Before we moved into our present home, we lived in a 2,000-square-foot loft in an urban neighborhood. Our kitchen took up over 200 square feet of that open space with cupboards and cabinets galore, and an island counter that was so massive, friends joked about having go-go dancers groovin’ on it while we hosted dinner parties.
Now that we’re living in the coastal ‘burbs in a more traditional house, our kitchen has been downsized to less than half that space. They just didn’t need all that storage back in 1929 when our bungalow was built.
As such, we had to get creative when we moved in — along with all our stuff. A lot of stuff. I’m an unapologetic gadget geek, and I have tools for every task at hand, whether it’s a julienne peeler or an ice cream maker.
Thanks to my husband’s mad Tetris skills, we were able to stack and store all our things quite efficiently, but the one thing we did have to part with was our spinning spice rack. That tower of spices required at least a square foot of shelving, and we just didn’t have any coveted counter space for it, nor did we have any available drawers to stash our spices.
It got me to thinking… What if we could store our spices vertically?
We had dead space on the side of our upper cabinet, but instead of building a bulky shelf, we made a magnetic spice rack to hold our 30 (and counting!) spices.
What You’ll Need:
- 22-gauge steel, cut to size with holes pre-drilled
- Spice containers
- Rare earth magnets
- Epoxy (or other industrial-strength glue)
First, we had to find a sheet of metal to serve as the base of our spice rack. We went with 22-gauge steel from our local metal supply shop (about $10) and had them cut it down to the same height and depth of our cabinet. They also drilled holes in the corners for our screws.
(You can even ask them to make a rolled edge — where the edges are folded and welded under — for a more refined look, but we preferred a rustic raw edge.)
If you choose to use stainless steel to match your appliances, be sure to use 304 or 400 series stainless, which is magnetic (most common types of stainless steel are not). This is a ready-made stainless steel wall base if you don’t need a custom size from a metal fabricator.
We bought these round tin containers in bulk. They’re lightweight, food grade, and feature clear lids so you can easily see your spices. If you go with other spice tins, aim for ones that hold 3 to 5 ounces.
(Update on October 25, 2018: Since this tutorial was posted back in 2013, there are now similar spice tins available that have magnets built in. I really like this set if you are looking for a well-reviewed set of tins with magnets and labels included.)
We also bought rare earth magnets (15 millimeters in diameter), which are the strongest magnets on the market. I really do not recommend using any other type of magnet. A standard magnet simply cannot hold about 4 ounces of heavier whole spices like peppercorns and cloves.
To attach the magnet to our spice tin, we mixed up some two-part epoxy. You can use any other industrial glue, so long as it’s extra strength (due to the extra pull of the rare earth magnet).
With the spice tins filled, I labeled each one with a small label printed from my Dymo. It’s very inconspicuous, but you may want to make a more visible one, even across the lid if you like.
Then we screwed the steel plate onto the side of our cabinet, and arranged all our spices to fit.
With the way I arrange my spices, I have all my peppers and spicy spices at the bottom, then all my Italian spices, then all my Asian spices, and then my least-used random spices on top. This kind of organization makes it easy for me to reach for a spice I need by sight alone.
For things like basil and oregano, which look very similar, it only takes me a couple extra seconds to check the label on the side (though I tend to keep my Italian spices in a specific order anyway, so I know where they are without checking).
Our spice rack is within easy reach of the stove, out of direct sunlight, and seeing them all out in the open is infinitely more convenient than trying to remember what we have (or how much we have).
Keeping them in tins means we buy all our spices from bulk bins, which is an awesome deal compared to spice jars from the store. And I just love the way it looks in our kitchen! (Not to mention everyone else who comes over and comments on how cool it is.)