Organize Under the Sink

Big news in our lives… Shaun’s sister had her baby girl, Charlotte Grace, on Monday! So so sweet. (Feel free to check out Desiree’s blog here.) Needless to say, my week has quickly filled up with family gatherings, so I’ll try to keep my post short!

I thought I’d share a few quick ways of how I organized under our kitchen sink. It’s often an under utilized space, especially since working around the plumbing can be challenging. I wanted to make this my main storage area for our cleaning supplies, so I needed to make the most of it.

Under the sink

First off, I used the vertical space as much as possible. One side holds my oven mitts and broom, the other my duster and laundry bag for dirty cloths.

Vertical Storage

Duster storage

I like to keep my laundry for dirty cloths here too because, by keeping it in the kitchen “zone”, it makes it that much simpler to keep clean. Plus, it encourages me to be more sustainable!

I used a mix of command hooks, nails (I figure if there are already nails here an there in the cupboards, a few more can’t hurt!) and Ikea Grundtal hooks. The Grundtal ones are especially useful because you can easily take them to your next kitchen!

I also wanted to add in some “shelves” but I didn’t want to spend too much cash on a cleaning cupboard. A step stool from the Dollar Store for $2 was a perfect solution!

Cheap shelves

I can easily slide things I use less underneath, like my swiffer cloths, and keep my most often used cleaning products above. (Yes, I know, not sustainable at all. But it is just so much better than pushing dirty water around with a mop!)

I bought another container from the Dollar Store (love the Dollar Store!) for my most used products and a sponge. Cleaning kit

Now,when I clean the bathroom or the kitchen, I just take out the container and bring it along with me as I clean. I have everything I need on hand, and it’s quick to put back in its place (Not to mention how much easier it is to get than reaching blindly to the back of the cupboard for the right bottle!)


We also keep our recycling in here. I purposely bought a small 16 litre container: it fits, and it doesn’t smell up our kitchen because we take it out often!

Finally, I also use a small box to keep our extra sponges, cloths and so on. I like to keep everything corralled together so that I can easily move it to get to the object behind it.

Under the sink


So much for my quick post. Who knew I could write so much about organizing cleaning supplies? I am such. a. dork.

What about you? Any cheap tips you know? Any geeky habits you’d like to share for all to see?


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?

Organize Your Baking Cupboard… For Less Than Five Bucks!

First post at our new place! The move went surprisingly smoothly (other than the considerable goose egg I managed to give myself while cleaning) and our lovely friends got us moved in in half a day! We’re still unpacking the last few things, but it’s coming together.

One of the most common challenges renters face in an apartment is storage space, especially in the kitchen. We have a mini kitchen (6 by 7 feet), with a mini fridge, a mini stove, and happily, a mini dishwasher. Like many rental buildings, our unit also has the cheapest building options, like basic cabinets instead of functional drawers, which makes storing my ever increasing pile of stuff even trickier.

I needed to make the most of the cupboards I have, but I wanted it to be transportable, quick to set up, and budget-friendly, so fancy installed organizers and attractive uniform jars were out. I’ll be honest and say that my solution for my baking supplies may not be all that pretty, but is hardly dents my (much more important) decorating budget!

I started out with a small, basic, one shelf cupboard.

Baking Cupboard

I can just see chocolate chips and baking powder getting stale in the black hole that is this cupboard, not to mention piles of sugar piled into heaps, ready to spill at any moment…

To make it more functional, I used two basic containers from Walmart (they came in a pack of five for five dollars, so super cheap!) as well as a few extra ziplock containers I had lying around. (Literally. I was unpacking and stuff was surrounding me on the floor…)

baking cupboard

Other than my measuring cups, everything is corralled on either a lid or in a container. I have a tray for baking chocolate (I realized I have quite the collection once it was all organized!), a tray for my bulk food, a tray for my oats, bran and cake mix as well as two large containers with sugars and frequently used ingredients. Instead of digging around trying to reach for something specific, I can simply pull out a tray or container like a drawer.

baking cupboard

baking cupboard

Not only is it temporary, I can also move trays around like a rubik’s cube to easily reach the food in the back.

baking cupboard

Baking cupboard

I put all my bulk ingredients in clear ziplock containers so I could easily see how much I have left of each. Now they’re also sealed, (as opposed to loosely held in plastic bags like they were before) and make much better use of the vertical space.

baking cupboard

I know it would be nicer to have my oatmeal and bran in Tupperware too… which I may someday do. But this is all about keeping things as cheap as possible! Since they’re on a tray, (ie lid) hey’re still easily accessible, so the Tupperware wasn’t really all that necessary.

As for the large containers, extra white sugar (you can see my pretty jars of flour and sugar on display here), powdered sugar and so on is at the bottom. The top one holds all my most used baking supplies: vanilla, brown sugar, baking powder and so on.

Baking tray

I just pull out the box, bake, and quickly put it all back! Having a quick clean up and easy to find ingredients makes baking a lot less daunting and much more enjoyable. I’ve been using this system for a while now and I’m still happy with it.

This whole cupboard suits me because it was easily customizable to my needs, I can reuse the Tupperware somewhere else (transportable and sustainable) and cheap! What little systems have created that work well for you? How do you make the best of small space storage?

Pin Baking

I’m linking up with:

Weekend Bloggy Reading

Salvaged Wood Shelves: Sneak Peak

Our new place is very… functional. It checks off a number of our requirements (pet-friendly, ground floor, outdoor space, lots of light, south facing, dishwasher…) but it’s bland. White walls, beige carpets, builder basics- no character to speak of. I figured character was easier to add to a space than it would be to clean up an uncared for old apartment, so we opted for this one. To add some personality, I have a few DIY projects lined up…

The first of these are my salvaged wood shelves. I’m not usually exceptionally keen on wood furniture (much to Shaun’s dismay, I generally prefer to paint it all white!) but seeing as we don’t have wood floors, I wanted to add some rustic warmth to the space. I’ve found a few inspiration photos on Pinterest to share with you:



Aren’t they pretty? I thought they would be a great addition to our apartment for a few reasons: a) The kitchen is TINY and needs extra storage b) shelves are considerably cheaper than buying another piece of furniture c) they can show off my favourite dishes in the little kitchen nook area and d) they would definitely add interest to my boring walls.

Lucky for me, Shaun’s painting company had some extra pieces of wood lying around. If you had told me when I was a teenager that I would spend time in my twenties leafing through piles of old wood, I would not have believed you! I never understood why my dad did it, and here I am doing the same thing. Anyway. If you’re looking for salvaged wood and don’t have easy access to it, check out How Get Free Reclaimed Lumber from I even came across some free planks today in my neighbourhood from a new house they’re building down the street. It pays to keep an eye out for these kinds of things. For even more inspiration, check out Brooklyn to West‘s headboard made out of rescued wood from a church!

Here are the pieces we settled on:


(Don’t mind the poor quality; these were taken on my Iphone in a dark garage.) I think they have potential!


Since the colour of the beams was a bit bland, I wanted to enhance them while preserving the dings and varied colour in the wood. After a great deal of thought on how to treat it between staining, waxing and varnishing, (by this I mean asking Shaun every few minutes and me bringing a sample to a dinner party for more opinions!), I opted to varnish it.

I started by giving both planks a very light sand with a piece 220 grit sand paper, just to avoid any slivers in the future. It’s tough to tell the difference in the photo, but I just sanded until the beams were smooth when I ran my fingers over them. Of course, whenever you sand, make sure to do so with the grain, and not against it, to avoid scratching the surface.


Bali loves to hang out with me, especially when I do new and exciting things like painting… She kept photo bombing so I decided to take a few of her too!

Bali photo bomb 2

 Bali photo bomb

Somehow I don’t think she was all that enthused.

As my planks were salvaged by a painting company, there were drops of paint here and there. I kept a few minor ones, but the conspicuous ones I simply picked off with an exacto knife and sanded down. I didn’t worry too much about making it perfect, since it would just blend in to the other imperfections in the piece.

Before varnishing, I wiped the wood down with a rag to get rid of all the sawdust. With a regular paintbrush, I painted on a thin coat of varnish, making sure to wipe any run-off along the sides. Here’s what I used:

To keep an even coat, made sure the surface I was varnishing was flat, meaning I was moving the board to its side or on its end, depending upon what area I was working on. Honestly, it was easy. I purposely chose wood that had imperfections, so who cares if I mess up the varnish a bit? All part of the charm. When I finished, it looked like this:

Wet varnish

Hmm… I was sceptical about how it would turn out since it was so shiny and a bit of the yellow side in comparison to what I had envisioned. Thankfully, when the varnish dries it’s considerably more subtle. Here’s what it looks like now that it’s dried in our spare room for the last few hours:

 shelves sneak peak Shelves sneak peak

Still a work in progress, but I’m encouraged! I bought these black steel brackets to hang them:

I can’t wait to see the beams up against a dark grey wall with my favourite glassware and crisp white dishes!

Total cost:

Since the lumber and varnish was at already at our fingertips, the only thing I needed were brackets, which I bought from Rona (basically the Canadian version of Lowe’s, I believe) for 5.50 each, and I bought 4. With tax, my total came to $25.

However, recreating these shelves without knowing a painter would still be budget friendly: find the wood from a barn or around your neighbourhood, get a can of varnish from Home Depot for around 15, and you’re still looking at a 40 dollar project. Not bad for some badly needed style and storage in a small space.

Keep in touch for the reveal when we move in early April!