The kitchen is the hub of almost every home – and to make it functional, you have to keep it organized.
Maybe you’re a gourmet chef who cooks a three-course meal every night. Or maybe you only use your kitchen to make your morning coffee and heat up microwave pizzas.
Regardless of your cooking skills, an organized kitchen is a must. But how should it be done?
If you’re ready to get your stuff in order once and for all, check out these nine pro tips for reorganizing your kitchen. I promise they’ll make your life easier!
1. Declutter and Purge
There’s no point in organizing anything until you’ve taken the time to declutter. Before you do anything else, get rid of everything that you don’t use.
Pull all of your unused dishes, coffee mugs, and serving platters out of your cabinets. If they’re in good shape, donate them. If they’re chipped or broken, recycle them.
Go through your pantry and fridge. Throw away any items that are expired or haven’t been opened for years. If something hasn’t yet expired, donate it to a food bank, pantry, or shelter that can make good use of it.
Then, move onto the junk drawer (the dreaded junk drawer). Don’t feel bad – everybody has one! Keep only the stuff you truly need – those three-year-old Post-Its can probably go.
And last but not least:
Clear your countertops of all décor and items that don’t improve your life. Do you really need twelve salt and pepper shakers? Give ‘em away, or store them in a box elsewhere if you can’t bring yourself to get rid of them.
When you’re done purging and decluttering, deep clean everything. There’s no use in reorganizing if you’re placing things on sticky shelves and greasy countertops.
2. Decide Where Everything Will Go
Organization doesn’t just mean making the room look neat and tidy – it means improving functionality. So, be mindful of where you place the items you use the most.
Store cookware and bakeware in the drawer closest to the stove. Keep your plates and glasses in a cabinet above the dishware so that they’re easier to put away.
Designate a space that’s strictly for storage. Assign specific drawers or cabinets to hold reusable containers and freezer bags. It’s usually best to keep these items near the fridge.
3. Organize Your Cabinets
Keep similar items together. House all of your dishes in one cabinet. Store all of your coffee mugs on the same shelf. Keep all of your bakeware together.
The items you use most should be easily accessible, so don’t place them on a high shelf you can barely reach. Instead, utilize those shelves to store the items you only use on occasion.
Pay attention to how and where you store reusable containers with lids. Those lids tend to end up all over the kitchen. So, either store containers with the lids on them or designate a special place to hold the covers alone.
It’s also important to make the most of your vertical spaces. If you don’t want to stack dishes three feet high in your cabinets (which you probably shouldn’t), add some removable shelves to create two layers of storage space.
Can’t find room for all of your cookware? Buy a hanging shelf to hold pots and pans! Or, add a wall shelf that can hold odd-shaped dishes and anything else that doesn’t fit in your cabinets.
4. Organize Your Drawers
Keep those drawers tidy! It only takes a few days for your kitchen drawers to start looking like a high school locker.
So, consider buying some drawer dividers to organize small items. Invest in a few trays to wrangle up utensils, spatulas, ladles, and tongs.
Do you have a drawer full of menus that you never order from? If so, it’s time to whittle that down. Keep the one or two you actually use and toss the rest – you can always look up those menus online.
As for that junk drawer, get it under control. A utensil tray is a great way to organize a catch-all drawer. You can use one section for batteries, one for rubber bands and clips, and another for spare keys, pens, and hand tools.
5. Arrange Your Pantry
The easiest way to organize a pantry is to keep all like items together. For example, all of your cereal boxes should live on one shelf. Baking supplies should be stored next to each other.
House frequently used items on eye-level shelves.
And if you have two or more of one item, stack them together with the one closest to expiration in front.
If you have deep shelves in your pantry, purchase a lazy Susan. This rotating device will save you the time of having to move five things out of the way to locate another.
6. Organize Your Refrigerator
Just like the pantry, it’s important to group similar items together in the fridge. Designate shelves for water bottles, fruits, leftovers, and fresh meat or fish.
Pay special attention to vertical spaces, so you have the most amount of storage possible. Use the tallest shelves to hold the tallest items like milk bottles and juice jugs.
And, please, use your fridge compartments as their intended. Vegetables go in the crisper drawer; cheese goes in the dairy drawer. Once you start jamming things into the first available nook, your refrigerator will become cluttered.
The trick to organizing a fridge is to assign everything a place and return everything to that place when you’re done using it. Do this properly and you’ll be able to double your fridge space!
7. Arrange Your Countertops
Don’t cover your countertops with clutter. Use countertops as storage only for the items you use every day, such as your coffee maker, blender, and knife block.
It’s perfectly fine to leave canisters on your counter – if you have room for them. But if you have an empty shelf in the pantry, you might want to move them there.
Think of your countertops as a prep area. The more empty space you have, the easier it’ll be to prepare meals!
8. Go the Extra Mile
If you’re trying to be a real-life Martha Stewart, get out your label maker and designate specific storage containers and bins for each item. A few simple labels can make your life a lot easier.
And if you’ve truly caught the organization bug, you can alphabetize your spice rack. Or go the extra mile and arrange cans and bottles in a uniform fashion with all labels facing out for easy identification.
9. Keep Up With It
Once you’ve done a major organization overhaul, keep up with it! Assign everything a home and return it to its home when you’re done using it.
Get in the habit of purging and cleaning your kitchen every week. Empty out old and unused items regularly, and you’ll never have to spend a whole day reorganizing the entire space again.
All your hard work will be useless if you allow your kitchen to return to disarray by the end of the week. So, make sure to stick to a regular cleaning schedule. Just a few hours a month can make a huge difference!
Ryan Sundling is a Group Marketing Manager at Cardinal Group Management. He has over ten years of experience in the student housing industry and works with Dwell the Towers to help them with their marketing efforts.