The kitchen is often much more than just a place for cooking and eating. It can also be an important meeting and living space for the family and guests. A decluttered and organized kitchen can make a huge difference in how others perceive your home, as well as your family’s quality of life. Unfortunately, the constant flow of activity can leave this room a cluttered, disorganized mess. Almost daily upkeep is needed to keep most kitchens looking tidy, and there isn’t an easy way around that. However, by completing a few basic organization tasks, you can make future upkeep much easier.
Prioritize Your Goals
No matter the size of your kitchen–small, large, or anything in between– some type of organization is imperative to keeping it looking nice. Reorganizing the kitchen is not going to be an easy task and it will probably involve a good bit of time and some tedious work. Doing just a little bit at a time is one way to make it more manageable. Prioritize and break down your kitchen goals into a list of small projects and tackle one whenever you have the time.
An Example Goal List
- Sort through mail and other paper
- Clear expired or unwanted food out of pantry
- Declutter multipurpose drawer
- Reorganize pot, pan, and tupperware cabinets
- Remove any excess items, such as teacups, glasses, or plates
Clear the Paper Clutter
- Use a small box or container for mail
- Keep important documents in a folder
- Hang relevant notes (grocery list, etc.) on the refrigerator
As we previously mentioned, paper is a very common source of household clutter and this can be especially true in the kitchen. Mail, bills, flyers, notes, homework, lists and magazines can quickly pile up. The easiest and most immediate thing you can do to make a room look less cluttered is simply to remove all the paper from the counters.
In the kitchen, keep a container for mail and other documents you will need in the future, and recycle the rest. Keep important documents in a folder. Anything you need to remember (shopping lists, to-do lists, permission slips) can be placed on the refrigerator with a magnet for optimal visibility.
Create Areas for Frequent Tasks
- Group items together by task
- Designate counter space for everyday tasks
- Keep frequently used items on a shelf
While you may generally want to keep the counters clear, it may be worth it to keep items that you use most often in a visible place. If you group like things together, it can make your life easier because everything you need will be in the same place.Consider designating little areas of counter space for frequent tasks. For example, do you make coffee everyday? You can keep an area prepared with all the supplies you need to do so, rather than digging into various drawers and cabinets every morning. This idea can work for baking, cocktails, lunch prep, or any task you do often in the kitchen. Alternatively, if you don’t want to clutter the counters, you can keep the most commonly used items on an accessible shelf. This way you won’t need to bend down to put them away and you will be more likely to keep them in the right place.
Empty the Cabinets
- Narrow items down to essentials plus one
- Donate, sell, or discard excess
- Place infrequently used items in self storage
Kitchen supplies tend to multiply rather quickly, and before you know it you’ve collected 25 teacups for a household of four people! It could be beneficial to narrow your items down to the essentials (plus an extra set, if you have the space) and reevaluate your needs every now and then in order to maintain ultimate organization.
If stuff falls out of the cabinets when you open them or it’s difficult to retrieve what you need, it may be time to reorganization. It’s definitely not a fun task, but just do it once and it will pay off for months to come. When you have an extra hour or so, empty each cabinet and take stock of everything you have and what you may need: pots, cake and cupcake pans, stovetop pans, mixing bowls, plastic and glass containers, tupperware etc.
If you seem to have too many of a specific, you may want to donate, sell, discard, or place it in self storage.There isn’t really a general rule of thumb to follow as to what you should keep; It will be based on your personal habits. Do you cook big dinners often? Then four or five pots of varying sizes may be necessary. Do you only bake once or twice a year? It may be okay to downsize to just one cake pan. Anything that you use only at specific times of the year (or very infrequently) could be a great candidate for self storage, especially if you have limited cabinet space.
Reorganize the Cabinets
- Reorganize cabinets by item type or function
- Keep a cabinet for most-used items
- Inform family members of where items now belong
Next, it’s time to reorganize your cabinet space. All the kitchen supplies could have easily become jumbled, confusing to find, and difficult to access over the years. Set a designated place for each type of item, such as all pots and pans in the same cabinet. Alternatively, you could organize by task: For example, all baking supplies together in one cabinet.
If you have the space, it may also be useful to designate a place for “most-used” items, so these are more easily accessible. You shouldn’t need to purchase fancy organizational tools or anything of the sort; Try to work with what you have. Repurposed boxes and baskets can be used as dividers if needed. Plus, simply removing the excess items from cabinets will improve the organization.
It may also be beneficial to do this for the food pantry and other cabinets that contain plates, glasses, teacups, bowls, etc.
Most importantly, make sure everyone knows where each thing belongs, or the cabinets can become quickly disorganized again. If you have the time and resources, print labels to affix on shelves or containers inside the cabinets.