Posted by / July 10, 2012

Pinterest Challenge: Everything But The Kitchen Sink

Today we're excited to share how we've gotten things organized under our kitchen sink! When Sherry & John of Young House Love and Katie of Bower Power announced it was time for the Summer Pinterest Challenge, we knew it was finally time to tackle this project. The Pinterest Challenges are simply a self imposed challenge to make or do something inspired by the pins on your Pinterest boards — the project can be anything and anyone can participate.

You might recall we tackled making DIY bean teepees for our pea plants during the Winter Pinterest Challenge — this time around we took on an organizational project I've been meaning to do since we moved into this house over 6 months ago. Hey, things happen, right? So anyway, this Summer Pinterest Challenge was the perfect motivation we needed to get 'er done.

Here's the project idea and inspiration — organizing everything under the kitchen sink using a tension rod and storage baskets:

Each of the above inspiration images can be found in my DIY Pinterest Board and originally via: 1. Martha Stewart 2. Real Simple 3. Jen Grant Morris

Here's what we were working with under the kitchen sink before:

Should we take a closer look at this mess?

A big mix (ahem, mess) of household cleaning products, extra paper towel rolls, and a growing collections of excess grocery bags — you get the idea.

Here's a shot of the same sink after installing the tension rod and organizational baskets:

It's a pretty incredible difference without much effort!

Believe it or not, everything from those before shots is included in this re-organization, with plenty of room to spare.

What I really like about the tension rod and basket storage is how we can still realistically grab-n-go or toss stuff back under there fairly quickly without having to think too hard. What we didn't want was something that looked pretty but was completely un-functional or actually took more work to keep up than before.

The short of it:
As you can see, we re-organized the contents of our "under the sink mess" with the help of matching storage baskets and an expandable tension rod.

The tension rod creates an elevated bar to hang spray bottles from — providing quick access to the bottles while clearing more ground surface for the rest of the items that go under the sink. The storage baskets provide a unified look and compartmentalized pockets to group different items together. We chose to organize items according to how frequently we use them.

All the details:
We picked up an expandable 40 inch chrome shower tension rod and a set of 3 matching baskets from Lowe's while getting some garden supplies we already needed. I liked the look of the baskets since they all matched and had removable liners in the event anything gets messy down the road (it is under the sink after all). We went with the smallest width shower rod they had on hand since under the sink is a much smaller space than your typical shower and made sure to get a rod with soft enough stops on each end that they wouldn't damage the sides of the cabinet walls when secured in place. We liked the look of the chrome rod, but you could really go with anything that suits your fancy. A basic tension or curtain rod would also be perfectly suitable for getting the job done.

The rod went right under the sink with no problems — it was just a matter of deciding what height to place it so it wouldn't interfere with the disposal switch or other mechanisms in place down there while still being high and far enough back to hold the squirt bottles above all the other stuff and allowing the cabinet doors to close without problems.

We tested the shower rod while everything was still under the sink just in case it didn't fit. Once we realized it was going to work, I pulled everything out from under there to start reorganizing.

As for the baskets, it was a bit of a trial and error puzzle into figuring out how all three of them could fit under the sink and still allow the cabinets to close. In the end, they miraculously fit in an even configuration with the larger basket centered. I'd love to claim I measured the sink before buying the baskets, alas it was dumb luck that they fit so perfectly like this.

Speaking of dumb luck, we don't always have it. This is why I like to leave as many packaging labels, stickers, tags, etc on products we're testing out for the first time in the home before committing. So many times I've ripped off the labels only to realize a basket doesn't fit just the way I had imagined — and then having to return them.

How we organized:
I neatly folded our excess brown paper bags, placed them in a smaller bag than before and fit those in the back of the sink along with our extra paper towel rolls and bulk liquid hand soap supply. Our most used products like dishwashing packets, counter wipes and sponges went in the center baskets. Other household supplies went in each of the smaller basket, with the most frequently used products up closer than the rest

Spray bottles on the tension rod were pushed to either side to allow for easy grabbing access to the most used things in that center basket.

I think my favorite thing we keep under this sink is the for Mary only razor blade in the little mason jar (hanging out in the center basket shown above). 

When we first moved into this house, Tim's mom taught me a trick for getting tough grime off hard surfaces by gently using a razor blade and not giving up. She told me never to let Tim use the razor blade for his man-projects, that this one should only be dedicated to cleaning and for my use, haha. I think the razor blade taunts Tim in there cause he's always asking me if he can use that razor blade his mom gave me. It's a big joke between the two of us — I will tell him he knows it's off limits and then laugh and cave in, letting him use it since he's the one actually doing whatever work it is around the house that needs taking care of (but reminding him to make sure it always returns to its special spot in that jar under sink where his mom put it for me).

Funny note: you may have noticed a little collection of stainless steel type cleaning products in this mix. I have tried everything to get the streaks out of our stainless steel appliances without luck — even the products claiming to do the job don't do the job. If anyone has any tried and true tips for getting a streak-free stainless steel appliance, we are all ears!

And just to show that it all fits nice and neatly, here's a shot of the closed cabinets after our big organizing project was all said and done:

So now the question is — what's under your kitchen sink?

Also, if you haven't, take a moment to check out all the other great projects shaping up across the blog world today spurred by this Pinterest Challenge — great places to start are with Young House Love & Bower Power.

 Image from Young House Love

The other guest hosts this season are Kate of Centsational Girl and Michelle of Ten June. We've already discovered so many inspiring projects and new-to-us blogs to add to our own readers. If you joined in the challenge this season, we'd love to see what you were inspired to take on as well!


  1. Nicely done! I am so much more motivated to clean with an organized sink, and a bar to hold the cleaners is genius!

    1. Couldn't agree more! Thanks so much - this was such a quick and easy project.

  2. We have the tension rod and love it!

    1. Awesome Helena! Seems so simple, don't know why we didn't do it before!

  3. Looks great! I definately need to do that to my cupboard.

  4. That looks great- it's so organized under there! I pinned that same idea a while ago but haven't actually tried it yet- it looks like it works great!

    1. Thanks Brooke! We can totally relate, it took us forever to just go ahead and do it but now that it's done, we are thrilled!

  5. Try a bit of baby oil on a micrfibre cloth to polish up your stainless steel... we are commercial cleaners and do office kitchens all the time this way!

    1. Oh my gosh!!! Thank you so much for this tip! We are definitely going to try it and report back.

  6. Apparently this post really stuck with me as I dreamt about reorganizing my kitchen cabinets all night long. Seriously, I'm exhausted from it.

    My only problem (in my dream) was the store where I found the storage baskets were selling three of them for $66. My thought in my dream was 'surely Mary didn't spend that much on the baskets'.

    Anyway, I'm taking a before photo today and we'll see how long it takes me to get this completed. Thanks for the awesome ideas!

    1. Monica you made us literally LOL! You are right — I would never pay that much for a set of baskets. I think the entire set of 3 was like $19.98 at Lowes:

      So glad you might try this out — would love to see the before and after pics!

  7. That is absolutely genius Mary! That will be my weekend project.

  8. Never would have thought of using a tension rod, and it's a wonderful idea.

    The best product I've found to clean & polish stainless steel (in one step) is Bio Clean. Just remember a little goes a long way.

    1. Thank you SO much for this stainless steel tip — checking it out now!

  9. I know I'm a bit late to this post, but I just had to throw in my 2 cents about cleaning stainless steel. My sink is stainless and it gets super gross, super quick. I can get it blindingly shiny super quick with Bar Keeper's Friend. It's the heavy duty stuff I've seen used in restaurants, but it's ridiculously cheap, too. Just make a paste with some water and rub down whatever you're cleaning with it, rinse it off with a wet rag, and then to make it super shiny without streaks, just dry it off with a fresh paper towel.

    I swear by this stuff:

    1. Thank you so much for the tip! We will definitely have to give bar keeper's friend a try!

  10. Try Bar Keepers Friend to clean stainless steel pots and pans.

  11. I just noticed you said stainless steel appliances not pans. When I would do laundry at a laundromat I would see the workers use baby oil to get the streaks off the stainless steel washer and dryers.

  12. I have a completely different question, although I do love the rod idea and will be trying it! My question is about the "do it all Green" cleaning product you have. Does it work? I had a door to door guy selling this "for the kids" and I bought it. But, I was scared to use it because I was almost sure it was a scam. As it got a prime spot in your cabinet, I assume it works. :)


Mary and Tim Vidra, here! Both Richmond natives & do-it-yourselfers by nature, we are continually in search of simple solutions for living more sustainably — sharing ideas, tips and tricks for DIY home decor, urban gardening and cooking.


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