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?
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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 >>
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 >>
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.
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.
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.
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 >>
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.