31 Days of Decluttering, Day 21: Spice Drawer (And how decluttering is sometimes like a game of chess)

Are you decluttering your home, too? I’d love to be able to share your success story with the KOAB community! Please submit the before & after pictures of your decluttering project.

Pull Out Cupboard

One of the frustrating things about decluttering and organizing is that it’s never really done. Sure, on rare occasion, we can work on a space and it will remain organized like that forever. But most of the time, we need to revisit “trouble” areas again and again. And again.

My very narrow, kitchen pull-out cupboard is an example of that. Since moving into our house in August, I’ve really been stymied by this space. I just couldn’t figure out what to put in here. As you can see above, I had originally used it to store plastic plates and cups for the kids, as well as food storage containers for their lunches.

But the cupboard never stayed organized and honestly, my kids don’t use the “little kid” stuff very much anymore — so it felt like a lot of real estate was being used for something that isn’t that critical to our day-to-day lives.

I actually posted about this space on Facebook a couple of months ago, asking you smart people what you thought I should do with the space. You guys had some great ideas, which totally inspired me — thank you.


I had wanted to use the pull-out for my oils, vinegars and cooking sprays (like in the picture above from Houzznot from my kitchen). Unfortunately, I have three shelves, not two, and my shelves are placed in such a way that the bottles just wouldn’t fit. I even had my hubby try to reconfigure the shelves, but they aren’t adjustable, so ultimately we decided it wasn’t worth the risk that we’d make the cabinet unstable by moving stuff around.

Spice Drawer

That’s when I decided to move my spices to this pull-out. Originally, they were stored in two plastic bins in my food pantry cabinet. This worked fine, but relocating them freed up more for food storage — and I was able to consolidate all our dry goods to the same spot. That works for me!

I love how the spices fill up the entire pull-out, and thanks to having put those labels on top of each jar, I can easily scan and find the one I need.

Close up of spices

As for the other shelves, I’m still not 100% satisfied with how I have them arranged, so I may have to revisit those in the future. For now, I have a plastic tub on the second shelf, with loose packets of spices. And on the bottom drawer, I have folded dish towels.

That’s kind of a place-holder arrangement, though, because I had been storing the dish towels in a different drawer, which was also working just fine.  This change is a lateral move — and I may end up re-arranging these two shelves if I figure out a more efficient layout that will work for us better.

When I look back on my kitchen in Kansas City, I realize that it took me a good three years to get everything arranged in a way that worked best for me. So, I have to accept that this kitchen, too, will be a work in progress.

This spice relocation not only allowed me to consolidate all food products into *one* cabinet, but it also gave me the opportunity to do some more “reorganizing”. I wish I’d thought to take more before & after pictures.

Here’s what happened — and why I say that sometimes decluttering and organizing is like playing a game of chess: one move is predicated on the next move, and by the time you’re done, the whole board (or, uh, in this case, the kitchen) looks totally different!

Lunchbox Cabinet

Those kids dishes and food storage containers that were in the pull-out cabinet (as well as some more that were in a second corner cabinet) got moved into a cabinet just outside the main footprint of my kitchen. I also added their lunch boxes, so we’d have a dedicated place to put them when they weren’t in use. (The shelf is pretty empty right now, because their lunch boxes are with them at school.)

Food storage container cabinet

I also rearranged a second cabinet to hold all my food storage containers – glass canning jars (for make-ahead salads), dairy left-over containers and meat containers.

The new lunch-packing cabinet had previously been used to store my baking supplies – but I’d always found the placement a bit awkward. Therefore, once I set up the “lunch packing cabinet”, I moved the baking supplies into the corner cabinet that had been — inefficiently — housing the meat containers.

baking supplies cabinet

It was a lot of rearranging, but I am now SO much happier now with these cabinets. They just work better for our family.

There are still a few more chess maneuvers happening in the kitchen, so I’ll be back to share those soon. In the meantime, I just want to encourage you to think about your kitchen layout: If you constantly find yourself fighting with it, maybe it’s time for a game of “house chess”!
Before & After Pull-Out

Do you feel the need to get a better handle on the stuff in your house? Please join me for the 31 Days of Decluttering challenge! Everyone is welcome!

31 Days of Decluttering

Day One: Decluttering the Toy Storage Closet
Day Two: Decluttering the Top of a Bedroom Dresser (Finish What You Start!)
Day Three & Four: Decluttering the Master Bathroom
Day Five: Decluttering My Desk
Day Six: Join the Decluttering Challenge
Day Seven: Decluttering the Computer
Day Eight: Decluttering the Night Stand
Day Nine: Decluttering a Kitchen Counter in Less than 10 Minutes
Day 10: Decluttering a Bedroom Closet
Day 11: Taming the Paper Clutter
Day 12: Decluttering the Coat Closet
Day 13: Decluttering the Linen Closet
Day 14: Reader Share: Decluttering the Play Room
Day 15: Reader Share: Decluttering the Front Hall Table
Day 16: Is Clutter a Sensory Issue?
Day 17: Kitchen Cupboard (Food Storage)
Day 18: Clutter & Decision Fatigue
Day 19: Kitchen Pantry
Day 20: Reader Share: Keeping a Decluttered Pantry


  1. Nice!
    Are the spice jars stable there, or do you think they would tend to fall over when you open/close the drawer?

    • Mara Strom says

      I was worried about this at first, Shira, but we’ve had it like this for about 2 weeks now. (It took me a while to get around to writing the post.) They definitely are stable – nothing has fallen out. I think it helps that we have so many, so they fully fill up the shelf. If they were able to slide around, it might be bad.

      • I just saw this as I was looking at the Rubbermaid storage container “ad”.
        So it’s been a year since you reorganized your spice bin. Have you tried putting your aluminum foil & plastic wraps etc. in the second or third shelving? Just curious how it worked out for you.

  2. I just bought the labeler – inspired by your posts. There is currently a $5 coupon that makes the labeler $13.99

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