Like most people, my family spends more time in our kitchen than any other room in our house. Because of that, we’re constantly making little updates here and there to make it more functional—as well as safer for our three-year-old son, who seems to be able to get into anything that isn’t glued down.
We recently did three quick projects that have made a huge difference in our kitchen—not only in terms of organization, but in making it a little safer and more enjoyable for the little guy, as well. The extra plus is that the whole trio of projects cost us about $20—that’s three wins across the board!
There were three things that needed to be addressed on Project Day:
- End-of-day clutter
- Occupying a very curious kid while cooking dinner
- Tablet security while reading recipes
The first issue is common to pretty much everyone’s kitchen, living room or common area. You come home, drop your bags, drop the mail, drop your keys, throw off the coat and snap your focus to the immediate needs of home. What’s for dinner? Has the dog been walked? Are the kids constructively occupied? Where the heck did I put the clean kitchen towels and why didn’t the last person to fill the dishwasher not turn it on?!?
While you’re running around addressing the immediate needs, a massive pile of clutter is already accumulating on previously bare surfaces. The letters are tossed on the table, the coat is partially draped on a chair and the keys… who knows where they keys went? That’s the excitement of the 7:30 a.m. we’re-late-for-school/work flurry, right?
We were done with the drop, toss and lost routine, so when I spotted a coat hook board at the local thrift store, I grabbed it and immediately took it home for an upgrade.
Solution: End-of-Day Clutter
This was a quick but incredibly useful addition to our kitchen. It didn’t take much to transform a basic board into a useful chalkboard and coat hook. I started by applying just a few coats of neutralizing acrylic paint to make the piece chalk-friendly—perfect for keeping notes and leaving messages. Next, I took a small metal basket and slipped two colorful belts through either end, weaving them a bit through the bottom for extra support. Using a super strong glue made for craft projects like attaching leather (or pleather) to leather, I glued the two ends of the belts together and hung the buckles to the coat hooks with the help of some shower curtain clips.
This became the perfect spot to drop keys, letters, tablets, wallets, random action figures or whatever other small items might be in-hand when we walk in the door. The other hooks are perfect for a purse or scarf, as well as the reusable shopping bags that we make every honest effort to use more frequently. I considered adding some more features, but honestly, the simplicity is what makes this work so well.
Solution: Occupying a Very Curious Kid While Cooking Dinner
This project was a long time coming and I can’t believe I didn’t put it together for the little guy sooner. I found a used side table—the tiny two-foot-square affairs with removable legs that cost a cool $5 at the local big box store—and gave it a quick visual upgrade. Using an acrylic brown paint, I brushed the legs to give them a wood grain look. While those dried, I took the table top and covered it with a light gray chevron contact paper that I’d been using to line the kitchen cabinets.
Paired with a colorful kid’s chair I found at a thrift store long ago, it’s the perfect place for my son to play while I’m working in the kitchen. Now, while I’m mixing up pancakes or making a loaf of bread, I just hand him some Play-Doh and a short dowel rod-turned-rolling pin, and he “bakes” right along with me.
Solution: Tablet Security While Reading Recipes
This last project came to me while trying to prop my tablet for the 400th time against the spine of a Good Housekeeping cookbook. I wasn’t about to ruin a perfectly good cookbook, but I had a stack of old hardback novels upstairs that I quite literally hadn’t been able to give away, so I snagged one of the bigger ones and made a quick tablet station.
After outlining the shape of the tablet inside the book, I used a carpet-cutting razor to cut down into the pages about a half an inch. Then I covered the whole area with a piece of felt with an adhesive back. Lastly, I tacked a button and ribbon to the front of the tablet frame and slipped the ribbon under the bulk of the book, cutting a hole in the cover so I could run the ribbon through that to hold it in place. It’s simple, but it works! And if, for some reason, I need to hide the tablet, into the book holder it goes. Plus, the tablet-carved book fits in perfectly on the cookbook shelf.
Done! It didn’t take much, either in terms of time or money, to create some very useful ways to organize, occupy and otherwise productively position some much-needed items around the kitchen. Best of luck on your own creative kitchen organization adventures!
Author bio: Kristin Hackler loves to write for eBay about the challenges an everyday parent and homeowner wrestles with, especially if she can suggest an improvement that integrates electronics into the household. Picking up a lightly used tablet is a fun way to start.