Wednesday, February 14, 2018

How to organize your kitchen logically {spring cleaning series}

Welcome back to this organizing, spring cleaning series! Today I'm posting on the big one... kitchens.  This is a project that can take an entire day if you are organizing the whole room... but the nice part, is that you can always begin in a couple of drawers and work them in small segments of time, little by little until you've touched each drawer and cupboard.  Don't be put off by the size of this job, it's well worth it.  The organization in a kitchen directs the organization of a home in my opinion so it's a good one to tackle or touch up.

If you haven't read the kick off post, "How to organize anything," you'll want to flip backward and read that {here} first. That post is key, as it highlights the practical how-to steps needed to organize any space, room or mess. It's the method I use with every organizing job I do in my home, big or small and how I work, one drawer or one cupboard at a time.  

I didn't originally plan to share this space, as I've shared parts of my kitchen in past posts, but I've gotten quite a few questions about some specific things so I decided to tackle it. I walked into my kitchen this morning and just began photographing it, as it was. I didn't empty the dishwasher and tweak it to make it all pretty because I wanted you to see it, of-the-moment, living in a home with teenagers who (sometimes) put things away willy-nilly, and such...  You're seeing the real deal in here, which I hope helps you with your own.  As a general rule, we do tend to be a family of neat-knicks so most of the time it looks pretty tidy and similar to this.

There are always gorgeous solutions when you read magazines.  My organizing is always on a budget which means it's not always magazine picture perfect,  but it generally functions like a dream, which is the entire point of being organized anyway.  My solutions are removable, rather than fixed such as pull out drawers and such, since we aren't putting any more money into this home while we live here... you may remember me mentioning that we hope to move and downsize into a condo in a few years. There are many solutions and many right answers when it comes to organizing, especially in a kitchen, and I'm happy to share what works well in mine. 

This will be a long post so bear with me.  I have many words.  (wink)  You'll may notice that we installed an open shelf for our daily dishes.  It's above the dishwasher which is handy while emptying.  Logical placement is everything in a kitchen. I'll explain.  By now, you're probably fairly familiar with our open concept kitchen and dining.  We have an island, but not a lot of drawers in all.  There is a bank of rather small drawers next to our dishwasher, and the dining table is next to that essentially.  In the drawers we keep dining items such as utensils but we also keep dishtowels and dishcloths because they are the logical drawer nearest to the sink, where it makes sense for them to be.

On  one side of the oven, we have a spice drawer and on the other side is a drawer with trivet boards and pot holders, because that's the most logical place for them, where they need to be used.  In the cupboards beside the oven we have pots and pans.  (We keep minimal pots and pans.  3 sizes of nesting frying pans, a good soup pot in pretty turquoise, two sauce pans and a stock pot. That's all we seem to need. Under our oven, in the drawer, we keep a roasting pan that we use once a year on Thanksgiving as well as lids to all the pots.)
On the other side of the oven in a narrow cupboard, I slide long pans, cookie sheets, cooling racks and cutting boards into a rack that I purchased at Ikea.  It's great because it expands to fit.  I keep two cookie sheets, two dishwasher safe cutting boards and two cooling racks. 

Two is plenty for most things you need multiples of, and someday I won't even need that many probably!  It is really easy to think more are better, but often those extras aren't in use nearly as often as we think, or perhaps we used more in a different season.  I know I used more when my kids were small and I was home to bake and cook, than I do now that they are older.  I simply don't use as many items anymore... Keeping extras that aren't used, often just take up space and cause that unorganized claustrophobic feeling.  Paring down items to just what is used or needed is half the battle in organizing.  (Again, see my very first post in this series, here.

 Logically, drinking glasses should be next to a sink.  Mine are directly to the left.  I keep a large variety but minimal amounts at the same time if that makes sense.  I keep ten goblets for special occasions on the top shelf. (This shelf is one that tucks back behind, as an impractical corner space but it works for seldom used items like goblets.) I keep just two copper mugs, and four copper dipped champagne flutes.  I have a set of six whisky tumblers, and two to-go coffee cups.  We don't need more than that, as we wash them and reuse them.  I keep a set of eight wine glasses and four champagne flutes.  Drinking glasses are in process, as my children hate this size and I haven't decided what to do quite yet. (The dishwasher is full of the rest of these sets by the way.)  I like to label the shelves and keep things tidy.
 We have a tea drawer, that functions really well, with acrylic trays housing tea varieties, rather than clunky boxes, half full and taking up space.  I  know you know what I'm talking about!  This organizing system is nice, as you can decant your tea bags into these trays, and see what you're running low on. It's also rather pretty and nobody complains about that.
 I purchase these acrylic trays in all sizes at my grocery store as needed, but you can find them on Amazon as well.
 This is a peek into the cupboard next to my oven/microwave and it functions well because everything is on a lazy susan or contained.  I often use clear mason jars for odd ingredients that come from the store in messy bags, and I like to use small, clear containers that are labeled to house randomly used items like cookie decorating tools.  (I don't bake a ton anymore, and keep my actual baking supplies such as sugar and flour in the pantry.)  This works well for smaller ingredients and the logical placement is in this corner beside the oven/stovetop, above the kitchen aid mixer and over the spice drawer.  It's so handy to have everything near each other when I'm whipping something up and I love the lazy susans!

Now we've moved to my kitchen island and what works well for organizing here.  I love this knife organizer. (Most of my knives were in the dishwasher.)  It keeps them neatly at hand.  I toss small kitchen accessories and tools into dividing baskets and that works well for me.  I keep a minimal amount of accessories because I don't like drawers overflowing with items- that makes it impossible to quickly find something as you're cooking.  I like to be efficient in the kitchen so I keep only what I use.  It makes the most sense for them to be here, across from the stove, but also under the largest work surface, the island countertop.  Of the two drawers in this island, it's also the one closest to the sink and dishwasher.

Is this logical placement thing beginning to make sense as we go?  (Don't forget the actual organizing method I shared in this post, as this is essential to this job.)

**When I was working for the organizing company, my friends and I would go in to organize someone's kitchen and we would stand there with a pile of sticky notes and sharpies.  We'd talk about what should logically go into this drawer or that cupboard, and then we would jot that item down on the sticky note and place it on the outside of all the drawer and cupboard faces.  We would mentally organize the whole kitchen in it's most logical way, before ever moving things from drawers. That was really helpful as we began shuffling things around where they should go.  That system could easily help you as well if you're trying to redefine logical placement in your spaces.
Organizational notes about this cupboard that I love:

*The rack I use for my glassware (lids are tucked beside it).
*The tray I keep my toaster on, to prevent crumb overload. (Never underestimate the power of a tray for anything in the home.)
*The way everything has a space... loaf pans tuck behind glassware as they are seldom used, and cake pans of all varieties stack neatly in the back.  You can't see it but the colander I keep (only one) is the perfect size for my salad spinner to nest in it when not in use.
You've seen this drawer before, but it's the second drawer in my island so I'm including it here again. This drawer makes me all kinds of happy... the little serving bowls for snacks, the striped straws, party picks, labels and whip cream canister refills.... it's a party waiting to happen right here! Again, I'm using those acrylic trays to keep it all tidy and contained.
This cupboard isn't filled with fun items, but it works well.  By now this won't surprise you, but I keep one, nice, set of matching mixing bowls.  Only one.  I have no need for more than that.  When I cook or bake, I clean as I go, so if I need to wash and reuse a bowl, it's not problem.  (I have a serving bowl set behind them that quite honestly I'm not certain I'll keep, as I seldom pull it out for use.)  I keep a couple of small appliances below, as well as Tupperware containers (of which many are in my dishwasher at the moment as well.)

Side note... is Tupperware the worst thing in the world to organize? This is the best solution I've found for my home and household... lids in a separate clear bin and the containers nested in a larger container with it's large lid underneath.  Just do your best on this.  Eliminate as much as possible, every container with no lid, toss! 

I also don't own a lot of small appliances which I think is half the battle sometimes.  I'm not much of a gadget person so I make what I have work.  I've got an amazing blender and I love my mini food processor.  Between those two, I can pretty much do any job that needs doing!
 One thing I love in organizing, is repurposing containers, baskets or bowls.  For my wraps, I needed something large and long enough to hold them all, and just happened to have this perfectly sized long basket that I wasn't using.  I tried it, and sure enough, it was just the thing.  We tuck lunch bags beside the other bags and wraps and it slides out neatly for us to grab what we need.  Oh and I forgot to mention that this placement is directly across from the refrigerator.  Leftovers are placed on the island, and contained in Tupperware or wrapped up and refrigerated, neatly and logically where they all make sense to be. (See what I'm saying about organizing with logical placement in mind?)
 I haven't shared every single drawer and cupboard but I'm sure you're getting the idea.  Those tricky to get to cupboards are a great place to store things you don't use daily.  For example, above my fridge, I keep things we use for parties and entertaining, such as beverage servers, carafes and platters.

A few random kitchen things as I close...  I didn't enjoy the black color of my kitchen aid mixer, so we painted it white. I won't tell you it was easy... it was quite a process but we found many helpful youtube videos sharing how to take it apart, tape it off, and prep.  I am so happy with the white color and it's  been holding up really well so I'm pleased so if you've got something in your space that isn't quite right, there may be simple fixes for it, such as paint! (We painted our entire kitchen way back when.)  Also, I'll be sharing the under sink organization soon, as well as the pantry.  We're just taking it one space at a time at this point.  If you have questions, as always, let me know and we'll tackle them.  


Click on the titles below, to see all the other posts in this series


  1. As always, great tips, Sasha! I am nearly finished organizing my kitchen and getting rid of the excess simply makes me breathe easier! It's true that I don't cook the same as I did when my babies were little. No need for me to wrangle umpteen cooling racks anymore! I am going to see up I can work in our entertaining, party stuff above the fridge...brilliant! Than yo and have a lovely day.

  2. I've just recently thrown out all the Tupperware that was missing tops - how does that even happen?! But I loved cleaning out that drawer and now have so much space. Also, thanks for the cost saving tips. This goes to show you don't have to spend a lot to organize....just use what you have on hand! I'm loving this series.

  3. Where do you get the lazy susans?

  4. Thanks so much for opening your house to all of us. So much inspiration!
    Have a very blessed week!

  5. Lisa,
    I got mine at a grocery store but I know you can get a ton of variety on Amazon!