By reading this article, you’re on the way to getting the kitchen of your dreams.
Let’s all just admit one thing up front: it’s hard to keep the kitchen organized. I mean, can anyone blame us? There are so many things that all have to fit somewhere in the same room! From food to dishes to cleaning supplies, if you’re running out of space in your kitchen, you’re not alone. But if you’ve resorted to shoving chip bags willy-nilly into the pantry and using your kitchen table as an overflow kitchen counter, don’t! There’s a better way. This blog post lists ten creative ways to organize your kitchen (and to keep it organized). The best part? None of these kitchen organization ideas require a big remodel, and all of them are fairly cheap. Keep reading to get your kitchen clean and organized once and for all.
1. Hang a shoe organizer in your pantry.
The idea here is simple, and it extends to every square inch of your kitchen, not just the pantry: utilize every spare bit of space. As you think about filling your pantry with food, don’t waste the space on the back of the door. Purchase an over-the-door shoe rack to hang on the pantry door. These shoe racks have clear plastic pockets that are perfect for holding foods such as granola bars or small chip bags (if you need a place to store your kids’ school snacks, try using a pocket for each day); even better, shoe racks don’t cost much, falling into a price range of $5-$30. But if you’re looking for something a little more permanent and you don’t mind spending money, add some custom-made shelves on the back of the door. Another place to utilize in a closet pantry is the strip of wall in-between the shelves and the door jamb. As you begin to organize your kitchen, think creatively about the areas you could use to store various items.
Pantries are a common clutter catch-all, but if you use every square inch of yours, you’ll have enough space to store everything neatly.
2. Use baskets and jars for everything.
And when I say everything, I mean everything. Not only are they the perfect storage containers for a plethora of items, but baskets and jars can also add a lot to the design aspect of your kitchen if you want to go full Pinterest DIY. You can find various shapes, sizes, and colors of baskets at stores; in my pantry, I have six large white containers (I recently upgraded from shoeboxes) and each one holds food of a certain kind. One container is for bags of chips and crackers, one is for unopened bags of flour and sugar, and so forth. As you think about using baskets in your kitchen, don’t limit yourself to the pantry–you can also use baskets on the countertop, in cabinets, and even in the refrigerator. If you really want to make things look classy, buy some glass jars and fill them with foods like chocolate chips for a sophisticated touch. Baskets and jars are your new best friend–just make sure you label every basket (unless it’s see-through) so you can quickly remember what is in it.
Glass jars are functional and beautiful at the same time.
3. Keep things off of the counter whenever possible.
Take a look at everything currently residing on your kitchen counter and critically ask yourself how many of the items actually belong on the counter. Likely, you’ll find almost none of them do. Removing them and, thus, being able to see your countertops will do wonders for your kitchen–not only will you have more space to cook, but the entire kitchen will look so much nicer. Again, think outside the box as you prepare to clear the counter. Find a new home for everything, even items that you think actually do go on the counter. For instance, can dishwasher detergent go in a cabinet down low? Does that fake fruit bowl really make an appealing decoration, or can you toss it? Could paper towels go on a holder attached to the wall? Do everything you can to clear off your kitchen counter, and you’ll be glad you did.
Moving items such as paper towel rolls off of the counter will help the whole kitchen look nicer. And don’t worry–they’ll still be within arm’s reach.
4. Like goes with like.
Do you struggle to find your ziploc bags? Is the aluminum foil never there when you need it? Does it seem as if the parchment paper sprouts legs and walks away? Store all three of these items in the same drawer or cabinet! Like goes with like is a simple enough principle when it comes to produce, or chips, or cans of soft drinks–but things may get confusing when you start to consider all of those miscellaneous items that float around the kitchen. Try your best to store similar things in the same place so they’ll always be there when you need them.
Aluminum foil is one of those pesky items that just never seems to be where you need it. Try placing it somewhere visible to help you remember where it is.
5. Silverware doesn’t have to go in the silverware drawer.
Most people have a drawer divider for their silverware drawer to split up the knives, forks, and spoons. As kitchen organizational tools go, it’s a fairly common one. But even with the drawer divider in place, my silverware drawer was still overflowing. So I tried something new: I split my silverware drawer into two drawers. My basic flatware (the knives, forks, and spoons) still lives in one drawer. But bigger utensils, such as spatulas, potato peelers, and ice cream scoops (yes, I have multiple ice cream scoops, because I firmly believe they’re the most important utensil of all), go in an entirely separate drawer. You could also pick up some cute little buckets, like these, and store your bigger utensils on the countertop. I’d recommend keeping the bucket right next to the stove–the utensils will then be easy to grab when you’re cooking.
If you have too much everyday silverware for one drawer, put it somewhere else–I keep mine in my dining room hutch.
6. Stack your Tupperware carefully.
If you’re like me, you have a lot of Tupperware–and, if you’re even more like me, this Tupperware tumbles out of your cabinet onto your head every time you open the cabinet door. To organize Tupperware, make sure you stack the smaller containers inside the larger ones. And to make sure the lids (my greatest enemy) aren’t in towering stacks and constantly sliding around, use a basket in which to stand them upright. You can also go through all of your Tupperware and re-evaluate whether you really use and need every piece of it.
Tupperware is convenient for grab-and-go snacks or freezer storage, but it does tend to get in the way!
7. Turn clutter into trendy decorations.
When it comes to small kitchen appliances–things like waffle makers, coffee pots, and blenders–many people think out of sight is better. And it might be true: feel free to keep your small appliances in a cabinet up high, in a cabinet down low, or on the floor of your pantry (if it’s a walk-in). But could small appliances actually find a place to live where they factor into the decor of your kitchen? Ask yourself if you have any kitchen appliances that look trendy and aesthetic; maybe you own a vintage stand mixer that was your grandma’s, or you have a unique electric kettle, or you’ve just always thought a kitchen counter doesn’t look complete without a toaster on it. If so, take your trendy appliances and artfully arrange them on your kitchen counter, where they can lend your kitchen a sophisticated touch. Just don’t put too many things on your counter!
If decor isn’t your thing and you aren’t sure how to make your kitchen look nice, just artfully arrange some small kitchen appliances near the back of the counter. Storage AND decor–it’s a win-win.
8. Don’t keep fine china with the rest of your dishes.
When it comes to dishes, cabinets are the norm. Have one shelf dedicated to plates (stack them gently); another for bowls; and another for cups (plastic cups can stack inside each other). And when it comes to wedding china or other fine dishes you rarely use, put them somewhere else to free up space in your regular dish cabinet–there’s no point in taking up space with dishes you hardly ever utilize, and besides, you could risk breaking or chipping your fine china as you put other dishes away. My fine china resides in a hutch in my dining room, and many other people I know store fine china in their dining room as well.
Keeping your fine china in a separate location from the rest of your dishes will free up more space for your everyday dishes while keeping the fine china safe.
9. Use magazine holders.
Baskets and jars might be your new best friends, but magazine holders aren’t far behind. There are just so many things these tall and skinny containers can do: they can hold canned goods in the pantry. They can hold vegetables such as potatoes (also in the pantry). They can trap those elusive boxes of saran wrap, parchment paper, and aluminum foil. They can serve as a catch-all for the junk your kids are constantly bringing home. Or, if you want to be super boring, they can stand on your counter and actually hold magazines for a bit of pre-dinner reading. Totally up to you.
Magazine holders are versatile containers that don’t have to be used just for magazines.
10. Keep an inventory.
Once everything in your kitchen is nicely organized, you need to keep it that way. The easiest way for me to do this is to keep an inventory. In a kitchen drawer, I keep a list of every food item that’s in my freezer, pantry, and fridge. Every time I open something or eat it, I cross it off and add the item to the grocery list. Since this inventory will be constantly fluctuating, you may find it easier to create your list on a whiteboard to easily add and subtract items without making the list too messy. Organizing your kitchen is important, but keeping it organized is even more so!
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.