Are you thinking about kitchen remodel or simply interested in IKEA kitchen cabinets? This is an honest review on my own experience with IKEA kitchen cabinets after installed it one year ago. This is the part 2 of the review where I reveal my IKEA kitchen organization ideas and tips. In part 1, I took you behind the scene on why we chose IKEA kitchen cabinets and how it holds up. If you missed part 1, you can check it out here.
I have been using our brand new IKEA kitchen for just over a year. So far I have been really enjoying using it everyday and feel content that I can to store all my kitchen items within my limited kitchen square footage. I’m able to have all the essential kitchen appliances needed and enough space to store all of our kitchen tools. BTW, this post is NOT sponsored by IKEA, I just want to share my honest review with people who are on the fence. For IKEA kitchen system pros and cons, visit part 1 of my kitchen tour.
As you have read in my kitchen tour part 1, my kitchen is 10’ by 10’ – a 100 sqft relatively square space. And here’s a 3D render from IKEA Home Planner tool. The kitchen is open to dining room, which is pretty much the same size. The big opening on the right of the image is connected to living room.
With a 10′ by 10′ kitchen, it is impossible to fit an island. Believe me, I have tried every layout trying to fit a decent sized island in the kitchen, but it just doesn’t work. So we followed the old kitchen footprint: have a peninsula coming from the window side wall, to add extra countertop space and storage. All of those kitchen appliances such as sink, range, fridge will take away some countertop space, so having a peninsula is critical in this case to add counter space.
In total, this kitchen only has 7 lower cabinets (including one used as a pull-out trash cabinet), and 4 upper cabinets. Majority of the lower cabinets are drawers, with the exception of lazy susan at the corner as part of peninsula, and the cabinet below the sink.
Here’s the the render from IKEA Home Planner:
Kitchen zones breakdown
Kitchen is the space packed of stuffs you use regularly, so having a big picture of how things are organized is very helpful during the design process. I divided my kitchen into 3 zones: cleaning zone, prepping zone and cooking zone. Plus two non-traditional zones: storing zone and trash zone.
Sink and dishwasher mark where the cleaning zone is. It is where I wash fruit and veggies, cleaning up dishes. Ideally you want the dishwasher and sink to be next to each other, so you can easily rinse the dishes and load it into dishwasher.
Under the sink, I store household cleaning items, dish soap, sponge, general purpose cleaner, and also dishwasher soap.
For prepping zone, I have everything I need for prepping a meal: serving plates and bowls, utensils, knifes, kitchen gadgets, cutting boards, you name it. One tip is to keep the prepping zone next to the cleaning zone, so you can unload clean plates and bowls from dishwasher to your serving ware drawer fairly easily.
To store cutting board in prepping zone, I use a cutting board organizer from IKEA. It clips right into the edge of the drawer side. I really enjoy it as it keep all my cutting boards standing straight, making it a lot easier to store in and take out:
Cooking zone is all about what you need during cooking. I store specula, cooking spices, cooking oil and all sorts of sauces. In case you missed it, I have a tutorial on how to DIY spice drawer organizer to keep your spice drawer organized.
My cooking zone is fairly small so I don’t store pots and pans in the cooking zone. Instead, I store them in the storing zone.
We have a bunch of pots and pans, plus some special cooking tool such as instant pot, crepe maker, stand mixer, etc. Because most of my upper and lower cabinets are on 18″ wide, it is hard to store those appliances in an efficient way. So Instead I store them in the corner lazy susan, a 24″ wide lower cabinet with three drawers, and occasional upper cabinet.
I also store cook books, appliance manuals, kitchen linen and mittens in there too.
It is just one single cabinet unit. I have a shallow drawer to store all the trash bags, and an extra deep drawer as a pull out trash unit.
kitchen organization tips
Maximizing your lower cabinets with drawers
Do you feel like cabinets with drawers storing things better than cabinets with doors? I certainly do! Over the years I have found that having drawers in the lower kitchen cabinet makes it so much easier to store things. When I designed my IKEA kitchen, I made sure to have an assortment of drawer sizes for my lower cabinets.
The drawer-maximizing plan certainly worked out great: I can find things I need at a glance by simply pulling out drawers; Taking things out is at such an ease – no more rearranging things in order to get something out from the back. Because drawers are generally shallower, meaning they have less depth, I’m able to pack more things in the vertical space.
Don’t be afraid modify your drawer
Speaking of drawers, One thing I love about IKEA kitchen system is the flexibility to modify it as the needs change.
The system has small drawer that can live inside a big drawer, which makes medium to large sized drawers more space efficient. When we first built the kitchen, I didn’t have any inside drawers. After using it for several months, I realized that I needed one more drawer for bowls. So I ordered an inside drawer from IKEA and installed it in one of my medium size drawers. By doing that I was able to combine two gadgets drawer into one, and freed up a whole drawer for serving bowls.
Kitchen appliance tips
If you have a small kitchen just like I do, be extra mindful when picking appliances.
A counter depth fridge is working great for small kitchen: it takes less space space, plus it makes your kitchen prettier because it doesn’t stick out as much.
I almost bought a traditional range hood, but ended up buying a microwave with vent. Why? because if I do a normal hood, there’s no space for the microwave except on the kitchen counter (AKA. the last thing I want to see as a designer) What else I liked about is: it is a convection microwave, meaning I can bake small things in there too if my big oven is occupied.
I got a standard 30″ wide range. I love the bottom pull out drawer on my range a lot. Nowadays most ranges on the market has a small drawer below the oven. It is a perfect place to store baking pans and cupcake molds.
Using vertical space for pantry purpose
I have an awkward recessed area in my kitchen wall that is about 60” tall, 30” wide, and 12” deep. Because of the shallow depth, I wasn’t able to have any lower cabinet there. So we ended up hiring a closet company to add a custom cabinet inside with many shelves that we can use it as pantry. It is something you can probably DIY too.
After converting that awkward space into a pantry cabinet, it has made it super easy for me to grab pantry items as I cook, and we were able to free a bunch of space from the lower cabinets.
You may not have the exact awkward space to convert into a pantry, but I encourage you to think vertically. Most pantry items are fairly small, so having some tall and shallow shelf/cabinet can help you so much with storing those those things, such as this billy bookcase that is less than 12″ deep! Imagine how much it can store without really invading your kitchen square footage.
Use drawer organizers
Another way to make drawers organized is to use drawer organizers. Besides my DIY spice drawer organizer, I have drawer organizers for utensils, knifes, kitchen gadgets, etc. Since I bought them from IKEA too, they fit my cabinet drawers perfectly!
Here’s some of the drawer organizers I purchased:
More kitchen ideas
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