The kitchen is one of the most important rooms in your home. But if your cabinets are full of crumbs, the drawers are sticky, or you can’t find room for your everyday necessities because every cabinet is filled to the brim, opening those cabinets and drawers can be a frustrating experience. It’s time for an ‘organizing the kitchen’ intervention!
The kitchen should be the heart of the home, but it takes a little organization to be up to the task. You don’t need fancy cabinets or expensive organization systems to have an efficient kitchen. I have found plenty of simple and affordable ways to implement my favorite tips for organizing the kitchen.
Need inspiration to organize your kitchen? These tips will help inspire you with systems that are simple to use and maintain!
Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the Life Storage Blog in May of 2014. It has been updated to bring you more kitchen organization tips all in one blog post. Enjoy!
1. Remove or Relocate
Open each cabinet and drawer. Are any of them (or all of them) overflowing with things you don’t need? Consider what items are actually used on a regular basis. Next, see if there are any items you use less frequently that could be relocated to another space or which items you could do without entirely.
When was the last time you used your food processor or bread maker? Do you have dishes you haven’t used in a year cluttering up prime cabinet space? Do you have expired spices or plastic containers without lids that take up unnecessary space?
Chances are, there are many items in your kitchen that could be removed or relocated to provide you with more organized storage, a clearer workspace, and a more enjoyable cooking environment. See how much you could remove from the kitchen to make more room for what you actually use.
2. Find a Home for Everything
Can you identify where everything in your kitchen belongs? Does it have a designated drawer or cabinet? Having a designated home for each item in your kitchen is the most important step to being organized.
When you know where to put the items that cause clutter, it’s easy to tidy your kitchen in just a few minutes!
3. Keep It Simple
While I like to make sure everything I need has a home, I also like to keep systems flexible so everyone in the house—even guests—can help in the kitchen.
I organize drawers by category (baking, table utensils, drinking cups, etc.). However, I avoid being overly specific on what goes where within each drawer. I’ve found if the organizational system is too complex, it can be overwhelming or even discouraging to others who want to help.
I have a baking drawer that holds measuring cups, measuring spoons, and baking cups. While I use shallow baskets to corral certain things, I maintain a little flexibility about what goes where in the drawer as long as it’s easy to find what I need.
4. Clean & Polish
Before you put everything back to organize your cabinets and drawers, wipe out drawers and surfaces, and polish the hardware so everything feels fresh and clean. Run any dishes or utensils that feel dirty or sticky through a dishwasher or wash in the sink.
5. Consider Your Zones
Divide your kitchen into several efficient work zones, according to how your space needs to function. Are your most frequently used cooking utensils, pots and pans located conveniently near the stove? Are your baking supplies organized in a drawer or cabinet near your mixer? Do you have coffee supplies handy to grab near your coffeemaker? What do you store under your sink and could it be more effectively organized?
Choosing appropriate locations to store your kitchen items according to designated zones will make all the difference in your organization and efficiency while working in your kitchen.
6. Create a Snack Basket
To make it easy for the kids to find snacks and lunch options in the pantry, I set up a special wire basket for snacks. The kids have no trouble finding what they need and nothing gets hidden or lost in the back of a dark cabinet. I also put a small plastic basket in the fridge for cold lunch items, snacks, drinks and fruit.
7. Think Creative Organization
If your kitchen is small or lacking in storage, creative free-standing furniture and storage containers will make the most of your available space. My free-standing island serves as both a meal prep area and a place to store extra pans and bakeware. Also, I store things out in the open with glass jars that are both pretty and functional to hold everything from dried beans and grains to coffee beans.
In addition, I have attractive baskets and lidded boxes in the kitchen, pantry and adjoining rooms to hold baking items, seasonal decorations and even wine glasses. I also have an old bedroom dresser in the family room that now holds linens and extra serving dishes, and a free-standing glass door cabinet in the kitchen for holding extra dishes.
8. Organize by Task
No matter what size kitchen you have, it is helpful to organize your kitchen by task. Having a variety of unrelated things mixed together in every cupboard or drawer just isn’t very efficient. I have designated a few specific task zones for my kitchen: a baking zone, a cooking zone, a food storage zone and a dishes zone. I know exactly where to look for what I need, and it’s easy for guests to help in the kitchen.
My priority is to organize by task zone. Even if my kitchen itself doesn’t offer the space I need for every zone, I would rather set up creative organization nearby or in an adjoining space (see tip #2) than to have to jumble too much together in the kitchen.
9. Free Up Drawer Space
If you feel like you don’t have enough drawer or cabinet space, one trick I use is to create attractive storage options on counters or open shelves. For instance, instead of using an entire drawer for towels, I use an attractive wire basket next to the sink. Also, I toss out all my ugly old towels and find affordable attractive ones for the counter. I love the simple affordable white dishtowels from IKEA (mine have a blue stripe)!
I use open shelves for my prettiest dishes and serving pieces. The key to open storage is to only keep out what is attractive and used regularly so it stays clean. Pretty everyday dishes, color-coordinated hand towels and wood and metal utensils can all look attractive enough to be kept out in the open, freeing up drawer space.
10. Use a Refrigerator Message Board
How many times have leftovers or food items gone to waste in your fridge because they got shoved to the back and you forgot about them? Even food in the fridge can benefit from a little bit of organization!
One way I keep the refrigerator organized and avoid wasting food is with a handy refrigerator chalkboard. I made the chalkboard myself with peel-and-stick chalkboard paper, a picture frame and command strips. When I add a ready-made meal, some leftovers or even certain ingredients to the fridge, I simply jot a note down on the chalkboard. Now I am less likely to forget to use up what I buy and can remember to serve the leftovers before they go bad!
11. Employ Effective Storage
When organizing the kitchen, it’s important to consider if your available storage is being used effectively. Are there some easy to install organizers or dividers that would make better use of the space? Consider adding solutions like:
- A Lazy Susan for a hard to reach cabinet
- Hooks on the wall for aprons or dish towels
- A tiered shelf riser for an underutilized cabinet
- Over-the-door organizers for cleaning supplies
- Drawer dividers for utensils
Your kitchen’s storage should exist to make your life easier. Also, effective kitchen storage should help you to be more efficient in your daily tasks.
12. Organize the Pantry
Whether your pantry is in a kitchen cabinet, a small freestanding shelf, a space under the stairs, or even if you are lucky enough to have a large walk-in butler’s pantry, organization of the pantry area will be key for an inspiring kitchen. Create organizational solutions with baskets to corral items and clear jars with labels for easy identification of bulk pantry goods. Keep items used less often on the top shelves, and move your everyday or regularly used items within reach.
More on Pantry Organization: How to Organize a Pantry in 5 Easy Steps
13. Create a Command Center
My kitchen island is often a landing place for things like mail, schoolwork, and other things that find their way into the house. To combat this problem and to prevent clutter from piling up, I added a magnetic chalkboard to the hallway connected to my kitchen. Magnetic clips hold papers, important mail, sports calendars for my son, and even Christmas cards and wedding invitations.
Any papers that don’t need to be visible get filed away in my office.
It helps to have easy access to important things right there in my kitchen without clutter taking up precious counter space!
14. Keep the Everyday on Display
I have certain kitchen items that are attractive enough to be on display. The added bonus here is that they’re also conveniently located right where I need them—on the counter.
For example, I have a pretty, white crock next to my stove that houses everyday cooking utensils, like wooden spoons, silver spatulas, and whisks—the nicest, most-used utensils—there on display. I reach into that crock every single day without having to dig through the drawer next to the stove to find what I need.
I also have a mug tree next to my coffee maker that holds my favorite everyday mugs, making for easy access.
These convenient organizational systems allow me to quickly grab what I need. They also make it simple to put things away in a flash. I love how a simple crock can save space in the drawers. This storage also adds a pleasing and functional accessory to my kitchen!
How Do You Organize in the Kitchen?
I hope these simple tips will inspire you to have a more organized kitchen! Perhaps this would be a great weekend project, or tackle a little bit every evening over the next week. What are some organizational tips you use to make the most of your kitchen space?