Before and After: My Ikea Shelf Epiphany

I've been living in my apartment for 18 months now, long enough to know which of my original move-in decisions still work and which don't. These Ikea shelves in my kitchen are great but I let them get too cluttered. Looking at the above 'before' photo, I can really see how much of an antique booth vibe I had going on there. Something had to be done!

Look for 'after' photos and a few words on what got me there below the jump.

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I thought I had made peace with my kitchen clutter a while ago and was content to let it pile up, all bric-a-brac-boho-style. But then I began to notice how I would feel a little antsy and restless every time I walked into the kitchen. Wandering around on the web one evening, I read a house tour post where the occupants explained how they organized their things by how often they use them. Ping!

The post basically said the following:

  • open shelves are for things used daily or weekly
  • cupboards and closets are for things used monthly
  • everything else goes into storage (garage, attic, basement)

I realized that I wasn't using a lot of the things on my open shelves and at the same time my cupboards were packed with things I used every day plus things I use once a year. Everything was mixed up, piled up and falling over on to other things. Extreme clutter was starting to happen.

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So I decided to give the new organizing method a try. The open shelves would contain things I used daily or weekly, except for food, of course, which stayed in the cupboards. Moving the glasses out on to the shelves gave the cupboards some much need room. Many things got packed away, or moved to the dining room cupboard where they'd be easily accessible for dinner parties.

While I was at it, I decided to paint my shelves the same white as my kitchen so that they would 'disappear' and even further reduce the visual noise. One coast of primer, two coats of Swiss Coffee and a few hours on a quiet afternoon was all it took.

At first I thought I would miss all my pretty things, but then a friend reminded me that it's a lot of fun to rotate collections, that unwrapping and rediscovering old treasures can almost be like Christmas. I'm still playing with the over all look, but the organizational rules really help to keep things in control. The shelves aren't perfect but I suspect they never will be. They're a work in progress, just like the rest of my life!

PS If anyone remembers the post which referenced the above organizing formula, please say something in the comments so we can give credit!

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Dana Velden is a freelance food writer. She lives, eats, plays, and gets lost in Oakland, California where she is in the throes of raising her first tomato plant.

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