10 Steps to an Orderly Kitchen

An organizing expert offers expertise for kitchen organization and storage solutions.
Smart Home 2016 Pantry With Open and Closed Storage

Spacious Pantry

The spacious pantry includes both open and closed storage for dry goods and assorted kitchen essentials.

Photo by: Robert Peterson/Rustic White Photography ©2016, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Robert Peterson/Rustic White Photography, 2016, HGTV/Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

The kitchen is an area of your home that gets used more often than most other areas. So it stands to reason that if your kitchen were more organized and simple to use, your life would feel easier. Professional organizer Monica Ricci has 10 easy steps to organize your kitchen, and make your family life flow more smoothly when it comes to meal preparation.

Tip #1: Empty Cabinets

Pull everything out of each cabinet and go through it. Discard or donate those things that are not frequently used, duplicate items, broken items or things you forgot you had. Do this with each cabinet and drawer, setting up separate areas on the floor for each group. Be ruthless. Most kitchens are short on storage space, so the goal is to only have things you love and use.

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 Tip #2: Group Like Items

After your cabinets are all empty, consider what is best for you in terms of how to group items. Sort all your baking items and pile them together. Sort your cooking items and pile them together. Group the dishes you eat from, glassware, holiday or other seasonal items that only get used once or twice a year, as well as those special entertaining or serving pieces that are only used occasionally.

Tip #3: Organize the Cabinets

Now that you have groups laid out on the floor, decide where each item should be stored. Cooking and baking pieces should be kept close to where you do food preparation. Utensils should be in the drawer nearest to the prep area as well. Glassware might be best near the sink or refrigerator. Make a coffee or tea station that includes sugar, mugs and filters, and place it near the water source, if possible. This way you avoid going back and forth across the kitchen for the things you need just to make your morning beverage.

Tip #4: Use Clear Containers to Store Items

Use containers to streamline the inside your cabinets. Group together things like packets of sauce mixes, gravy mixes, hot cereal packets and hot cocoa envelopes, then put them into small plastic containers to avoid them being scattered all over the cabinet. Use clear plastic shoeboxes to store food that is in tiny boxes such as gelatin or pudding mix.

Tip #5: Store Containers and Lids Together

Discard containers without lids, and store the remaining plastic containers either with the lids on them, or store the lids in another larger container so they all stay together. Do the same with the lids for your pots and pans. A large clear plastic box will keep them nicely together and on their sides. Another option is to store them on their sides in the cabinet on a wire rack.

Tip #6: Make use of Vertical Space

Place hooks underneath cabinets to hold mugs above the countertop, or hang a stemware rack in the same spot for wine glasses. This will free up considerable cabinet space. You could also hang adhesive hooks on the inside of cabinet doors or pantry doors to hold tools such as measuring cups, oven mitts or other kitchen gadgets. Consider using wall space or a ceiling rack to hang pots and pans. Keep in mind that any space you can use to hang something will free up flat space inside a cabinet.

Tip #7: Use Lazy Susans

Rotating trays can be used to hold things such as oils, vinegars and other cooking ingredients, as well as spices, vitamins or medications. You can also use a few lazy Susans in your refrigerator — one for beverages, so nothing ever hides in the back to spoil or freeze, and another for leftovers or small jars of pickles, olives or other small food items.

Tip #8: Use Drawer Dividers

Drawer dividers are great for cooking utensil drawers and your junk drawers. Everyone needs a place to keep those little miscellaneous things, but they don't have to be overflowing and junky. Drawer dividers will allow you to assign a little spot for each thing, and you'll be able to find things when you need them.

Tip #9: Sort Papers

Get a magnetic sorter box to hang on the side of the refrigerator for coupons, takeout menus, a notepad and pen or other papers that tend to accumulate on the countertops. Each type of paper should have its own section in the sorter.

Tip #10: Clean Out the Refrigerator

Keep trash bags near the trash can, and throw a stack of loose bags into the bottom of the can. That way, when you pull out one bag, there is already another one right below it waiting to be used. If you put your trash out at the curb one night a week, use that time to clean out your refrigerator each week too. See what food needs to be pitched and immediately throw it out, and take the trash out to the curb right then. Your refrigerator will house only current items and will be less cluttered — and it only takes a few minutes.

Your personal work style will determine where you store and use the items in your kitchen, but the goal is to get that room and its contents to serve your needs as smoothly and efficiently as possible. If you invest the time and energy into decluttering and organizing your kitchen, it is an investment that will pay off in happiness for years to come.

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