3 Strategies for Organizing Your Kitchen and Pantry
The kitchen is the hub of the home, so when is out of order it impacts daily life. Our client’s kitchen was in complete dysfunction (her own words!) and it was preventing her from hosting people at her home – something very important to her. Using these 3 key strategies, we overhauled her overwhelmed kitchen and pantry and restored them to order!
We asked Mindy to describe her kitchen prior to getting organized. “Complete dysfunction. It just wasn’t working. I couldn’t find anything. My counters were covered, my pantry was overflowing. Just way too much stuff!”
A disorganized kitchen can get out of control quickly! Tackling a kitchen overhaul can be overwhelming to say the least. It is a big project that needs to be completed within a short period of time because of its importance in the home!
Using these three strategies for successful kitchen projects will help when tackling a cluttered kitchen:
1. Understand how much stuff is in your kitchen
Kitchens always have much more stuff in them than we realize. So, prior to pulling it all out, prepare! Clear out adjacent rooms to give adequate space for unloading your items.
Have lots of boxes and bins (even laundry baskets!) on hand along with paper, pens, and tape for an organized unloading process.
As you pull items out of the kitchen, you are performing a macro sort! Group like items together and label as you create new categories. The labeling is key to keeping the process flowing! If you rely on memory you will spend too much mental energy trying to remember where items go in a sort.
In Mindy’s project, we used the living room for unloading the kitchen and the dining room for unloading the pantry. We knew there was a lot of stuff in Mindy’s kitchen, but – as with most kitchen projects – the amount of stuff still exceeded our expectations!
For instance, we found 8 boxes just of plastic storage containers!
Once the kitchen is completely unloaded into macro sort categories (bake-ware, utensils, plastic cups, glassware, etc), begin going back through those categories and micro sorting.
In utensils, how many spatulas do you have? How many slotted spoons? Micro sorting in this way will help tremendously in the next step – making decisions about what to keep and what to let go of.
After micro sorting all of the items from Mindy’s kitchen, our consultant walked her through the decision making process. In order for Mindy to have an organized kitchen, she needed to greatly prune her belongings. This step of the process can be difficult. We recommend calling in a trusted family member or friend, or a professional organizer to help you make these decisions.
Mindy stuck with the process and pruned her items and reports that she hasn’t missed anything she let go!
2. Resist maximizing cabinet space
After completing the sort and pruning process, it’s time to reload! To avoid getting right back where you started, you must resist maximizing cabinet space!
In Mindy’s kitchen, she had glasses stacked 3-4 high and every inch of cabinet space used. It was like Tetris! This made it difficult to find things, to extract items from the cabinets, and to put things away. Packed cabinets are a recipe for a cluttered kitchen!
Instead, when you are reloading your items, confine yourself to the space available. If you have so many glasses that they need to be stacked 3-4 high, it’s time to reconsider how many glasses you need on hand. Continue asking yourself the tough questions and pruning as you go. Be realistic about the size of your kitchen and how much space you have.
Loading cabinets with ease of use in mind will make keeping your kitchen decluttered much easier and save you a lot of time and frustration.
3. Customize! Make your kitchen yours by observing what you use most
Before we began unloading Mindy’s kitchen, we observed her natural habits to help us determine the best setup for her kitchen. For example, we noticed she had many vitamin supplements on the counter, which she used daily. We knew we needed to find a space in the kitchen with easy access to hold these items.
The solution we found for Mindy’s supplements was taking a cubby system and creating a “health bar”. Now all of Mindy’s greens and supplements are in one, easy to access place!
We also noticed many coffee travel mugs on her counter and a coffee maker hidden behind items on the counter. Mindy makes coffee daily, so we knew this, too, needed to be streamlined for ease of use.
One of the drawers in Mindy’s kitchen held office supplies. We decided to commandeer that space and relocate her household hub to another location in the home. We needed that drawer real estate!
An interesting thing we found is that Mindy was storing her heavy glass bake-ware and cookware in upper cabinets. Normally we would put these items in a lower cabinet because they are heavy and can be a safety hazard for certain clients if up high. However, after discussing this placement with Mindy we found out that she doesn’t like bending down much and purposely made this placement. So, when we reloaded, we kept this upper cabinet as the bake-ware and cookware cabinet!
This is a great example of how kitchens should be customized to you! Do what works well for you and your natural habits, rather than what seems “right” and you’ll be much happier with the final product.
Kitchens do take time because they are a big project in the home. But, results like these make all the hard work and time worth it!
We hope these strategies give you inspiration for organizing your kitchen and pantry!