Messes seem to accumulate slowly, then all at once, especially in the kitchen. When you unload the dishwasher and refile your utensils haphazardly, accidentally buy a baking ingredient you already have several of, and shove all those pot lids in the back of the cabinet, it’s no wonder the space can start to feel overwhelming—fast. But a few kitchen organization hacks can prevent it from getting to this point to begin with.
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 like and use, but beyond that, there are more ways to maximize how you keep everything in its place and easy to reach. These are the expert-backed kitchen organization hacks that will help you maintain this space stress-free.
Sort by Zone
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: creating a coffee or tea zone with your brewing tools, beans, and tea bags if you start your day with a cup, or sectioning 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
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. So 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
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
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.
Work Around the Dishwasher
Zoning according to how you use your kitchen is crucial, but there’s another element that can help you figure out where to place those zones: Use one specific appliance as a guide. “It might sound weird, but once you know where the dishwasher is, then you can find the right cabinet for your dishware, the right drawer for your utensils, and so on,” says Roberts.
Divide Up Drawers
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, your wrapping supplies, all of it—and you prevent every drawer from becoming an accidental junk deposit.
Unbox Your Refrigerated Goods
Pantry staples aren’t the only thing 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.
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