People always ask how I make my home stylish and functional. For most people, this means keeping things somewhat organized, accessible and clean, but I like to throw-in a dash of color and a touch of the familiar to make my Personal Marriage Quarters (PMQ) a home. As military families, we move often enough, so developing an aesthetic that encompasses all of the above mentioned-traits will be central to your spatial happiness as you move from house to house across the country.
Organized living is key in your kitchen, it’s a space that’s designed to be the most functional – but not necessarily stylish, and if you live in a PMQ, it may not even be functional! Those of you living in PMQs will understand the struggle of a kitchen with no cupboard or counter space that was designed for appliances with dimensions from 20 years ago or without much thought for convenience. In this article I share my tips and tricks for keeping a functional, stylish, and organized kitchen.
Invest in a kitchen island or bar cart – something that can be utilized for accessible storage and additional counter space. Your local big box stores will have various options at a variety of price-points, or you can make your own to fit your needs (warning: power tools required!). Our kitchen island has the added bonus of enhancing the dynamic when we entertain in the kitchen – I can now face my guests while continuing to prepare our meal. We added hooks along the sides to hang tea towels and oven mitts, while the shelves beneath allow me to store serving plates, bowls, and a cake stand – things that are hard to fit in standard cabinets. If you get a version with a cutting board as the main surface, make sure you read-up on cleaning and care to ensure longevity.
In our pantry, mason jars of all shapes and sizes organize everything from spices to grains, to baking essentials and anything else you can think of. I find the glass jars are a great option for reusable and safe storage. I painted the lids with chalkboard paint for easy labeling. If you are on a budget, most thrift stores have mason jars of all shapes and sizes at a great price.
Limited cupboard space can be a real problem, so we added small brass hooks on the outside of our cupboards to hang our coffee cups freeing-up space inside the cupboards. We can display our collection of mugs, and keep them accessible and organized. Speaking of coffee, I’ve placed all of our coffee & tea and associated serving-wear in a tray next to the machine. It can be easily moved for more counter space or carried into the sitting room when we have guests.
I use clear storage bins from the dollar store for everything in our house. I’ve got them in the kitchen in all the drawers, and in our bathroom cupboard to keep things neat and tidy. I recommend using something sturdy, clear (so that you can see through it for easy access) and in modular shapes to fit any space. On the inside cupboard doors, I use metal baskets to keep cleaning products organized and handy while saving on space below the sink.
When you think about it, organizing your space is as simple having the right tools. I opt for affordable, simple, movable, and modular pieces that can be used in any space.
Follow me over at PMQ for Two for ideas and how-tos, as well as a look into our stylish PMQ.
Ariel Garneau has a home décor blog dedicated to families living in military housing (PMQs). My goal is to make every house a home, reflecting our style and needs as a military family.
** This article was originally published in our Winter 2015 issue**