Unless you designed your kitchen from scratch, with a custom layout and cabinets, it's probably not perfect for your needs. But new cabinets can quickly eat up a small remodeling budget, and re-designing the kitchen isn't usually an option if you rent. I won't even get into the environmental impact of trashing old cabinets and producing new ones. Fortunately there are a lot of clever DIY ways to make the most of your current kitchen cabinets.
Last summer my husband and I gave our kitchen a makeover (see the entire Before & After project on my blog). Our 100-year-old house came with cabinets from the '60s or '70s that we didn't want to replace. They looked completely different after we painted over the dark, streaky stain and replaced cheap-looking hardware, but it's the behind-the-doors upgrades that have made the biggest functional difference. We were able to do all of them ourselves, and it's amazing how much more we like using our kitchen now. So here are some useful kitchen hacks that I can recommend. Many of them are even renter-friendly, and could easily be removed and transferred to a new kitchen.
1. Pull-out Garbage and Recycling Bins
There was no good spot for our garbage and recycling in our kitchen when we moved in. There wasn't really room under the sink, and there wasn't a spot for freestanding bins that wasn't in the way of other stuff. So we decided to install pull-out bins in a cabinet, and they were the perfect solution. They keep our garbage and recycling easy to access, but out of the way. A tiny tip: If you have an extra inch or two, put a container of baking soda near the wall behind the bins to absorb odors.
The installation itself was very easy, although we had to do additional prep work because our cabinets were constructed with non-removable shelves. To do it yourself, you'll need a to buy the pull-out slides, and a door kit if you want the door to be attached to the front of the slides.
2. Sink tip-out tray
Many older kitchens (and bathrooms) have fake drawer panels in front of the sink. There isn't room for a whole drawer because of the sink bowl, but you can often fit a tip-out tray. It's perfect for corralling sponges and scrubbers that might otherwise clutter up your countertop. To install mine, I bought a kit, and then pried off the glued and nailed-on drawer panel. It took two people to help line up the hinges and panel when we put it on, but now we use it on a daily basis, and our sink area looks much neater.
3. Vertical Pan Storage
Storing baking pans and sheets vertically versus stacking them is like the difference between filing and piling paper. They're so much easier to access when stored vertically, so if you h