Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ikea adds storage in my kitchen

After about six months into living in the city I am finally starting to settle into my apartment. Aided by a nice bonus at work, I have started trading in my suburban (short and wide) furniture for city pieces (tall or deep).

My kitchen has been perplexing though. I have a good amount of cabinet space but it doesn't seem to be enough. One cabinet holds my pots and cooking stuff. The main cabinet over my sink holds my dishes and glasses, while the cleaning supplies and utensils live under my sink. My last cabinet holds my dry goods and my pans. I have almost no counter space, so my toaster and a paper towel holder are the only things around my sink.

It is a galley kitchen and everything is stacked on one side. So you'd think my free wall would be the perfect place to add more cabinets. Alas, the door way is not placed mid-galley, it is much closer to the right free wall. In fact, there's only 7" between the door and the wall. But lately I've really needed the additional storage. Inspired by Apartment Therapy's January Jumpstart Project, I decided to get off my arse and do something to fix my storage issues.

The "free wall." There is only 7 inches
of clearance from the wall to my door
to the backyard, or into the kitchen.

It was impossible to find cabinets that shallow, so my next option was shelves. I found 11" deep shelves but those stuck out into the entry and the doorway to my backyard. No good. I was starting to think I'd never find anything for the wall.

Ikea to the rescue! I have browsed through that catalog about a million times by now. Every time I discover something new. My initial thought was to get the Lack shelves. They were the right length but too deep, so they were out.

So I flipped to the kitchen section. Before I'd only looked through for cabinets but now I was looking for shelving solutions. Ikea did me one better. They make several styles of rails that you attach to the wall and hang accessories from. Initially I liked the Grundtal series because it's stainless steel like my appliances but when I got to the store I liked the Kroken series better. I bought two rails, plus two spice racks, one multi-purpose shelf, three pot holders and a bunch of hooks. All of that cost about $75.

Then I went to the office section and bought two white Järpen shelves. They make them in two depths - 11" and 7.5". Instead of the recommended wall supports I bought four Håll brackets because they matched the Kroken accessories. Also, the brackets can be installed to fit either the 11" deep shelves, or by flipping them the 7.5" deep shelves. Genius! Together, the shelves and the brackets were about $30.

At the risk of sounding dumb, I have no idea if New York City apartment building walls have studs or not. My guess was no because every construction site I've seen (and there are plenty) has a concrete or steel frame for each apartment. So the last part of my do-it-yourself prep was a trip to Home Depot. I grabbed a stud finder to find out the truth, a level, and both concrete wall screws and anchor screws so that no matter what my results I would be prepared.

Back on the UES, I used the stud finder and confirmed that my kitchen wall was concrete. After a couple of hours of work marking, measuring, leveling and installing, here was my end result:

The fruits of my labor.

I am so frickin' proud of myself! I called T and bragged to another friend over the weekend. The two shelves match the white wall. They hold my pans and some dry foods, freeing valuable cabinet space. The little counter space I have has been freed because the paper towel holder and my toaster live on the shelves as well. I even went to Container Store and splurged on some of those stackable kitchen jars.

On the far rail I have two hooks which hold my frying pans and two more hooks hold my pot holders and cooking gloves. There are also two empty planter pots that will soon hold spices. The near rail has my spice rack and the front shelf is temporarily holding extra spices and my Pam.

The best part? The depth of everything was no more than 7.5", so nothing encroaches into my doorways. I can still flow through the galley unimpeded. I ended up with some leftover products to return to Ikea, so in the end this project will have cost me about $100, including setup materials. I also have to paint the concrete screws black. But I'm pleased at how easy and cheap this project was and how wonderful the end result looks.

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