The kitchen is the heart of the home, and it is the one room that everyone uses daily, from the first cup of coffee in the morning to noshing on a late-night snack. Your kitchen should give you a feeling of sanctuary, and If you find yourself spending too much time searching through your cabinets to find something, then it’s time to clean up the clutter and get organized.
“There’s a solution for everything,” says Nancy Borg, a professional organizer and owner of Move the Mess. “It’s just not efficient to put a product away on a shelf and shut the cabinet door.”
Store by Use, Not by Fit
When organizing your kitchen cabinets and drawers, you must completely empty them first. Make sure to check all expiration dates on food and canned goods.
Once everything is empty, it’s time to start organizing. Take a step back and consider how you use your kitchen.
“The basic principle of kitchen cabinet organizing is store by use and not by fit,” says Borg. Just because an item fits somewhere doesn’t mean it should live there.
“The number one priority is to create a space for everything, and, ‘anywhere’ is not a place,” she adds.
The secret to good organization, Borg offers, is to find what you’re looking for, retrieve it, put it back in the same place after use and then find it again when you need it.
“For example, if you make pasta every day and your colander is stored in an inconvenient place, why would you put it there just because it fits?”
Decanting Is King
When you’re organized, it’s very easy to find things because they are categorized. You can divide everything into two main groups: Food and Material.
Food can be separated into canned goods, spices, pasta and cereal, while Materials would include pots and pans, cutlery, kitchen tools and bakeware, etc.
To manage Food and Material inventory, Borg recommends that you take food items out of the original package and store them in see-through stacking decanters.
“Once I organize like categories together, I use clear pantry organizers with different risers. For example, all of my baking things would go into one bin, then the bin has another set of dividers inside it.”
Once you have grouped ingredients that are commonly used together, Borg says that the key to successful organizing is to label everything. You want everyone in your family to find what they are looking for.
“I always think vertically,” Borg says. “If you have different sized plates and cups, use risers and space savers to bisect the shelf in half. Separate your plates, so if you need a dinner plate, you’re not touching the salad and dessert plates.”
According to Borg, the most underutilized space in any home are the walls. In the kitchen, you have cabinets, and If you add more shelving, you are utilizing all of the wall space.
If you have the space, think vertically and be creative in using that space in the kitchen. One idea is to have open shelving which allows you to display collectible items or your everyday dishes and glassware.
“Remember that the shelving found inside your kitchen cabinet is adjustable. I make a template, like a puzzle. Everything that’s used daily should be in your vision line. Don’t put items across a shallow shelf, you’ll start to bury what’s behind it. If you use a riser, you can see everything,” she advises.
No Junk Drawer!
“I’m very big on compartmentalizing drawers so you can fit everything in,” Borg says.
She suggests that first you organize like items with like items, and then when it’s laid out you can make a decision on what that drawer should contain. The next step is to measure the drawer, make a template and then go shopping for the right drawer dividers.
Warning: Be careful, the junk drawer invites new junk, and if something new comes into the house and you don’t have a spot for it, it should not go into the junk drawer.
Clutter is Not an Option, Especially in the Kitchen
“I love Lazy Susans,” Borg says. “I love twirling them around.”
“Spices work well in a Lazy Susan with a lip because they are all different sizes. I do not decant spices, it’s a waste of time. Handle the spices the way they come.”
Tupperware is the bane of every novice kitchen organizer, and is something that most people don’t have under control. It seems like no matter how neatly you organize it, a few days later it’s a mess again. Borg suggests that you use very similar and uniform shapes of food containers.
“I like square shaped ones better than round containers. Don’t put the lid on the container, store all lids in a lid organizer, which should be placed next to the stacked Tupperware. Store the larger containers higher up and have the ones that you use every day more accessible.”
What Goes on the Counter?
Less is definitely more, Borg says.
If you drink coffee, then a coffee maker should be on the counter, and if possible, store the pods in a drawer under the coffeemaker. Borg prefers to have paper towels hung under the kitchen cabinet and not on the counter.
Now that your cabinets are organized, you should reap the benefits of your hard work. Meal planning is more effective and easier, since you can see what you have and what you need to purchase, which in the long run saves time and money. And of course, there is the pleasing aesthetic of a beautifully organized cabinet and drawer when you open it.