The cabinet under our kitchen sink was one of my first organizing projects on the blog a couple years ago. Many of the ideas were still working, but as with most projects, over time I thought of a few ways we could make it even better. It wasn’t a huge priority until I spotted a flexible sink organizer designed to work around MOST plumbing.
I say MOST because I had blocked out how ridiculous the plumbing is under our kitchen sink. Because the sink is in the island, all the plumbing goes down into the floor instead of out back of the cabinet. The garbage disposal and plumbing to the dishwasher make things even more fun.
All that to say, even with NOTHING extra under the sink, it’s a mess. For comparison, here’s what the nice plumbing on the organizer box looks like.
Quick side note in case anyone is considering a black island: It’s extra hard to keep clean and you get a dark cave-like atmosphere under the sink. If anything falls toward the back, you can bet we won’t find it for months. Our white cabinetry is somewhere between a billion and trillion times easier to keep clean than the black.
Okay, back on topic now….
Here’s what this cabinet looked like the first time I pulled everything out and improved it a few years ago.
There were a couple of new problems I needed to solve. First, the cleaning cloths on the left needed to be contained. The stack grew over time and liked to fall off the shelf into no man’s land in the back.
The dirty cloth basket on the right is my absolute favorite and most functional innovation from the old system. I hated putting the kitchen towels in the normal hamper with our clothes, so they always lingered around the kitchen or laundry room. Adding a little basket for them was perfect!
Well…almost perfect. Turns out that basket could hold an impressive number of towels. Here’s the scary truth of what things were looking like the day I set out to improve our under sink system.
It wasn’t always that bad, but I thought I’d be real and show the worse case scenario of what it looks like before laundry day.
My plan A was to add the new shelving to the right of the existing silver drawer/shelf combo. That didn’t work at all between the garage disposal and metal cord running to the garbage disposal switch. It turned into a Mensa-level puzzle to come up with a configuration that maximized storage.
The only place the new organizer would fit was flushed to the left side. The back leg fit between two pipes, and I had to adjust the bottom shelf to the highest position to float over the pipes that go into the floor.
This was the point that I really began to appreciate the flexibility of the organizer. The adjustable height shelf saved me AND each piece of the shelves being separate meant I could leave the top partially open in order to accommodate the height of the kitchen cleaning supplies. Because the sink drops so low, none of the bottles would fit on the top shelf. I love this set up because there is a rail across the back that keeps the bottles from falling.
The only downside to the organizer is that the shelves shown in my photos are the only ones that come with the system. It worked perfectly for me, and would be fine if you needed a gap to go around plumbing, but I wanted to point that out so you wouldn’t expect extra shelves.
For the short space between the shelves, I picked up a pack of drawer organizers. The largest size was perfect to hold things like Magic Erasers and sponges. Amazon sells the same set I used in white and black, or I found the teal color in store at WalMart.
The turquoise bins on the top shelf are from Target and come in a few different colors on their website.
To label all the bins, I used dry erase labels from Target (in store only). After I used the labels, I cut off the excess to use on my short bins. The whole sheet is sticky and dry erase material, so why not use it all?
I keep a pair of pruning shears under the sink for flower arranging, but they never had the perfect home. I’m excited I’ll always be able to find them going forward. There was plenty of room in the floral bin to add one of the small containers from the drawer organizing set I mentioned above. It’s perfect for extra plant food. I also threw in the long scrubber that I use to clean out vases.
With the bottom shelf of the organizer so high, I had space to add bins below it. This was the perfect spot for the clean and dirty cleaning towel bins. The white bins also came from Target in store.
Now the clean towels won’t fall into the death trap of darkness at the back of the cabinet, and I physically can’t overload the dirty bin too much because there is a shelf above it. Sometimes limited space is just what we need to stop a bad habit!
The right side of the cabinet was the biggest challenge. The garbage disposal and all it’s necessities meant space was very restricted. I was determined to maximize the space, so I took some measurements and headed back to WalMart to see if I could find a solution.
I ended up finding a product that I know I’ll use again and again. The white stackable bins below come in three sizes and are totally affordable! Amazon sells them by the 6-pack here.
I’m using the top bin for dish soap and extra hand soap. Having the dish soap 6 inches higher is a really small change, yet it makes it so much easier to grab and put away. The bottom bin is perfect for miscellaneous items like extra gloves and sponges. We’ll only need them occasionally, so it’s no problem that they are hidden.
Here’s one more look at the before and after.
For more kitchen organizing ideas, click here!