When you decide that your mission this year is to get your home organized, you’ll find the kitchen has a distinct challenge as compared to the rest of the house. Unlike other rooms that may only need straightening up once a week or so, the kitchen requires constant cleaning and organizing throughout the day simply to maintain its function. But, you can save time, and your sanity, with some basic organizational strategies and ideas for clutter reduction.
Step One: Inventory
Take inventory of the kitchen. Pull out all of your pots and pans, utensils, storage containers, food wraps, plates, cups, cleaning supplies, and take note of what you have. Now is the time to get rid of anything you don’t need. If you haven’t used it in a year or more, donate it to someone who will. Don’t forget your “holiday only” items and special serving pieces. Everything is going to need a spot, so be ruthless with your decisions regarding what to keep, especially if your space is limited.
Step Two: Function
Store your kitchen items based on each item’s function. This may seem elementary, but you are not going to save yourself any steps by storing plastic food containers in the back of the pantry with the muffin pans when you need them almost daily during clean up after a meal. For instance, keep the baking sheets in one cupboard near the oven, the cutting boards and knives near your vegetable chopping area, etc. Keep often needed preparation equipment near your general work area, not stuck in a cupboard or way up on a shelf on the other side of the kitchen.
Step Three: Consider Specialized Storage
Take into consideration storage units designed to use with specific items. A great space saver is a pot rack that can be hung from the ceiling. You must make sure you can identify the location of the ceiling studs and you must use the right kind of anchor bolts that will support the weight of the rack and pans. If you are not a competent do-it-yourselfer, or lack the proper tools, get the help of a certified carpenter before you attempt to hang a pot rack. Also check out the vast array of portable workspaces like rolling carts. They quite often have storage space built in and can be put in a corner, closet or pantry when not in use. Items as simple as spinning racks for spices, larger spinning trays for inside bottom cabinets, stacking shelves, wire pull-out baskets, and countless ready-made units, will amaze you with the “found space” you’ll be able to use at a relatively inexpensive price tag. If you don’t have a window above your sink, measure the space and go shopping! You’ll be amazed at what sort of inexpensive dish storage pieces you can find.
Step Four: Creative Storage
You might have an old bookshelf in your hallway or back porch that could be put to use storing extra canned goods, paper products and seldom used kitchen gadgets that are taking up room in your kitchen cupboards. Perhaps you could store your towels in your bathroom and your sheets in your bedrooms which would free up a linen closet for kitchen gadget storage. If you aren’t using your dishwasher, you might want to remove the racks and get creative with an alternate use for that space. (I use my dishwasher to hold my recycling until it’s pick up day.) Don’t forget to look up, as well. There may be some forgotten space between the ceiling and the cabinets that, with a few shelves, could be used for storage or display. You know all those baskets you’ve been collecting over the years? Hang one above the sink to store your dish towels. Use an assortment of small baskets to store your tableware and napkins. Any way you can free up some cabinets and drawers by using otherwise unused space will help relieve the congestion and frustration you are now experiencing in your currently crammed kitchen.
Step Five: Food Storage
Your refrigerator, freezer, and food pantry is a different sort of challenge. Because you are restocking food items at a much faster pace than you are buying utensils, you will need to take stock of what you have on a routine basis and develop a master shopping list. This will help prevent wasteful spending by not duplicating food items, and by not having to throw out food that you’ve forgotten you have in the freezer.
The steps listed here should get you on the right track to smoothing out the kitchen traffic and congestion you experience every time you try to simply cook a meal. Of course, with any first attempts at organizing a room in your house, you’ll need to “tweak” it a bit along the way. If something just isn’t working the way you expected, give it a second go around. You won’t know until you’ve lived in your “new” kitchen what works and what just keeps making you shake your head. This is the one room in the house that you are going to have to put in some real time until you get it just right. Have fun and don’t give up if you get frustrated or overwhelmed. Take a break… then get back in there!
Check back for even more kitchen organization ideas in coming weeks. I hope this gets you started!