The Best Kitchen Organizing Tips
The kitchen is easily the busiest room in the house. At any given time, you could be cooking, baking, prepping, cleaning, or jotting down a shopping list. And while the mere thought of these tasks may send you into a tizzy, a few simple organizing tips can help make tackling them easier and more time-efficient—even more enjoyable.
After all, there's nothing worse than getting ready to bake brownies with the kids for a school bake sale only to find you can't remember where you put that bottle of sprinkles you'd been saving. Or, imagine scrambling to get dinner in the oven before soccer practice ends and having to search high and low for your casserole dish. Investing just a few minutes of time into straightening out your pantry shelves and kitchen drawers can not only save you hours each week but money, too. (Just think, how many times have you gone out and bought something new—be it supplies or ingredients—because you forgot about or misplaced ones you already had?)
For starters, getting your fridge in order can make meal-prep significantly less stressful and help reduce food waste. From our best tips for organizing shelves to unique ideas for hanging storage, just a few handy tools can help keep open boxes, cans, and bottles from getting lost in the shuffle.
And that drawer by the sink that's turned into yet another junk receptacle? Don't let precious space go to waste! Instead, consider unique ways to store and organize your knives, an inventive way silver so that it doesn't tarnish, or the best ways to put small baking essentials—like piping bags and biscuit cutters—away so that you can find them whenever you're ready to whip up a tasty treat.
You'll find these tips and more ahead.
Utilize Drawer Space
Save counter space by using your drawers wisely. In-drawer wooden knife trays are more space effcient than a bulky knife block.
Airtight (well-sealed) containers made of plastic or glass let you see quickly how much of a specific ingredient you have left. These containers also protect dried goods from humidity and pests. Whether they match or not, containers can be displayed on the counter or up on open shelves in attractive ways that can actually serve as decoration for a corner of your kitchen.
Martha considered every corner of her kitchen in Bedford, New York, right down to the shelving supports. "I like 'bird's beak' supports, an old carpentry style with notches that let shelves slide in and out," Martha says. No holes, no hardware—the look is streamlined.
Don't let kitchen rags and dishwashing gloves clutter the sink area. Instead, hang them from hooks screwed to the inside of a cabinet door, where the items can stay out of sight as they dry.
When washing dishes, use a plastic bin for soaking or soaping to save water. The plastic is also more forgiving than a hard sink should you drop a dish. When you're washing a lot of very fragile items by hand, such as crystal stemware, lining the sink with a terry towel also does the trick. Keep dish soap in a clear plastic pump bottle by the sink.
Cake- and Cookie-Decorating Supplies
To keep baking time fun and fuss-free, be sure to make pastry bags, biscuit cutters, icing tips, and frosting combs easily accessible in clear sorting boxes.
Whether you use one crock or several, it's wise to have essential tools within arm's reach when you're at the stove. A cart provides storage where you need it. Martha keeps ladles, whisks, pastry brushes, wooden spoons, and flexible spatulas in separate containers on her cart.
Decide what you want to keep in your islands, then plan the space accordingly. Upright steel slats provide perfect spots for heavy baking sheets. Martha also has drawers for aprons and utensils; deep shelves for platters, books, and pet supplies; and small cubbies for towels and other items.
Using a rack will save so much space in your cabinets—and make your pots and pans easier to find. Martha hangs hers above the stationary island near the range.
Storing Silver Flatware
Shallow drawers lined with tarnish-controlling flannel provide the right environment for silver. The pieces rest in a single layer on the fabric—no dividers or stacking necessary.
Kitchen Baskets and Bins
Corral items on open shelves using nice-looking containers. These baskets add warmth and texture to the room; the gray trays are simple and stylish. Add adhesive pads on the bottom so they slide smoothly.
Pet Food Storage
If you have more than one pet, it's important to be organized. Martha devotes pantry space to dry food, which she transfers from the bulky bags into stackable airtight plastic containers. Labels are crucial for keeping everything straight. Bowls and cans are stacked nearby in see-through bins.
Refrigerator door space is prime kitchen real estate. Free it up by moving a few necessities to a turntable, where they'll still be easy to grab.
Position a collapsible wine rack along a lower shelf to keep bottles on their sides. This one holds 10 and is modular, letting you configure it to fit inside your fridge.
Hanging Fridge Storage
To prevent small goods from getting lost in the shuffle, give them their own room with a view with below-shelf hanging organizers.
Sponges, Brushes, and Scrubbers
Martha collects vintage enamel holders, originally used for soap and sponges in bathrooms. She mounts them by sinks to hold sponges, brushes, and scrubbers.
Pet Meal Bowls
If your pets don't have their own buffet in the servery (like Martha's cats do!), keep mealtime messes in check by lining up pet dishs on a long tray, which catches any spills so food doesn't end up on the floor.
Wine Bottle Storage
No one will guess that this sleek, modern wine rack is made of PVC pipe from a hardware store. The design is completely flexible, so you can create one to fit inside any shelf or cabinet and paint it to suit your own decor.
Teacup Storage Solution
Storing saucers is no problem: They nest neatly. The teacups, on the other hand, always threaten to topple over. Here's how Martha handles them: placed cup over saucer, in tidy stacks of no more than three or four. You'll find the configuration suits them to a T (or a teacup).
Repurpose Cake Stands
Clear up the clutter and make the most of your countertops by using an old cake stand to hold olive oil, salt, pepper, and other frequently used seasonings. The stand makes it easy to find and use these ingredients while you cook, and gives you space to arrange other herbs and spices around the base of the pedestal.
Pretty Plastic-Bag Organizer
Plastic bags seem to multiply, even if you try to take fewer of them from stores. Make sure you reuse them; it's easy when they're in a handy holder that matches your kitchen decor.
Storing baking sheets, cutting boards, and sturdy platters upright on kitchen shelves frees space and keeps you from having to lift a heavy stack when you need only one item. Create dividers for them using tension curtain rods. Buy rods to fit the space, and position pairs of them at intervals. Twist to tighten.
Organizing Pot Lids
To eliminate the search for the right lid amid an unwieldy stack of pots and pans, store them neatly: Place a wooden peg rack in a cupboard, and line up the lids vertically between the pegs. You could also attach a graduated rack to the door. Whatever you do, arrange lids from smallest to largest, with their partner pans close by.
Retrieving a jar of honey from the back of a crowded cabinet can be awkward. For a simple fix, gather the small items you store on the shelf onto a spare baking tray, then treat it like a drawer, carefully sliding it in and out for easy access. The pan will also catch drips, speeding cleanup.