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Wednesday 14 September 2011

Tutorial: Recycled Kitchen Cupboard Organizer

When I first created my kitchen cupboard stacker, I thought I'd never seen anything so beautiful in a long time. Call me crazy but this autumn with the grey winds and cold rains, I've been finding my ray of sunshine every time I open my kitchen cupboard. Stacks upon stacks of neatly lined culinary condiments -- each and every jar, bottle and sauce clearly visible and accessible. No more rummaging around and taking down all the bottles to reach for the stock cubes hiding away at the back. No more bending down-picking up-carrying over-and-stepping-up on the step-stool to reach for the peppercorns jammed behind bottles of ketchup and peri peri sauce. Mmmm bliss ... :)

So I thought, why not make a simple tute out of it and share the happy times? You'll need this stuff and only 20 minutes of your time to get your cupboard in spanking order:
  • Empty plastic milk bottles, juice boxes and/or empty kitchen/toilet paper rolls
  • A piece of stiff cardboard (I just rip apart old parcel delivery boxes and they work like a charm)
  • A retractable cutter
  • Hot glue gun
  • Measuring tape
  • (Optional) Spirit level gauge or half a glass of water in a clear glass
Right then. Now that your supplies are in place, go ahead and empty your kitchen cupboard and give it a good clean inside (start with a blank canvas eh?)

Now take your measuring tape and measure the width of the cupboard shelf that you want to organize. To make the tiers, here's how will calculate the width, length and number of cardboard strips you need:

Strip length:

You want to cut strips of cardboard as long as the width of your cupboard. (My cupboard is about 14 inches across so that's how long my cardboard pieces are)

Strip width:

To determine the width of each cardboard strip, look to the the fattest jar/bottle that you have in your cupboard. In my cupboard, for instance, the fattest jar is Hellman's mayo (see photo above). So in short, my cardboard strip is wide enough to accommodate a Hellman's mayo bottle.

Number of cardboard strips needed:

This will be (the number of times your fattest bottle will sit inside the cupboard) minus 1.

So for my cupboard, I took the jar of Hellman's and placed it inside the cupboard; I counted that only 3 bottles of the mayo would sit front to back in a single row.

So the number of cardboard strips I need is is 3 -1 = 2 cardboard strips.

Now for the thrifty, salvage-y, crafty bit **grin**.

I took the tallest bottle in my cupboard and held it up to where I wanted it sitting inside the cupboard. I held a ruler next to it in my other hand and eyeballed the height of my first tier; it had to be about 4 inches tall. For the second tier, I simply opted to halve the height of the taller tier i.e. 2 inches.

(If you need to build more than two tiers, it is best to build one tier, fill it up and then hold the tallest bottle in the next-down tier to eyeball the next tier's height.)

I'll show you how I made the shorter tier here. I simply took three empty plastic milk bottles and washed them out. I measured 2 inches up from the base and marked it all around. Then I made a slit using a retractable cutter at that mark and cut all around the bottle using a pair of scissors. Here's how the cut-up bottles looked (ignore the mess in the background, I was having a messy day :P)

So each of these little cut-up bottoms is 2 inches tall. Next, I simply placed the three bottle bottoms along the length of one cardboard strip and traced their outlines roughly...

I hot-glued each of the bottle bottoms inside their outlines to create a wonky little tier, see?

(If you're feeling extra DIY-ish, you could place a spirit level gauge or a half-glass of water on top of the tier before gluing anything, just to make sure it is horizontal. If it is too topsy, just change the positions of the plastic bottoms or slice off thin slivers of plastic until your tier is level. I did it and do not regret it; its not perfect but nothing will fall off it, see?)

And there you have it, one tier all done! Can you see all the recycled bits and bobs I used to create the tiers for my cupboard?

When assembled, put the tiers in your empty cupboard and see how they're doing. If all seems okay, pull out your hot glue gun and connect the tiers together at all the places where two tiers touch each other. My tiers were touching each other where the orange juice box is, so I hot-glued 'em there.

It all looks a bit raw and wonky ... but all of that will disappear in one-two-three!

One ...

Two ...


Voila! That's kitchen cupboard perfection for me. Now all I need to do is change the label on my chilli flakes jar. Boo. Another time.

Go on and give this a go ... let me know how your projects turn out! Toodles!