Best DIY tips and hacks to storage and organization in your kitchen so it flows well and is decluttered and tidy. The kitchen is the heart of the home. From the first coffee in the morning to supper with the family, we want easy access and a stress-free kitchen.
How Do You Feel When You Walk into the Kitchen?
Annoyed by the dirty dishes in the kitchen sink?
Frustrated by the empty cereal box or the pop cans on the counter? (You must have teenagers.)
Anxious about the crowded countertops, but you know you don’t have cabinet space in your small kitchen?
Quick Wins to Start to Kitchen Storage and Organization
Throw out any obvious garbage and take it out immediately.
Load the dishwasher or wash any dirty dishes (seriously, this only takes 5 minutes or so)
Toss any recycling in the recycling bin.
Remove anything that doesn’t belong in your kitchen. (Put the reusable grocery bags in your vehicle right now–and wash them if they need it)
Identify Your Problem Areas
- Lack of counter space.
- Items without a home.
- Crowded cupboards and drawers.
- Awkward or hard-to-access items.
- Inefficient locations.
- Most of these challenges have the same cause: Too Much Stuff.
- You need less, especially if you have a small kitchen. Get a box or bag for donations and one for trash.
- Are there areas where storage and organization are lacking?
Easy Things to Declutter
- Small appliances, pots or pans you don’t use. Don’t be afraid to break up a set.
- Kitchen utensils you don’t use. If you don’t know what that knife is for, donate it.
- Worn out or stained dishcloths, towels, oven mitts and hot mats.
- Broken or chipped dishes or bakeware.
- Pans with flaking or scratched surfaces.
- Expired spices, condiments or canned goods.
- China or other good dishes you don’t use. If you never host, let it go.
- Excess coffee mugs and glasses. Be honest about which ones you use.
- Paper clutter: old takeout menus, expired coupons, loose paper receipts.
The kitchen is a major traffic zone for most of us. Pick one area and start, even if you only have ten or fifteen minutes a day!
The convenience fallacy is real. In an organized kitchen, it does not take long to take out or put away things instead of leaving them on the countertop. You are only using these things for a small window of the day.
Put away anything that has a home in your kitchen.
If its home is on the counter, consider if it could go into a cupboard, drawer or your pantry. A magnetic strip on the wall or in-drawer dock can replace a heavy knife block. A spice rack and utensil holder are common but can be replaced by a spice drawer organizer near the stove.
Look for the hotspot where you drop things. Do non-kitchen items or papers accumulate in one spot regularly? Think about whether this is a storage problem or just a habit. A plastic envelope or accordion folder in your junk drawer or a hanging wall organizer in your pantry can keep these off the counter.
If items must stay on your kitchen countertop, can you put them on a tray or basket to keep them together? This is simpler to lift and clean under when you need to wipe your surfaces. Make it easy for you to store and organize things.
This will free up valuable real estate for cooking those gourmet meals (or at the very least making a tuna sandwich!).
Open Kitchen Shelve Organization & Hanging Storage
Open shelving provides a great way to display and store your cookbooks. So many are beautiful and resemble coffee table books. Use that to your advantage.
To avoid a cluttered look, if possible, opt for fewer items on an open shelf. Your colourful Dutch oven, a kitchen scale or a French press might suit your decor if you only have one open shelf. Decorating with frequently used items means you won’t have to dust there as often.
If you have open shelving instead of upper cabinets, you may find it more challenging. A limited colour palette and smaller numbers may be key to not overwhelming the space. Open space is your friend.
Depending on the layout of your kitchen, you may be able to add a wall- or ceiling-mounted pot rack or a set of hanging baskets to store fruits off the counter. Often a pot rack has extra hooks for cooking utensils.
Empty your sink. It’s like the kitchen table; if it’s clean, the whole space feels better.
An over-the-sink draining rack or in-sink draining tray can be the perfect partner for a double bowl sink. Some have a sponge holder on the side as well so it can drip into the sink.
The cabinet under the sink is the perfect spot for the garbage can and a container for recycling. Keep dish soap and dishwasher tabs here instead of on the counter. This is also a good spot to keep your kitchen composter.
Use an over-the-door organizer to hold cleaners or boxes of plastic wrap, aluminum foil or plastic bags. A cleaning caddy could also be stored under your sink.
A tension rod is a nice option for hanging up cleaning supplies under the sink and leaving the base of the cabinet free for other things.
Kitchen Cupboard Storage and Organization
Store food storage and Tupperware containers with the lids on. Less will fit in your cupboards, but this is an added benefit because we tend to keep more than we need. Quarantine the extra ones somewhere outside your kitchen and try it for a month to see what you use. Discard any unmatched container lids.
Pull-out drawers or shelves are a great way to maximize space in lower cabinets and increase access to items stored in the back. Similarly, shelf risers will fulfill a similar function on deep shelves.
A wine rack doubles is great a keeper for water bottles. Use a hanging option or one that sits on your shelf. You can grab the correct size you want easily without knocking the other bottles over.
Inside cabinets, use vertical dividers to store frying pans and their lids alongside cookie sheets, cutting boards and serving platters. Pull out what you need without unstacking and restacking every time.
Hooks are the best way to use the space on the inside of doors or the underside of shelves. Hang measuring cups and spoons, coffee mugs and tea cups or the mixer attachments for your stand mixer if you don’t like to keep them in the bowl.
Under-the-shelf baskets or drawers can be a great storage solution if you can’t adjust the height of your shelves. Many of these can be installed without permanent hardware like screws or nails.
A corkboard can be attached to the inside of cabinet doors with adhesive tabs for a command centre. You can keep grocery lists, bills or a small calendar here. Use tacks or hooks to add a spot for keys.
Kitchen Pantry Storage and Organization
Group like-items together. A lazy susan is a great option for keeping condiments or spices accessible. This is very helpful in awkward cupboards that don’t have a very wide door or corner cupboards that are very deep at one point.
Make room for oils in a dark cupboard. Exposure to light can make cooking oils go rancid if you don’t use them fast enough. A tray underneath will protect the shelf.
Use middle pantry shelves for the things you use the most.
Use lower shelves in the pantry for heavy and/or less used appliances. Try to move those stand mixers, food processor and rice cookers off your counters. If you don’t have a pantry, but do have bench seating with storage at your kitchen table, that is another option for bulky appliances.
Higher shelves are ideal for seasonal items like holiday cake pans, seasonal linens and bigger serving dishes. If you never host anymore, consider decluttering some of these items and borrow them as needed. If you really need to keep big things, like the turkey roaster, but have a tiny kitchen, then store these elsewhere, like the garage or basement.
Try to keep floor space open in your pantry. If you must use the floor, find containers that will tuck under the bottom shelf. A kitchen step stool fits well here. Containers with wheels will make it easier to clean.
Use the back of the pantry door for hooks to hang your broom, mops or any other long-handled tools.
Opt for matching, clear storage containers for boxes of pasta, rice and other staples if you don’t want to keep them in the original packaging. For items like nuts or dried fruit, write the expiry date on the bottom of the jar with a dry-erase marker.
If decanting into jars or containers is too high maintenance, use baskets or bins to organize your pantry items and group like items together. Try to stick with one style for a more uniform look. Light colours will brighten while dark containers tend to absorb light.
Canned goods can be corralled with an inexpensive wire rack, plastic container or even a cardboard box. Stock newer cans at the back to ensure the oldest ones are used first. Can risers are another option.
Declutter the junk drawer if you have one. This might be a 15-minute task on its own and will need to be redone in a couple of months. Use containers or dividers for better organization.
Recycle old manuals from your toaster, slow cooker or other small appliance. These can be found online.
Dividers are a good way to optimize wide drawers to create smaller compartments.
Store cooking utensils in a different drawer than your everyday flatware. It’s easier to spot duplicates when they are in one place. Beware of single-purpose tools and whether they are adding value for you in your kitchen.
Deep drawers are a great place to store bigger bags of dry goods, like flour or sugar. Refill smaller, clear containers to minimize needing to handle large bags. It can also be an option for your stand mixer if it is not a frequently used item (or doesn’t match your current colour scheme).
Consider drawers in a kitchen island as an alternative for dishes instead of putting them in an upper cabinet. Use a peg drawer organizer to separate stacks. This is especially handy if small children are emptying the dishwasher or setting the table.
Clear off the front and top of your fridge. If you have to keep schedules, try using the side of the fridge. Limit the top of the fridge to one container if you need to use that storage and organization space.
if your fridge is close to your stove, magnetic spice jars will keep spices within reach.
Looking at the inside of your fridge, keep in mind the door and the top shelf will be the warmest while the bottom will be the coldest.
Like the rest of your kitchen, discard anything you don’t use or don’t like. You won’t like it better by letting it get older.
If your goal is to eat more fruit and vegetables, keep those at the top of the fridge where they are your sight line. Clear bins are excellent for separating different types, like dividing citrus fruit from root vegetables. Glass or plastic containers also hold liquid in case something goes bad.
Again, keep like items together. When that section of your fridge is empty, then it is time to restock. This can also let you know if you are buying more than you need on grocery day. Reduce overbuying and food waste.
Designate one shelf for leftovers and things that need to be eaten soon. This reduces food waste and ensures you know what is in your fridge.
Zone Your Kitchen to Maximize Organization and Storage
There are five main areas in a kitchen — consumable items, non-consumables like dishes and flatware, preparation, cooking and cleaning. Some of these may overlap by necessity. Think about how you use your kitchen and store items closest to where you’ll use them.
Store non-refrigerated/non-frozen food in one place. Keep food items only in your pantry or in a set of cupboards side by side. It will reduce food waste when you know what you have. It’s very handy with children; they know where to find their snacks and can help pack their own lunches for school (hello mom-freedom…sort of.)
The cupboards or drawers closest to the dishwasher or sink should hold your dishes, glasses and utensils.
Set up your kitchen how you use it now, not how you thought you would when you moved in. Many of us haven’t changed it since day one or since before we had to share it with our children.
Ultimately your kitchen needs to work for you and your family. When everyone in the house learns where to put things away and takes the time to do it, your kitchen can stay mostly well organized with periodic minor decluttering.