Does your kitchen feel crowded?  Time for some kitchen organization! Getting rid of excess household clutter will eliminate 40% of the housework in the average home!*  Who wants to clean the kitchen when there is all that clutter laying around?  It is so overwhelming.

Does your kitchen seem to take forever to clean up due to piles and appliances on the counters?  Or do you just eat out instead of trying to cook in there?!  Make the most out of the space in your cabinets and you will notice that clean-up is simple, not dreaded, and you will want to cook!

Paper filled kitchen desk

3.6 min Read Time

Kitchen Organization Basics

When organizing a kitchen with a client, we always start with sorting like items together.  We sort into categories such as these:

  • Prep
  • Baking
  • Pots and pans
  • Food storage/pantry items
  • Cleaning
  • Lunch items
  • Household paperwork
  • Kid’s snacks or dishes
  • Homework supplies
  • Supplements and medicine

As we sort, we are looking for items to let go of.  What could you possibly let go of, you ask?  Oh, there are so many options!

  • Duplicate items
  • Broken tools or appliances
  • Expired food and medicine (In every kitchen I organize, there are bags full of this!)
  • Never used food (You know, for the cool Asian recipe or specialty cocktail you were going to try!)
  • Uni-taskers -strawberry huller, egg slicer, grapefruit spoons, egg cooker, sandwich maker…The list goes on.  I used to work at Sunbeam-Oster and we sold many of these uni-tasking appliances that suck up all your counter space.  Milkshake machine, anyone?
  • Specialty drink glasses (For all the parties you never actually have.)
  • Serving pieces
  • Food storage containers that are missing lids
  • Things that belong somewhere else in the house

Do you know what the least used kitchen items are?  How many of these are lurking in your home?

  • Fondue pot, bread maker, crepe maker, ice cream maker, veggie juicer, crockpot, waffle iron, propane torch, cookie press, banana-ripening rack, pizza stone, apple corer, pizza cutter**

Please donate all the working items, of course.  Some other family will be overjoyed to have your extra kitchen gear.  Many food pantries will take your unopened but recently expired foods.

Kitchen Organization by Zones

Now that you’ve eliminated the unnecessary items, take a look at your categories.  Decide where is the best place to store those items by considering where you prefer to do or store the following:

  • Prep/chopping/shredding
  • Baking/mixing
  • Food/pantry items
  • Paperwork, if it applies to you
  • Lunch prep
  • Homework
  • Household paperwork processing

Set up a zone for each of the major categories in your kitchen.  Within each zone, keep the most often used items in “prime real estate” because the easier it is to put it away, the more likely it WILL be put away.  Putting things away is the goal so we don’t end up with stuff all over the counters again.

Kitchen Prime Real Estate:

  • Easy to access
  • Lower shelves
  • Fronts of shelves
  • Drawers

Place items related to the zones in the new zone storing most frequently used items in prime real estate.  If you find there still isn’t enough space, another round of purging may be in order.  Another consideration is storing infrequently used items such as china, serving dishes, and large appliances in another area of the home.  Sometimes a top shelf of a closet or a storage area in the basement can double as kitchen overflow storage.

What’s your biggest kitchen disaster or success?

If you’d like to know more about kitchen organization and what kinds of containers and storage options can further optimize your kitchen, read part two: Kitchen Organizing: Storage Optimization!  Get inspired by by kitchen before and after photos.

Want to know what happened to that kitchen counter at the top of the post?  We purged, created a flow for the paperwork that came to the kitchen so it wouldn’t stay there forever, and had shelves and an outlet put in under the desk to house some of the supplies, dust buster, and the printer.

Paper filled kitchen desk


Organized kitchen desk

AFTER-Organized paper and the printer is no longer on the counter!

organized kitchen desk with new shelf

AFTER-New printer cubby takes advantage of previously nonfunctional cabinet space

*Source: The National Soap and Detergent Association

**Source: It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh