I often brainstorm – that is I think hard and then get a headache – on how to keep our home as clean as I had kept our old apartment. With any number of young kids, it becomes a challenge to have a bath, let alone to keep a house tidy.
My big plan so far is threefold: training our toddler to pick her stuff (which is – surprisingly – working), persuading hubby to pick his stuff (which is – surprisingly? – not working so well) and adding practical storage. Starting with the main kitchen cabinet (and yes, our kitchen still looks like this – only messier).
We improved said cabinet by adding elevated, removable, half shelves and they made a huge difference in storage, convenience and accessibility!
We have what I call the “main cabinet” in our kitchen. It carries most of our baking ingredients (which aren’t many), spices, oils, sugar and – the most staple of all staples – coffee. There was a problem though: things on the back rows were hard to access and the whole thing was constantly disorganized and looked like a hot mess.
Every time I had to reach for something on the back, I had to remove several items from the front row (and still knocked down containers and boxes). Not pretty and not efficient, something had to be done.
I found an almost zero cost solution (and you can do it too!)
Our cabinet is a medium sized one (30 x 30 inches) and came with the standard two shelves. Only, when I used both, I could not fit any tall bottles in it – like olive oil and cooking wine bottles. So, I sent the second shelf to join our collection of scrap wood in the basement and was using just one, placed at the right height. Only now, everything was still a big mess and I had less storage.
I turned to the internet for solutions but, they were all oversized, undersized or just plain ugly – and they costed $$. Eventually I bought an expandable metal rack that did look good and was sturdy but, proved too deep for our cabinet and did not improve the situation:
Here is a glimpse of how they turned and how much more storage space they added:
One thing I did not want was to drill or damage the cabinet so, the solution had to be something stand alone and removable (<- this word gets repeated too often in this post – sorry!).
The solution? Cut the second shelf length wise!
We made the elevated half shelves (half deep), using materials we already had: The extra shelf from the 30 x 30 cabinet and two smaller shelves from our hidden (and inaccessible) corner cabinet – to be used as risers:
Materials used: already owned shelves, nails, wood veneer tape.
Tools used: saw, hammer, veneer trimmer (but you can cut it to size with plain scissors).
Total project cost: a whooping $3.19 (for the veneer tape).
It sums up to: cut one of the two shelves that came with the cabinet, length wise. Add risers. Enjoy!
1. We cut the big shelf in half, lengthwise, (using painter’s tape so it does not chip).
2. We cut the small pieces in the same depth as the big shelf, keeping the veneer in front (and unharmed). Each small shelf gave us two risers.
3. We cut a small notch in each of the two risers for the lower half-shelf to accommodate the shape of the cabinet. The following photo should explain the issue better than me:
The original extra shelf was cut length wise and now we had two extra shelves, that were half as deep, allowing for my taller bottles to fit and adding visibility, practicality and way more accessible storage.
4. The small shelves were cut to match the depth of the half shelves and after dry-fitting them to make sure we measured correctly, we nailed them together, keeping the veneered sides on the front. Super simple!
A trick we did to ensure those shelves are removable, was to use a single nail on one of their risers. That way the riser swings and the half shelves can be removed if need be. (This is a good time to tell you that those shelves are very sturdy (not shaky at all) and are not going anywhere, anytime soon.)
The resulting two half-shelves, are of unequal height – on purpose. I measured according to our needs and what we will be placing in our cabinet, making certain that no tall bottle or jar would be too close to the upper shelf (which would make them hard to pull out). If you do this simple DIY, measure for your own needs. You can make the risers equally tall, it’s up to you.
The top half shelf had its risers nailed a little in, to accommodate for the support pegs of the full shelf.
If you don’t have extra shelves lying around and want to create your own elevated half-shelves, here are a few ideas:
- You can cut any piece of wood and either paint them to match your kitchen, use a shelf liner or, stick veneer tape on them.
- You can add actual legs, either wood or metal ones, depending on your kitchen’s design. It is a matter of personal preference and taste, do what you love. 🙂
- You can mount it on the sides of the cabinet using support pegs just like a bookcase shelf (you will need to add 4 extra holes for that, though).
=> No matter how you go about it, in essence you create a ladder effect with the new shelves being narrower; only, you don’t lose the space underneath them.
This project cost was exactly the wood veneer tape (for the second half-shelf) so the unsightly cut was hidden. It was surprisingly hard – read: impossible – to find the correct veneer. (Kinda made me wish I had a white kitchen – so easy to find veneer or paint for them).
How we are using the newly created space
Under the half-shelves goes everything that is a refill (all the spices you see are back ups), or rarely used items (like the jello). We still use (and love) our toolbox spice caddy for daily cooking and it sits close to the stove, on the countertop.
Upper shelves carry baking and cooking ingredients. Lower shelf holds the big bottles, sauces and the all important, coffee.
Do I still have to move items out of the way to reach for the back items? Yes, I do: everything placed under the half shelves is blocked by an item at the front but instead of moving half the stuff out, now I only move a single item and – voila – access! We’re talking surgical precision here, ladies.
=> Everything that is used daily or every other day, is accessible immediately, without moving a thing out of the way.
Sorry I made this into such a long post but, I am thrilled with how they turned out! So simple and yet such an improvement!
Adding half shelves (and massively improving cabinet storage) is such a simple and easy DIY, anyone can do it.
What do you think (besides that I have a lot of coffee in that cabinet)? 🙂