Kitchen Storage

April 14, 2011 by  

Five Kitchen Organizing Tips

Part of having a kitchen that functions well for you is having it planned out properly.  I wanted to give you a few of my tips for planning out your kitchen so that it flows well.  You can have each cupboard organized, but if you have your dishes in with your food and your oven mitts way across the kitchen from your oven… then it isn’t going to function and flow smoothly.

1) Plan Your Space – Have Kitchen Zones


Be sure to keep zones in mind when planning where things belong in your kitchen.

Cooking/Oven zone – Think hot food on the stove & what you’ll need.

oven mitts
1) Have your oven mitts within reach of the oven.
2) Have pots and pans by the oven
3) Keep spices near by
4) Stove utensils such as spatulas, tongs, large stirring spoons etc.


Dishes Zone – Think setting the table and unloading the dishwasher

1) Have your dishes between your dishwasher and table if possible.
2) Have your silverware near your dishes
3) Keep your glasses in this same area


Baking/Meal Preparation Area  – Think making dinner and baking a cake

1) Have your flour, sugar, baking soda in this area
2) Have your mixer, measuring cups, mixing bowls near each other
3) It should be near the pantry and refrigerator if possible.

Peter Walsh describes in his book, It’s All Too Much, the kitchen “magic triangle” as the area formed by the sink, oven and refrigerator. He calls this area “sacred ground where the focus is food prep, serving and clean up takes place.  (I’m cursed lucky enough to have a galley kitchen – 2 long rows)

kitchen triangleHe also discusses zones, but he divides them into four zones: Preparation area, cooking center, eating area and clean up area.  Maybe that is easier for you to think in those terms.

2) Keep What You Use

Don’t keep everything!  You may get plastic cups from every restaurant you go to, but how many can you use? Is the cupboard over flowing?

Sort  into Piles

Go through any cupboard in your kitchen. Take everything out. Sort it.  If you have not used that item in the last 1-2 months put it in one pile. Everything in the “used frequently” pile goes back in for sure.

Now go through that pile of items you have not used in the last 2-3 months.  Go through it again. If you have not used that item in the last year then it sure go for sure. (If it is something like the electric knife that your husband wants at Thanksgiving – put it in the Thanksgiving bin that is in storage. Same with the pumpkin carving tools or Christmas only item.)
Things that you have used in the last year, but not often you need to evaluate.

3) Keep Like with Like

Keep items together that go together.  Baking items in the same cabinet. Dishes together etc.

If you don’t use it in the kitchen – take it out of the kitchen!  The kids baseballs  don’t go in the kitchen.

4) Use Your Space Wisely

cabinet organizing

Make good use of your space.  Use the cabinet doors & walls – I showed you how easy it can be with the command hooks. No excuses that you are renting or you have melamine and you can’t screw into it.

You can use wire racks to greatly improve the space.  Look at the space in your cabinet.  How much room is above that bottom layer on the shelf.  Is there enough room for a 2nd layer?  If so… use it!

Think under the cabinets, back of the door, wall space (shelves)   Be creative

5) Have routine food checks and clean outs

Mark on your calendar at least every 6 months to clean and reorganize your pantry and refrigerator/freezer.

expired food

Check for out dated food items.  Make sure things like flour and sugar, boxes of pancake mix, instant potatoes and Bisquick mix are in sealed containers and if not, be sure there are no bugs.

If you have any problems with mice (it’s not unusual especially if you live in rural areas…. mice want to get warm in the winter too. lol)then be sure that you always keep your food in sealed mouse proof containers.  Check frequently your cabinets and silverware drawers for any signs of mice (their poo!) and if you see signs of them… work on getting rid of the mice, but be sure to wash out all those items and sanitize the drawer before you put anything back in.

If it is a big problem with mice, then I would suggest that you even keep your silverware and dishes in plastic storage containers in the cabinets.

Our farm that is about 45 minutes from our house has an older house and we do get mice off and on different times of the year.  So I have to keep a close eye on dishes etc.

farm house

Do you have your kitchen divided into “zones”?  Does it flow easily from preparing a meal to clean up?

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25 Responses to “Kitchen Storage”
  1. JessNBP/MCC says:

    Awesome post! I have my kitchen setup just like that, it is just small and dark! I dislike being in it.

  2. Sarah says:

    I love this post! Thanks for making it simple! It’s usually so overwhelming for me to try and organize my kitchen!


  3. Sandy says:

    You should somehow add some fun bright colors to it!

  4. Sandy says:

    Thanks Sarah for the compliment!

  5. Rebecca G. says:

    Hi Sandy,

    I have used the command hooks for the oven mitts near the stove. I’m looking forward to buying more of those hooks because they are very sturdy and cheap. I’m also thinking of putting the reusable bags under the sink. We have had problems where we had them because the holder was too bulky.

    I think the biggest challenge has been #5–assessing what we have and what we don’t need/use. I think people get frustrated and give up reorganizing because it gets overwhelming.

    I think it’s best to have boxes handy when sorting. That helps to permanently remove (out of the house) anything that hasn’t or won’t be used. I did this with camping gear; we haven’t used it so I boxed it and sent it to the storage shed.

    Rebecca G.

  6. Sandy says:

    Thanks Rebecca.
    Yes… it is best to remove what you aren’t keeping and get it to a donation facility or to the trash right after you sort it.
    I recommend white trash bags for donate and black trash bags for trash. Of course there will be things that need to go in a box rather than a bag… but it helps when you have to decide what goes where.

  7. Until recently I had a smaller square kitchen, and I needed to maximize all cabinet space, so I made use of those small racks inside the cupboards to create 2 or even 3 layers of dishes. I also love that plastic bag catcher thing, like the one in your picture under the sink. It’s amazing how many plastic bags they can hold!

    Now I’m in a new/old (new to me, but dreadfully old) kitchen… brown tile and everything! It would be nice to redo the whole thing, but for now we have to make it work! At least the cabinets are huge.

    I think the most important thing that works for me is to keep the counters from getting cluttered. I don’t want to suddenly realize I only have a 2×2 foot square of counter to work with because everything else is crowded with cooking stuff I’m not using!

  8. JP says:

    Hi Sandy

    I like the ideas and will sort my kitchen according to these great ideas. Fantastic.

  9. Sandy says:

    Great… thanks! :)

  10. karen M says:

    I don’t have a zone, but it does make sense.. I need to swap around a few drawers.. kind of worried I may confuse the hubby, with the silverware and pot hold drawers in the same spot for 27 years.. Poor fella might think it was in the wrong house.. Thanks for your tips. I think it is time to clean and swap out a few drawers.

  11. Sandy says:

    omg.. you are right! Your hubby probably won’t like a change. If it is a system that works for you now… then don’t worry about it. If it has been a problem and you think it would flow better.. then go for it! :)

  12. Betty819 says:

    I have two corner cabinets that have turntable or whatever they are called. They are a royal pain..I have four drawers, one for measuring spoons, manuel can opener, pizza cutter, ice cream scoop, steak knives and long butcher knives.
    Below that are my dish cloths, hand towels, Dobie pads..that draw will only allow a few of each item. I go through hand/dish towels every day. I need more space for those. Underneath that drawer which is deeper are lids to storage containers, that are in drawer below that. I guess I could move the storage containers/lids over to the turnstyle/turntable cabinet. What’s the best way to store the container lids so I can keep them organized and not a jumbled mess?
    I feel like the best thing to do is pull everything out of that turnstyle/turntable cabinet and rearrange it but it is physically challenging to get up/down to do it. Maybe I can convince my daughter to lend me a few hours; she’s a good organizer but is always running her kids to activities, so I hesitate to ask her.

    If I could move the storage containers to that corner cabinet, it would give me more room for my kitchen linens.

  13. Sandy says:

    It’s difficult to give direction without seeing your kitchen. My suggestion would be to look online for some corner cabinet storage solutions. For the plastic lids you can either use another container to store them in or match them up to the plastic bowl and either place it under that bowl or snap the lid closed (if you have a little more room)
    For your kitchen linens, would it be possible to use a basket on one of the shelves of your corner cabinet and place them in that? You can easily pull the basket out to reach them. But that cabinet might not be convient to your sink area.
    I have post on my plastics cupboards that might help.

  14. Emily says:

    Hi Sandy…just wondered where you got your backsplash tiles from. I have the same cupboards and they seem to go real well.

  15. Sandy says:

    It was a local store here in town. I can’t remember now what kind they were, but I think they are probably pretty generic – we didn’t pick the real expensive ones.

  16. Jennepher says:

    very encouraging, especially the photo of how you organized under the kitchen sink. I am planning on that one next. I’ve been going through a cabinet a week and tossing/keeping/re-organizing. My kitchen is sunny and includes plants in pots and a mini waterfall to I consider it a living area as well. The key seems to be keeping the clutter/trash/recycles moving.

  17. Sandy says:

    Your kitchen sounds awesome! A mini waterfall? With my kitchen being a long narrow kitchen, it doesn’t lend itself to being much of a living area. I would love one of those little areas off my kitchen with the fireplaces and sitting areas… oh… one day maybe. lol

  18. Mary M-S says:

    Sandy, you recently tweeted a link to this article and I finally got around to reading it! I’m building a new house and was pleased to have confirmation of the zone concept, which I used in laying out the base design of my new kitchen space. I really enjoy your tips and look forward to incorporating as many as I can; I know I’m going to use the binder clip idea for rubber gloves that you have under the sink. Brilliant!
    aka @tantemary

  19. Sandy says:

    Thanks Mary! How exciting. I’ve never had the opportunity to build my own home… I would SO love that! I think it’s awesome that some of my tips might help you out. Thanks so much for letting me know.

  20. TalleySueNY says:

    I just came by to say thanks so much for the idea of clipping rubber gloves and hanging them on a hook! They’re the one thing I’m not happy with in my utility closet–they get stuffed inside a bucket (since they’re damp), and I hate having stuff *stored* in the bucket.

    But I didn’t have anywhere to put them.

    I’m going to put some sort of “hanging them up” solution–if not binder clip / Command hooks, then maybe I’ll glue a clothespin to the edge of a shelf, or to a wall.


    As for zone: I don’t really have zones, but I do have a baking end and a cooking end. It helps a lot!

  21. TalleySueNY says:

    Oh–I don’t necessarily keep “like with like,” depending on how you look at it.

    i have baking measuring cups and cooking measuring cups–they’re at opposite ends of my small galley kitchen. Ditto rubber spatulas, whisk.

    I try to store stuff near where it will be used. And I’ve decided duplicates are OK for that reason.

  22. Mary M-S says:

    Love the idea of duplicates in some zones, Sandy. My kitchen is done and I’m figuring our what really fits where in my zones; I’ve been trying to buy items to fit specific spaces as well as my needs. I did hang up not only my rubber gloves, thank you, but also two brushes on Command hooks under the sink. Instead so taking the plastic loop off that the price tag was attached to the brushes, I removed the tag but hang them on the hooks with the plastic loop that’s still attached. (You could substitute a piece of string tied to the handle, the plastic was just available!)

    It’s daunting to do a whole house but I love the tips I get from your site!
    aka @tantemary

  23. Mary M-S says:

    Sorry, Sue, I just realized the duplicates idea was yours, thanks!

  24. Great tips! This is exactly how I have my kitchen set up! Guess I learned it from my mom. :)

  25. Susana says:

    I love your tips! I should definitely organize my kitchen into zones. I think that in that way it will be very easy to tidy up quickly. Thanks a lot for sharing these ideas!

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