In this post: This complete guide to kitchen organization will ensure your kitchen is in perfect order and functions efficiently, with lots of kitchen storage tips.⇒
Size doesn’t matter.
I’ve heard so many people say they can’t keep their kitchen organized because it’s too small. But the truth is, sometimes it’s easier to keep a small space organized than a large space.
Yes, you need to have areas for storage. But if your kitchen isn’t organized well, it’s quite likely that the cabinets aren’t the problem, but rather your stuff is.
I’ve seen the tiniest kitchens in city apartments that are well organized and completely decluttered.
Because size doesn’t matter!
In today’s Complete Guide to Kitchen Organization we’ll look at what actually does matter when it comes to decluttering the kitchen for maximum functionality and optimal efficiency.
Today’s post is part of our Organization Blog Hop with 4 other bloggers! Be sure to visit the other posts at the bottom of this one.
Evaluate Your Space
The first step to almost any project is to take stock of the situation and come up with a plan.
When it comes to kitchen organization, that means assessing your space and then looking honestly at what you hope to store there.
If at all possible, take everything out and really evaluate what you need. It’s great to make a list of what your ideal kitchen should include, without considering what you actually own.
Only then see what you have that fulfills those requirements.
First Plan Out the Essentials
At this point you can start to map out where the essentials should go. The things you use every day deserve prime real estate. Before you commit to putting anything back, designate those key areas.
Daily dishes near the dishwasher, silverware in a nearby drawer. Pot and pans near the stove, mugs near the coffee maker.
Really think about the logic of how things are placed. Baking pans and tins make more sense near the prep area than near the oven, as you’re not going to be putting an empty casserole in to cook.
Also consider the particular limitations of your kitchen. If the cabinet near the dishwasher is the smallest in the kitchen, don’t shoe-horn your everyday dishes into this spot. Walk a few extra steps and use the cabinet best suited to this most important category of kitchenware.
Weed Out the Non-Essentials
For most people this is the hardest step. But these decisions should be made based on actual use and need.
You don’t have to keep every gift you’ve ever received. If you dislike it or it doesn’t serve a purpose that’s equal to the space it will take up, it doesn’t need to be in your kitchen.
Likewise, you don’t need to keep every one-off glass or plate. If you have no idea where it came from, you won’t miss it.
The best thing we ever did was install glass fronts in some of our cabinets because I was then forced to edit what was behind those doors. I think every cabinet should be organized as if everyone can see inside them. You should always be able to see everything at a glance with nothing hidden from view or impossible to access.
The less space you have, the more diligent you should be with editing, but I believe even the largest kitchens should be free of unused clutter.
Increase Vertical Space with Risers
Once you’ve determined what’s absolutely essential, and tossed the things you know you don’t need, make a third pile for things you’re not sure about. These are the things that will likely go on the upper shelves and in corner cabinets, if you have the space. As you start running out of space, your priorities will begin to crystalize, so no need to worry further about them now.
Instead, after wiping down the cabinets, you can start putting back the most important items first. This is when you should be sure to think vertically. Nothing wastes space more than too much distance between shelves.
To overcome this potential waste, adjust your shelves to be the minimum distance apart, especially the lower shelves, so the second and third shelves are easier to reach. You can also use risers to maximize vertical space and keep more things on the lower shelves. Just be careful that nothing is balancing precariously in any way.
Use Pull Out Drawers Where Possible
I’m a big fan of pull out drawers, both the ‘tray’ kind that are installed inside the cupboards and true drawers that are used in place of cabinets. They are very convenient because they make things easier to reach and make it possible to see your items more fully.
When it comes to larger items like pots and pans, I feel very strongly about keeping only what you can comfortably store. No one needs more pans than the burners that they have and likely can get by with even less.
If you are a serious cook, I’m guessing you already have your kitchen set up for your needs, but for the average person I’m willing to bet you have a few more pots than necessary. If they’re toppling over, now is the time to take a closer look and evaluate honestly.
A unique piece that you use on rare occasions is a perfect candidate for those upper cabinet shelves. Don’t jeopardize a neat stack with an item that you almost never use but knock over daily.
Use Like Items for Easy Nesting
This is an organizing trick I use over and over again. You may have the same number of containers in a particular drawer but if they are made from different materials in varied shapes and colors they will look far less organized than a cohesive set.
They will nest more easily if they were designed and sized in a way that was meant to be nested together.
Of course, don’t get extra sizes just because they were part of the set, because that will only contribute to the clutter. But keeping like items together in similar materials and color will definitely yield a sense of order and consistency.
Consider Easy Access When Storing Items
Try to think creatively when it comes to selecting where to store things, with easy access in mind.
I keep my platters in a shallow drawer right beneath the island counter because this makes them super easy to get to. I used to keep them in a high cabinet above the oven, leaning vertically on their sides like mail in a rack. I thought this was a clever use of vertical space until I realized how hard they were for me to reach.
If you’re tall, or don’t serve often, go for it. But if not, try to work something out that’s more tailored to your needs.
Don’t forget the inner side of cabinet doors, lazy-susans for corner cabinets or anything else that will make a less than optimal space more convenient for storage.
Use Drawer Inserts for Particular Categories
I confess to being a container geek. Next to relentless editing and weeding out what’s not needed, breaking up your spaces into customized zones is the most impactful thing you can do to corral the clutter.
A spice drawer insert with slanted rows is an ever-so-simple way to organize a spice drawer.
As always, use same-sized jars with identical lids and matching labels that are clearly legible.
Create Regions Based on Function and Use
In addition to designating individual drawers by category, you can create regions in your kitchen based on function and use. A coffee station by the coffee maker with storage for pods and cups. A cabinet dedicated to children or pets. Or an entire section of the kitchen for bakeware and accessories.
I keep mixing bowls and casserole dishes on the side of the kitchen by the oven, and the drawer in this area holds cookie cutters, oven mitts and cake decorating items.
The tiny counter above it holds our standing mixer, keeping everything for baking in the same general area.
Break Up Large Spaces Into Smaller Ones with Containers
In addition to dividers that keep drawers in check, I use containers of all kinds to break up larger spaces into smaller segments. This is the key to organizing any considerable space.
It is particularly useful in an area like the pantry, where partitioning the regions is essential to organization.
You can see the details of our pantry organization here: KITCHEN PANTRY
Consider What Can Be Off-loaded to Other Rooms
No matter the size of your kitchen, you will likely get to a point where you have things you’re not ready to toss that simply don’t fit comfortably in the space.
This is when it’s time to evaluate if it belongs in the kitchen at all.
Far better than cramming it all in and making everything difficult to find, I prefer to look closely at my things to find what can logically be stored elsewhere.
In our case I moved duplicates of cleaning supplies to a high shelf in the pantry, but you might consider the stationary drawer as something that can be moved to an office or family room.
For a closer look at our under sink cabinet makeover, you can go here: UNDER SINK CABINET
Design It Once and Take Care to Upkeep It
Organizing the kitchen is a project that’s worth getting right. If you spend the time on planning and making it work for you, it will be simple and easy to upkeep and you’ll never have to do it again.
When everything has a place, it takes only a little effort to put things back where they belong.
This brings years of efficiency and convenience, and a whole lot less stress!
Kitchen Organization Resource List
Click on the items below for direct links to the products. Where actual items were no longer available, I’ve provided similar options. If an item is out of stock but may be restocked, I left it on the list.
(This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.)
Please be sure to visit all of the other organizing posts below:
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