Every item in your kitchen cabinets has a rightful place—you just have to find it first.
Kitchen cupboard organization
Credit: Lisa Romerein

Are your kitchen cabinets working for you? If not, now's the perfect time to look at them with fresh eyes. Storing pots, pans, and small appliances in an organized way will save you time when you're cooking, as well as streamline the clean-up process. Plus, keeping the kitchen clutter-free helps make one of the most-used rooms in your home a more peaceful communal space.

How to Begin Organizing Your Kitchen Cabinets

Create a strategy before diving straight into the organization process. This will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed by everything in your arsenal.

1. Take Everything Out

In order to know what you can and should part with, you have to figure out what you already own. "Always make sure you start with a full pull-out of every single item in your kitchen," says Jamie Hord, the founder of professional home organizing company Horderly.

2. Sort Your Items

You've removed everything from your cabinets—don't panic! It may look like a lot, but you have a strategy in place to make sure everything finds its home. The next step is to sort your items into categories. Put your pots and pans, flatware, bar tools, and everything in between into their own sections.

3. Decide What You Want to Keep

If you haven't combed through your cabinets in a while, chances are you'll have some duplicate items and things you haven't used in a while. "Once [everything is] pulled out and sorted, edit those items to determine what you'd like to keep, toss, or donate," says Hord.

4. Determine Frequency of Use

Once you know what you want to keep, figure out which items you use daily and weekly, as well as the items you only use a few times a year. This will help you determine what can be stored in harder-to-reach areas (your holiday servingware) and what you want to keep close by (everyday glassware).

"Our kitchen has a lot of cabinets, but not all of them are conveniently placed," says Eunice Byun, co-founder of online kitchenware company Material Kitchen. "Some are super high up and require a step stool, so we put things we don't need often [there]."

5. Put Away Kitchenware

After determining what kitchenware should go into your prime real estate cabinets and which can go in lesser-used spots, it's time for the best part—putting your items away. It helps to group like things together (pans in one drawer, pots in another) and to think about how you move through your kitchen.

"Things we need for prep [should be] placed closer to our countertop space, where we do a lot of the chopping—which happens to be near our sink, which makes it easier for washing and chopping seamlessly," says Byun.

Yes, it's important that your system makes sense, but don't shy away from getting creative when it comes to storing your items—especially if your kitchen has a unique layout. "Does your kitchen have all drawers and one cabinet? Perhaps you could put plates and bowls in a drawer instead of a cabinet," Hord says.

6. Label

Forgetting where you've stored certain cookware and servingware is half the reason why you're re-organizing to begin with. Prevent this from happening again by creating labels for each drawer and cabinet.

"Once you have proper placement of everything, purchase any products that can help in your organization, and most importantly, label," Hord says. "You can label the inside of the cabinet shelves, drawers, or any bins you use for containment with bin clip labels."

Soapstone kitchen countertop
Credit: Aliyev Alexei Sergeevich / Getty Images

How to Organize Kitchen Appliances

Some kitchenware items have obvious storage solutions—like nesting mixing bowls inside one another to conserve space—while others are harder to stow away. No matter what, it's always best to keep like with like. For example, appliances such as mixers or coffee grinders, along with their various attachments, can live together for better efficiency.

"Try to keep appliances together either in a cabinet or drawer, so you're not running around your kitchen searching for different appliances in different places," Hord says.

The Best Storage Systems for Kitchen Cabinets

If your cabinets need a little extra help getting organized, turn to some of these storage solutions.

Adjustable Cookware Wracks

Some simple side-by-side organizing racks can help keep cookware in place inside your cabinets. Opt for an adjustable rack to make each pan accessible without lifting a pile on top of it, as well as to ensure there's space for deeper pots. It's also useful for cutting boards, baking sheets, and pans with special coatings that can't be stacked.

Lid Organizers

Lids are a frequent source of chaos. "We love to organize pot lids separately from the pot or pan that it goes with if possible, because you don't always use a lid with the pot or pan," says Hord. She advises creating a drawer specifically for pot lids or using an adhesive lid organizer or a cabinet door lid organizer.

Expandable Drawer Dividers

Food storage containers can be especially difficult to keep tidy. "Consider if you want to store your containers with the matching lid or if you want them separate," says Hord. "Usually, the amount of space allowed makes this answer for you." She recommends storing food containers in drawers rather than cabinets and to use expandable drawer dividers to create structure within.

Adhesive Organizers

Tinier, miscellaneous items like condiments, spices, potholders, and cleaning supplies can be stowed away in smaller storage solutions. "We love using adhesive pan lid holders, hooks, and adhesive organizer bins to store everything from sponges to cleaning products to potholders or tiny cooking tools," says Hord.

Cabinet Shelves

To keep dish sets separate and to avoid tall stacks of heavy plates, consider adding shelving to your cabinets. "Remember, you want everything to be super easy and accessible. No one wants to lift a pile of small plates to get to a big plate," Hord says.

Small Kitchen Cabinet Solutions

If you're short on cabinet space, remember that there are alternative storage solutions available. Consider a closet near your kitchen for housing these items, suggests Hord. If that's not an option, opt for hanging racks, which free up cabinet space and pull double duty as kitchen décor.

What Not to Store in Kitchen Cabinets

Try not to store anything unstable in an upper cabinet. "The last thing we'd want is for items to come crashing down on your head," says Hord. Instead, keep items in high cabinets in bins so you can safely carry them down to countertop-level, get what you need, and return the bins to the cabinet.


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