Published on April 30, 2019

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Photography by Lauren Stelling

What everyday objects do you treasure and utilize most in your home? Maybe it’s a set of handmade Japanese chef knives or a Biologique Recherche–packed medicine cabinet or a garden shed filled with your favorite tools—no matter the object, how you go about organizing and displaying the items you love and use most is nearly an art form.

For wellness blogger Alison Wu, that predicament arose when customizing her home and her epically organized kitchen. When wellness is your job, one of the most useful tools in your kit is adaptogens and herbs. Used to boost smoothies, lattes, and a plethora of meals, the powders can superpower your meals. Each has a specific purpose, so if you love adaptogenic powders, you tend to stock up and gather quite a collection—as Wu has. “Herbs and adaptogens are an everyday practice for me,” says Wu. “I didn’t want to hide them. I wanted people to see them.”

The wellness enclave was a last-minute decision, as many clever design elements can turn out to be. She had an endcap of a counter, where the marble extended about eight to 10 inches, creating a wellness isle of sorts. She thought, why not use this small space to showcase the herbs and powders she uses several times a day, rather than hide them away in a cabinet? “Having an organized and clean space really helps with my workflow, and I work a lot in the kitchen—it’s almost like my office,” she says. “I’m always thinking of an attractive way to hide things that I don’t want on display, whether that’s a basket or a shelving unit with organized drawers.”

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Photography by Lauren Stelling

Wu, a self-described minimalist when it comes to kitchen counter space, decided to display—in a very organized manner—her Sun Potion adaptogens, CAP Beauty herbs and matchas, and most-used spices. “I think they’re really beautiful but also functional,” says Wu. “An appliance out on the counter isn’t as visually attractive to me personally, but with the adaptogens, putting them on display gives an aesthetic value.”

The items are also more likely to be utilized when readily available. “When things are visible and organized in a way you can actually see them, versus putting them in the drawer and forgetting about them, you’ll absolutely use them more,” says Wu.  

How does someone who prefers “really clean and uncluttered spaces” create a gallery wall of powders in their kitchen without it turning into disordered hodgepodge? A few clever vessels, custom-measured shelves, and some mindfulness helps. Here are three tips to utilize an unforgotten or underutilized corner in your kitchen—whether it be for spices, adaptogens, or whatever you’d like.

Measure Twice, Cut Once 

Rather than making the drawers equal distance apart from one another, Wu custom measured her favorite adaptogens and jars, perfecting the dimensions to better utilize the enclave. Her beloved Sun Potion Lion’s Mane, along with the brand’s other mushroom basics, comes in stout packaging with the signature gold label; while Sun Potion’s Yin Powder and Maca Magic come in taller bottles, needing much more shelf space.

If you really want to show off your forever favorites while fully utilizing a small space, measure the packaging (twice!) and customize the sizes to get it right.

Think Outside the Jar

While the Sun Potion’s jars are works of art (and a point of pride for wellness aficionados), some packaging isn’t as display-worthy; same goes for buying in bulk, as Wu does from her favorite, Mountain Rose Herbs. She takes the spices out of the original packaging and distills them into a prettier vessel. She has a variety of glass containers with cork stoppers and a few treasured handmade jars from ceramicist Fernando Aciar of Fefo Studios that display everything from cinnamon to cardamon to vanilla beans. 

Make a Task Into a Ritual

Take a page from Wu’s book and turn an everyday task, like making a smoothie, into an opportunity. “Using these herbs and making these drinks, it’s like a ritual,” she says. “I try to do it as mindfully as possible, and by creating this little zone, it makes it feel like I’m doing it more intentionally and mindfully. Thinking of the herbs and what they’re doing for me, it makes it feel more special.”

That means creating a dedicated space beyond the enclave. She has a marble tray on the countertop above the shelves where she mixes and beautiful Danish brass spoons from Ferm Living to measure out the adaptogens. “The act of building it in a really beautiful place automatically helps you slow down and appreciate the moment,” she says.

Thinking of turning a forgotten corner into an artful and organized display? Here are a few Wu-approved objects that will help you get there quickly.

Keep organizing:
10 Pantry Shelves That Aren’t Sad Stacks of Metal
You Can Use This Simple Muji Product for Every Storage Problem Imaginable
Things You Thought Were Impossible: Towels Hooks That Aren’t Hideous

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