...because home doesn't happen overnight.
01.02.13 / Spicy

When we moved into our Underdog I didn’t give much thought to loading the kitchen cabinets and drawers. I had a two-month-old, a four-year-old and a seven-year-old at home and a traveling HH not at home. The goal was to just empty the moving boxes and be done with it all. Seven months later I’m finally coming up for air {through a straw, mind you, but it’s air nonetheless} and realizing that my kitchen could use some organization. To boost my self esteem, I’m starting small and easy.

The biggest functionality problem in the kitchen actually had a very simple and inexpensive solution. What was that problem? Herb and spice storage.

wood shelf 11

Originally, I threw all of our dried herbs and cooking spices {+salt and pepper} into the recessed cabinet above the microwave. They were difficult to reach and required either a) a stool b) hoisting myself up onto the counter or c) “Steeeeeeeeve!”

Fun fact #1: Steve is HH’s real name. I don’t call him HH in person – only on the blog.

I finally got fed up one day during a sweat-inducing search for oregano.

“There’s got to be a better way and no one else is going to do it for you, Dana.”

Fun fact #2: When I’m home alone with the kids, I talk to myself. It’s my way of having an adult conversation.

So on a whirlwind trip to IKEA a few weeks ago, I purchased four packs of the magnetic GRUNDTAL six-ounce containers. {They come in a box of three and are $5 per box.} That meant I had 12 containers total. Why 12? There was no taking inventory of anything before I left the house. I just guessed and thought 12 sounded good. First, I edited my collection of herbs and spices down to about the top 16-18. I was trying really hard to get it down to 12 – just enough for my containers – but I wasn’t willing to give up items that I had used in the past three months.

Fun fact #3: Since quitting my job and becoming a SAHM, I’ve slowly grown to like – I wouldn’t say love – cooking. I even got pretty good at making up dairy-free recipes when I was still breastfeeding. But, let’s be honest, there’s no cookbook coming out anytime soon.

From the final 16-18, I picked my top 12. This is all starting to sound a bit American Idol-ish, isn’t it? I cleaned out the magnetic containers with soap and warm water then filled ’em up with The Final Twelve. I did have a problem with one of the container’s lid not screwing on correctly but I made do. Can you guess where I stuck them?

spices 1

On the side of my refrigerator.

spices 2

I didn’t really want them in plain sight from the adjacent living room and I actually use this little corner {along with the island} for food prep so the fridge location is ideal. I just pluck my ingredient off the fridge when necessary and stick it back when I’m done.

For those of you who are wondering what made the cut, here’s my top 12 in no particular order:

chili powder









red pepper flakes



Thyme would have made the top 12 but I only had about four little pieces left. I labeled the back of each container with a permanent marker because I can’t tell the difference between cumin and coriander.

spices 3

Next time I’m at IKEA, I’m grabbing one more three-pack to get my last few spices on the fridge. Then the only herb/spice-related ingredients in the cabinet above the microwave will be surplus.

No more gymnastics in the kitchen trying to reach my spices.

Next up? Knife drawer, I’m looking at you.

Fun fact #4: I’ll be back later today with some exciting news involving another Joss & Main event that I’ve been secretly working on. Stay tuned…

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking


I had something like those from Bed Bath & Beyond. The lids turned to let out the spices. A few years of having them and the lids started to rust (mainly with the salt or if I washed them and didn’t dry quickly). I like the look of them and maybe they work best for non-salt. My spice cabinet is in sad, sad shape! I need to think of an idea! I’m working on organizing the playroom and office this week. Sigh… Oh I finally started a blog. It’s a long, slow learning process but I’m having fun!


I bought these too but decided against using them for spices becuase I was concerned about opening them and having clouds of spices….also, no shaker top. Do you find that the USE of them is convenient in these or just the storage…? Inquiring minds want to know!


This is a great solution! I’ve liked the magnetic ones for a while, but didn’t like the idea of them just hanging out somewhere on the wall. The fridge is a great idea! As for the knife drawer, I just organized mine this weekend. After a major cut when I stuck my hand in the drawer, I decided it was time to figure out a better solution than just tossing them in. I ended up finding a bamboo drawer knife rack at TJ Maxx for like $7. Definitely worth it for some organization (and safety!).

Love it! My spices are currently precariously arranged in a cabinet near the stove, which requires me to climb over the stove. This is bound to end in disaster.


This is brilliant!


i love the idea of the spices in the magnetic containers. but i haven’t done it because i’ve always been told and read to keep them in dark places. ie, drawers or cabinets. also my knife storage is a knife organizer i made from left over wood; however, i really am looking for one of those magnetic strips that the blade of the knife sticks too to go above the stove or on a cabinet. i just LOVE those!

on a side note, i find it so funny to hear you say Steve instead of HH. it sounds strange reading it lol.


Love it! I have very cramped cupboard space in this house, I could definitely use the side of my fridge more – it’s even closer to my prep space and stove than in your layout. (We’re military, and every kitchen is different.) For close to 2 decades I’ve been using the Tupperware modular mates “spice mates” – I got a bunch as a gift once, and got the little carousel that go with them. They really have to live in a cupboard though, and that is valuable real estate this time around. What I do have is easy access to Ikea, though!! Thanks for the idea :-)!


Looks good and so convenient!

Your spices will lose potency very quickly exposed to the light that way. I have thought about doing this and decided that if I do, I will paint the clear plastic rounds with chalkboard paint on the outside, then label them with chalk pen. Attractive and covered!


I would hang a magnetic board on the inside of one of my cabinets. That way they would really be hidden, and I wouldn’t have to dust them! :) Just a thought!


I did this a couple of years ago but had to remove them from the side of the fridge to a magnetic board on the inside of a cabinet like Hollie suggested, because they were scratching the (stainless steel) fridge. They’re very convenient though!


How strong do the magnets feel? I was considering modifying the inside of a cupboard door and sticking these on, but had visions of them tumbling down every time I shut the door. Do they feel secure?


Awesome idea, Dana!! :) Love it.


Spices in my kitchen are about the only thing I am pretty organized about. I have about 50+ spices, ground and whole versions of a lot of them, since I am nuts about flavor and making my own blends from whole seeds and grinding them. My rack I found on the street and it’s wonky recycled wood, completely overflowing. Every bottle is different or reused. My only trouble is that there is no good place in my apartment to keep them besides next to the stove which is bad because of the heat. Oh well, I tend to use them pretty fast mostly. I would agree that storing them out of the light is best, but they are so pretty like that, and if you use them quickly it won’t matter too much. Good job. Feels good to be organized about one thing in life.


Oh I wanted to mention to clean the bottoms of those magnetic bins from time to time. If they sit for a while sometimes they can get sticky with kitchen grease and be hard to take off, which also may leave marks on your fridge.


They are VERY strong! No sliding or falling off. You have to give a pretty good tug to get them off the fridge.


The spices get indirect light from a north-facing window in the kitchen. Some of them are so old that I really don’t think this light is going to do much more damage. I’m not a professional cook and I don’t follow a lot of kitchen rules – unless they have to do with our health. Looks like I’m breaking one of them here.


HH and I have been using the spices like this for about a month now. We both LOVE them. We usually don’t measure our spices but pinch them or dump palmfuls into our hands. We both disliked the sprinkle tops because we couldn’t really tell how much we were dumping out when we sprinkled them directly into a recipe OR it would take forever to sprinkle out a tablespoon. We haven’t had any problem with them ‘clouding up’ when we open them. It probably helps that the containers aren’t completely full.

For us, the use and storage both are super convenient but if you’re a sprinkler then maybe they wouldn’t be as useful to you.


I’ve been thinking about getting some of these, but ended up getting Droppar spice jars from IKEA as well as the Variera drawer organizer which fits them perfectly. The tops have a rubber gasket that seals itself when you put the lid on, though it doesn’t screw on or have a shaker lid. They work really well and the size is small enough to fit about 4 in a column.

Also, I highly recommend getting a pepper grinder and whole peppercorns – tastes much better.


For those of us far from an IKEA- I got mine at World Market. We’ve had them for four years and they’re still going strong.


Thanks for naming another source Katherine! Glad to hear they are still working for you.


I am desperately in need of some spice organization…I’ve considered these but wasn’t sure about them – it’s good to know you like them! This might be the perfect solution for me…


The spices look cool on the fridge. ;). My new years resolution is to cook more and try my best to really like it so it’s encouraging to hear that you are liking it better. Also. I like the new profile picture… You look good in red.


I had these in my hand today when I went to IKEA and then put them back! I come home and see what you did and it looks AMAZING! Good idea Dana! BTW, spices are hardier than other foods so they won’t loose nutrients THAT fast being in the sunlight (or even indirect). The reason I didn’t buy them is I don’t have a good space to put them. My fridge is in one of those ‘fridge holes’ across from the stove so I’d have to put my spices on the front of the fridge. So I decided against it. Keep up the organizing! I love that kind of stuff, turning chaos into order :)


Ikea sells those magnetic knife racks. I have on in my kitchen and love it. http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/00136621/


Just saw your collection over at Joss & Main! Looks great! Congrats :)


Oh, I’m no chef either! I just figure I’ll take all the help I can get from flavourful spices. :)


i have a small, shallow drawer with similar containers right inside.
i bought mine at target… 10 years ago? 15?
they work great especially for bulk spices which are fresher & cheaper.


No pressure to follow kitchen rules…but one idea is that next time you run out of something, buy a much smaller amount from the bulk section at Whole Foods or similar place. The jars that spices usually come in take ages to get through, and most ground spices lose potency within 3 months, whether they’re in light or out.


Thank you SO much for taking the time to reply. Mine have been attached to my range hood – silently mocking me for almost a year. Perhaps I should give them a go. Thanks again! :)


Love this solution! I use those little containers from IKEA for so many things. Sadly, there isn’t enough of my fridge that is magnetic exposed to make use of it in this way though :(


I love it. What a wonderful way to clear up cabinet space too! Thinking I’m going to have to go this route and free up TWO drawers. No american idol here. Everyone is getting a contract.

For our knives we use a magnetic knife rack. I know you may not like the whole open storage but we love it. It cleared up so much room getting rid of that big old block. And since our knives are stainless steel, it just kind of blends in


I love that your husband’s name is Steve Miller-probably b/c I love the band. I bet he gets that a lot… :)

I used to have my spices attached to the side of the fridge, too. It’s so handy! In our new home there is no space around the fridge, so I’ve attached a metal board which now holds the spices. It’s great having them near all the time without taking up very valuable cupboard space! http://www.littlehouseonthecorner.com/spice-up-your-life/


The spice containers are VERY cool. Thanks for a great tip!


We remodeled our kitchen a year ago, and I did the exact same thing with my spices! I absolutely love them where they are, and I love seeing them in their shiny, little containers. I had initially seen a similar spice thing at Chiasso, which cost a small fortune, and similar ones at Bed Bath & Beyond. IKEA had the price I wanted, and I like to grab a pinch of something as opposed to sprinkling, so I didn’t need a little opening on the side. I labeled mine on the bottom, too. Everyone comments on them when they see my kitchen.