{organizing with style} Under the Sink and Dreaming

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Organizing under the kitchen sink may be one of the most challenging spots in the entire house! Not only are you dealing with pipes, but in most cases also a garbage disposal. There is often little usable space, but so many purposes that this little space needs to serve.

It took me nearly six years {wow, that's embarrassing}, but I have finally taken control of the space under our kitchen sink. It's not only organized, but I might even dare to call it pretty.

We've been living with this new system for a couple of months now, and it's still working well, so I decided it was time to share my best tips for organizing under the kitchen sink and utilizing every available inch!


Ok, so now that you've had a glimpse of the organized space, let's back up so I can show you what I started with...


As bad as it looks in the photo, take my word for it that it was even worse than you can see. There were things shoved behind the pipes in the back corners that I hadn't seen since the day we moved in. The situation was desperate!

Over the years I purchased several different storage systems that were designed to fit around the pipes under a kitchen sink, but each time I got one home I quickly discovered that it didn't work for the configuration of my sink. Our sink is located in our island, so all of our pipes go down through the bottom of the cabinet, rather than going out the back of the cabinet, meaning they take up even more space than normal.

I finally got serious about it. I took detailed measurements of the available space under the sink and drew myself a diagram showing the available floor space as well as how many inches of height clearance I had in each area. With that diagram in hand, I headed to the Container Store. I looked at nearly every bin, shelf and drawer in the store to determine which would fit and would provide the maximum amount of storage.

In the end, I came home with three Like-It White Short Medium Modular Drawers. They are normally $30 each, but I got lucky and they were on sale that day. Although, at that point I would have gladly paid full price just to get something that actually fit the space!


These Like-It stacking drawers won out not only because of their dimensions, but also because I discovered that white "lid" can be removed.

There was only one spot under the sink - on the far right - where the full cabinet height was unimpeded by pipes. To take full advantage of this space, I stacked up two drawers. By removing the top of the upper drawer, I was able to use the drawer for taller spray bottles and cleaners. The drawer still slides in and out smoothly with the lid removed, allowing me easy access to even those cleaners at the very back.


In the lower drawer, I store additional cleaning supplies.


I used small plastic bins {purchased in the Target One Spot for 2/$1} to contain striped clean dish rags and brightly colored kids washcloths. I don't like using the same rags that we use to wipe up messes for cleaning little faces, which is why I have both dishrags and washcloths under the sink.

A third small, plastic bin holds Plink garbage disposal cleaners/deodorizers {the things that look like marbles}. Do you guys use these? They are my favorite! Each color is a different scent and they really help to keep you garbage disposal smelling fresh!


At the back of that drawer, I used another plastic bin {also from the Target One Spot} to hold small bottles of items like Goo Gone, Jet Dry, and stainless steel polisher.


I used one more drawer right in the center of the cabinet. It fits perfectly below my garbage disposal, and sits just in front of the pipes that go into the bottom of the cabinet.


The center drawer holds sponges, scouring pads, Magic Erasers, and scrubbing brushes. Tucked along the side of the drawer are extra garbage bags and an extra pair of cleaning gloves.


As you can see, I added cute labels to the front of each drawer using adhesive vinyl left over from other projects. I cut the letters on my Cricut and placed them using transfer tape. You can read the details about making labels like these in my post about labeling my bath toy storage.

To take advantage of every available inch under the sink, I store dishwasher tablets and trash bags on top of the center drawer {right in front of the garbage disposal}.


The box that our 13 gallon trash bags come in was too large to fit in front of the garbage disposal, so I removed the roll of trash bags from the box and placed them in a Kleenex box with the top cut off. The Kleenex box is the perfect size to fit the available space, it keeps the roll of trash bags from coming unrolled, and it looks darn cute to boot!


We use dishwasher tablets rather than liquid or powder detergent. I love how they clean, but they are extremely poisonous if a kid gets his hands on them! The container the tablets come in just has a flip top lid that is not at all child proof, so I relocated them the tablets to a plastic canister with a screw top lid.

We have used these same Mainstay plastic canisters {sold at WalMart for just a couple of dollars each} for lots of other projects {including organizing our paint, and storing some small kids blocks}. Having used these before, I know that the lid is just large enough that our young toddler sons can't yet get their hands around them to unscrew the lid. By the time they are able to remove the lids, they will also be a bit older and better able to understand that the dishwasher tablets are a no-touch item! Of course, I don't want to take any chances with these tablets, or any of the other cleaners under the sink that could be dangerous, so we also have a childproof lock on the cabinet door. You can't be too safe!


Between the drawers, I left just enough of a gap to slide in a few paper bags. I like to be able to reuse these bags, so I created a designated spot to prevent them from cluttering up the space under the sink.


On the far left of the cabinet, there are hoses and a water control valve that sit just a bit further forward that the other pipes, making the space to shallow for another drawer. Instead, I used the space to stack our Boon Grass Drying Racks {thank goodness we are finally done with bottles, but I still use these drying racks on occasion for small Tupperware containers and sippy cups}. And that is our silicone wine glass drying mat that you see rolled up and tucked to the left of the Boon drying racks.


We recently started participating in Denver's new compost program, so we now have to have special compostable trash bags in addition to our regular white trash bags. The box full of these bags fits nicely in front of the drying rack.  Speaking of which, did you see how I labeled our compost can, as well as our trash and recycling to help guests make sense of our three different receptacles? {Details on the labels can be found here.}


Even with all of the storage space provided by the drawers, I still had a few more things that I needed to make room for under the sink. We try to remember our reusable, fabric grocery bags when we go shopping, but sometimes we still end up coming home with plastic bags. These bags can't be placed in our recycling bins that are collected by the city, but stores like Target do collect the bags for recycling. I needed a place to contain all of our plastic bags until I reuse them or drop them off for recycling.

Sharing our kitchen with two little boys also quadruples the number of dishrags we use, not to mention dirty bibs. Our laundry room is on the second floor, and our hampers where we sort our laundry are in our master bedroom on the third floor. It doesn't make sense for my to carry each dish towel and bib up to the laundry one by one {or maybe I'm just lazy}, so the dirty kitchen laundry used to just pile up under the sink.

To solve these two challenges, I utilized the space on the "walls" of the cabinet. I purchased two Variera Trash Basket from Ikea ($3.99/each). They are a great size for plastic bags and kitchen laundry. I used small command hooks to hang these baskets above the hoses on the left side of my cabinet, and I cut more labels from adhesive vinyl using my Cricut to make it clear what belongs in each basket.



It's quick and easy to lift these baskets off of the Command hooks. I carry the dirty rags and bibs up to the laundry room in this basket, and take the basket full of bags with me when I'm making a trip to Target so that I can empty it into the bag recycling bin up by the registers.


Finally, I utilized the space on the inside of the cabinet doors for additional storage. The door on the left holds a roll of paper towels {using an over the door holder like this one}.


The door on the right has an over the door towel bar, from which I hang a dish towel as well as a pair of cleaning gloves. {How cute are those gloves by the way? I found them here.}


In order to keep the gloves from constantly slipping off of the towel bar, I punched a small hole in the top of each and inserted an eyelet in each. I then looped a small binder ring over the towel bar and slid the glove eyelets through the ring. For more on how to set eyelets, you can read all the instructions in my post about how I created a fabric and paint swatch kit.


Whew! So that's the story of how we fit a whole lot of storage into a little bit of space in between pipes and hoses under our kitchen sink. To get a full appreciation of how much this space changed, let's take a look at the before and afters side by side, shall we?


Now that you've seen our under sink organization, here are my top tips for organizing under your kitchen sink!

11 TIPS FOR ORGANIZING UNDER THE KITCHEN SINK & USING AVAILABLE INCH OF SPACE:
  • Take detailed measurements of the available space, including width, depth and height around various pipes {maybe even draw a diagram if it helps you}
  • With measurements in hand, spend some time at the store looking at all of the drawer, bin and shelf options to find those products that will allow you to best maximize your space
  • If purchasing stackable drawers, consider whether the "lid" can be removed to accommodate taller spray bottles and cleaners
  • Once you've found your storage containers, sort the items under the sink. Group like items together and relocate any items that don't belong in the kitchen or under the sink
  • Use smaller bins to contain items within your larger bins or drawers
  • Consider transferring dishwasher tablets to an clear, airtight container that allows you to see when you are running low, and with a lid that helps keep them out of kids' hands
  • If you don't have a place to store them elsewhere, make room under the sink for paper and plastic bags for reuse or until you can recycle them
  • Designate a space for dirty rags and dish towels (as well as bibs, if you have babies or toddlers)
  • Don't forget to take advantage of the available "wall" space inside the cabinet, as well as on the inside of the cabinet doors
  • Add labels to make it easy for everyone in the house to find what they need and to put things back in the right place
  • With so many dangerous items stored below the sink, be sure to add a child lock to keep the kids safe!

9 comments :

  1. Wow! You have really made use of every single inch of space under your sink. I need to do something similar with mine!

    We are page of the day partners on Friday and I'm delighted to discover your blog through participating.

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    1. Thanks Paula! I was excited to discover your blog as well!

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  2. Put me to shame girl! I must get to my under sink area ASAP!!! Looks great!

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    1. I seriously can't believe I waited more than 5 years to finally address this space in our home! Do it! You won't regret it!

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  3. This is seriously amazing! I can't believe how much you are able to fit in such a tight space. I really like that you used containers within containers to keep everything in its place. Pinning this post!

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    1. Thanks, Lyndsay! I hope the ideas help you with your own space!

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  4. Angela,
    I am in love with the organization under your sink. In our lake home guests want to help but, put things where they keep them at home. Labels, drawers and clearly stationed visual places will help me immensely. This is happening in the bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room our next trip to the lake.
    Thank you for sharing your project and making my life a little bit easier!
    Have a Fabulous Day!
    Karen Marie
    Dragonfly & Lily Pads

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    1. Oh Karen, I am so excited to hear that this was helpful to you! I can imagine how hard it is to have lots of people trying to be helpful, but not knowing where things go. That's why I love to label so much!! Labeling our trash, recycling and compost has been another game changer for us with guests - no more digging through gross-ness to resort after guests leave :)

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  5. Your under-sink organization is inspiring and doable, which is a great combination!!! Thank you for this detailed post! I will be using your advice soon:)
    Blessings,
    Wendy Gunn
    faithsfirmfoundation@embarqmail.com
    www.wendygunn.net

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