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The Mountain House Kitchen Organization One Year Later – How Well Have I Kept It Up?

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My annual flare-up of ‘clutter body’ has sent me into a nighttime and weekend frenzy to organize EVERY SINGLE cabinet in my LA home. There are sharpies in the vitamin drawer, extension cords next to the saran wrap (not that I have saran wrap, of course, I don’t), I saw a rogue pacifier (??) in the entry drawer and don’t even mention ‘Tupperware’ – nary a matching lid to be found.

So, I’m needing some org porn, some inspiration. I’m revisiting how we fully organized the mountain kitchen (with the expert help of NEAT Method) and assessing what really worked, and what was harder to keep up (along with some hacks and product recommendations along the way).

The Pull Out Trash Bin

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I’ve never started a blog post with a shot of trash, but today is the day. It’s because that pull out trash/recycling is having its birthday and needs to be celebrated for how much it has helped our life.

It’s not that the trash/recycling cans were so genius, it’s that right next to it we have room for MORE backup trash bags (different types, even) and even better – shopping bags. This is a luxury of a big kitchen that we don’t have in LA as that kitchen is super small, but knowing where your shopping bags are before you run out of the house is an absolute joy.

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A year later we don’t have it as organized, but it still functions GREAT. We use one of our shopping bags to hold the rest (we have so many) and then the white garbage and black garbage still fit snuggly.

The Fully Visible Pantry

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Now onto one of my favorite parts, the pantry. It’s just so beautiful. We made it so you could see food instead of packaging which helps to really know what you have. Everything was labeled, and “like things” were put together.

The stackable, clear containers with lids make life easier, and the baskets are definitely used, jam-packed (and easy to clean). Here she is now:

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Not bad, guys. I’d say it’s still about 60% organized. Once you invest the time and money setting up your system, it’s not that hard to maintain even for people as messy as we are.

Where we succeeded: I still love to decant snacks and cereal into the clear containers (when I remember). We definitely use the baskets and love those pull out drawers with the dividers, although now they have mostly broth and canned goods (those beautiful bags of green peas somehow never made it in our stomachs). But cheers to clear plastic stackable containers and see-through baskets. (We had excess beers leftover from new years so we shoved them back there, they don’t normally live there).

Where we failed: I’m not good about keeping up with the snacks in the spinny round things (that’s mostly because it’s hard to keep up with the snacks, period).

I’m honestly now more motivated to keep it up, being reminded by the photos of its beauty. Maybe I should tape a photo of it to the inside of the cabinet. That would likely help– kinda how people used to tape photos of themselves skinnier on their mirrors to “motivate” themselves? (don’t do that).

The pride I felt when people opened up the pantry the first few weeks to innocently get their kids a snack was embarrassingly high. I instantly told everyone how professional organizational experts did it for a shoot because NO mom wants to see another pantry look like that effortlessly. I would have lost friends.

The Junk Drawer

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Now here is a staple in any kitchen and what was once my favorite feature (and still kinda is, just messier). The command strips are no longer stacked neatly and there are very few cords housed in a ‘ leather cord taco‘.

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Now it is more a place for truly everyday things – chapsticks, keys, sunglasses, Brian’s antacid/Pepto Bismol, super glue, tape, 5 pairs of scissors (??), hair ties, 4 flashlights for night hikes, a rogue walkie talkie and most importantly non-decanted batteries. I’ve relegated most tools to a toolbox and office supplies to the office (when do you really need a stapler on vacation?).

But as I said, we still LOVE THIS DRAWER and the lucite dividers do indeed help. We charge our devices in here all the time and I love that I can just shove my phone in a drawer and say goodbye to technology while it charges.

The Utensil and Baking Drawers

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I cook SO MUCH up at the mountain house it’s actually odd. I know where EVERY single thing in this kitchen is and everyone who cooks up here says it’s very intuitive (thank god because it took forever to design and we labored over the function of it so much). Having a ‘baking’ drawer seemed weird to me, but knowing that all these things (including my apron) belong here makes cooking so simple.

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This particular drawer is great. So pretty. So lined up. The in-drawer knife holder is awesome and the clear boxes truly do keep things more organized. I have no idea why we have paper bags – (oh wait, of course I do – they make pretty, simple and ‘earthy’ props to contrast the ziplock bags).

How’s she looking now?

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Again, not bad!!! Everything is still there, just jumbled a bit and that’s ok. The useless brown paper bags are still holding court but I’m proud to say that that knife holder is GREAT, all the Made By Design cooking supplies are simple and easy (although we got a new garlic press) and apparently, we absolutely need 2 potato mashers?

The Tupperware Drawer

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There should be a special swear word for the Tupperware drawer. I need to go through and clean it out and reorganize. It’s not that it’s not working, it’s just a ‘hard-working’ drawer that gets tired and gives up.

The Under-Sink

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I’ve never had someone take care of me so much as Krisztina Galambos (from NEAT Method Los Angeles) and Nicole Loiterstein (from NEAT Method St. Louis) when they organized the area under my sink. That is something that I am going to do this weekend but typically wouldn’t think of doing. It’s honestly been SO easy to keep at least somewhat organized because of the shelf, tray, the sponge/brush shelf and the towel holder.

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I’d give us a success rate of 7/10. Everything still has its place and we put things back where they should be, just not very neatly. No rags are ‘folded” (who do you think we are?) but we KNOW where they are.

Lastly, I have no ‘now’ shot for this but I wanted to give proper homage to….

The Dedicated “Kids” Drawer

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Every mom probably knew this before I did, but if you can put all the kid’s stuff where they can access it then there is no reason for them not to help set the table or get themselves a glass of water when they are old enough (ours are – THANK THE ACTUAL UNIVERSE). Top drawer houses flatware, then our plates/bowls/cups live on the bottom two for ‘all things kids’.

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By the way, our favorite kids’ cups and plates are these from Re-play.

The plates have the right height of rim and the glasses are short and heavy and easy to grip (and thus don’t topple over easily). The bowls match, everything stacks, and they clean really well, even when covered in marinara (and are BPA free, too). Anyway, it’s messier now (I forgot to take a photo of that drawer), but we’ve kept that drawer up pretty well.

Lastly, I forgot to take a photo of the spice drawer because we aren’t very good at decanting our spices, but it’s fine because maybe I’m not the ‘spice decanting type’.

So that’s where we are, a year later. The top products that we love and highly recommend are these:

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1. Plastic Storage Containers | 2. Plastic Tray Organizers | 3. White Storage Baskets (similar)

… and head here to the original post, for all our pots, pans, flatware and utensils.

If you guys have ANY other questions, tips or products please leave them in the comments. xx

**photography by Sara Ligorria-Tramp

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LouAnn

As an organizational obsessive myself, this is fun to see the before/after. I do often wonder when I see these Perfect Pantries, how they work in real life and how long this state of organizational bliss lasts. Looks like you’re doing pretty well!

And if someone could suggest a better way to store Tupperware lids/containers (I mean other than “have a really big kitchen and shove it all in a really big drawer” — since I have neither of those things), that would be truly helpful!!

LJ

Hi Louann! Personally, I’ve found that finding containers where the medium container AND lid can fit in the larger container, the small container AND lid can fit in the medium container and so on to be the most helpful. You have to grab the whole stack to get out the size you want but then the only piece that has a chance of running away is the large container lid!

I’ve also found that really evaluating how many containers you actually NEED and sticking to that count to really make managing the containers the true life hack. Yes I have a few give away (plastic- butter/ sourc cream/ etc. or bought) I hold onto that rarely get used when someone wants to take home my leftover cooking but keeping that number IN CHECK was the game changer for me. Also as a disclaimer, I don’t have children, not sure how you get everyone to stick to a system. Good luck out there, tupperware avalanches are real!

Jacquie

I find that keeping only a few different sizes and all from the same line helps a lot. The new-ish ikea line with glass or plastic bottoms that fit the same lid, with square and rectangular shapes really makes my day. I have a basket inside the drawer to keep the kids vertically and stack same-sized containers two deep. (Storing them with the kids on makes me think they must be meticulously dry to avoid moldy smells…). I have a separate shelf with ball jars and a box for their lids that also get used for food storage as well.(I do a fair amount of canning, so those are dual use for me). As another commenter said, also really think about how much you need. Putting a plate on top of a bowl in the fridge once a month when you have a lot of leftovers or cookie dough chilling or stock cooking is not the end of the world.

Susanna

Container Store has a great divided lucite bin especially for storing lids. Keep them all there and then stack the glass containers alongside.

Paula

Which one are you talking about? Do you have a name? Because I see a few on their site, and I would prefer to go with something that has a “personal” recommendation. Thanks!

Haley

I store all of ours with the lids on. That way the whole package is ready to go when you grab it. You can see that’s how they originally set it up too and I think it helps a lot. They take up more overall space, but if you have a designated drawer and it fits that way then it doesn’t matter.

Tini

I agree with pairing your collection down to what you really need and then using a lid basket. Go through your drawer once a year and pitch whatever’s-missing-a-lid/what’s-app your-family for your containers back and it works great. I’ve got a big family and one big drawer dedicated to tupperware for reference.

Jenna

I find that having a separate basket for just lids, and lining them up by size works really well. Then i can grab the tupperware out of the drawer, grab the basket and find the lid. It is especially helpful if you are packing lunches to just have the lids right there, instead of trying to sort through the drawer to find them.

Melkorka

I use white metal magazine holders from Ikea behind my stacked glass containers to hold lids.

Millie

Oh, I LOVE seeing follow-up posts like this! So helpful to see what it really looks like now and what is working.

ZulasBoardingHouse

This was perhaps one of my favorite posts you have ever done! At least in terms of providing kitchen design info that is actually really hard to find internet but SO practical! Is that weird? I am in the throws of cabinetry planning, and I feel like sometimes we design for what we wish our life was like instead of real life. It was SO helpful to see what actually worked for a real live family after the cameras and team of stylists leave. Thank you for keeping it 💯 💋

Antiochia Home Linens

Where/how do you store all your kitchen towels, Emily? Other than the single one and rags under the sink, hope they’re somewhere handy! In kitchens with limited drawer/cabinet space, we love that our cotton Turkish towels are more compact (yet still plenty absorbent!), and a bunch of them takes up less room! Check em’ out…

https://shopantiochia.com/collections/hand-towels/products/myndos-hand-towel

GJ

We use those brown paper bags to store our compost on the counter. When it gets full, you just throw the entire bag in the compost bin. We used to have a bucket but it would get so disgusting.

MPB

Genius. Simply genius. Thanks!

Alexandra

Good point. I have a bucket and line it with newspaper, that helps to soak up the liquid. And I religiously toss it in the compost every morning after the coffee grounds and tea leaves get in there, as these are the messiest contents.

Mallory

I recently started keeping my compost in the freezer. Kills any smell and chance of fruit flies!

Dena

I keep my compost in the fridge, when it gets full just toss. No smell!!

Catherine

This is a GREAT post! I really appreciate your keeping the pictures real and being so forthcoming about how you actually use the space. REAL spaces don’t look beautiful (most of the time), but FUNCTION so well that that’s where their true beauty is. I’ll take “function” over “pretty” most days of the week, ESPECIALLY in the kitchen.

…And as I look over the pictures again, I think that, really, those “now” photos — most of them — DO still look pretty. Which goes to show you that when you take the time to do a nice organizing job in the beginning, it can carry you for a long time. 🙂 (silly me, because that’s also true in my own house)

Elizabeth

Organization in the the kitchen, I cannot help with. My junk drawer and utensil drawer look like a tornado has gone through. Fitting I live in Kansas. But I can help with the grocery bag situation. Let me introduce you to to the joys of a SCOUT Junque trunk. I have the ship shape pattern, with a white interior. https://www.scoutbags.com/junque-trunk-off-tropic-storage-bin I do have an SUV, so if you have a smaller car, or just don’t want something as big, they have smaller options. But I’ve had this puppy for 4 years now and LOVE it so much. I keep all of my grocery bags in the this handy box. When I get back into my car, I can throw the bags in the box, so stuff doesn’t fall out of the bags when you have to make a sudden stop. This has been a game changer for me. everything corralled in this handy box. It’s collapsible, and can be washed off with the hose, or a damp towel. Great for when we go camping as well. Perfect corral for chip bags, crackers and our trash bags. And of course empty grocery bags. Promise you won’t be disappointed. I do NOT… Read more »

isabelle

I have several milk crates in my trunk that I use similarly. One has emergency supplies, one has my recycling that needs to go to the bottle drop, and one has reusable bags. They are obviously lightweight and stackable, being milk crates. Would highly suggest for anyone who can’t or doesn’t want to spend that much on a bin, since you can usually find milk crates for free!

Paula

My sister has a similar bin that’s been a life changer for her trunk!

Love that site…I have a dachshund, so I appreciate that logo.

Katie

Thanks for the update!
One note, beer should always be stored cold to prolong its freshness, if you have the fridge space!

isabelle

Do the organizers have any suggestions for pantry snack storage that is plastic-free? I’m sure lots of people prefer a smaller for portability, but throwing out plastic each time seems excessive. For example, I store walnuts in the freezer and put small amounts into small reusable silicone pouches. I buy from the bulk bin if I can. Anyone have other tips to share?

Kat

I use mason jars for bulk stuff (I have half-gallon, 16oz, and small ones for nuts & dried fruit snacks) with the same size lid. It’s easy for me to buy in bulk where I live. For lunches I have 2 sizes of glass “tupperware” – one is bowl sized, the other is snack sized. They’re great because being pyrex, I can bake in them and them pop the lids on. It’s been a slow and steady shift for us, but the biggest thing has probably been just getting better about eating what is available and not “storing” so much

Jean

Hi!
We are currently doing a full remodel on a 70s ranch. We are thinking about putting our range under the window and the sink in the island. People keep saying it will get too much grease on the window, but I kind of like the idea of looking out while cooking. What your thoughts? Have you enjoyed having it there? THANK YOU!!!

Renee

I, too, love the idea of putting a range in front of a window but we ended up nixing the idea because there was no place to put the fan/hood. Let us know if you come up with a solution!

Jean

I know! – I think they use a down draft hood/vent, but I was curious how well it works.

A

I house-sat in a home like that… I was not an avid cook at the time (hard when you are living amongst other people’s food/things) but it was fine! They cook a lot and seemed happy with it. It was really nice to look outdoors while doing kitchen tasks.

Alexandra

Thank you for sharing your befores and afters! We renovated our kitchen this past summer, and I had years to think about what I wanted storage-wise so that the kitchen would work for me. I opted for mostly drawers and a pull-out pantry, and the drawers look pretty much like yours (on a daily basis more like the “afters”). I love having the full view of my little appliances or glass jars with cereals when I pull out a big drawer, and 8 months later, I still get a kick out of it, after having had an impractical kitchen for 20 years … when the new kitchen was ready to be stocked, I edited all my belongings and got rid of a lot of things that I never used (avocado cutter, egg slicer etc.) and that really helped the organization. I now know what I have and where to find it. I also have a spice drawer (IKEA with insert), which is the most amazing thing. I now love cooking again. Those drawer organizers have been life savers for me, I can highly recommend getting some and then try out and see which way to organize them works best for… Read more »

AwayEmily

This is one of my favorite posts in a long time. I don’t actually care that much about organization, I just like hearing Emily’s voice chatting and making jokes about a low-stakes topic.

Kelly

I tried to emulate the towel under the kitchen sink, but with no luck as the drawer pull I used isn’t wide enough for towel to go up and around without a lot of effort. What did you use ? Any suggestions? Organized or not still love this kitchen so much 😍

[…] {$excerpt:n} Source: The Mountain House Kitchen Organization One Year Later – How Well Have I Kept It Up? […]

Cheryl

My husband won’t agree to put one innocent, good looking step stool in the kitchen so my seven year year old still requests water from us since she can’t reach the faucet. Butler life forever.

Karen

I have a Brita water dispenser in the pantry on a lower shelf, resting on an upside down plastic storage bin (for height, easier to reach the spout). Next to it is stack of stainless steel cups for the kiddos. #helpyourselfkids

Maya

Thank you for making me feel normal! In an IG world where every ones’ homes look so perfect, it is really comforting to see other’s RL. I am a recovering perfectionist and always find comfort in these kind of posts.
Have a great weekend!

Sarah

Tupperware: Only having/allowing one style helps keep down the visual clutter no matter the lid situation.

Kids drawer: I thought you meant something different: Drawer devoted to your kids’ junk. If you have the space, I highly recommend. Keeps it from accumulating in other places and they feel special having their own junk drawer.

Love the styled before and real life after!

J

Can I respectfully suggest discontinued use of the word “porn” so flippantly? I think this is the 2nd post in a short short time where it’s been used? I’m a middle school teacher and a mom of teens….. and the industry as a whole disgusts me. The way they prey on minds –all ages!– is repulsive, but the fact that there is a huge percent of younger and younger kids –KIDS—regularly accessing porn is beyond comprehension. Misuse of such a destructive word makes me cringe. Food for thought, take or leave.

Carol

Agree – this bothers me too!

Teri

Agree!

Aminah

Agree!

Wendy Munsell

Agree.

Shelby

Agree

Danielle

Really enjoy this “in reality” post! Would love to see more like this!

[…] My annual flare-up of ‘clutter body’ has sent me into a nighttime and weekend frenzy to organize EVERY SINGLE cabinet in my LA home. There are sharpies in the vitamin drawer, extension cords next to the saran wrap (not that I have saran wrap, of course, I don’t), I saw a rogue pacifier (??) in… Read More … The post The Mountain House Kitchen Organization One Year Later – How Well Have I Kept It Up? appeared first on Emily Henderson. Read More […]

Alice

Thank you for all of the great storage ideas my pantry is in desperate need. I’m beginning to think that I may be a canned food hoarder! I have so many cans that when I need something I end up pulling out whole sections of my pantry just to find one can. I do have them organized by contents but it is still a challenge. I would appreciate any ideas.

Monica

This is why I love you and your blog Emily…always keepin’ it real.

priscilla

I have a ‘hard-working’ Tupperware cupboard that g0t tired and gave up. I, however don’t have the luxury of giving up on my Tupperware cupboard. Every now and then I go thru it and get rid of the orphans. It’s harsh, but must be done.

Sarah Alexanian

This is SO helpful because I’m trying to design my own kitchen right now. Would it be a lot of trouble to throw some cabinet widths in there for reference? Like I’m trying to figure out if I need a 30″ or a 36″ cabinet with drawers to house all our dishes, and I’d love to know what size cabinet you’ve got there.

Sue V.

Based on my kitchen, which is 7 years old, the wider the cabinet the better!I have one 30 inch drawer and it barely contains my small dinner plates and bowls-would prefer wider to hold more of the different type dishes and bowls I have.

Mia Tenille

Oh my gosh. I am in love with that organization AND your kitchen cabinet color! I love the two-tone look with the dark against the raw wood, soo fresh! And I’m so impressed you were able to keep it organized after all that time! I organize my pantry and 3 weeks later, it’s a mess! I need to invest in some of your organization systems. I’m in the process of getting my cabinets color changed to a nice white with this professional cabinet painting company.    

Rachel

How have the plastic food containers held up? I’ve tried a few different brands and they all seem to break after a while

Sarah Stewart

Are these custom built cabinets?

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