Your kitchen is the hub of your home. But – because you spend so much time cooking, eating and hanging out in the space – keeping it neat and clean can be a real challenge. The key to curbing kitchen chaos? Set yourself up with smarter storage systems that create a foundation of kitchen organization, making it easier (and faster) to clean and tidy each day. From ideas for your kitchen pantry to space-maximizing strategies for your kitchen cabinets, these kitchen organization tips make it super easy to maintain a clean and tidy cooking space.
Published December 8, 2020, Updated January 23, 2022
Out With the Old
When it comes to the kitchen, a big part of the problem is that it is home to so many different items and tools. Over the years, we accumulate a collection of things that we don’t even use, from chipped plates to old appliances that no longer work. That’s why the first step to kitchen organization is to make like Marie Kondo and cull through what you have. Consider donating items that are still useful (just no longer useful to you), and recycle or get rid of anything that’s broken or no longer safe. Once you’ve cut back on the clutter, you’ll have more space to keep and organize the items you actually use.
Show Your Stuff
You can’t deal with what you can’t see. So, rethink the vessels you use to store your food staples. This can make a huge difference in how organized your kitchen stays long-term. See-through or glass containers (don’t forget to label them!) make it simpler to see what you have on hand and access what you need. It’s easier to keep your pantry space in check if you aren’t constantly rooting around through boxes and bins. Plus, swapping a mess of labelled packaging for clear containers is just so aesthetically pleasing, you’ll be living your Pinterest dreams.
Planning how to organize kitchen items can be extra tricky in a smaller kitchen, but it’s not impossible. One of our favourite tips to maximize your storage space is by making use of vertical storage. Use your kitchen backsplash and walls to hang storage solutions: A magnetic knife rack, a hanging utensils rack, a larger rack for hanging your most-used pots and pans.
If your kitchen cabinets feel cluttered, take a step back and assess the space: Are you using every angle of space to the maximum? Many of us have tall cabinets with a lot of under-utilized vertical space. If that’s the case, try adding a wire shelf so you have two rows of plates, or installing a hanging system to the top underside of the cabinet so you can hang mugs or glassware at the top. A filing rack can also be used to help you store baking sheets on their sides for better organization and accessibility.
From meal prep to product packaging, the kitchen produces a vast amount of waste on the daily, even if you’re making an effort to cut down on food waste. We recommend having separate compartments under the sink for trash, recycling and food scraps (like this pull-out system with four compartments). This will cut down on clean-up time – making it easier to maintain a clean kitchen every day.
Open Up (the Right Way)
When considering the pros and cons of open shelving, kitchen organization is often a big drawback – but open shelves in the kitchen can be a great way to stay organized if you carefully curate what you store on them. Using open shelving to display large items like beautiful serving dishes, dutch ovens or large pans makes it easy to keep them from looking cluttered. Meanwhile, this also frees up space behind cupboard doors to store smaller, less display-worthy items.
When organizing kitchen cabinets, what goes where is a personal choice. But a good rule of thumb is to organize the things that you use most often at easiest reach and in your line of sight. If the constant in your life is your morning cup of coffee, for example, you’ll likely want to keep your mugs in an easily accessible cabinet next to your coffee maker (or better yet, create a dedicated coffee station).
Have your kitchen organization efforts touched everything but the kitchen sink? It could be time to rethink how you use your sink. While you want to keep your sink clear and clean so you can tackle dishes, a large sink might also offer multi-functional opportunities. We love how Dave and Kortney Wilson used a bamboo insert to multiply the functionality of the kitchen sink here on Masters of Flip – giving an easy-to-clean food-prep space, while keeping counters clear.
Does looking into your fridge stress you out? Clear everything out and give the interior a good clean – and then get organizing. Organizing your fridge is about more than just aesthetics – it’s important to arrange your food to avoid cross-contamination. For example, you want to keep ready-to-eat foods (like salads and produce) separate and on higher shelves (that is, on higher shelves) from raw foods (like uncooked meat or chicken) to avoid animal items from dripping down. Another tip? Using clear bins and baskets can help make items easier to access (and less likely to accidentally rot because they’re out of sight).
Shut the Door on Mess
– whether they’re full-sized pantry doors or cabinet doors – are another underutilized spot for kitchen organization. Get the most out of every inch of your storage spaces by adding slender racks to the inside of your doors. Use this space to store slim items such as spices, rolls of foil or parchment paper or garbage bags, tools, snacks, miscellaneous items… really, anything that fits!