Putting That Clutter in Its Place

Times Staff Writer

One of the fastest and easiest things to do in the kitchen, or the whole house for that matter, is to clutter. Reversing the scene--turning the place into a neat, well-organized space--is, of course, one of the most difficult tasks to do.

Coming on the market is a huge array of storage and organization merchandise for the home. And the category is growing. Organization sections are being added to national housewares shows. Shops selling goods geared solely to reducing chaos at home and in the office have opened and continue to squeeze in more new items, from utilitarian rack carts to fashion-colored trash bins. An increasing number of mail-order catalogues also are dedicating space to storage items. For instance, Williams-Sonoma has introduced "Hold Everything," while Chef's Catalog's "Space Smart" not only lists gourmet products but includes items for kids' rooms, travel, laundry, work rooms and offices. The catalogue's goal, said buyer Arlene Harris, is for the consumer to become a "VOP" (very organized person).

In the kitchen, some goods are meant to be displayed, others to be hidden away. Consider cook pots, for example: If you elect to hang them up on a wall or in ceiling racks, you're not just saving on cabinet space and on time, but you're also giving the cooking area a decorative treatment. Le Creuset offers Pot Racks in fashionable striking colors of red and cobalt blue as well as the pristine white and high-tech black hues. Made of heavy-gauge steel, the racks are sturdy enough to hold the heavy Le Creuset pots and skillets or any other collection. They come in two types--the Deluxe Rectangular Ceiling Rack ($125) and the popular Half Round Rack ($45) for wall mounting. The pot racks are easy to assemble without special tools and come with several hooks.

Another heavy-duty line of hanging racks is made by Calphalon. The Calphalon Cache Racks (from $35 for the simple bar wall rack to $180 for the large oval rack) are crafted of aluminum, hard-coated to a handsome gray finish with the Calphalon process. A wonderful feature of this product is the innovative design of the hooks, which allows complete movement on the rack but prevents it from being displaced from the rack when a pan is removed. The Cache Rack line consists of the oval ceiling rack with a center bar (in two sizes each with eight hooks), the round ceiling rack with five single hooks; the half-round wall rack with four single hooks; the rectangular ceiling rack (in three sizes with five to eight hooks), and the bar type wall rack with three single hooks. Spacesaver hooks that fit sideways are available separately in sets of four.

The Canrack ($19.95) from Atlantic Representations Inc. in Los Angeles is designed to ease the congestion in the pantry by compactly storing canned goods and dispensing them efficiently. Designed by company president Leo Dardashti, a former civil engineer who switched his whole interest into housewares, the Canrack is a collapsible three-tiered shelving that can hold up to 60 small cans.

"With Canrack, not only can you store more cans in a limited space but you can eliminate the aggravation of stooping and emptying an entire cabinet to find the can you want," he said. "The removable shelves and dividers allow easy height and width adjustment of the rack so that you can store various sizes of cans from the mini tuna fish cans to large juice cans." It works on the principle of gravity, so that when you pull out a can in front, the next one moves down. Made of heavy-gauge vinyl-coated steel wire that won't rust or chip, the Canrack is packaged in a gift box.

ClickClack storage containers have been around kitchens for a few years and continue to be popular for their airtight quality feature. Imported from New Zealand by Schiller & Asmus, these attractive food storage canisters and boxes are made of a tough, odor-free, nontoxic plastic. Color-coordinated with Le Creuset products, the lids of these see-through containers come in white, cobalt blue, slate blue and red.

The storage systems include shallow and deep rectangular boxes ranging from 0.2 quarts to 5.4 quarts, in three- and four-piece sets ($19.99 to $23). Dishwasher safe, they are equipped with stainless-steel snap locks. They're great for storing fruit, vegetables, sandwiches, meats and leftover foods in the refrigerator or freezer and are ideal for picnics.

What's new with ClickClack? The boxes are now microwaveable and have plastic snap-top locks to prevent electrical arcing in the microwave.

The canisters (from $19.99 for set of three) also come in different sizes, from squatty containers to tall ones designed to accommodate pasta. They all have "squeeze tops," or vacuum-clasp seals that open when the center lid knobs are squeezed. All the products are stackable and crush-proof.

The ClickClack storage systems and the Le Creuset Pot Racks are available at most major department stores.

The Calphalon Cache Pot Racks are available at Bullock's and The Broadway.

The Canrack, from Atlantic Representations Inc., is available at Organizer's Paradise (Westwood and Beverly Hills), Contain-Wares (Costa Mesa) and Hold-It (San Diego and Carlsbad).

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