5 Tips for Making Your Kitchen Organized and Efficient
When it comes to kitchens, bigger is not necessarily better. Bigger just means more room to store more shit you don't use and don't need. I would 100% prefer a kitchen that's efficient and filled with usable space for the type of cooking I personally do. To me, that means a ton of counter space, it means storage that's not things stacked on top of each other, and it means logical placement of tools so anyone walking into the kitchen could find something.
One thing we always appreciated about Chris's Grandmother was how she organized her kitchen. She wasn't a 'food person' by any means, but the woman had a system in all of her houses and it worked. You could walk into any of her condos and find exactly what you needed by thinking about the most logical spot to put it. Glasses: right next to the sink. Cooking spoons: right next to the stove top. Okay, we also appreciated her black gloss and matte giraffe print cabinets in her all black and white house.
Here are 5 ways you can make tweaks to your kitchen set up to make it more organized and more efficient:
1. cabinets are death (stop stacking)
I think most clutter happens in cabinets...especially ones without shelves and ones that are super deep. The harder it is to reach something, the harder it is to maintain order- no one wants to take the time to take everything out and put something in the back where they found it. Everyone will stack and stack towards the front of the cabinet creating a log jam which will then tumble forward and cause a lot of yelling. So when possible, I will always opt for drawers or cabinets with lots of shelves. Easy to say if you're building a kitchen or doing a renovation, but if you're stuck with cabinets now, figure out a way to retrofit with shelves, or drawers IN the cabinet. The less stacking and the less reaching way back, the better. Look up ideas on Pinterest for your specific kind of cabinet (corner cabinet, lower cabinet) or go to Container Store or IKEA and talk to a team member.
2. Logical Locations
Where do you do your baking? Where do you do your vegetable prep? Where does your coffee maker live? Rearranging your cupboard contents so the tools you need live near your specific projects saves time. It's efficient. It's logical. Coffee cups near coffee maker. Rolling pin and cookie cutters near stand mixer. I think this is actually much easier to do if you've lived in a house for a year than if you're going into a kitchen cold. You know your habits. You know what's 'dream life kitchen' vs 'real life kitchen'. Something may visually look better in a different part of your kitchen, but the reality is you move it every damn time you use it to a different counter. Just live the reality.
One kind of different thing we do is actually store our dishes and bowls in lower drawers vs upper cabinets. Our dish drawer is right next to the sink and dishwasher. It makes unloading a breeze and to be honest, there's less breakage. You just lift what you need vs awkwardly reaching up and trying to pull out five dishes at the same time with limited upper body strength.
Part two of this is the realization you might have to sticky note cabinets and drawers for about a week after you reorganize. 'Cause someone is going to go into the utensil drawer and find it's now the vegetable peeler drawer and be annoyed. Or unload the dishwasher and really mess up your new layout.
3. Like goes with like
When it comes to small 'counter top' (NO) appliances, we store like with like. One thing that was important to us was making sure surfaces weren't storage. Surfaces are for working. But I think a lot of us have gotten into the habit of making surfaces into small appliance storage when we rarely use said appliances. We have almost nothing on our countertops, save for a plant, our Nespresso coffee maker and sometimes our Vitamix. Stand mixers, food processors...everything has a home in a cabinet to cut visual clutter and give maximum prep space. If you're thinking 'yeah right- nothing is going to fit in my cabinets', head over to this post where we talk about the kitchen decluttering process and this list of 25 kitchen tools you can probably donate.
We store all 'cutting appliances' in one cabinet. The Vitamix, the food processor, the immersion blender all live in one place. All of our pastry equipment lives in the same place. As for less used items, they live in the upper-upper-top cabinets.
4. Contain and divide
In our previous kitchen my biggest pet peeve area was the tool drawer. Because no matter how I set everything down in the drawer, it was still one giant container that just got jumbled within a day. Here's how we fixed it: IKEA containers. Because the cabinet bases (not the fronts) are IKEA system, everything you purchase can be fit into the type of drawer or cupboard size you ordered. Our utensil drawer is now fitted with a utensil tray and everything stays put. Same goes for the cupboards. I bought a ton of these boxes to store groupings of pantry items. All of my cake decorating things are together (sprinkles, candles, etc) as are all of my vinegars. When I need it, I just pull down the whole box. Most importantly, it's WASHABLE so it's not a big deal if something drips. This entire line from IKEA has been our go-to for storage. Storage containers can be expensive and IKEA is a great price but if you're looking for another option I have heard of people going to their dollar store and finding options there.
5. Make it visible
Making everything visible really ties into number one: stop stacking stuff and avoiding deep cabinets. Everything is more likely to be used if you can see it. You can accomplish this with mini shelf inserts, hanging baskets, washi tape or a label maker, and clear containers.
- Mini Shelf Inserts: a decent option if you can't or don't want to install actual additional shelves to your area. I haven't used this specific kind before so I can't attest to stability etc, but you're looking for something like this. Good for pantry areas, mugs, etc.
- Hanging shelf baskets: I've used these in previous pantries and actually closets. It's good for giving an entire additional surface area if your shelving is too far apart. Great for linens, small accessory items that go with appliances, and definitely the pantry.
- Washi Tape or a Label Maker: Great if things are stored in opaque boxes or deep containers that are hard to see from eye level. Washi tape (easy to remove) and a marker or a label maker if you have one, can tell you what you need to know without unearthing boxes. You might like a label maker if you it brings you joy to organize (who could we be talking about here?) or you have a lot of garage or attic cleaning coming up.
- Clear containers: This mostly applies to the pantry, but clear containers like jars or storage like these are ridiculously great if you buy in bulk. You can see exactly how much you have left, but also it removes busy packaging. If things come with directions you want to remember, write it on a sticky note and put it on the container or, see above, washi tape it.
What are your favorite organization tips?
Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.