For many people, the kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where food is eaten and friends gather, but it can also turn into a dumping ground for everyone’s stuff. And that can make it almost impossible to keep every corner and surface neat and organized.
To help you reduce clutter and set up efficient—and budget-friendly—storage solutions in your kitchen, we tapped top home organization experts and asked them to spill their tips. Think of it as the next best thing to hiring a professional organizer.
Box it up
“Use wooden boxes turned on their sides as a standalone shelf,” recommends Marty Basher, organization expert at Modular Closets. “You’ve got space inside the box and on top of the box—and using more vertical space looks tidy.”
If decorating with crates feels too farmhouse for your taste, try rattan baskets (Wayfair, $19.99) for a more bohemian vibe. Looking for something particularly modern? This white plastic box (Ikea, $12.99) will fit the bill.
Create a convenient control center
A great way to keep nonculinary items out of the kitchen for good is to designate a control center area where the family can store their necessities. This can be a console table or floating shelf by the front door.
“Get the whole family in the habit of not using the counter as a repository for everything from car keys to tomorrow’s homework,” Basher says. “To do this, create a command center for the lunchboxes, mail, keys, and homework to be accessible and organized.”
He recommends outfitting your control center with a monthly calendar, a whiteboard, and a basket or row for each family member.
If there’s a wall outlet nearby, this place could also serve as a charging station for everyone’s devices.
Divide and conquer
How much time do you typically spend searching through your kitchen drawers for a specific utensil? Drawer dividers will eliminate the clutter by creating boundaries for forks, spoons, knives, and other flatware you keep in the kitchen.
Drawer dividers can also help you maintain a more efficient inventory. For example, you may discover that you have 10 forks and 10 butter knives, but somehow, you’ve lost seven of your spoons—something you wouldn’t have noticed if the utensils weren’t organized.
Group and label
Few things look as cluttered as a bunch of cardboard boxes (cereal, crackers, rice, etc.) — especially when they’re all different sizes and colors. To streamline the insides of your kitchen cabinets, store your staples in clear, airtight containers. They look orderly and reduce the chances of pests getting into your food.
Double your cabinet storage
The inside of your cabinets are probably already filled to the brim, but you can create even more space by utilizing the back of your cabinet doors.
“They’re a blank canvas just waiting for you to put up hooks or magnetic strips to place extra serving spoons and other cutlery,” says Basher. “If you have a larger pantry door, you can put up a clear plastic shoe rack and store spice packets, mixes, and various small tools.”
Organize your lids
You might not put a lot of thought into your pots and pans. If you store them in a cabinet, they’re usually out of sight, and, therefore, out of mind. But to achieve a fully organized kitchen, you need to dedicate some of your attention to them as well.
One of our favorite ways to keep the lids from rolling around is to secure a spring-loaded tension rod at the front of the drawer. If you keep your pots and pans in a cabinet instead of a drawer, install metal towel rods on the cabinet door for the same purpose.
Lisa Ruff of NEAT Method, a home organizing company, also recommends repurposing a dish drying rack to hold all your lids.
Plan a cabinet purge
The best way to make your kitchen look less cluttered is to reduce the number of objects in it.
As you’re making resolutions for the new year, plan a date for a cabinet purge—and put that date on the calendar so you’ll stick to it.
“Get rid of the mismatched glassware and plates and the ugly bowl from Aunt Verna,” says Jessica Sampson of The Maids cleaning company. “Stop waffling on that waffle iron collecting dust or the fondue machine that has become fon-don’t, and get rid of any items that you no longer use.”
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