Easy Organization Solutions for Kitchens

Drawers, cabinets and pantries that will serve you well.

Oh, the kitchen. Where space is often at a premium, and the ability to organize makes you king. There’s a point every day where I find myself wishing for an extra drawer, a walk-in pantry, or cabinet shelving with enough vertical space to store the cereal boxes upright. But when you move into an old house, you usually have to make concessions (and sideways cereal boxes are our concession). An organized kitchen makes everything easier – and certainly makes cooking more enjoyable. So, what are my favorite products and tips that help give the kitchen two thumbs up?

Tips for Organizing in the Kitchen

Tips for Organizing in the Kitchen

Organizational strategies for organizing cooking spices, your knife collection, and inside your refrigerator.

Photo by: Emily Fazio ©2017

Emily Fazio, 2017

Keep reading to get inspired, and get your kitchen into its best shape ever.

Organize your silverware and knives

Knife storage is a must. A countertop knife block is nice if you need them at your fingertips, but you can also save counter space and tuck the knives into a drawer. Make a simple drawer knife corral similar to the one shown in the photo above by using a piece of untreated wood and a chop saw to create narrow spaces for each knife.

Silverware organizers are mandatory – and as much as we swoon for the store-bought styles in sleek stainless and non-slip silicone finishes, many of our favorites are DIY drawer dividers and organizers.

DIY flatware drawer organizer

DIY flatware drawer organizer

How to make a wooden drawer divider.

Photo by: Sarah Fogle ©2016

Sarah Fogle, 2016

Make the most of your refrigerator and freezer

Adding a condiment control center to our fridge made a big difference. The spinning tray not only keeps our most-used toppings organized in the fridge, but convenient to transport to and from the dining room table. (These turntables are also great in cabinets for spices, canned goods, and baking accessories.)

Tips for Organizing in the Kitchen

Tips for Organizing in the Kitchen

Organizational strategies for organizing cooking spices, your knife collection, and inside your refrigerator.

Photo by: Emily Fazio ©2017

Emily Fazio, 2017

Improve access to deep cabinets

When you’re on your knees and shoulder deep in your base cabinet hoping your fingertips find that 9x9 baking dish, remember that there are multiple solutions for those dark, disorderly spaces. First things first, install a motion-sensitive LED light strip. You can attach it directly to the inside of the cabinet, and every time you reach within you'll have the lighting you need to easily find what you need. (We have them in every closet in our house!)

Next, consider inserts to keep the deep cabinets orderly. ShelfGenie specializes in custom drawer inserts for existing cabinets. The inserts slide in and out with ease, allowing easier access and improving your ability to organize the cabinet space. The same drawer inserts can be used in a deep pantry cabinet, making it easier to manage your non-perishables like a pro. 

In my last house, I even made my own sliding plastic container storage system to keep lids and containers in check. You can make your own using dowels, pegboard and drawer sliders, and customize the design to fit any cabinet.

10 Clever Ways to Keep Your Kitchen Organized

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Breakfast Storage Bar

Ever since blogger Tonya Staab and her family moved into their new home, she longed for more storage space in her kitchen. Since she uses her kitchen island for prepping meals, she came up with the idea of adding shelves under one side of the island. She uses the wooden crates to store vegetables, cans and recycling.

Photo By: Tonya Stabb

Paper Towel Drawer

An open-face drawer with a built-in paper towel dispenser makes the towels easy to reach but it is not an obvious part of the kitchen. Design by John McGilvray. See more of this beautiful French country kitchen >>

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©2012, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Hidden Pegboards

A set of columns on either side of the sink look purely decorative, but they’re totally practical with their pegboard-style storage. Design by John McGilvray. See more of this gorgeous kitchen >>

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©2012, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Toe-Kick Step Stool

If your upper cabinets are hard to reach, a step stool stowed away in the cabinet's toe kick may be the perfect solution. Design by John McGilvray.  See more of this kitchen >>

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©2012, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Baskets + Bins

Organize your pantry staples in see-through, pull-out baskets it'll make it easier to see what you have and what you need. 

Photo By: Toni Hammersley

Even the Least Obvious Spaces Work

Most kitchens have toe kicks under their cabinets. This one, however, utilizes those spaces with the toe-kick drawer from Diamond Cabinets.

©Photo courtesy of Diamond Cabinets

Looking Upward

Don’t overlook those hard-to-reach spaces. With a handy sliding ladder in place, access is a fingertip away. The shelf over the entryway stores cookbooks, and the circular lazy Susan is mounted on the wall to hold spice canisters. Photo courtesy of DIY Showoff.

©DIYShowOff

Mix and Match Modular Shelving

The fun of floating shelves such as these is that you can position them any way you want, which makes them an ideal choice for tiny kitchens. 

Less Is More

Efficiency is key when you have a small kitchen. All the necessary tools need to be within easy reach. Shelves can store tools and even art, as long as it is not overcrowded. Susan Serra, CKD, CAPS and author of The Kitchen Designer blog, enjoys finding solutions to create order in tight spaces.

©Susan Serra

Spring-Loaded Curtain Rod to the Rescue

When organizing your kitchen, it’s easy to forget the dark area below the sink. Stop tossing in the miscellaneous cleaning supplies, and give them a space that’s all their own. By adding a small curtain rod below the sink, you will be able to hang your cleaning supply bottles while also opening up the bottom of the cabinet for other items.

Cabinet Racks

To maximize cabinet space try stackable wire racks. The racks come in different heights and widths, and they allow various sizes of plates to be stored neatly within the same cabinet.

That Tiny Space Next to the Fridge

The tall pull-out cabinet next the fridge is open on both sides so it is convenient and easy to see what you’ve got in stock.

Photo By: Jason Kisner ©2012, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Both Sides

The dual-door cabinet from Diamond Cabinets allows for easy access for dinnerware, serving bowls and other kitchen items.

©Photo courtesy of Diamond Cabinets

Under Sink Pull Out

Why have a drawer if you can’t actually use it? Try adding hinges and a convenient tray to the false drawer for an extra place to hide cleaning essentials.

Pantry Door Organizer

A chalkboard panel mounted on the inside of the pantry door makes it a snap to keep track of grocery needs and daily schedules. Attaching a piece of chalk with a pretty ribbon ensures that you won’t have to go digging through drawers when you need to write something down.

Mix It Up

Display your favorite dishes with antiques and artwork to add interest and character to your open shelving.

Pegboard Backsplash

A pegboard wall allows for extra storage as well as display space. The inexpensive panels are fastened to the walls, then hooks from the hardware store are used to hang utensils and kitchen gadgets.  Get the step-by-step instructions >>

Photo By: Lindsay Raymondjack ©Designs by Joanne Palmisano, photos by Susan Teare

Stylish Island

For extra serving and prep space, a custom island made from an old console table was updated with a spray-coat of bubble-gum pink lacquer. It was then outfitted with hooks for kitchen supplies and topped with a Carrara marble remnant. 

Photo By: Mali Azima

Reclaimed Wood Spice Rack

Most of us hide our mismatched spices in a cabinet until it's time to cook. Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri of HGTV's Kitchen Cousins have a solution to turn your spices into a unique piece of artwork. Slabs of reclaimed wood were cut to size and nailed to the wall, and then various metal holders were added to hold 30 different spices in matching canisters.

Wire Drawers

For extreme durability, try another take on baskets — wire instead of wicker. The see-through racks also mean that you no longer have to dig for that bag of kettle corn.

©Photo courtesy of ClosetMaid

Uppers

Look up. If you aren’t comfortable with open shelving at eye level, try limiting it to the row of cabinets near the ceiling. In this kitchen, the homeowner removed the upper cabinet doors to enlarge the feel of the compact space and add decorative interest without putting her entire kitchenware collection out in the open.

©Jean Allsopp

Illuminated Pot Rack

A pot rack with an integrated light fixture with small halogen bulbs takes advantage of vertical space and can add task lighting to the work space below. 

Toy Drawers

Kids love playing in the kitchen while you work, but post-meal clean-up is enough of a drag without adding toys to the mix. Look for clever options like the one in this kitchen island. The kid-height, slide-out shelves collect everything from crayons to tots' pots and pans.

Side Desk

A small desk tucked into the end of the cabinets is a spot to stay organized or a convenient place to do homework. 

Photo By: Shane Inman

Primitive + Practical

Sometimes simpler is better. In this case, dishes become part of the decor in a distressed-wood dish rack. But they're also close enough to make storage and use a delight.

Photo By: Brian Brown

Nooks and Crannies

Contrary to its size, these sliding drawers store a lot of items. Susan Serra, CKD, CAPS, found that these drawers hold small gadgets, dinnerware and food.

©Susan Serra

Soaring Spirits

This reclaimed wooden rack is great for housing open wine bottles and other accoutrements like corkscrews. It is available through Obaz.com.

A Place for Everything ...

... and everything in its proper place. These sliding chrome inserts from Diamond Cabinets make pots, lids and other items easy to spot. Chrome shelves on the inside of the doors are perfect for storing plastic wrap and other kitchenwares.

©Diamond Cabinets

Round and Round

When you open a cabinet door, don’t you want to see order? The Can Tamer works like a lazy Susan to house canned goods. From QCI Direct, the Can Tamer stores 13 cans or up to 39 food cans, depending on their size.

©QCI Direct

Maximize vertical space

Convert a lower cabinet into a space for hanging pots and pans. Glideware manufactures cabinet organizers with built in hooks so that you can organize and hang your cookware for easy access, and to prevent scratches. Better yet? Convert that corner lazy Susan into a circling coral for your hanging pots and pans using Glideware's Not-So-Lazy Susan system.

Glideware Not-So-Lazy Susan

Glideware Not-So-Lazy Susan

A corner cabinet insert to keep pots and pans stored with ease.

Photo by: Glideware ©2017

Glideware, 2017

In a pantry, can racks effectively harness your soups, sodas, and other assorted canned foods. And they make your pantry feel as organized as the canned foods at the supermarket – it's absolutely satisfying.

Add utility behind unused drawer fronts

Tip out trays make use of a space usually ignored. Buy a simple kit and convert the panels in front of your sink to house narrow dishwashing gadgets like extra scrubbers, scrapers, and sponges.

Similarly, if you have a stovetop built into your counter, you can make use of the space beneath it by creating a custom fit drawer, which is perfect for spices and other items you commonly use while cooking. I toured a house that featured a custom drawer, and you can see photos of it here.

Improve small appliance storage

Our stand mixer is not only too tall to fit on the countertop beneath the upper cabinets, but storing it on an upper shelf in our small appliances cabinet effectively turns dinnertime into Kitchen Crossfit. Muscles! A heavy-duty mixer lift shelf like the below model from Rev-A-Shelf would enable me to use the stand mixer without ever having to lift it.

Rev-A-Shelf Stand Mixer and Appliance Lift

Rev-A-Shelf Stand Mixer and Appliance Lift

If you’ve got an appliance that needs to move — say, a heavy stand mixer or a clunky breadmaker — you could be in for serious pain upon lifting. Remove the danger with an in-cabinet appliance lift like Rev-A-Shelf. It can elevate hefty items almost as if they’re weightless.

Photo by: Rev-A-Shelf ©2017

Rev-A-Shelf, 2017

Use open baskets and transparent storage containers

When you reach the point where you can’t open the cabinet without blockading an avalanche of snacks, open bins are the easiest way to win back control. Open bins serve us as an effortless catch-all for kid snacks – from snack packs for lunch boxes to assorted pieces of Halloween candy.

Transparent containers are also good for pantry storage when you want to see the contents stored within the canister. It works well for flour, sugar and pastas. For items with a greater risk of going stale, like cereals, coffee, and cookies, we like vacuum-sealed containers. The FoodSaver system, which we use to vacuum seal foods before freezing, also has an attachment that hooks to the top of our containers to extract air and it really does keep the contents fresh longer.

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