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10 Space-Saving Ideas for the Kitchen

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Chances are good that your kitchen serves not just as a place to prepare meals, but as the heart of your home. And if you love appliances, you might find it a little cramped to prepare meals and hang out with your family while sharing space with the breadmaker, the six-slice toaster, and the espresso machine.

"Although modern kitchens are much bigger today than those of our grandmothers, we make our kitchens do double (and even triple) duty," says Debbie Williams, a professional organizer. "Mom's kitchen is often Command Central, and might be used as a home office, homework space, craft center, and mudroom." So it's important to employ space-saving strategies so that you've got enough room for, you know, food. Follow these 10 tips for saving space in the kitchen.

  1. Go vertical whenever possible by using racks, hangers, hooks, and shelves. "Most of us arrange things horizontally, and that means we cover up valuable counter space in the kitchen," says Williams. Hooks, hanging tiered vegetable baskets, and pot racks are all ways to take advantage of unused wall and ceiling space.
  2. Put things out so they're easy to get to when you need them. "Display long-handled utensils such as wooden spoons and spatulas in a pitcher or crock," says Williams.
  3. Only leave things out that get used frequently. If you use your breadmaker once a week, there's no point letting it take up valuable counter space you use daily for chopping. It's fine to let it roost on top of the fridge, hidden away in a cabinet, or even on a shelf in a nearby closet if there's no extra space in the kitchen.
  4. Double your cabinet space. Invest in inexpensive wire racks so you can double-up pots, canned goods, or cleaning supplies without stacking things on top of one another, advises Williams.
  5. Take a tip from your wardrobe. Hang clear shoe organizers over the door of your pantry or broom closet to hold cleaners, hardware supplies, or spices, says Williams.
  6. Act like a camper. Install racks on the inside of your cabinet doors, under your cabinets, and under shelves. "These are a great place to hold knives, coffee pots, and even paper plates," says Williams.
  7. Stack it up. "Stackable trays work wonders in a spice cabinet," says Mary Findley, author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cleaning" (and founder of Mary Moppins). "Take measurements, then head to a hardware store or home-furnishings store and purchase trays that fit your space. Store the spices and seasonings you use the most at the front -- you can quickly remove them when you need a less-frequently used bottle from the back."
  8. Don't try fitting round pegs in square holes. "When selecting any kind of storage container, it's wise to select square or rectangle shapes," advises Findley. "Round containers are difficult to organize and take up far more room."
  9. Buy a plastic container that holds rolls of aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and wax paper and attach it to the inside of the cabinet door under the sink, and attach a paper towel holder to the inside of the other door, suggests Findley. This will free up a lot of cupboard or drawer space.
  10. Always be prepared. You never know when you'll need to screw another hook into the wall to hang a pot on or install a storage system under the sink, so keep tools on hand in the kitchen junk drawer, advises Findley. "Stock a small plastic tray with a screwdriver with all four heads in one handle, a pair of needle nose pliers, and a utility knife," she suggests.

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