Child-Proof and Kitchen Organization

To put the finishing touch on a great meal, you are ready to serve pie with whipped cream-not the stuff out of a can, but the real thing. Now where is that mixer you got for Christmas last year? Somewhere in one of these drawers or cupboards, somewhere.

Most people, even those who consider themselves to be generally quite organized, find it challenging to maintain order in the kitchen due to the large quantity of dishware, groceries, pots, pans and cooking paraphernalia. But anyone who likes to cook, or at least likes to eat well, finds that proper storage solutions and organization truly are the essential ingredients in the kitchen. Fortunately, manufacturers of kitchen hardware and appliances are helping by providing unique shelving and storage solutions that are as functional as they are sleek and discreet. Combined with a few organizational tips, you can master kitchen chaos.

A new generation of appliances including refrigerators, wine chillers, and dishwashers are now designed to slide into cabinetry creating sleek, uncluttered lines. For example, General Electric has created a line of refrigerators called CustomStyle which make it easy for the average homeowner to create the look of a refrigerator built into custom cabinets without the expense of custom work. CustomStyle side-by-side and top freezer models extend only 65cm (26 in.) from the wall, compared to 83 cm (33 in.) for a traditional side-by-side and 78 cm (31 in.) for a traditional top freezer. This frees up floor space and blends into the lines of standard cabinets. Homeowners can then choose trimmed or 'trimless' models. On the trimmed models, decorator panels in stainless steel, white, black or bisque can be attached to the front to complete the look or consumers can obtain a custom panel from their cabinetmaker. Trimless models are designed to slide right into the space created for a traditional refrigerator. Visit your local appliance store and see the many inventive new designs to suit your needs.

An island is a great way to increase countertop workspace and add storage in a spacious kitchen. An island can become even more efficient with the addition of running water and a sink. Although the island will no longer be mobile once it has been hooked up to plumbing, most people have no need to move their island and the benefits of having a sink next the workspace are often well worth the effort. Alternately, you may wish to install a stove on your island to free up wall space formerly taken up by the ventilation unit.

Cabinetry should be attractive as well as functional. Break up the visual monotony of floor-to-ceiling cabinets by creating some contrast. Consider replacing some wooden cabinet doors with frosted glass or stainless steel. Remove some cabinet doors entirely to create open shelving then paint the back wall of the shelf in a colour that compliments, but contrasts with, the cabinet colour. Open shelving also compels most people to keep their dishes and other items tidy!

Organization

If your kitchen is making you claustrophobic, the first step is to reduce the clutter. Look around and decide which items you really use and which are simply taking up space. Do you have far more cutlery, dishes, pots and pans than you would ever use for a large dinner party? Have you kept quirky coffee mugs or other gifts simply out of a sense of duty? Remember that there is no requirement on the part of the gift receiver to hold onto items indefinitely. Consider making a donation to charity.

If you walk into your kitchen and deposit the mail, newspaper and house keys, create a designated place for these items. Office supply stores carry a variety of wall-mounted or desktop organizers. Choose one that is small enough that you will need to sort through the contents regularly. Add a hook to the organizer to hold your keys or add a hook to the wall.

To save time and energy, put the items you use most often in cupboards that are within easy reach. Heavy items should be stored in lower shelves to avoid unnecessary lifting-this is especially important if you have children.

Cooking utensils, cutlery, measuring cups, etc., should be stored in a drawer near the counter where you prepare food and as close to the dishwasher as possible.

Stack mixing bowls and mixers beneath the counter where you do most of your food preparation.

If you own a bread maker or espresso machine but rarely use them, they are taking up countertop space and adding to the sense of clutter. Make sure they are completely clean and dry, then store them in a lower cupboard.

Group foods together by type to make it easier to find items. For example, keep cereals, and other breakfast items in the same place, and designate a space for canned foods.

Kids Kitchen Makeover

Parents soon discover the special fascination children have with exploring in the kitchen. The smells and tastes tempt them to replicate the culinary techniques of mommy or daddy-usually with far different results. Kids in the kitchen present the opportunity for messy spills as well as burns, cuts and electrocution. To help prevent mishaps, consider the following kitchen organization tips:

  1. Store cutting knives as well as everyday cutlery far out of reach of young children.
  2. Avoid the possibility of spilling hot liquids or dropping heavy items on children by keeping them out of the kitchen while you or your spouse is cooking.
  3. Children too young to see the top of the stove may be tempted to reach up and explore with their hands. Use stove burner covers to enclose burners that are hot after cooking.
  4. Move microwaves, coffee makers, toasters and other appliances to the back of the counter or on a shelf. Also, keep all appliances as far away from the sink as possible.
  5. If you keep a step stool in the kitchen to reach the higher shelves, be sure to put it on a hook out of reach of children when you are finished with it.
  6. If you have a child who likes to explore the refrigerator and perhaps leave it wide open when he's done, consider installing a refrigerator lock.
Mastering the art of an organized kitchen is easier than it may seem. It's simply a matter of having the right tools, reducing the clutter, and incorporating some new ideas in kitchen design-all of which leaves you more time to create some culinary masterpieces!