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Organization is the key to keeping the cook happy

This clever storage solution has a pleasing vintage feel to it. (
This clever storage solution has a pleasing vintage feel to it. ( Pernille Loof

A few cleverly placed shelves, hooks and baskets can turn a small kitchen into a chef’s paradise. Here are three fresh ways to sneak in custom storage and clear your counters for your next big project: dinner.

PROJECT NO. 1: THE DASHBOARD

This adjustable wall unit keeps cooking essentials in reach and off countertops. Hand these directions off to a pro or do-it-yourself.

1. Start with a  3/4-inch-by-4-foot-by-8-foot birch plywood sheet and a 1-inch-thick dowel. Here, the sheet was sawed in half; cut yours to fit your space (or have the lumberyard do it). Cut the dowel into 12-inch pegs.

2. Measure and mark a grid of 1-inch holes on plywood.

3. Drill holes with a 1-inch paddle bit. Lightly sand pegs and board; mount board on wall using two French cleat brackets. Add pegs and shelves (the pegs’ tight fit will hold them steady).

Sources: Elfa shelves, in Sand, $18 each, containerstore.com. Santimetre Lara striped glass, in Black and White, $70; Milkmaid mini pitcher, in Yellow, $60; Lab flasks, in Black and White, $75 each; and Large Garbo mug, in Yellow on Cobalt, $70, mosantimetre.com. Chemex 3-cup coffee maker, $37, crateandbarrel.com. Hawkins New York simple storage containers, from $35 each; and simple round oak cutting board, from $70, food52.com. Sir/Madam Baker’s Dozen wooden spoons, in Large, $160, shopsirmadam.com. HomeStories industrial counter chair, in Dark Varnish, $369, shop.homestories.com.

PROJECT NO. 2: THE UP AND AWAY

Give a vintage wooden ladder a second life high above a counter, and it’ll give you double the storage: You can hang pots, pans and baskets from its rungs and place additional decorative containers above it.

This one measures about 5 feet, but any ladder will work; just saw off and sand one end to match the other, if necessary.

To rig it, screw four stainless steel eye hooks into the top of the ladder, then add corresponding eye hooks in the ceiling, making sure to anchor them into beams. Hang the ladder from the ceiling hooks using four lengths of stainless steel chain and four quick links, and there you have it: an out-of-the-way spot for pretty items you don’t use daily.

Source: A Rustic Garden Old 5-Rung Rustic Vintage wooden ladder, $60, arusticgarden.com.

Tip:

HOOKS AND LADDERS: Standard pot-rack hooks fit most rungs. Chrome ones contrast nicely with copper pots. Rogar long pot-rack hooks, $19 for 4, kitchensource.com.

PROJECT NO. 3: THE FLOATING ISLAND

You may not have room for a built-in island or central bar. But you can repurpose a smaller table into a turbocharged workstation on wheels.

Here, casters have been added to a basic wooden style — that way, you can slide it into a corner with ease and chop without hunching over. A concrete top (see Trick It Out, below) was installed, along with a few bars.

This table’s legs are 10 inches apart, so a 1-inch-deep hole was drilled in each, then a 12-inch metal rod was pushed into one and popped into the other for a snug fit.

The hooks and baskets hold tools, towels and room-temperature produce like onions.

Sources: Urbangreen Parsons rectangular table, in Maple, $419, urbangreenfurniture.com. Everbuilt rigid nonmarking rubber casters, 2 inches, $3.50 each; and Home Depot steel round rods,  3/8 inches by 48 inches, $7 each, homedepot.com. County Ltd. iron towel bar, in Long, $45; and iron C-S hook, in Black, $32, countyltd.com.

Trick it out

Countertop: Poured concrete is durable and heat-resistant. Concrete Collaborative Ivory Solana slab, $45 per square foot, concrete-collaborative.com.

Handy S-hooks: Sturdy hooks keep small items close. Panacea black extender steel S-hooks, $4 each, acehardware.com.

Deep storage: Woven bike baskets stash produce in plain sight. The Basket Room Handcrafted Black Block bike basket, $88, thebasketroom.com.

Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate

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