September 7, 2012

It's Been Ikea'd: An Office Kitchen Makeover

Posted by Kristin

Its always a pretty sweet deal when you get paid to do what you love.  So when my boss asked me to take the lead on our office kitchen reorganization project I jumped at the chance. My day to day work is usually full of writing, research, meetings and general communication, so its definitely lacking at times in the areas of creativity and design.  As soon as I got the green light, I headed into the kitchen and took stock of what was there.

The kitchen was fairly functional but not at all pleasing to the eye.

While the kitchen was functional on a basic level, it wasn't much to look at. It had all the basic necessities, including:
  • The Keurig for a.m. coffee, which I visit shortly after walking in the office door.
  • A small chest of drawers for storage. It also held the microwave, a regular coffee pot and a toaster on top.
  • Silverware, sugar and creamer strewn across the counter, amongst dish soap, sponges and a dish rack.
  • Shelves holding paper products, staff dishes and cleaning supplies out in plain sight.
  • Extra paper products, soda and a recycling bin stored under the counter.
  • Two trash cans, one with a lid and one without.

Two trash cans, a falling-apart dresser and a rarely-used coffee pot filled this corner.

A busy, cluttered counter was a common sight.

My first instinct was to think back to my old kitchen in our last apartment, which lacked serious storage. The answer to that kitchen was found in one simple word: IKEA!

In my old kitchen, hanging racks and a shelf  helped provide serious storage above the stove.

Another hanging shelf and bar for a dish towel, along side a magnetic
 knife rack, helped organized the sink area.

In assessing my office kitchen, there were a few small changes that I knew would add up to a big improvement.
  • Get things up off the counter and use the wall for better storage. This included the silverware, coffee supplies, dish-washing supplies and coffee mugs.
  • Replace the chest of drawers that holds the microwave and other small appliances. Something of a similar size would work but it needed to be more solid construction.
  • Eliminate items that aren't used often. The regular coffee pot, electric kettle and many items in the chest of drawers weren't used often or needed any longer.
  • Create a streamlined storage system for the items on the shelves. Many of these items are used frequently but often looked cluttered.
  • Screen the storage items under the counter. While this is good storage space, a simple curtain could hide these items that aren't used on a weekly basis.
The next step was the present these ideas to my boss. I started to share some thoughts but quickly got told, "You can do whatever you want and can spend up to $500. I really don't want to know anything else about this until its done". Let's just say that that was music to my ears. $500 to spend as I see fit? I think I can work with that!

The next step was to inventory everything in the kitchen and break it into categories. I thought through what activities happen in the kitchen and how those items needed to be stored. I then scoured the Ikea website to see what items they had that could help organize everything that needed to go in the kitchen.

My Ikea shopping list didn't even reach my $500 budget. Score!

  Fortunately, during my Ikea visit, I was able to find most of the items on my list, with a few creative substitutions necessary.  The  bulk of the items were wall storage items, either the rails themselves, or S hooks, baskets, and stainless steel storage caddies. I also got a new chest of drawers, new shelves, a magnetic knife rack, curtains for under the sink and a few other accessories. Here's a closer look at some of the key purchases I made.

BRIMNES 4-drawer dresser IKEA Smooth running drawers with pull-out stop.
Brimes Dresser
Ekby Shelves 

GRUNDTAL Rail IKEA Saves space on the countertop Can also be used as a towel rail or a pot lid rack.
Grundtal Rail
BYGEL Wire basket IKEA Can be hung on BYGEL rail, mounted to the wall or the inside of a kitchen cabinet frame or door. Saves space on the countertop
Bygel Wire Basket
ESTRID Pair of curtains IKEA Eyelet heading works on curtain rods. Yarn-dyed fabric. The pattern is visible on both sides.
Estrid Curtains

So after alot of cleaning, cutting shelves, sorting items and a few trips to Walmart and Home Depot for some last minute supplies (blue fabric storage bins and glass jars for coffee supplies), it was time to assemble it all. The end result is much more organized, functional and streamlined and everyone at the office seems to appreciate the improvements. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

And just two more pics to show the overall improvements.

Overall, it was a super fun project and its so nice to walk into a clean, organized kitchen when I'm at work. We even stuck with our $500 budget, with the few other supplies from Walmart and Home Depot bringing the total to just under $500. 

Shortly after this project was completed, my boss actually asked me to take on a much larger library reorganization project. Let's just say this project involves custom cabinets, appointments with Home Depot and Lowes designers and ALOT more sorting of supplies and files. But hey, it sounds right up my alley. Until that one's done, I'll just enjoy this kitchen during my days at the office.

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