Market by Julia Stevens

Published on December 16, 2020

Whether you unload the dishwasher and refile your utensils haphazardly, accidentally double up on ingredients at the store, or shove all those pot lids in the back of the cabinet, kitchen messes can get overwhelming—fast. How do you keep them from getting out of control? We asked professional organizers from around the country to share their best kitchen organization hacks.

Even if you don’t have a lot of cabinets to work with or the room’s layout has you constantly weighing the pros and cons of undergoing a full renovation, you can still make the most of the storage space you do have. Of course, it helps to pare back your dinnerware, cookware, and the like to what you actually use, but beyond that, there are more ways to maximize how you keep everything in its place and easy to reach—these kitchen organization hacks will help you keep this space stress-free.

Sort by Zone

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Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

Pretty much any professional organizer will sing the praises of zoning: having all your glassware in one spot, all your pots and pans in another, and so on. But the optimal strategy for your own kitchen is one that takes into consideration how you actually use the room. Louisa Roberts, owner of Neat Method New York, recommends getting specific: Create a coffee or tea zone with your brewing tools, beans, and tea bags if you start your day with a cup, or section out a smoothie zone in your cabinet if that’s your go-to breakfast. If you have kids, group all of their snacks in one spot. Essentially, keeping like items together makes your life easier when you go to use them—and makes unloading groceries simpler when you know everything has a designated place. 

Turn Shelves Into Drawers

Pantry shelves in kitchenPin It
Courtesy of Neat Method

If you have shelves in a pantry or cabinet that are especially deep, more likely than not you’ll struggle to reach anything you place in the back. Jen Robin, founder of Life in Jeneral, recommends getting bins that are just as long as the shelves are deep. “You can essentially build a fake drawer that pulls out,” she says. “That way you can access everything you store there.” 

Stack Horizontally, Not Vertically

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Photography by Sarah Tramp; Design by Jess Bunge for Emily Henderson Design

Baking trays and pans can easily fit on top of one another, but Nialya Suarez, founder of Organized Simplicity, recommends using stands to keep them upright and easy to access. “If you have to unstack things, the likelihood that you’re going to use something at the bottom is very slim,” she says.

The same goes for all the lids to your cookware, according to Gilat Tunit, founder of Project Neat. When you separate lids, you can easily store pots inside one another (an example of when stacking vertically works well). “You’re basically file folding,” she says.

Add Pull-Out Compartments to Lower Cabinets

Kitchen sinkPin It
Photography by Michael Wiltbank

The philosophy around adding bins to shelves also applies to those under-sink cabinets that often turn into the land of no return for Tupperware lids and the like. Here, Suarez recommends installing pull-out drawers so you can prevent mysterious disappearances.  

Put Your Bottles on Display

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Photography by Roland Bello

Bar carts and cabinets are lovely, but you can’t always spot the wines in the back—and if you can’t see it, you can’t drink it. Instead put vino on a rack that’s as pretty as it is functional. It also plays back to the idea of zones: All of your bottles will be in one place. A clear plastic version can even fit in your fridge for the ones you want to chill.

Divide Up Drawers

White kitchenPin It
Photography by Stacey Van Berkel; Styling by Susan Johnson Smith

You likely already have a utensil organizer that separates your forks from your knives, but Tunit recommends fitting every drawer in your space with some kind of divider. “I use ones made for dressers and wardrobes,” she says. This way you can contain everything you would file away—your tea towels, wrapping supplies, all of it—and you prevent every drawer from becoming an accidental junk deposit. 

Unbox Your Refrigerated Goods

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Designed by Emily Henderson Design; Photo by Sara Tramp

Pantry staples aren’t the only things that should be poured into new, reusable packaging—taking the items in your fridge out of their boxes and bags can also free up a ton of space. Tunit puts boxed fruit, vegetables, mushrooms, and the like into Stasher bags. “What’s great about them is they’re really thin, so you can stack them and they free up a lot of space,” she says.

More stories like this:
Organize Your Small Pantry and You’ll Expand Your Storage Space
You’re 3 Steps Away From Your Most Organized Kitchen Cabinets Yet
How to Finally Organize Your Kitchen Cabinets—For Good This Time

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