Smart Design With Suzette: Organizing Your Kitchen

Store lids with containers. Courtesy photo
Los Alamos

Although January is nearing its close and many a New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside, I’ve decided to let my neat-freak flag fly and get down ‘n dirty with home organization.

If you’ve been bitten by a similar clean-up bug and are looking to organize your own home—I’ve got you covered in the kitchen! These tips, tricks, and techniques will have you in the organizing groove well into the new year!

The kitchen is an area of your home that gets used more often than most other areas. So it stands to reason that if your kitchen were more organized and simple to use, your life would feel easier.

Maximize Efficiency

Getting your house organized will go a long way to maximizing efficiency. There is no single right way to do it – the trick lies in finding the way that works best for you. For the kitchen, a few basic organizing concepts can get you started.

Tip #1: Empty Cabinets

Pull everything out of each cabinet and go through it. Discard or donate those things that are not frequently used, duplicate items, broken items or things you forgot you had. Do this with each cabinet and drawer, setting up separate areas on the floor for each group. Be ruthless. Most kitchens are short on storage space, so the goal is to only have things you love and use.

Store like items together. Courtesy photo

Tip #2: Group Like Items

After your cabinets are all empty, consider what is best for you in terms of how to group items. Sort all your baking items and pile them together. Sort your cooking items and pile them together. Group the dishes you eat from, glassware, holiday or other seasonal items that only get used once or twice a year, as well as those special entertaining or serving pieces that are only used occasionally.

Tip #3: Organize the Cabinets

Now that you have groups laid out on the floor, decide where each item should be stored. Cooking and baking pieces should be kept close to where you do food preparation. Utensils should be in the drawer nearest to the prep area as well. Glassware might be best near the sink or refrigerator. Make a coffee or tea station that includes sugar, mugs and filters, and place it near the water source, if possible. This way you avoid going back and forth across the kitchen for the things you need just to make your morning beverage.

Organized pantry. Courtesy photo

Use containers to streamline the inside your cabinets or in your pantry. Group together things like packets of sauce mixes, gravy mixes, hot cereal packets and hot cocoa envelopes, then put them into small plastic containers to avoid them being scattered. Categorize Food. Organize your pantry shelves as you would a library, with food items grouped by category. I use labeled bins in my pantry for snacks, desserts, and baking ingredients.

Tip #5: Store Containers and Lids Together

Discard containers without lids, and store the remaining plastic containers either with the lids on them, or store in a divided drawer so they all stay together. Do the same with the lids for your pots and pans. Another option is to store them on their sides in the cabinet on a wire rack.

Tip #6: Use Space Beneath Shelves

Slip an under-shelf wire rack over a shelf to take advantage of the often-unused space below.

Lazy susans save space. Courtesy photo

Tip #7: Use Lazy Susans

Rotating trays can be used to hold things such as oils, vinegars and other cooking ingredients, as well as spices, vitamins or medications. You can also use a few lazy susans in your refrigerator — one for beverages, so nothing ever hides in the back to spoil or freeze, and another for leftovers or small jars of pickles, olives or other small food items.

Tip #8: Use Drawer Dividers

Drawer dividers are great for cooking utensil drawers and your junk drawers. Everyone needs a place to keep those little miscellaneous things, but they don’t have to be overflowing and junky. Drawer dividers will allow you to assign a little spot for each thing, and you’ll be able to find things when you need them.

Space saving idea. Courtesy photo

Tip #9: Making The Most of Unused Space

Keep measuring equivalents and measuring cups handy with some hooks, chalkboard paint, and a chalk marker.

Tip #10: Declutter Yearly

Take an inventory of all utensils, cookware, and dishware and get rid of unnecessary duplicates, items damaged beyond repair, or things no longer used.

Your personal work style will determine where you store and use the items in your kitchen, but the goal is to get that room and its contents to serve your needs as smoothly and efficiently as possible. If you invest the time and energy into decluttering and organizing your kitchen, it is an investment that will pay off in happiness for years to come.

Feel free to contact Los Alamos Interior Designer Suzette Fox to suggest specific design topics or for help with your home. For more information, find her on Facebook at and on her website