15 Steps to a Decluttered Kitchen

Reduce clutter and live simply with these tips for better organization in the kitchen. Scale back on cookbooks, don't buy another coffee mug, and then take a deep dive into this challenge and learn how to streamline your lifestyle.

Keep in mind: Price and stock could change after publish date, and we may make money from these links.
January 30, 2018

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Sarah Fogle ©2016

Photo By: Emily Fazio ©2017

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Rev-A-Shelf ©2017

Photo By: Emily Fazio

Photo By: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo Agency

Photo By: D2 Interieurs

Photo By: Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography

Photo By: Jalynn Baker

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza Photography

Commit to the pantry challenge.

Take a close look at the items in your pantry, especially the ones way in the back. Make a goal to use any items that are expiring in the next three months. Bonus points if you can incorporate three of the ingredients into a single meal. More bonus points if you can use up all these items in a single week.

Stack your cookware.

Make better use of cabinet and drawer space and have a system for stacking cookware. Regardless of quality, pan protectors will help protect non-stick surfaces from scratches and will prolong the life of your pots and pans. You can make protectors like these; a single layer of felt cut into an asterisk shape will do the trick, but I recommend double-layered for added durability.

Keep the fridge free of magnets and artwork.

It’s easy to let kids' artwork consume every spare inch of your refrigerator. Keep the chaos at bay by framing select pieces of artwork, or purchasing a shadowbox frame that doubles as a secret built-in storage unit – totally genius.

Reduce unused small appliances and tools.

Some small appliances get used a lot, and those are the ones you should keep handy. However, whether we want to admit it or not, there are some appliances – like a veggie spiralizer, ice cream maker or specialty stand mixer attachments – that we rarely use, and we can certainly do without them taking up a whole cabinet of their own. If you must keep the lesser-used appliances, carve out a new space for lesser-used appliances in an unused closet or on a shelf in your basement.

Find order in your silverware drawer.

Store-bought utensil trays are good for simple organization, but storage systems that take into account serving pieces and lesser-used hand tools – like potato mashers and can openers – are often better off custom built. This drawer organization system built by Sarah at The Ugly Duckling House proves that you can retrofit any drawer to meet your individual needs.

Organize your refrigerator.

When there’s an assigned place for everything – and everything’s in that place – it’s a whole lot easier to find what you need. I always struggled with loose condiments wedged in the narrow door shelves, so a rotating tray has been the perfect accessory for our fridge. Not only can we spin it to access a specific item, but at dinner time we can pull the whole tray out and transfer it to the table so that everything remains contained and accessible. This same system works perfectly for salad dressings too!

Store recipes creatively with magnets.

Maybe it dates me to admit this, but we still rely on printed recipes from time-to-time. I keep our most-used favorite recipes (pancakes, enchilada sauce, dumplings, pizza dough) pinned to the inside of our upper cabinet doors for convenience. Open up the door, there it is! No poking at my phone for the recipe and no pulling out the cookbook. The easiest thing to do is to attach an inexpensive metal mending strip using a piece of mounting tape and then use a magnet to hold the recipe in position.

Reduce your stash of plasticware.

Assess your collection of plastic containers. First, separate items that aren’t yours; label and bag them so you can return them to their owners. Then separate items that don’t have a lid or lids that are missing their bottom. Next, check for cracks and melted plastic – those too can go. Finally, filter out plastic items that are from to-go containers. Put those containers to better use, such as organizing screws and hooks in your workshop. The goal? A much-less cluttered cabinet where you can always find what you need.

Keep bulky items off of the countertop.

While it’s usually fun to show off your colorful stand mixer or high-velocity blender for a little while, it sure is nice to get that counter space back when the appliances aren’t in use. The Rev-A-Shelf is without a doubt my favorite invention, because it keeps the tool as accessible as it needs to be, and eliminates the back-breaking movements we all know from trying to lift one of those things from the bottom cabinet, or the top shelf in your pantry. Get one for every appliance!

Use wall space to your advantage.

A magnetic bar installed on the wall is a magical way to store your most-used knives. Keeping them out of a drawer prevents them from getting dinged up, and getting a knife block off the counter saves valuable space, too.

Downsize tableware and tools.

Do you really need five rubber spatulas, eight pairs of salt and pepper shakers, and 31 wine glasses? No, you don't. Keep one spatula, one pair of shakers, and eight wine glasses. Send the rest to a thrift store. If you have a big party and need more tablewear for a one-time event, tell you guests to bring some.

Get everything not related to food prep out of the kitchen.

The stack of New Yorkers has to go. So does the pile of junk mail, the craft supplies, and the bottle of African violet food. Take that stuff to the place in your house where it belongs. Make a hard, fast rule that the kitchen is for eating and preparing food, and forbid any non-food related items from ending up there. If the kids want to do their homework at the counter while you cook dinner, fine. Just make them take their things with them when they're done.

Get multipurpose items.

A smoothie maker and a pasta maker are awesome, but will you use either of them enough to justify taking up that much space in your kitchen? A stand mixer with some attachments can do everything from press pasta to juice fruit, and a countertop convection oven can toast bagels as well as bake a pizza. Glass storage containers that can go from fridge to oven will let you jettison your pile of plastic containers.

Blast the junk drawer.

Clean out the catch-all drawer that holds everything from soy sauce packets to outlet adapters. First, purge. You don't really need 14 sporks and a five-year-old business card, so toss them. Sort remaining items, grouping similar items into piles. Get a drawer organizer to divide the space into sections, then put your things into new dividers. It's OK if it's still a mashup of stuff. You just need to be able to see what’s in there without rifling through junk.

Organize drawers and cabinets by function.

Your kitchen has function zones, areas where you wash, prep, cook or bake. Group items or tools you use for each task together. Then put them in the area where they will be used. So coffee cups, coffee beans, grinder and the sugar dish go in the cabinet by the coffee maker. Baking pans go near the oven, pots and pans near the stove, and dishwashing supplies near the sink or dishwasher

Shop This Look