Customizing Ikea Cabinets for a Small Space

Customizing Ikea Cabinets for a Small Space

If you read my posts, you know I have a smaller home. It has many rooms but are narrow and hard to fit the average piece of furniture in any room. It seems that every room has a unique wall that I need to find a smaller than normal piece of furniture to fit in it. It is quite annoying. Well, enough with complaining, back to the post. Here is how customizing IKEA cabinets for a small space made a space more organized.

In my walk-out basement, we have a long and narrow family room 10 ft x 22 ft. There is a heater on the wall that heats the space, a sump pump on the floor, a back door and window and 1 closet door and an opening to the other part of the kitchen. You can see why this space is challenging, right? Luckily, I have experience measuring spaces and areas for furniture placement. I measured the length, width, and height of the areas I wanted to fit storage cabinets. And, with my measurements in hand, I headed to the nearest Ikea.

I found these wonderful cabinets that fit perfectly in my space! I designed the cabinet layout with glass doors and wood fronts to breakup all the brown wood.  Any way I choose a design (Ikea’s Besta brand was what I choose) that worked with the areas I needed to organize, in this case, my window and the heater walls.  The inside also had many options, even though I didn’t need anything but shelves. Check out the results!

I stored things like, my sewing machine, buttons, work in bins, scrapbook supplies, cable box, video game console, photo albums, and video games in it by using baskets with and without lids. I also was able to frame it around a window as well. The doors do a great job hiding the clutter and organizing it!

If you are looking for a cabinet for your unique room, look for cabinets that can be versatile and attach together to make one unit. Make sure they have several options so you can really customize the cabinet for what you need. Above all, have fun making your cabinets exactly what you want and never settle or something that doesn’t fill your needs. Let me know how your cabinets work out.

Sabrina Quairoli

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Kitchen Remodel Project Tips Part 3 Eating Healthy Tips Without a Kitchen


My previous two posts were about kitchen remodel project tips. In this post, I will talk about how I helped my family eat healthy meals without a kitchen.

I like to make sure we all eat healthy. I like everyone to not eat too much also. And because I have food intolerance issues, I didn’t want to eat too much processed foods. So, this is what we decided to do to help us stay healthy while the kitchen remodel was going on.

We used our dining room table. They had moved our fridge into the dining room so it was a perfect spot for meals and prepping. Our dining room would become our kitchen for the next few weeks. Oh joy! We moved our table to one side and then setup a place for the microwave and toaster oven which would be our cooking area. We of course used paper plates and paper cups. I found some great deals on paper products at the nearby wholesale store. =)

FOR BREAKFAST: We used the microwave and toaster oven every morning. And, an electric tea kettle for boiling water and making coffee.

  • Egg and bacon muffin ( add healthy frozen and ready sandwiches)
  • Cereal
  • Croissant sandwiches
  • Oatmeal (instant)

FOR LUNCH: We used the microwave almost every day or my husband and I went out for lunch.

Note: Kids were in school so it was just my husband and I and we did freezer meals for lunch.

  • Lean Pockets
  • Lunch meat like turkey and cheese sandwiches

FOR DINNER: We cooked dinner on the grill almost every night. About a week or two before the remodel, I did my marathon freezer meals and made crock pot recipes that I froze in the freezer. I made turkey and beef burgers, cooked meatballs, soup, etc… And then froze it all.

  • Crock pot recipes
  • Homemade quesadillas with cooked chicken and cheese heated in the microwave.
  • Prepared turkey burgers
  • Prepared beef burgers
  • Soup

It was a little uncomfortable, of course, but all in all, we were able to keep our diet in check and were still able to eat at home. Though I am not going to lie to you and say we weren’t completely happy when our make-shift kitchen wasn’t totally dismantled at the end of this process.

If you want to revisit the previous posts in this series, here are the links:

I hope you enjoyed my post series. Let me know what you did for cooking when you did your remodel. I would love to hear from you.

Sabrina Quairoli

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Kitchen Remodel Project Tips Part 2 – How We Organized Our Kitchen Stuff Before & During Our Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen Remodel Project Tips Part 2 - How We Organized Our Kitchen Stuff Before & During Our Kitchen Remodel

I found out the start date of the kitchen demo. It is two weeks away. If you read my previous post, we started the kitchen remodel project planning process about 6 months ago. Since the weather was so bad this past winter, the start of the process was delayed a bit too. But that was OK. I didn’t feel like cooking outside in the freezing temperatures. Now, I can get down to business and start doing what I do best and that is decluttering and organizing.

Of course, I first purged the different cabinets of anything I didn’t use. Since I have been doing this all along, there wasn’t that much to get rid of. Then, I organized the stuff I kept.  Here are the kitchen remodel project tips I wrote up, just for you. This helped me clear the cabinets and get me organized for this major remodel.

  • I started with the cabinets I did not use often, like the one above the fridge and the small corner cabinets. I cleared out lots of old plastic water bottles and moved wine glasses that I haven’t used in years because they were stored above the refrigerator to an area where my other smaller supplies of wine glassware were in our dining room. Now, I can actually use them.
  • I cleared the upper cabinet decor. I washed them and put them in the other room inside a cabinet for safe keeping. Most of of these decorations will be reused in my new kitchen.
  • I was able to store all the stapled foods into the foyer closet/pantry I had been used. Yes, if you know my posts, I had a pantry in my foyer I use for my kitchen supplies. You can check out the post here:
  • I place all my pots and pans and cookbooks in our enclosed sun room. I wanted them handy since I have a few weeks till the demo.
  • The items that were under the sink went in their own opened box and stored in the sun room as well. I knew I would be using these items to wash cooking supplies when grilling so I wanted to keep it nearby.
  • And for the rest, I boxed up items into categories, just in case, I needed them.
  • For my utensils, I bought cheap dividers and organized them into the organizers’ sections. I purchased them from a discount store. Then, I was able to stack the organizing trays on top of one another and store them downstairs out of the way. This helped when I needed to put everything back into the new kitchen.

Here is the room cleared out, the electrical was already done and cabinets were going up. It was starting to come together.


In next post, I will talk about how we ate during the demo and reconstruction process of those three weeks. And, no we didn’t eat out all the time. I hope you enjoyed this post. Please share to show the love.


Sabrina Quairoli

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Kitchen Remodel Project Tips Part 1 – How We Kept Stuff Organized

Kitchen Remodel Project Part-1---how we kept stuff organized during kitchen-remodeling

Kitchen remodeling are the hardest project in the home. So, because of that, we waited a long time. Now, we finally finished our kitchen remodel. These three posts will talk about the entire process and how we organized our space and stuff, before and during the process.  I have included kitchen remodel project tips as well throughout these posts.  I hope you enjoy them.

First, let me give you some background information about our kitchen. We purchased a new home almost 19 years ago. My husband and I bought into a larger development. So, when they designed the kitchen. which is 10 feet wide x 20 feet long, they didn’t use all the kitchen. Only one-quarter of the kitchen was cabinets. The rest was for dinette and a bar area. And, the peninsula was blocking the entire room. So you had to walk around the peninsula to get to the other side of the kitchen. Oh, I didn’t mention that we didn’t even have a pantry in the room. Annoying, right? Because of this layout, the entire wall to the left could not be used for anything.


before kitchen remodel 2nd side of kitchen

before kitchen remodel 1side

We started out by finding a contractor through Angie’s List. A client referred a contractor to me that she used for a few home projects. She highly recommended him. The company name was Total Home Solution. So, when I went into Angie’s List, we did a search and found that he had great references. So, we called him.

We had a meeting in September 2013 where we discussed our ideas and found out about the cabinet suppliers. We needed lots of storage because, being a home organizer, I wanted to have a place for everything kitchen related in the kitchen that wasn’t in the kitchen because of the poor design. And, if I was going to do this, I was going to do it the way I wanted it and that was with lots of cabinets. We took our time with this process to make sure everything was included.

The design process took several months. We didn’t finish the details until February 2014. There were meetings with cabinet designers, visits to stores to find pulls and knobs, counter-top and flooring. As well as, making sure all the areas(zones) we needed were included in the design.

Here are the zones we added in our new kitchen with the kitchen cabinet manufacturer’s representative, Rich’s help at Pete’s Lumber.  By assigning zones to different areas of the kitchen, it make it easier to see what we were missing and what cabinets we wanted in those areas.

  • Command zone was near our phone and light switches next to the refrigerator .
  • Baking zone was on the other side of the refrigerator in the upper cabinets.
  • Washing zone was near the sink next to the dishwasher
  • Cutting and prepping zone was on the other side of the sink.
  • Cooking zone was next to the range on the right side.
  • Beverage zone was next to the pantry on the other side of the kitchen.
  • Pantry area zone was near the beverage area.


after kitchen picture1

after kitchen picture2

after kitchen picture3

You may wonder what we did with the older cabinets. Well, I felt so guilty that we were getting rid of the few cabinets we had so I asked around if anyone wanted them. Lucky for us, a client of mine took them all for her shop. As we took down the cabinets, I thought of when we saw them put up the first time. We were newlyweds and young. How clean and new the space was, how we loved to see the new kitchen. We were happy to have a new house, a new home to start our lives together. So, as expected, this was a little emotional for me. But, as the process progressed and the issues handled, I started feeling better about the transformation and space.

The next post is how we organized our stuff so we knew where everything was while we were dealing with the kitchen remodel. Hope you come back and check it out.  Please share too.

Sabrina Quairoli

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Ways to Organize Your Manufacturers Manuals

Ways to Organize Manufacturers Manuals

We all have them, those piles of appliance and other product paper manuals scattered around the house. Where do you put them? Do you store them in kitchen drawers or in a pile in the basement or do you not have a place to put all of them? After we buy that new appliance, we forget that we need to file away the manual for those times when we need it – later on, years down the road, when that something happens. If you want to organize your manufacturers manuals, here are three ways:

First Option: One way is to sort the manuals in an accordion folder labeled A-Z. Then, sort manuals by manufacturer’s name. Since each product has the manufacturer’s name printed somewhere on the product, it makes it easy to file and find.

Second Option: Another option would be to use a smaller organizing bin and use tabs and hanging folders. Label each folder with a general group name for the products helps you find and retrieve manuals. Here are some categories: TVs, Gaming, Radios, iPods, Tools, Appliances, Computers, and Printers.

Third Option: Another option is to use magazine organizers and label the bins by general group like TV, Gaming, etc… Label all the bins if you are using the group names.

Tip: If you have several computers, divide each computer’s manuals and paperwork by putting all the paperwork in a Gallon size Food storage bag with a label for each computer. They you can file it in one of these bins above.

Tip: For appliances manuals, there could be the internet.  Check first before throwing the paper manual out by typing in your browser the manufacturer name and the model number.  To keep track of the appliance manual online, make a list with the appliance and the website url name for that appliance manual and keep that list in a safe place for reference.

Tip: Whatever system you decide to use, stay consistent and keep the system going.

To keep the files from getting too full, I like to go through each section and make sure the manufacturer manuals are still being used. I do this once every 3-5 years.

Having a well-organized manufacturer manuals will help you be able to reach them easily in case of emergencies and help you take action quicker.

Sabrina Quairoli

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Custom Drawer Dividers – The Best Way to Make Drawers More Functional

The Best way to make drawers more functional The kitchen is the heart of our home. I love to make it the heart of my clients’ home as well. Though if your kitchen drawers aren’t organized, it can be a struggle finding things. As a result, it will make your time cooking and preparing meals longer than it needs to be. Here is the best way to make drawers more functional with custom drawer dividers.

The product I use always is Lifestyle Systems Drawer Divider.

Lifestyle Systems label

I love this product! I have used it for years. And they hold up really well. By using this product, you can customize any drawer to the exact content you have. It’s wonderful.

I found out about this product years ago and used it in my earlier kitchen layout and with lots of clients’ kitchens. Then, we remodeled our kitchen recently and maximized the space. So, I figured I would buy the store-bought drawer organizers that would fit since I had many standard and larger drawers. So, I found some cheaper drawer organizers at discount stores and bought them all. Well, I was wrong. Those products didn’t maximize the space in the drawers. There were lots of wasted space around edges of the drawer and the divided areas in the organizer wasn’t large enough for the standard strainers, spoons, etc.. I was so annoyed. On the bright side, I didn’t waste too much money on these organizers. So, I reverted back to this product and you can see what I did with it.

I love it. I used the 3 inch high product which made even more space in my drawers. These drawers seem really shallow so I went with the 3 inch high dividers to maximize the height. They were easy to cut and easy to measure. All I needed was a utility knife and tape measure and a pencil.

This is the top drawer. I use all these items frequently. I stood the wood spoons and the plastic spoons on the side so I could all of them. Stand the wooden spoons on their side.

This is my second drawer. This drawer isn’t used as much. Though I need a space to hold my smaller strainers and larger spoons. I created a section just for garlic tools as well.

Less used drawer - Make the dividers as wide as your widest cooking tool

This is my third drawer from the top. This drawer was a mess. I didn’t know what to do with it. I couldn’t use any organizer in this drawer. Everything that was in it wouldn’t fit right. This drawer held all the other items that would be used for prepping, cooking or baking but didn’t fit in the other drawers and had unique sizes.  So, to keep this stuff organized, I added one divider. I put the items that I use more often in the front of the drawer and the items I used less often in the back of the drawer.

Least used drawer - Put items that you use more frequently in the front of the drawer when dividing it this way Tip: ALWAYS work from the top down to decide what items goes in each drawer. And, remember this rule.

Top Drawer = Most Used Items

Second Drawer = Less Used Items

Third Drawer = Least Used Items

What to place in Each Drawer

In this image, you will see that there is another drawer. I actually place my tea towels and table clothes in the bottom because the last drawer is deeper than the others. Finally, I can actually store my linens in the room I use them. Woo hoo!

As a result, I am now able to find the tools I need more quickly and it is a pleasure to look at these drawers. Check out Lifestyle Systems website for this product.

For your information, I did not get paid for this post. I just love this product and wanted to share it with you.  What is your favorite kitchen organizer?  Please leave a comment below.

Sabrina Quairoli

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August Monthly Organizing Challenge – Book Organization

August Monthly Organizing Challenge

August’s organizing challenge is book organization.  It’s a great time to go through your books before school starts.  Below is a list of different types of books that you can review throughout the month to get organized.

  • Go through textbooks and get rid of the ones that are too old and outdated.
  • Cookbooks – Click to read about how to hide cookbooks that are out in your kitchen.
  • Reference books and get rid any outdated reference books that you don’t want to keep.
  • Outdated Phonebooks – we all get them and sometimes forget to get rid of the old ones.
  • Self-help books – review any self-help books and donate the ones that you don’t want.
  • Business books – if you have business books, go through them and decide if you want them.
  • Scrapbooks – if you plan to finish your scrapbook, make time to do it.
  • Technology manuals and books – review and remove any books or manuals that you do not need any longer.
  • Fiction and Non-fiction books – review your leisure reading books.
  • Kids books – Remove books that your kids do not read any longer.


Good luck on your book organization challenge for this month. Please leave a message below and let us know who you do.

Sabrina Quairoli

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Creating Zones in an Organized Child Playroom

Creating Zones in an Organized Child Playrom


A playroom is so much fun to set up and use. It is one of my favorite areas of the home to organize. I love to make the space usable and fun for children’s imagination. Here are tips on creating zones in an organized child playroom a huge success. First, decide what areas you want in the play room.  Of course, a toy section is necessary.  Then, a TV/Video Gaming section is a must too.  Dress-up areas are fun, as well as, playing house areas.



For small toys, you can add the different toys to one large bin like you can see in this image above.   We also added pictures and product names on the labels.

For large toys, store them on the floor or on tall bookshelves with earthquake straps attached to the wall.

Place toys that need to be supervised when playing on the top shelve in a colored bin so the kids can’t see what is inside.



Here is a great dress-up area for kids from Amazon.

If you don’t want to get this fancy, you can include peg hooks and shoe shelves for a great affordable dress-up section.



Have a kitchen and a table near each other.


In the playhouse area, using bins with open tops will help keep your pretend food in one place.




All you really need in the TV / Gaming area is a place to sit and a place to store DVDs and Games.  Beanbag chairs work nicely.  Here is one from Amazon.

Here are a few places to store gaming supplies from Amazon.



If you have lots of small pencils, pens, crayons, markers, have them in lidded bin, just in case, they fall. You will not have a mess on your floor. Yuck! Also, storing small craft kits in one larger bin works well.  This way, they will be in one place when your kids say, “I’m bored.” And, you want to pull out something out for them to do.  Works every time for my kids. And, I don’t have to remember where the craft kits are.  Easy peasy, right?


Add a great table with chairs for them to sit or easel for their masterpieces.


Kids Lego Bin

These drawers with wheels work nicely for Lego.  I also like the adjustable tables for the kids to make their Lego Creations.  It also gives them a place to display their creations when they are finished.   Here is a more detailed Organizing Lego Pieces post for you to read.



Bookshelves with books facing forward invite children to review the books. Place a comfortable chair nearby as well will remind them to sit and stay for a while. What fun!

Here is a bookshelf from Amazon:

Have a chalkboard or marker board with a cute little desk so your children can teach to their friends. They have so much fun playing school.



Store smaller games in one larger bin near the bottom. A bin with wheels works nicely if it gets too heavy.  On the shelves above, you can store the other board games.  I like to divide my board games by age group and/or the number of players.

Whatever zones you use for your child’s organized playroom, make the space fun and organized.  If items need a bin, get a bin. If the kids need a table to use for their crafts, get one.  The playroom should have everything possible the kids would need for the different zones.  It doesn’t need to be large, it just needs to be functional.  Enjoy the process of making this playroom.

Sabrina Quairoli

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Confessions of an Organized Mom

Organizing your life as a mom comes in many ways.  Above all else, you decide what’s gotta give when it comes to getting stuff done.  Here are some confessions of an organized mom that I shared on my social media pages.  Enjoy!

Confession #1: Stacking ‘Like” items together inside bins, drawers, and closets is good enough for me. It doesn’t need to look pretty.

Stacking Like items together inside bins

Confession #2: Before company comes over I do a clean sweep of all surfaces in the common areas where my company will see.

Before company comes over I do a clean sweep

Confession #3: Helping others is more important than helping myself.

Helping others is more important

Confession #4: Vacuuming up Legos is easier than picking them up and sorting them.

Vacuuming up Legos is easier than picking them up and sorting them.

Confession #5: Making Meals 5 Days a week for the family is enough. If they want a meal on the  weekend, they can cook it themselves.

Making Meals 5 days a week for the family is enough.

Confession #6: Time to myself means catching up on my missed shows and news.

Time to myself means catching up on my missed shows and news.

Confession #7: Buying already marinated meats and freezing them counts for a Sunday Dinner.

Buying already marinated meats and freezing them counts for a Sunday Dinner.

Confession #8: Not all moms are bakers. I make the same cake recipe or buy already really good store-bought cakes.

Not all moms are bakers.

Confession #9: Gas grilling is my favorite. Less mess after the meal to clean up.

Gas grilling is my favorite. Less mess after the meal to clean up.

Confession #10: I clean the bathroom sink after every use so I don’t have a huge mess at the end of the week.

I clean the bathroom sink after every use so I don't have a huge mess at the end of the week.

Confession #11: I send lots of appointments to my kids at the end of the summer with all the school days they have off during the year.

I send appointments to my kids at the end of the summer with all the school days they have off during the school year.

Confession #12: I buy single serving size hummus and guacamole so I don’t eat too much.

I buy single serving size hummus and guacamole

Well, I feel better voicing my confessions to you all.  Let me know how you feel.  What are your confessions?  Leave a message below.

Sabrina Quairoli

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12 Organizing Tips I Learned in College

12 Organizing Tips I Learned in College The College(university) years were one of the most fun and scary times of my life.  I meet many new friends and explored many new places just in the short 4 years I was there.  I also learned many lessons. And, you will learn many lessons also.  To help you out, here are 12 organizing tips I learned in college:

  • Not everyone organizes the same way you do.  Your roommate may have a different organizing style than you.  She/he may like to have everything out where you like to put everything away. Try to be flexible and keep your space the way you like it.
  • Have a place for all the binders and reference books.  It’s not like high school, if your classes throughout the day, you only have to take the books and binders you need for those classes. The night before, pull out and put your binders and books in your backpack for the following morning.
  • Have extra printer cartridges in my dorm room for my printer. Those last-minute mad rushes to the computer room doesn’t need to be happen. Stock up on color and black ink before leaving for college and replenish your supplies over winter break. 
  • Have several thumb drives for backup your data if needed.  Thumb drives are easy to carry around, but they don’t last forever, so be sure you have at least 2.   Pick thumb drives that have larger storage so you will never have issues with not enough space for a file.
  • Use a Sendt Black Notebook / Laptop Combination Lock Security Cable attached to your laptop and desk to keep you laptop from being taken. It’s for those times when you need to do something but can’t take your computer with you.  After you unlock your laptop from your cable, be sure to scramble the combination lock.
  • Bring two sets of sheets so you can change out your sheets without having to wait for the sheets to be cleaned before making the bed. Enough said.  Change sheets every other week to keep your room fresh and clean.  
  • Have clocks everywhere. Wear a watch, have a clock in your bedroom and an alarm in the bedroom. If you have issues waking up in the morning for an early class, set at least two alarms about 15 or 20 minute apart from each other.  Place one near your bed and one on the other side of the room.
  • When scheduling time to study, put the start and end time to study on the electronic calendar.  This way you can see actually how much time you allocated for studying.
  • When studying for foreign languages, carry around written flashcards to help you study between classes and at dinner.  Or you can use a tablet app, like this one, Studyblue.
  • Only bring reference books back to school if you are taking the next level in a class. Textbooks are useful, but after you finish the class, resell them.  They take too much real estate in your dorm and the majority of the time, you will not look at them.
  • Have a lidded jar for paperclips, push pins, magnets, etc… Anything small. You can also get one with dividers if you want to be really organized.   This way, if you need a small item, you have one place to go to find them.  And, if it falls over, you will not have these small items all over the place.
  • Have a marker board in your room to jot down notes or reminders. I liked to place this above the desk or near the door light switch.  This way, it will remind me of things I needed to take before leaving the room.

If you use any or all of these tips, you will be well on your way to organize your college years.  As a reward, here are some fun links I found:

Have a great school year!  Keep in touch, let me know what you learned in college. Please leave a message below.

Sabrina Quairoli

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