How To: Organize Your Kitchen

Congratulations! You have won a kitchen makeover! You will now have the kitchen of your dreams... a place for everything and everything in it's place... working in your kitchen will be a joy!

Oh, would that be wonderful!

Maybe you DO have your dream kitchen and the first time that you saw it, you were putting things away in your mind.

Perhaps your situation is less than ideal, and you have to make do with a kitchen that is too small, to big, too old, or oddly arranged. HAVE HOPE! Your kitchen can still work for you!

Olivia and a friend coloring in our last kitchen.
I have never had what I would consider my "dream" kitchen. I've had tiny apartment kitchens with little working space, big old kitchens with little cupboard or counter top space, and long narrow kitchens with AMPLE cupboard and counter top space - but no room for the kitchen table!
Before- a poor arrangement and avocado walls. Yikes!
I currently have a tiny kitchen with little cupboard or counter top space AND no room for the table (but the rest of the house meets our needs very well, so it is worth the inconvenience!).

Now - a better arrangement and
navy walls to display my Blue Delft

Another view -
the other side of the room

Nope, I've never had an ideal kitchen - - but what I have found is that perspective is what makes the difference! If you choose to think of it as a creative challenge, you are less likely to waste energy bemoaning the negatives.

Here are a few ways that you can make your kitchen WORK for you!

 1. Evaluate your kitchen.
Each kitchen is different so I can only give a partially simplistic plan for organization. Most have good organizational options and things that make you say, "What were they thinking when they designed this!?!" I am doubtful that there can truly be a kitchen with a perfect set up. What works well for one person may be annoying to another.

What does your kitchen have that is good? Does it have a great island or counter space? Lots of storage? A walk-in pantry? Does it have a "Breakfast nook" so that your family can eat together at the table?

Every kitchen has a positive. Start out by finding it and the organizational process will be much more pleasant.

2. Evaluate your needs.
Aunt Katie and Claire cookin' it up!
Do you love to bake and thrive on the next moment when you can please your loved ones with a beautiful cake or cookies fresh from the oven? Then you will want to have all of your baking supplies in easy reach.

Do you like to do stove-top cooking and need your cutting boards, knives and garlic press handy?

Do you prefer to spend the least possible amount of time in the kitchen opting for simple recipes or prepared meals? Then your pantry will be your friend, and you will want to keep prepared foods in easy reach and know what ingredients you have on hand to make your time in the kitchen more efficient.

3. Prioritize your priorities.

This is the time to personalize YOUR kitchen.

The most coveted space in the kitchen is a spot with a large section of counter top space and a large cupboard/storage area. THIS is your work station.

* If you are a baker, keep your mixing bowls, hand held mixer, counter top mixer, measuring cups and spoons, sifter, rolling pins, etc. in this area. You may even want to store your flour, baking powder/soda, sugar and other baking ingredients here if you have the storage space. That way, your most - used items will always be at your finger tips.

* If you are more of a chef, priority will be given to your stove top cooking items such as cutting boards and knives, vegetable peelers, and spices and seasonings. Keep these things in easy reach for prep times without delays.

* If you don't have the time to cook or interest in cooking and prefer to have ready-made or easy-to-prepare meals, this is still your work space, but your cupboards will be stocked with pantry items and the things that you need to prepare these easy meals such as salad/ mixing bowls, scissors, stirring/ serving utensils, etc.

This is YOUR kitchen. Set it up for YOUR convenience.

When my sister in law moved into her first home, a dear friend helped her unpack and set up her kitchen. After living in the house for a year, she decided that it would work better to store some little-used items in her walk in pantry on the other side of the dining room, and have her food items in the kitchen cupboard where they would be more easily accessible. So she made the switch!

4. Think it through.

I love it when am helping in someone else's kitchen and I can find everything I need because it is where I expect it to be.

 Look at your kitchen logically. What makes sense?

* Keep your coffee cups, filters and sugar bowl all together near the coffee maker.

* Store pots and pans, stirring utensils, and pot holders near the stove.

* Put plates, bowls and drinking glasses in a cupboard near the sink/dishwasher or the table that you use for family meals. Even better if that cupboard is convenient to both!

If your kitchen does not allow for all of these conveniences, do the ones that you can, and make do with the rest. My kitchen does not have a cupboard/counter top near the stove so I have my skillets and pot holders in the drawer under the oven, but I have to walk around the table to reach my stirring utensils.

5. Other bits of advice.

* Keep similar items together. For example: don't put dishes and food items in the same cupboard.

* Store little-used items in harder to reach places and most-used items in easy to reach places.

I have a very deep lower cupboard where I keep my cake pans, waffle iron, crock pot, and other things that I do not use every day. I may have to stand on my head to reach them when I do need them, but at least the things that I use the most are in easy-to-reach places.

* It can be very frustrating to work in your kitchen when you have to search for an item because it does not have it's own place. Place labels on the shelves or inside the cupboard doors for the things that belong there. This is particularly useful if you have children who help in the kitchen. You do not have to go out and buy labels, simply print or type words such as "plates," "glasses," "cereal," and "pans" on a piece of paper, cut them out, and tape them where you need them. (I did this with my light switch and garbage disposal switch so that I would not mix them up!)

* Control "junk" drawers with dividers. If you cannot afford to buy them, use other things like small plastic food storage containers or cardboard strips.

I cannot promise you the kitchen of your dreams, but if you try these things, I CAN promise that working in your kitchen will be much more efficient!

Happy cooking!


Candace Miller said...

Latisha-you get a triple a (AAA) rating on this article. So good, simple, practical and orderly. I have used many of your ideas since my husband remodeled our kitchen (See Taste of Home, Aug-Sept, 1999). I still battle for a clean counter top since I went from one major one and a small "thing" between appliances (only 4 drawers),but I'm determined. Congratulations on your recent achievment. Candy

Jill said...

I'm not currently living in my ideal kitchen, either.

Great ideas!

Linda @ Linda's Lunacy said...

I love this article. I don't live in a perfect kitchen, either, so I'm constantly trying to make it work better for me. Thanks for all the tips!

I'd love it if you linked this up to my Making a Home linky. :)

Linda @ Linda's Lunacy

Ryshel said...

Thanks for this post. We are currently renovating a home and I am looking forward to my new bigger kitchen! I'm so excited and can't wait to fill those cabinets!

Confessions of a Martha said...

Thank you for all of your kind comments. I am so glad that you found this article helpful!

lisaplus6 said...

i struggle with wanting a larger kitchen for canning and preserving and this article was a blessing to read today! i will be taking some time this week to personalize a bit since we have already organized and cleaned the lat few weeks :) Happy cooking and baking!

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