28 January 2013

Daily Challenge - Clearing Off the Baker's Rack

Almost every room has one.  Most of my rooms have more than one.  The places that clutter migrates.  But in the dining room, one of the most egregious is the baker's rack.  Rich and I bought this when we first got married to give us a little more room in our one butt kitchen.  When we first moved to Nashville, we had room in the slightly larger kitchen to use it for our microwave and other appliances.  But in this apartment, we're back to one-butt kitchen time and the baker's rack has become a place to hold things in the dining room.  We (sort of) have the room in the kitchen for our appliances, and even if we didn't, where we currently have the baker's rack is not close to outlets.  So it's become a place for other things that need to live near our kitchen.

About once a year, I get too frustrated with the cluttered mess that it's become and decide to tear it all down and start from scratch.  I'd let it go a little too long this time, so today's challenge was

Clear off the Baker's Rack

Of course, in order to do that, I needed to clean the rest of the dining room.  I didn't have the free area to put the things I had to pull off it!  At the end of the day, though, I have a much nicer, neater looking dining room.  And I can once again find things that live on my baker's rack.

Since it's boring talking about how I cleaned everything off, this is more a photo essay than anything else.  So follow me in pictures, as I show how I went from mess to semi-clean to a bit more of a mess to finally neatness that will hopefully last for more than a day.

To start, here's a picture of the disaster area baker's rack and the small drawers next to it.  The drawers started life as a craft storage area.  They've now become half-craft storage and half towel storage.  The wire baskets that slot into the bottom right are supposed to be potatoes, onions and the like, as well as trivets, storage containers and other odds and ends that I want to get my hands on.  The bottom-most full shelf is supposed to be the kids' plates, bowls and cups (so they can get their own dishes at meal times).  The next shelf had just become a catch all.  And the top shelf was supposed to be a combination of cookbooks and things the boys weren't allowed to get their hands on.  Instead, everything ended up everywhere.

I decided to start at the bottom and work my way up, knowing I was more likely to find things on lower shelves that belonged on higher shelves than the other way around.  I took everything out of the wire baskets, took out our George Foreman and cleaned both it and the shelf it rests on off, then took a look at what I had to replace.
Onions and potatoes and butternut squash, oh my.

It didn't take as long to put everything back as I'd expected.  Rather than putting the placemats back in one of the baskets, I instead chose to put them under the baskets to catch anything that sloughs off the onions.  I put the trivets in the next basket up, and the carrying case for my 9X13" baking pan and my crock pot in the top most basket.

Not thinking, I forgot to take a picture of the mess that was my boys' dishes before emptying it.  But this is what came off that lowest shelf:

The biggest problem with these isn't me putting them away - it's everyone else.  Things get pushed into whatever spare spot they can find and I'm left with a mess.  So after looking briefly at pure order

I started figuring out where things are going to go.  Plates in the back, with piles of bowls next to them..  Glasses to the front, since that's what gets used the most.  School stuff (sandwich keepers and thermoses) toward the back but visible.  And the container with lids for various glasses all the way to the right.  I ended up with a much neater view.

I'm still hoping to figure out a way to separate them so it will be easier for the males in the house to put things in the right place.  If anyone has suggestions, I'm glad to hear them!

Next up was the nightmare shelf.  This shelf held batteries, medications, Pokemon cards, two lidded bins with who knew what in it, food that had never made it to the pantry and other things that I just didn't know about.  I mean, look at this shelf. Would you want to go delving into it for things?

It didn't look much better once I got everything off the shelf and on to the dining room table.

This shelf actually took me the longest amount of time to go through.  I had a lot of things to separate out - figuring out what was in the various open baskets, trying to decide what Pokemon cards were supposed to go where, and just figuring out what's else belongs where.  A lot of the things that were on this shelf found other homes - many in the pantry (which is going to be my husband's challenge this weekend, I hope!)  But by the time I was finished, everything looked pretty neat up there, if I do say so myself.

I even managed to find a place for the silverware caddy I'd made.  And it doesn't look overfilled, either.  Not bad.

The top most shelf was one of the easiest, in some ways.  There were quite a few things that needed to move to other homes, but most of it was going back up there, just in a slightly different order.

One of the biggest issue, and one I lay fully at my feet, is the fact that I have a tendency to not put the recipes that I print out into the binder that I put together for that reason.  Fully my fault.  Instead, they end up cluttering the top shelf.  So I made sure to three-hold punch those and get them put away in the binder - even if they aren't organized yet.

I also made sure that my most important item got put back first - the Grey Goose Vodka!

In the end, I not only had room for all the cookbooks, but a few decorative items, as well as the nice smelling sprays that keep my dining room smelling good.

All in all, I think I did a great job getting my baker's rack looking the way I wanted it to.  I've had a pretty productive day.  And I'm feeling good about it!

Tomorrow, I'm tasking myself with two challenges again.  Partly because one of them is something I've been putting off but not something I can really blog about.  The other one, however, is fully bloggable.  And I'll make sure to talk about the non-bloggable one briefly in that post.  (Though it'll probably be more a mention like "Yep, got it done.")

What are these challenges, you ask?

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