The first “home improvement” item that I wanted to build was a proper spice rack. It was an idea from – who else – Alton Brown, who had attached rows of velcro to the inside of his kitchen cabinet doors. So when the Doctor and I first moved into Redfort three years ago, I basically had ours built within a couple of weeks.
It wasn’t exactly pretty.
On the inside of our pantry door was the spice rack, on the outside are two whiteboards for our daily notes and menu planning. As you can see, they get a lot of use (!) and I couldn’t live without them. Occasionally a jar would fall off the door, especially since the wood’s swollen a little with age. It was also kind of a pain to be stuck with a particular brand of spices just because their jars had a flat side. At least since they were made of plastic, they would bounce when they fell, and didn’t shatter and spill all over the floor.
But good Lord, they were ugly. And since I used hot glue to attach everything, whenever they fell off, I had to either try to chip off the solid glue and ruin my fingernails, or – more usually – just pour more glue over everything and make it more likely that it’d fall apart again.
So, inspired by some other efforts to clean up and reduce our clutter, and also the Home Sweet Home project by the lovely Violet Le Beaux, I decided to do something about that darn spice rack!
Unsurprisingly, our DIY project started off with a trip to IKEA. Well, actually, it started with me being frustrated with finding magnetic spice racks with only 9 spaces retailing for over $100, even online. We also went to Bunnings to buy some other things, found tiny magnets, but ultimately returned those because we found just about everything we needed, and already made.
The SPONTAN magnetic board ($19.99AUD) comes in silver/grey and white, in the home organisation section. For some reason, you can’t draw on it with whiteboard markers, so my avant-garde hand-drawn decorations will have to wait for another project.
The GRUNDTAL magnetic spice containers ($6.99AUD for 3 – not on Australian website, but definitely in-store) are quite big, 10cm in diameter and about 3cm deep. The front is made of a strong, clear plastic, and there is a large flat magnet set flush into the back. These are found in the kitchen department, but stuck to the magnetic knife racks which only hold three at a time.
I needed it to do better than that! We wound up buying 8 packs for a total of 24 jars, bringing the project cost to a little over $75AUD.
Once we got home, I removed the plastic spice jars and the velcro strips on the inside of the door, being careful not to break any of the wooden slats. I then used a flathead screwdriver to pry off the rest of the hot glue.
The SPONTAN board does not come with any fasteners, and is actually designed to be hung on a flat wall. So the Doctor got some flat picture hangers and bent them into tiny S-hooks to hang on the slats of the pantry door.
Unfortunately, this left the bottom edge of the board hanging free to bang against the door whenever we pulled it open.
So out came the hot glue gun and velcro again, but this time, I glued them to just the wide flat part of the door. It’s close enough to the lower edge to stop it banging, and also adds a lot more stability when taking jars off that part of the board.
… actually that’s kind of boring. Let’s spice it up! (#instantrimshot)
If you’re following me on Twitter, you might have caught this picture of my entire “spice” collection. I counted a few things that might not be traditionally considered as “spices”, such as ikan bilis (dried anchovies), pine nuts and dried shiitake mushrooms, but since they were all taking up the same general area in the pantry, it was probably time to sort them out as well.
Out of 47 items, I only had repeats of two – ground coriander seeds and garam masala. In my defence, one of the packets of coriander seeds was part of a gift set, and since garam masala is something that every family makes differently, you could maybe… sort of… very technically… say they were different things.
Okay, maybe not. But everything else was different! It’s not like I have a spice hoarding problem!
What? I don’t have a problem! Really!
And this is how the spice rack looks now. I considering putting labels on the front, but I really like the clean look with clear lids. I did print smaller labels and stuck them to the sides of the jars so we don’t confuse chipotle chilli powder for cinnamon, or thyme for oregano.
Of course, I didn’t manage to put my entire collection on the rack, nor do I really want to. This project allowed me to:
- clean up an eyesore in the kitchen
- make better decisions about what I really used in my cooking (the onion and garlic powders totally did not have any smell to them, and had gone rock-hard)
- re-discover spices I bought to “play” with, but had forgotten (like sweet paprika and sichuan peppercorns)
- organise what was left in more efficient ways
- give me an excuse to go shopping for more spices cook different things
The Doctor also pointed out that the jars will stick to the whiteboards on the outside of the doors, making mise-en-place even easier.
Magnets are great little things in home design, though I’m not 100% convinced about magnetic knife racks. I hope this post helps some of you looking to do something similar! I’m sure if Violet did the same project, hers would be full of adorable sculpey food, rather than actual edible ones… *bricked*
Do you think IKEA has good, creative solutions for everyday living, or do you think they’re full of mass-produced, cheap products with no individuality? Let me know in the comments below!
Disclaimer: This post is unsolicited and unbiased. Sefie and the Doctor paid for all items used in this post.