Three Steps to Organize Your Kitchen Like a Pro

Organizing Tips

short kitchen shelves can be easier for storage and organization including this photo of glassware and plastic containers

You’re in the middle of making dinner and you reach for your good chopping knife. You know it’s in the drawer somewhere. Probably buried under the pile of plastic forks from dozens of takeout meals, the As Seen on TV Pogo Whisk, and the 10 spatulas you’ve acquired over the years. Your frustration mounts, but you can relax because we have expert tips to help you organize your kitchen.

We put together some kitchen organization ideas from professional organizer Nonnahs Driskill of Get Organized Already to help you get your kitchen in order so it’s neat and efficient, and it stays that way.

The Steps to Kitchen Decluttering are Simple

  • Pull all of your stuff out of cabinets and drawers and get rid of everything you don’t need.
  • Bring in some helpful organization tools.
  • Use simple organizing tricks when you put items back into drawers and cabinets

Also plan on setting aside plenty of time. It takes Nonnahs and a helper four hours straight to reorganize a kitchen, and that’s not counting the pantry and refrigerator, which she considers separate projects.

Learn to Let Go of Clutter in Your Kitchen

A disorganized kitchen often comes from keeping too many items. We know you’re sentimental and it’s hard throw out something you might find useful. Or you may feel everything related to the kitchen should be in the kitchen. Not so! Nonnahs explains how she repeatedly finds the same culprits creating clutter in most of her client’s kitchens.

Sets of dishes—“I see people with every single plate they own on one shelf. It could be two or three sets of dishes. You’re never going to get down to those bottom dishes, and they are taking up your prime real estate. If you have a fancy set or a holiday set, move them to a dining room cabinet or put them in storage. Don’t keep them in your kitchen.”

Coffee mugs—Gifts, travel souvenirs and brand giveaways can really clog up kitchen cupboards. “People have a hard time letting go of them,” says Nonnahs. “So try just having about four to six cups in the cabinet or near your coffee station, and put the rest in another room or with the party supplies, because that’s the only time you’re going to use that many coffee cups. Or least put them on a higher shelf. You’ll be surprised. You’re probably never going to need them.”

Plastic storage containers—“I see people with all these plastic containers stacked in their cabinets and then they also save every yogurt and sour cream container because they think they might be useful,” says Nonnahs. But if it just junks up your kitchen storage space, it’s not helpful. She recommends instead getting a few good glass containers and maybe one pack of the disposable plastic ones if you take your lunch to work or you frequently take food to parties.

Pots and pans—A lot of people just have too much. “You really only need about three saucepans and two frying pans and one Dutch oven,” says Nonnahs.

Cleaning supplies—Most people have several bottles of cleaners stashed under the kitchen sink. “You only really need one,” Nonnahs says. Put products for cleaning the bathroom and other areas in those rooms and just keep what you need for the kitchen.

Gadgets—“Most professional chefs only use about three knives for everything. They don’t have a bunch of special gadgets,” says Nonnahs. There are so many gizmos in the store and you might think it will make your life easier but if it’s cluttering up your kitchen, it’s not helping you.

Takeout food freebies—Plastic cutlery, kids’ meal cups, condiments and plastic bags should go straight in the trash and recycling bin. Nonnahs sees people keeping all of it. She says the best way to manage those items is to find one small container to put a few in, but no more than that. “I have a little jar in my refrigerator that I put condiments in. Once it’s full, I’m done.”

jar used as storage for restaurant one serving packets of seasoning and sugar from takeout

Kitchen Organization Tools

Once you’ve pared down to just the essentials in your kitchen it’s time to start thinking about putting things back into drawers and cabinets. Nonnahs recommends first installing pull-out organizers in cabinets, especially if they are deep. “They really help to see what you have, and if you have heavy items such as appliances, it’s easier to take them out and put them away.”

Easy access is key to staying organized says Nonnahs. Stay away from stacking too much. Instead, adjust your cabinets by adding more short shelves with few items stacked. If you can’t adjust your shelves, add in some stacking shelf expanders.

The same goes for pots. Never store them more than two deep. Lids can be organized with some of the many organization racks available that fit inside cabinet doors.

For food storage, Nonnahs takes products out of the packaging and puts them in reusable storage containers. “That way everything is uniform and it stays fresh.” Don’t forget to label it to know what’s inside and to track any expiration dates.

juice containers used for kitchen organization to store cereal lined up neatly in a pull out drawer

Organize Your Kitchen’s Prime Real Estate

Consider how you use your things as you put them away. Put items in cabinets and drawers closest to where they are used most often. For example, silverware should go near the dishwasher so it can be easy unloaded. Put what you use most often up front and what you don’t farther back. For example, if you only bake during the holidays, put baking supplies on a top shelf or in the back of the pantry.

A prime goal of most kitchen organization projects is to create more counter space, so clear away anything you don’t use on a daily basis. What to leave out? “I usually create a coffee station,” says Nonnahs “because that’s used every day and you have all your coffees, sugars and cups in one place.” She says she also creates a chopping station to keep cutting boards and knives together in one area and leaves out any appliances that are used daily or are too heavy to move in and out of cabinets.

coffee station set up in a kitchen corner with mugs and maker stored nearby

By taking the time to get your kitchen cleaned out and organized, you’ll be setting up a system to keep it that way long term, so you can get back to the good stuff, like making meals easily and quickly!

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