed a few things on the surface to stop myself from piling purses and purchases on top. I have to be honest with myself!

Dresser top

What about you? How have you made storage work in a small space? Anything creative or unusual that works in your home?

As an aside, here’s a quick source list:

Dresser: hand-me-down

Rug: Crate and Barrel

Frame: Jysk (and photo: Mine, from Indonesia!)

Owl (one of my favourites!): West Elm

Wrapping Paper: Winners