Making good on my promise to cover all things kitchen and kitchen remodeling
, I’m starting with the most important section of the kitchen– the spice cabinet, for one cannot properly cook without spices.
|This is the outside of my spice cabinet
(excluding the top cabinets)
Let’s all bond on one simple thing: the stand-alone spice racks are inferior. Too short or tall, circular or standing, wrong color, plastic, rotating or not. Trust me. If it’s out there, I have bought it. A cook needs counter space and a spice rack takes up valuable real estate (for grins, I should calculate money spent on my kitchen, divide by counter space and…wait. I do not
want to do that. I’ll make myself sick). In any case, I couldn’t find a price listing of just the spice cabinet portion of a kitchen, just the entire remodel
I’ve also gone the other direction, placing my spices in drawers when I was living in various condos and
didn’t have the space to spare. My spices have also done their time in a pantry, which was the ultimate in inconvenience. So when it came time to create the kitchen of my dreams (and given the size constraints of the house we were remodeling), the first thing I designed was the spice rack.
Consideration #1. Your height.
Sounds strange, but you don’t want your life spent bending over. We do that enough, picking up, putting down, bending over. Ideally, you reach straight across, eye or chest level to get what you need.
Consideration #2. Your space constraints.
|Each shelf holds 7 spices (you can
see I have a blend of brands–they are
all pretty much the same size).
5 shelves per cabinet = 35
6 cabinets = 210 spices
It’s all about priorities. You can always put extra plates in the storage area or move the food to the pantry. You use spices every day, multiple times. You need to prioritize the spice rack is first and foremost (not all kitchen designers will understand this, particularly if they are non-cooks).
Consideration #3. Volume of spices.
I’d never actually counted my spices, until we were preparing to leave the condo I’d purchased prior to Rog (great location, nice kitchen, but not lots of counter space. I used the drawer technique). “What are you going to do with allll those spices?” he asked me, as though I were going to ditch some. I thought about it a bit longer. “Cooking without spices will make your food taste like dirt.” They resided in boxes during the remodel (2 yrs). In the end, though, I had to throw them out and start anew. (the moist nw air ruined most).
1- count the spices
2- measure the size of the spices. Bottles, boxes and tins are all different in height.
2.a- measure dry spices first. You may use these most often
2.b- measure the tins second. Tall tins/short tins as well as widths (think my Hungarian paprika tins).
2.c.- measure your cooking oil bottles/containers, shortening/lard size etc.
All these impact the height of the shelves (which should be adjustable) with the exception of the number and size of the dry bottles (the ones used most frequently).
Once you have this down, then you can start understanding the possibilities.
1. Fold out drawers. I’ve seen this in a variety of kitchens. The labels are on the top. It’s convenient if you have more drawer space than you do shelves. My challenge is that I’m nearly 5’11” and bending over is something I hate to do. Plus, I like to see the spices (I’m weird, I know) and I realize one of my deficiencies is not alphabetizing a drawer. I want to see everything at once.
|The right swinging cabinet opened,
revealing the backside (where I keep
all of our hot sauces-we are hot sauce freaks)
2. Standing cabinet. That’s what I chose. Other than the bending-over-seeing-the-spices-thing, I had/have very specific requirements for every single drawer/cabinet under the counter. It was by default. (Future blogs will cover drawers designed with baking in mind, pan, slide and in racks etc).
Going with the standing cabinet, you now can create the style that fits for you.
1. Clear or wood fronts. I prefer see-through plexi-glass. This ensures I can identify small tins that are not as tall.
1.a. Height of the fronts. As this like a retaining wall, keeping the spices from falling out, the height should keep them in w/out being burdesome to put in and out. Mine are 2.5 inches.
2. Fixed or flexible. You need to determine if you want to be able to adjust the spaces or not. I was pretty firm on not adjusting my spices, but Rog told me to be flexible just in case. I did so. In eight years, I’ve not moved the spices once (I guess this shoes how anal I was in the first place)!
Now that have got that down, count your spices and all other baking items. I realized pretty fast that I was going to need a non-traditional cabinet. Specifically, one that rotated out, giving me a double-sized shelf. This dramatically increased the number of spices it could hold.
|This is the left side-more spices
In our case, I have all of our “American” cousine spices in this standing spice cabinet. The dust wasn’t even off the kitchen when I loaded it up, and to my dismay, I realized my spices of Indian and oriental cooking were nearly as many as the American ones. Thus, they are relegated to my pantry. In my next life, I’m going to have cabinets for each type of food I like.
**sorry I didn’t get a close up of the plexi-glass. It’s there, in front of the spices.
You see my wood is solid cherry. You don’t have to go that expensive if you don’t want. In fact, a good friend of ours recently remodeled her home and saved thousands by doing a few things. It all started when she gave her husband the estimated price tag (He said he about swallowed his tongue). Aside from the appliances, the cabinets are the #1 expense (typically). He found an on-line service that allowed him to take his wife’s specifications, inserted his requirements to the software (free), and then a customer service person helped him pick colors. It was sent to his home (the company was in North Carolina, on the other end of the country), nary a person at his house, and to his delight “I saved fifty thousand dollars!”) Yes, he received a semi-hardwood, yes, it wasn’t quite the quality of a custom manufactured kitchen, nor did it have all the little details (such as metal shelf holders–his were plastic) etc. Still, it looks awesome, and for a savings that large (his version was $12K), the results more than matched the aesthetic and utilitarian requirements.
I hope you take this cheat sheet in to the cabinet design center, or the one of the many on-line design centers near you.