A well-organized kitchen is a beautiful thing, isn’t it? It not only looks beautiful, but you have the ease of knowing your kitchen items are right in the area where you need and use them the most.
But how do you get there? How do you create this oasis of calm, this place of organization, this room of efficiency?
Depending on how you look at it, kitchens can be one of the hardest places to organize or one of the easiest places to organize. It can be hard because of the many different types of things that need to be included in your kitchen for it to function, but it can be easy because certain things tend to have designated spaces within the kitchen.
So, how do you do it? How do you move your kitchen from chaos and cluttered to organized and efficient?
The answer: One step at a time, my Friend! But what are those steps? Well, the exact steps are going to look a little different for each person, but her are 10 simple tips to bring organization to your kitchen with ease and simplicity!
#1 :: Start by Doing What You can in the Time that You Have
This first tip might seem out of place at first glance. Yet, when you stop and think about it, even if you have a small kitchen, there are a lot of things stored in your cupboards, drawers, and shelves. There are a lot of things that might need to be rearranged or removed from the kitchen. So, start by evaluating the time you have. If you only have 2 hours, don’t try to take on your entire kitchen, but focus instead on a specific area. If you have an entire day to reorganize your kitchen, make a day out of it, turn on some music and have fun! But remember: Organizing your kitchen doesn’t have to happen all in one sitting. Do what you can with the time you have.
#2 :: Keep Your Countertops Clear
One of the best ways to keep your kitchen looking clean is to keep your countertops cleared off. Now, before you tune me out completely, I’m not saying your coffeepot and other essentials can’t be on the counter! But, do be choosy about what you place permanently on your counters.
Here are a couple questions to ask yourself to determine whether an item should have the coveted “countertop status”:
- Do I use it consistently? How often?
- Is it too heavy to move when I do need it?
- What purpose does it serve?
If the answer to these first two questions is yes and the item serves a defined purpose, then that item probably should live on your countertop. Some of the common items that live on countertops are coffeepots, tea kettles, a dish drying rack or drying pad, stand mixers, knife blocks, and fruit baskets.
Now, if you don’t have these exact items or if you have some but not all of these items, don’t worry! These are simply common items that tend to work well sitting on countertops. Just because an item is on this list doesn’t mean it automatically gets to be on your counter! Ask yourself those questions about each item to see if it has a place on YOUR counter! Remember, this is your kitchen, not anyone else’s.
And, If the answer to these first two questions is ‘no’ and you don’t know the clear purpose of a particular item, it’s time to find a home for that item or appliance inside one of your cupboards or your pantry.
#3 :: The cupboard where your dishes live matters
Have you ever stopped to think about which cupboard your dishes should live in? Or did you just pick a cupboard at random and call it a day? What if you could create a more efficient kitchen with where you place your dishes? And just to be clear, I’m talking about plates, cups, bowls, mugs, glasses, and silverware when I say ‘dishes.’
Here are some questions to ask yourself to figure out if your dishes are in the best spot:
- Is the cupboard or drawer close to the table where my family eats?
- Can someone get the dishes and silverware to set the table without getting in the way of the person cooking dinner?
- Where is the dishwasher and sink in relation to this cupboard or drawer? Is it convenient to unload the dishwasher and put the dishes away without making 30 trips back and forth across the kitchen to do so?
Now, keep in mind that you may not have the perfect, ideal cupboard or drawer that fits all these qualifications. You may need to choose whether you want your dishes closer to the dishwasher or more easily accessible to set the table. No matter the layout of your kitchen, choose the cupboard or drawer for your dishes that will serve you the best.
#4 :: Put your Plasticware in a drawer
This tip is especially helpful if you have little ones! I’m not sure what the exact draw is, but it seems like of all the kitchen items to get into, the plasticware is what children gravitate to the most. Maybe they know that they can play in this cupboard or drawer without breaking anything…
No matter the draw, plasticware – particularly when invaded by children – does have a tendency to get rearranged very quickly! You can perfectly organize and stack all the plastic cups, containers, bowls and more in a cupboard and less than a day later all your perfect stacks and organization have dissolved into a mass of plastic. Have you ever had this happen?
Here’s the easy solution: Put your plasticware in a drawer! Preferably one that’s large enough and deep enough to hold all your items. This way, when the children do get into it, when the stacks do get messed up, you can simply make sure it all fits in the drawer. It’s a beautiful blend of organization and yet some disorganization. Even if everything falls over and gets rearranged, the plastic will still be contained in your drawer!
#5 :: Keep Your Oven Mitts as close to the oven as you can
Now, this one seems a little too simple, doesn’t it? But think about it: When’s the last time you actually thought about where to keep you oven mitts? As their name implies, you use your oven mitts most often while taking things out of the oven. Doesn’t it just make sense that you should keep them as close to the oven as possible?
#6 :: Subdivide Your drawers
Drawers are fantastic! They’re a beautiful tool you have in your kitchen to help you contain all your cooking utensils. Everything from silverware to spatulas to stirring spoons to measuring spoons to trivets to can openers to oven mitts to birthday candles and more can be found in a kitchen drawer.
But what do you do if you have a large drawer that needs to hold multiple types of items? You subdivide your drawers! But how? Well, it could be as easy as purchasing a silverware divider to keep the spoons with the spoons, the knives with the knives, the serving spoons with the serving spoons and so on. In other cases, you might need to get a little more creative.
In some cases, you may have a big item that will take up a good portion of your drawer, naturally creating a division. In other cases, you may need to purchase some baskets or trays to create that division in your drawers. These trays can be wire mesh or solid plastic or wood. They’re typically no more than 2 inches high (so the drawer can still close!), but their length and width can vary greatly.
So, how do you know which trays are best for you? It’s time to bring out the measuring tape!
- Start by measuring the interior of the drawer itself. How much room do you have to work with?
- What are you wanting to keep in the trays? If you’re looking to hold spatulas and long stirring spoons, you’ll need a longer, wider tray. If you’re looking to hold birthday candles, you might need a shorter, skinnier tray. But if you’re looking to hold measuring spoons, you could choose a wider, shorter tray or a longer, skinner tray. Use your imagination and be creative with this part!
- If you already have trays designed to fit into drawers, start by fitting those into your drawers. You may have all the ones you need on hand!
- If you’re in need of some additional trays, don’t forget to measure the space you have before grabbing your keys and heading off to the store! And don’t forget to put your measuring tape in your bag, too!
One of my favorite things to do when I go shopping for new drawer trays is to lay the trays out how I want them to look in my drawer. Yup, I pull out all the trays I’m looking at and arrange them how I think they should go on the floor! (Don’t worry, I do wash them when I get home!) Then I pull out my measuring tape to see if the trays I like will fit into my drawer. This simple trick has saved me so many trips back and forth to the store!
#7 :: Stand up your baking sheets, cooling racks, and cutting boards
Have you ever stopped to think of how much space baking sheets, cutting boards, cooling racks, and serving trays take up? When you keep them flat, they take a huge amount of space! Not to mentions, it’s a pain to get something at the bottom of the stack out so you can use it!
However, if you were to stand them up on end, you would be able to use the height in your cupboards so much more efficiently. Now, I know the baking sheets and cutting boards themselves didn’t shrink in size, but when you stand these items on their side, you’re able to utilize the space you have so much better as well as give yourself easier access to all of these items when you need them.
Some kitchens come equipped with a tall, skinny cupboard that’s perfect for these items, but if your kitchen didn’t come with one, don’t worry! You can make your own! Just follow these simple steps:
- Find a spot in your cupboards where you naturally go to get these items and that has enough height where your baking sheets and cutting boards can stand on their side. Creating a space next to a solid wall of the cupboard seems to work best. This way, your dishes have something to lean against.
- Clear out that space. You may want to put some grippy material on the bottom of this spot so your baking sheets and cutting boards don’t slide around as easily.
- Make sure you have some sort of solid stopper on the other side of this standing space space. This could be the other side of the cupboard, it could be a divider you built DIY style, it could be a heavy cooking pot that you only use twice a year. No matter what you choose for your stopper, make sure that it will keep your baking sheets and cooking racks from coming crashing down.
One final note: All these items don’t need to be located in the same spot. I know of some kitchens where the most convenient place is to keep all these types of pans and trays together and I know of other kitchens where the cutting boards are in one cupboard, the serving trays are in another cupboard, and the baking sheets and cooling racks are in yet another cupboard. Find what works for you. Find the space where you use each item the most and build from there.
#8 :: Think outside the box for your pots and pan storage
Pots and pans can take up a huge amount of space! Sometimes it seems like these can be some of the hardest things to fit into a smaller space, can’t it? But it is possible! All you need is a little creativity!
Start by thinking about the space you have available. Is there any specific space that’s purely for pots and pans? If so, start utilizing that space first. Then, consider these other options:
- Can you nest your pots and pans inside each other before setting a stack of them on a shelf? This approach has the benefit of taking up less space than the pot-lid-pot-lid method as well as being more stable.
- Does your kitchen have a space to hang any pots or pans above an island or along a wall? If you like the look of pots and pans hanging as decorations, use this option. You could even turn this into a DIY project to create a space like this if you really like that look.
- Have you considered a pull-out wire rack designed for your pots and pans? These racks can be found at your local hardware store. Essentially, they’re a custom 2-level sliding drawer that you can install into the cupboard that’s already in your kitchen. Both tiers are customizable to the size of your pots and pans with the top tier created to hold the lids and the bottom tier created to hold your pans. On top of that, when you open your cupboard door, these tiers slide out like drawers, allowing you to reach the very back corners of your cupboard with ease.
#9 :: Put your appliances with sharp edges up high
Again, this tip might sound so incredibly simple, but it’s one that’s so incredibly important. There are so many kitchen tools that are extremely helpful, but that also have sharp edges. Blenders, mandolin slicers, immersion blenders, and cheese graters come to mind. If you have little ones in your home, make sure that these items are up high enough to be safely out of their reach!
#10 :: Create Extra storage in your garage or basement
Some houses don’t have a large kitchen or a large pantry. In these spaces, storage can be a challenge. But don’t despair, all you need to do is get a little creative. Does your house have a basement? Could you could put some shelving or a cupboard-like pantry there? What about a garage? Could you store some things you don’t use on a daily basis in your garage?
Not every kitchen is created with equal amounts of storage, which is where your creativity comes in. See what you can do with the space that you have. And as you’re rearranging your kitchen, don’t be afraid to give away the things you don’t need or don’t ever use.
Your Kitchen, Your System
Remember, this is your kitchen. You want to be able to work in it with confidence and efficiency. It’s going to look different for each person – and that’s totally okay! Your organizing is unique to you!
Never forget that the best organizational system for you is one that you help create, one that you can maintain, and – particularly in the kitchen – one that makes sense for you to use.
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Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.