One of the most impactful spaces you can organize in your home is the kitchen. With a little planning and effort, these thoughtfully-curated kitchen organization tips will help you reap countless benefits for you and your family — all by tackling this one unique space.
In all the spaces that make up your home, the kitchen is by far the most unique. When compared with bedrooms, bathrooms, and living areas, the kitchen is truly alive. It regularly supports meals and snacks, houses the very sources of nourishment that (should) keep you thriving, and hosts everything from gatherings with friends to impromptu dance parties. It truly is the heart of the home. And yet, due to the ever-changing nature of its contents (read: every time you consume your food or re-stock your shelves), it can be quite the challenge to keep organized!
Why Bother with Organizing Your Kitchen?
While a well-organized kitchen can look gorgeous, I’ve curated each of these kitchen organization tips with function and purpose in mind. If your kitchen doesn’t function for you, then your habits of eating and gathering are likely to suffer.
Function | A well-organized kitchen should:
- Allow you to easily locate the food items and utensils you need.
- Allow you to easily access these items without having to move a bunch of other stuff out of the way.
- Be easy to keep clean.
- Provide a clear workspace for preparing meals.
- Act as a place of healing.*
- Act as a source of inspiration for wellness.*
- *Not to sound all new-agey, but really… there’s a difference in how your mind responds to walking into a clean and fresh space versus one that is cluttered. If that space is where you’re supposed to physically nourish your body, then the effect it has on your mind is even more important.
25+ Kitchen Organization Tips
- Empty out your cabinets & discard | Before you start going through these kitchen organization tips, empty cabinets out and discard anything you don’t want to keep. Sort the remaining items by category: food/edible, serving ware, cookware, utensils, drinkware, etc. This will allow you to see how much of each category you have to get a clearer idea of where each one might fit best within your specific kitchen.
- About Discarding: Start valuing the “white space” | Before you begin organizing, you might need to start training your mind to value “white space”. Sometimes, it can be hard to get rid of items because you think they hold value. If you can re-frame the process to focus on the value you get out of more space, discarding an item will be much easier for you.
- Consider the design of your kitchen | With your cupboards and cabinets empty, consider the design of your kitchen. Maybe you have ample counter space but less cabinet space. Also, what are your specific needs in the kitchen? Maybe you’re into fermenting your own foods and want a space for your different kombuchas. Or maybe you need to have a bunch of healthy snacks available for you and the kids to grab on the go. Perhaps you entertain a lot and want your space to suit that lifestyle. When you keep these unique purposes in mind, it will help you make decisions about how to organize specific things (e.g., wall hooks versus drawers).
- Think carefully about each belonging | Before putting your items away, consider:
- Where do you use them? If you use the spices by the stove most often, then they should live by the stove.
- Do you have others’ needs to consider? for example, little ones can get into lower cabinets. You might want to keep those cabinets full of child-friendly things, like plastic food containers, kitchen towels, etc.
- How often do you use each item? The ones that you use most often should be most accessible. If there are items you use less than twice per year, and if your kitchen is already strapped for space, consider moving them somewhere else, like the garage or a hallway closet.
- Within each category, if you find that some items look like they go together (e.g., stainless steel utensils vs bamboo utensils) make a note to keep them together. This will give a sense of visual cohesion and help bring the look together for you.
- Labels | Labels work great for certain things, but I think it’s easy to get carried away with them. I use them on my containers for flours, sugars, and protein powders. I also like them on bins for snacks. To me, labels are less about telling you what’s in the container, and more about serving as a guide for putting items away. While you might know where the granola bars go, your
husbandfamily might not. Considering this, labels really come in handy when you’re putting new groceries away or cleaning up after dinner.
- Side of the fridge | If your kitchen is tight on storage space, you might need to start thinking creatively. These magnetic kitchen organization racks work great for everyday items, like olive oil, salt, or your most-used spices. But consider where your fridge is located before you buy. Ours is next to our stove, and there’s a nice big space on the side which works perfectly for a rack like these.
- Can rack organizers | These make it easy to have multiple cans without having to stack them on top of each other. Measure your cabinet or shelf first!
- Storage baskets | I love my storage baskets! But I’ll be honest — I tried using them for everything in my cupboard a while ago and it just got annoying. Here’s why: I was using them for everything from soup cans to bags of pasta, and other items that I don’t always have on hand. In other words, their contents were constantly changing. If you’re going to go with storage baskets, use them for contents or categories that are relatively consistent in your kitchen. They work great for smaller and medium-sized items, like:
- Snacks (e.g., granola bars)
- Small bags of powders (e.g., I have a few smaller bags of nutritional boosts like collagen. They work perfectly for these baskets because I always have the same bags on hand and I can easily pull out the basket I need.)
- Baking ingredients (e.g., baking sodas, chocolate chips, etc.) or supplies (e.g., cookie cutters)
- Small appliances (e.g., handheld mixer)
- Leverage other areas of your home | While you’re organizing and putting things into place, consider your storage needs and how much space your kitchen has. You might discover that some items don’t need to be taking up precious real estate in your cupboards. Maybe you have a chafing dish you only use once every year or two. Put it out in the garage (or another area of the home) if that’s the case! I personally don’t like having the toaster crowd our counters, so I keep it in the breakfast nook/dining area next to our kitchen on our makeshift coffee cart.
- Organize by task | Separate out your utensils and tools by task. For example, all baking supplies go together (measuring cups, spoons, mixing bowls, whisks), all grilling supplies go together (grill tongs and spatula, grill brush). This makes it easier for you to quickly get to the task at hand when everything you need is together.
- Dividers for larger drawers | Utensils in larger drawers tend to shift as the drawers open and close, leading them to pile up in some places and making it harder to find what you need. Drawer dividers can be super helpful here. (https://www.kevinandamanda.com/kitchen-drawer-organizer/)
- Hooks | Whether you use practical command hooks or a nicer-looking variety, these can be useful for storing anything from car keys to dish towels and dish brushes to utensils.
- Clear containers | I love using clear containers for things like oats, rice, and baking ingredients (flours, sugars, etc.). These containers work best for items you use and purchase regularly — especially whose packaging doesn’t lend itself to preserving freshness (think: flour bags). Be sure to buy containers that fit just a little more than an entire package’s worth of contents. That way, you can fill it up when the contents are low, rather than having to wait until it’s completely empty.
- File (and fold) vertically | Whether it’s for kitchen towels or freezer leftovers in ziplock bags, filing things vertically creates more space and makes it easy to pull one item out without disturbing the rest of them. To fold freezer leftovers in ziplock bags vertically, first lay them down flat so they freeze in one nice even layer. Once frozen, you can file them vertically.
- Store like with like | This concept helps bring order in the larger scale categories, as well as more specific categories. For example, you’d likely want to store all cooking utensils together, right? Well even more specifically, you might choose to separate your utensils out by material or color (e.g., bamboo vs. stainless steel, black vs. silver, etc.). This simple concept helps reinforce the sense of order and cohesion in your space.
- Hang baskets for produce to get it off the counter | Personally, if my kitchen is a mess, cooking is the last thing I want to do. Counter space is important. Without it, we’re more likely to choose fast meals and opt for convenience over health.
- Display pretty things | While I like to keep my counters clear, I love displaying the things that spark joy for me. Whether you have some heirloom china or a nice vintage (or vintage-looking) kitchen scale, these are the kinds of things that bring character to a tidy space. If you don’t have anything like this, consider putting a nice fresh plant on display. It will liven up your space and motivate you to keep it clean.
- Use shelves | If you have wall space or a backsplash, consider adding shelving to store things like oils, spices, and other things you use regularly. This helps keep your drawers and counters from overfilling.
- Bag dispenser | This is a great idea if you re-use your grocery bags (e.g., as trash can liners). You can place them on the wall, inside a cupboard (even under the sink) for easy access.
- Hang pots and pans | If you have wall space or high ceilings, consider hanging your pots and pans up. This makes them easy to retrieve and put back, and also lends a sense of charm and character to the kitchen. Of course, before you do this, consider whether you need all of your pots and pans. One of the changes I’ve loved the most in my kitchen is reducing my pots and pans to the 2-3 I use most regularly. Simplicity!
- Keep your cleaning supplies handy | By making it easy to grab your spray bottle and a washcloth, you can get into the habit of wiping down your counters after every use. I love using a cupboard door organizer or having a spray bottle that’s pretty enough to leave out.
- Spice storage | Store your spices in a way for easy access. Make sure you can see all of the labels. Whether you lay them down flat in a drawer or put them in a spice rack is up to you and way your space is laid out. If you have a smaller collection of spices (like 10-15ish), use a lazy susan.
- Papers | Create a space in your kitchen to easily organize mail and other papers. I love the wall-hanging options since they keep all the mail, coupons, and other papers off the counters.
- Keep the junk drawer | Out of all the kitchen organization tips, this one might surprise you most. I just don’t see how it’s possible to completely eliminate the junk drawer… especially if you have kids in the home. Designate a space for all the odds and ends items that inevitably collect on the counter over the day and commit to emptying it regularly. Whether this ends up being a junk drawer or a pretty basket depends on your space.
- Magnetic strip for knives | If your kitchen has ample wall space, consider using a magnetic strip for your knives. This can help keep them up and out of little ones’ reach while making it easy for you to grab what you need while you’re prepping your veggies.
- Tupperware | Pare down your collection to only the ones you use and the ones that have matching container and lid. If you have space, feel free to store them put together. If you don’t, or if your collection seems “happier”, keep the lids and containers stacked separately.
- Shelf risers | Use shelf risers for things you find yourself stacking too high. Be sure to measure your cabinets first. Or just grab some expandable ones for more flexibility.
- Prep cart | Portable prep cart can be a great and simple way to add storage to your kitchen. If you find that you still need more storage once every cabinet and drawer has been filled, consider investing in one of these portable carts. They’re great for pots, pans, dishware, etc.
- Improve your habits | Once you’ve organized your kitchen, keep it that way by changing your habits. This includes your daily tidying habits and your purchasing habits. When considering whether to buy something new for your kitchen, ask yourself if you have something that could already meet that need. And as much as you can, opt for multi-use utensils and mini appliances. For example, a French press can be used for making coffee, making tea, and rinsing grains like quinoa.
- Choose neutral | Out of all the kitchen organization tips, this one is personal preference. But, I still think it’s worth mentioning. When buying new utensils, appliances, dish towels, soap dispensers… anything… consider sticking with neutral colors or materials (or at least the same colors you tend to use). This will help everything to eventually go together and look more cohesive. Everything I buy now is neutral, which means that if and when it gets left out, my house doesn’t look cluttered with a million different colors or patterns. Because all my clutter matches. 😉