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Are you a new frugal mom who's trying to stretch her family's budget, get dinner on the table, and stay sane in the chaos of modern family life?

The New Frugal Mom is a site dedicated to sharing practical ideas for frugal living to help you save both time and money.

September 7, 2011

How to U | How to Create a Household Command Center in a Kitchen Cabinet, Part 1 of 4

How to U will be a new weekly feature here at TNFM on Wednesdays. 

Each month, I'll feature a simple DIY project from start to finish with posts showing you how to do it as well.

For September 2011, I'm tackling How to Create a Household Command Center in a Kitchen Cabinet.

It's back to school season which means a big increase at my home in paperwork, forms, and lovingly created objets d'art from my children.

{Kiddos, if you're reading this: I love your art. Really, I do.  I just can't keep every.single.piece of paper you bring home from school!}

Add that to the usual paper trail that comes with running any household and it can very easily and very quickly pile up and get overwhelming.

A couple (three!) years ago, when my second started school full time, I took some inspiration from this post that was linked up WFMW at Rocks in My Dryer, and created my own kitchen command center in an under-utilized kitchen cabinet.

While there are many ways you can create a kitchen command center or household command center for your home, I chose to use a kitchen cabinet for a few reasons:

:: Access.  When I created this command center, my kiddos were seven, five, and three years old.  Because it was up high out of their reach (without the use of a kitchen chair to stand upon), I could be sure that they wouldn't get into it and tear apart whatever organization I had implemented.

:: Location.  The kitchen is the heart of the home in most households and it's most definitely the hub of my home.  This cabinet is right on the corner across from the shelf where my hubs and I keep our car keys and right by the entry to the kitchen from the front hall.  I wanted my command center to be in a location that made sense for the flow in and out of our home.

:: Doors.  I am one of those people who is oh-so-easily distracted by visual clutter; since the kitchen is the hub of my home and where I spend a good deal of my time (I'm at my kitchen table typing this very post right now!), I try to keep my kitchen as organized as possible and as clear of clutter as possible. Having my command center in a cabinet means I can shut the doors and simply not see it until I need it.  For me, that works to kill the distraction factor.

In October 2008, this is what my kitchen command center looked like when it was all fresh and shiny-new:

Ok, hold onto your seats, my frugalista friends, because here's what it looks like now, three years later:

Ouch, ouch, ouch!

Clearly, it's time for an overhaul!

Here's the areas by number above that I'll be tackling and showing you my progress along the way on the coming Wednesdays in September:

#1: Under-Utilized Door Space.  I have plans to make the inside of the cabinet doors more functional by adding slash pocket poly folders as paper keepers/inboxes for all the members of my family.

#2: Glassware.  Sadly, it's so unused! Those margarita glasses and wine glasses rarely see the light of day.  Time to find them a new storage space.

#3: Outdated Information.  Again, the inside of the cabinet doors need to be emptied of flyers and papers that are no longer relevant.

#4:  Home Improvement Project List.  This list is one we made a few years ago; we've done many of the projects but some are still unchecked.  Time to update the list and brainstorm new ways to improve our home (since given the current housing market in SW Ohio, we'll be in it for the long haul).

#5: Overflowing Inboxes.  This system of using flat filing boxes as inboxes for family members is a good one as long as I do a better job of ruthlessly purging the papers we don't need.  Time to clean out and recycle/shred old papers/documents and see if I can repurpose those file boxes within the command center.

#6: Mail, Bills, Checkbooks.  This upright file method is useful within the cabinet but is in need of - surprise! - a good cleanout. 

#7: Change Bank, Playing Cards, Odds & Ends.  This corner needs to be cleaned out and reorganized with well-labeled containers that fit the narrow shelf. 

#8: Repurposed Ice Cream Pail.  There originally was a plastic shoebox here; I kept stamps, paperclips, staples, clear tape, sticky notes, and other office supplies in this box (out of reach from my curious and office supply-loving son who still at age eight loves taking a side trip to Staples or Office Max with his equally obsessed-with-office-supplies mom!).  I think a year or so ago, one of my kiddos needed a plastic shoebox for school so I transferred the supplies to this repurposed ice cream pail.  Time to update my container and clean out what's inside.

#9: Note Cards, Pencil Sharpener, Phone Charger, Extra Ear Buds:  Hopefully with new containers, these items will be easier to access for me and for my now-older children. 

Next week, I'll share with you some simple ideas for containers and labels to use within my kitchen cabinet command center, both items that I repurpose from around my home and items that I find at my local dollar store.

Do you have a kitchen command center?  What ideas have worked best for you?


  1. I do not have a kitchen command center like yours, but I'm thinking I need one! I have way too many papers and it's driving me bonkers! Thanks for the idea Mar!

  2. Thanks for keeping it real! I still think it's great that you have a command center at all, even if it's housing a few extra items than what you originally designed it for!

  3. Kandi: That's why I started mine - the paper trail was just out of control between mail, bills, school, household, etc. I needed everything in one place at my fingertips.

    I'm going to post some alternative ideas to a "kitchen cabinet" command center later in the series as well to spark ideas for everyone.

    Take care over on that side of 75!

  4. Deb: Thanks for the comment. And yes, I am all about keeping it real and living up to my motto of "good enough"! ;-)

    Be well!


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