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Imagine: It’s 5pm, you’re cooking dinner and you can’t find the wooden spoons. They’re across the kitchen in a drawer with the can opener and some tongs usually reserved for the barbecue grill. You’re not alone. Most of us are living with a deep, dark secret: our kitchen cabinets are a disaster.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You can be free from the shame with these 10 great ways to organize and take back your kitchen, your sanity, and your dignity.
While going “Marie Kondo” on your kitchen might be a bit extreme—deciding whether a wooden spoon brings you joy might lead to a lack of spoons—emptying out your cabinets is a great first step in organization, and a requirement for cabinet refinishing, or getting new cabinets. Once you’ve emptied everything out, toss any old, worn out, or broken cooking utensils, small appliances and dishes. Let go of anything you bought but haven’t used in over six months, or tools you don’t actually know how to use—we’re looking at you, fancy garlic press.
Have you ever wondered why grocery stores shelve the nacho cheese blocks 21 aisles away from the nacho chips? It’s because they pair like items in an effort to frustrate you (just kidding, maybe). Don’t be like the grocery store. Be a rebel. Pair and store items by use. Put your coffee mugs by the coffee pot and your oven mitts in a drawer next to the oven.
If the most used item in your kitchen is a set of bowls for breakfast every morning, storing them out of reach on a top shelf is counter intuitive. Instead, move shelves around, or have new ones built for custom cabinetry, and put your everyday bowls at eye level.
Clearing the counters doesn’t mean revisiting your childhood and shoving everything in the closet or under the bed where Mom can’t see. It means investing in appropriate storage for fruit, tea pots, cutting boards, and staples.
Stacking cans in the pantry, and fighting row upon row of spice containers to find the garlic salt, is so 2005. Stepped shelves, hanging hooks, stackable bins, and DIY storage hacks are in. Better yet, they’re probably already “in” your house. Check out your unused office accessories for inspiration.
It’s tempting to have a junk drawer in the kitchen: a place where paperclips, loose recipe cards, sticky notes, and pens congregate to talk about you behind your back. Tame this space, move non-kitchen items to their proper place, and use drawer bins to create easy access to the items that “do” belong.
Ever wondered why your pantry and cabinet shelves are set back from the door? Despite what your children think it is not to make a great hiding place. We don’t have a really good answer. But you can use that extra space for hooks and tension rods that will give you the power to hang pots, pans, and cups. The shelves with 20 inches head space? Add some more custom kitchen cabinet shelves!
Most kitchens have jam packed cupboards and blank walls. Hanging a shelf above the sink, or a fruit basket from the ceiling can free up space in your cabinets and give you and your kitchen a little breathing room.
Have you ever purchased two boxes of cereal the same size? How about a bag of rice or beans? Storing these items in their original packaging is not only difficult, but can cause damage to your kitchen cabinet shelving. Instead, try clear jars or containers. Your food will stay fresher, be quickly recognizable, and be easier to store.
Kitchen pantries are terrifying places where all good canned foods, plastic grocery bags, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and seldom used small appliances go to die. Maximize your pantry by assigning individual shelves to specific item types and uses, with bins and shelves to keep order, just like you’ve done with the rest of your kitchen.
Whether you’re organizing in prep for or after refinishing kitchen cabinets or you’re just ready for a fresh start, these tips will get you there.