A lot of people consider their kitchen to be the most stylish room in their home. But when it comes down to it, functionality is really the kitchen’s most important consideration. With so many items and appliances to store in a limited space, it’s easy to get into the habit of throwing plastic food containers in a cabinet without really thinking about how it will come spilling out on you the next time you open it.
The time has come to establish a real organizational strategy-and stick to it! Here are our top tips for whipping your kitchen cabinets into shape, in style.
1. Start out by emptying your cabinets.
Before you can make a fresh start, you have to get rid of the dead weight. Empty out all of your kitchen cabinets and drawers onto the floor. Toss items that you never use, pieces that are missing lids or other parts, and expired foodstuffs. Be ruthless! You’ll be glad you were.
2. Group like-items on the counter or table.
Before you start putting things away, get a visual of everything you are working with. Group items that will be stored near each other together. Place baking items all together, spices in one area, plates and bowls together, etc.
3. Think about natural flow.
When you begin putting things back in the cabinets, consider the most logical placement. Cooking and baking items should be near the prep station. Keep glassware by the fridge, and cleaning supplies under the sink. When you go about common activities, what makes the most sense and will keep you from darting back and forth between the ends of the kitchen?
For example, if you are a daily coffee drinker, create a station near the sink or water source dedicated to this ritual. Have your filters, creamer, spoons, and all other equipment stored in that one area.
4. Reduce strain.
Keep your most-used items on the easiest shelves to reach. For example, cereal bowls can stack right at eye level, while heavy and clumsy mixing bowls can go lower. Keep your other family members in mind, too! For less-used but breakable items such as your fine china, store them high and out of reach.
Open-faced cabinets are a bold way to both store and decorate in the kitchen. Install shelves all the way to the ceiling-or simply remove the doors of your cabinets. This is a great way to “get some use” out of your wedding china or expensive stemware.
6. Use the vertical space.
Wherever you see empty space, you should see an opportunity to hang something. Put a shower caddy under the sink to hold sponges and bottles. Hang pots and pans from hooks inside cabinet doors, and hang measuring cups and spoons from hooks on a horizontal rod over the sink. And while you’ve got the hang of it, hang your stemware from a rack under a cabinet-you can even install spotlights to make them shimmer.
7. Use containers to corral loose items.
For random items that may look sloppy when placed on shelves or thrown in drawers, use smaller containers to keep them organized. A plastic bin under the sink can hold all your cleaning products so that they don’t fall over and possibly spill, while a set of wicker baskets can differentiate between bags of chips and fruit snacks.
Use clear containers to simply see right in and know what they are (for example, housing various hot chocolate mixes). And use labels!
8. Label shelves, too.
The pantry is an especially tricky beast to tame. Define categories that work for you-by meal, by food group, etc.-and put like items on separate shelves. Label these shelves to make unpacking groceries easy for the whole family.
9. Install sliding shelves.
Instead of struggling to see what spice is at the back of the shelf, install units that slide forward. You’ll never knock down the first three rows trying to reach for a bottle at the back again!
10. Put a lazy Susan in the corner.
Like a sliding shelf, a lazy Susan can optimize space by storing things all the way back into the corner. Simply spin her around and find exactly what you need. This is a great spot for cooking staples such as vinegars, oils and spices.
11. Divide your drawers.
Don’t underestimate the power of drawer divider compartments. A little organization makes the “junk drawer” just a regular drawer.
12. Stack things inside each other.
Keep lids separate but nearby. Stacking inside each other is the only way to keep your plastic food storage containers from causing the avalanche of the century.
13. Store some appliances.
For equipment that you use only sometimes, such as the blender or toaster, consider installing an appliance garage. Stashing things off the counter and out of sight will keep your arrangement streamlined and clean.
The most important thing to remember when reorganizing your kitchen is to stick to your strategy and keep things where they should be. The kitchen can get cluttered pretty quickly with so many items floating around. Happy organizing!