With the number of kitchen gadgets and appliances there are, it can be difficult trying to figure out how to keep it all organised. Should you put your serving spoons in a jar on the counter? How do you tuck away your mixer and your bread maker? Check out this soup-to-nuts guide on how to store everything in your kitchen to make your everyday life just a little bit easier.
Boost Storage with Freestanding Pieces
If your kitchen lacks built-in cabinetry, consider a stand-alone piece to increase the room’s storage capacity. This freestanding armoire houses delicate dishware while lending warmth and charm in a transitional kitchen.
Maximise Under Sink Storage
Conquer your under-sink space with a simple, on-a-dime solution. Keep your most frequently used items (dish soap, dishwasher detergent, sponges, and scrubbers) on a turntable for quick access.
Streamline the Coffee Station
Make mornings more accessible with an all-in-one coffee station. Dedicate a pullout drawer next to your coffeemaker to holding filters, coffee beans, and travel mugs, so brewing a fresh pot is a one-step task.
Organise Your Refrigerator
Keep the space inside your refrigerator in order with these tips and strategies.
Round-Up Your Recycling
A two-bin unit lets you sort recyclables and trash, then conceal them behind doors. The most convenient location for this unit is next to the sink so cans and bottles can go straight from a rinse into the appropriate bin. Or, choose a location near the door where you exit the house to limit how far you must lug the bins.
Stock your freezer with storage-smart ideas to make use of every inch of shelf space. Use plastic baskets (an affordable organisation tool) to store foods by type and put a labelled tag on each. (We used scrapbook paper and luggage tags.) Keep small adhesive labels and a permanent marker on hand to label individual containers.
Use the Toe-Kick
Put the toe-kick (the space between the cabinets and the floor) to work and install a shallow drawer in this underused space. Use the newfound storage spot to house kids’ craft supplies or serving dishes and baking pans.
Add a Command Center
Built-in bins, a bulletin board, and a clock turn one side of a fridge cabinet into a household command centre. This simple DIY project creates instant organisation and utilises small spaces that are otherwise wasted.
Use Clear Containers for Dry Goods
Shift dry goods into airtight, stackable containers. Packaged food products can be stored more compactly when transferred from their packaging into stacking containers. Cut out the necessary information from the package (instructions, nutritional information, etc.) and tape to the outside of the container.
Store Stuff on the Doors
Attach racks to the inside of cabinet doors to boost storage options. Be sure to allow enough clearance within your cabinets to allow the door to close completely. A narrow rack such as this one is ideal for keeping small jars in order.
Fake a Pantry
Using substantial-size drawers is a smart alternative to a full-size pantry when kitchen space is limited. These drawers keep boxes and bags upright, organised, and accessible.
Keep Towels Close
Keep dish towels in a cabinet close to the cleanup zone. Use a pullout towel rack with more than one bar to air-dry and store towels.
Add Open Shelves
Add open shelving for cookbooks, displays of attractive serving bowls and dishes, stemware, vases, or baskets. Here, grouping and stacking pieces on the open shelves keep items neat and easy to find.
Upgrade an Island. Add shelves or niches to the end of a cabinet run. The side of an island or cabinet is a prime spot for storing cookbooks and displaying kitchen collectibles.
Organise with Cubbies
Give an order to a collection of nesting mixing bowls or small appliances with a system of cubbies. Tuck in the necessary attachments and manuals that accompany each appliance, so everything is on hand.
Put Walls to Work
Install a wire wall grid to keep kitchen tools handy. Turn a bare section of wall into a hook-and-hang centre. For more storage, add accessories such as spice racks and cookbook holders.
Properly Store Spices
Store spice bottles on their sides with labels visible; lay them in shallow drawers instead of stacking them, says organisation consultant Ginny Scott of California Closets in Portland, Oregon. The best location for spice storage is below a cooktop or to the side of a range. The flavour of spices stored above a cooking surface might be adversely affected by the heat.
Neatly Stow Linens
Run out of drawer space for towels and cloth napkins? Reach for a basket to neatly stack linens and tuck the basket onto a shelf or inside a cabinet. A basket will help keep linen sets together and will be easy to find when you want to use them.
Divide Your Drawer Space
Adjustable inserts help organise flatware and other items inside your drawers. When designing custom drawer space, specify shallow drawers to store utensils one deep for easy viewing.
Choose Full-Extension Pullouts
Drawers and trays that extend fully allow the use of back corners without having to reach deep into cabinets to retrieve a pot or small appliance. You might prefer drawers because they save having first to open a set of doors.
Try Upright Storage
Store shallow items, such as cutting boards and platters, upright. Even narrow spaces next to your range or your sink can be used in this manner. Use dividers to separate items for easier retrieval.
Put Corners to Work
Perpendicular countertops result in extra-deep corners that often go to waste. Put this area to work storing small appliances. Here, sleek bamboo cabinet doors conceal the cabinet’s contents.
Stow Pots and Pans
Fill in the space under a cooktop with a tilt-out tray for spices and rollout trays for pots and pans. Or, slide in a movable cart with shelves to accommodate cooking equipment.
Combine open and closed storage for visual interest and accessibility. An arrangement of cabinets and cubbies makes use of typically wasted space around a refrigerator.
Group Items by Size
“This is the best way to use space more efficiently,” says organisation consultant Alice Winner of Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, especially when you size shelves to fit the groupings. Keep in mind; however, that grouping similarly sized items that serve different functions, such as tall cereal boxes and a blender, might take more time when you’re searching for something.
Bring the Pantry Closer to You
A pullout pantry system has wire shelf sides that prevent items from falling out and allow easy viewing of the contents. Pullout pantry systems, especially those that extend into toe-kick space near the floor, must be installed perfectly level and plumb to operate smoothly.
Take Cabinets to the Top
If you’re planning for new cabinetry, choose designs that reach the ceiling rather than those topped by a soffit. Although high-rise storage can be difficult to reach, it’s convenient for concealing infrequently used items.
Stash Tall Bottles
A deep drawer such as this one is the perfect spot for storing tall bottles of oil, vinegar, and more. Consider adding one to your next cabinetry makeover, or as a quick-fix alternative, corral all your bottles into a deep basket that you can slide onto a shelf or inside an existing cabinet.
Clear the Countertops
Your kitchen countertops should hold only the things you use daily. Create a permanent spot for everything else, including small appliances. Store things close to where you use them.
If you’re installing open shelving, strategise your plan to accommodate what you’ll be storing. Professional organisers recommend measuring your stacked dishes to determine the shelf height your dishware requires.
Where to put everyday dishes? If you’re lucky enough to have more than one cabinet for dishes and glassware, think about something close to the dishwasher — but not in the way of its open door. If you’re standing at the sink, and the dishwasher is to the right, then put the everyday dishes and glasses to the left of the sink/dishwasher. (Here, the dishwasher is hidden behind a cabinet panel door, but you get the idea).
Cookbooks, wine, and oversized bowls. If you have a cabinet above the refrigerator, consider taking off the doors and adding a wine rack or an extra shelf for cookbooks, or even a few cool looking serving bowls. Typically this deep, dead space ends up being full of less used items that just take up space. Instead, use that space for a pretty presentation.
Utensils, knives, and everyday spices. Whether it’s a wall rail system for utensils and spices, a silverware organiser, a pot rack, or a spice drawer insert, check all the amazing organisers out there on the market that are designed to be adjustable and fit existing kitchen cabinets of various sizes. Items like small appliances, large pots, mixing bowls and salad bowls are well situated to open shelves under islands or a baker’s rack if you can carve out some space for it.
In the fridge
Parmesan cheese grated on the plate. The supermarket or grocery gives you a clear indication of where products should be stored. If it’s in the fridge in the shop, then that’s where it should go at home. Some items need to be stored in the fridge after opening, and most will then have a date they should be used by so it’s worth noting on them when they were opened.
There are a few ground rules for fridges that you’ll find in any professional kitchen:
Ready-to-eat foods – like yogurts, butter, spreads, cheeses and cooked meats should always go on the top and middle shelves. Anything that needs to be cooked, i.e. raw meat and fish should be placed on the bottom shelves so that they don’t drip and contaminate the foods you’re going to put straight in your mouth.
Most of us have a salad drawer, and it’s fine to put your veggies and fruit in there but make sure they get a good wash before you eat them. Ideally, you’ll keep them covered to avoid any potential spillage on to them.
In the freezer
Boxed ingredients in the freezer. Leftovers should always be cooled as quickly as possible and put in the fridge within two hours. Even better, put spare portions in the freezer. It can be tempting to leave items in the fridge for a few days thinking you’ll eat them, but often this doesn’t happen, especially if you have a lot of leftovers. It’s always worth having a stash of lidded plastic containers and some sticky labels in reserve so that freezing your food is a hassle-free option.
If you do your shopping weekly, check the labels to see when use-by dates are and also if the item is freezable. It’s easy to take an item out of the freezer and let it defrost in the fridge overnight, rather than getting to the end of the week and realising that pack of chicken thighs you bought is now destined for the bin.
Our recipes have a blue snowflake symbol on them if they can be frozen. Most foods can be frozen raw, as a part-finished dish or as a complete dish.
In the dark
Oils are best kept away from light, heat and air to prevent oxidation which makes them spoil. So keep your oil in a sealed bottle in a cupboard rather than next to the hob.
Garlic, onions and potatoes also like the dark as this helps to avoid sprouting. A dry environment is best (so resist the urge to wash dirty potatoes before you need them). A brown paper bag is an ideal place to put these vegetables. You’ll need a separate bag for each veg.
Fruit bowls and veggie racks
Fruit in bowls. Root vegetables are particularly happy outside the fridge, and most other vegetable farewells, but if you keep them in the salad drawer of your fridge, they will last longer. Leafy vegetables generally last better in the fridge. If you’re doing a weekly shop, eat leafy veg earlier in the week and save brassicas and roots for later. Squash and the like will last for weeks.
Citrus fruits, berries, cherries, pineapple and watermelon, will not ripen once picked, they just go bad. Keep them in the fridge, and you’ll slow down that process.
Stoned fruit like peaches, plums and nectarines will all keep ripening as will melons, mangoes and tomatoes. So depending on when you’re planning to eat them and how ripe they are, keep them in the fridge or the fruit bowl.
Pears also continue to ripen as do apples but apples tend to get a fluffy unpleasant texture if they get too ripe so if you like a nice crisp bite it’s well worth keeping them in the fridge. Keep apples in their own drawer as they give off a gas that can deteriorate other foods.
Banana skin blackens in the fridge so even though the inside will ripen more slowly and taste fine, it can be off-putting. Some people like to freeze bananas and use them in smoothies. Surprisingly this really does work, and young children may even be convinced to have this instead of an ice cream (if you’re lucky!) You can also pop a ripe banana in a paper bag or drawer with an avocado to speed up the ripening process of the avocado.
Shelves and cupboards
When you’re stacking your shelves, similar group items together and put the things you use most often within easy reach. It’s always worth having a clear out from time to time as the least used items can some times rot and end up wasting space you could otherwise use.
With equipment and cooking utensils, again arrange similar items together and keep them near to where they’ll be used. Here are a few suggestions:
- Keep pans, trivets, cooking utensils, the spice rack, baking trays, cake tins, oven gloves and a meat thermometer near the hob/ oven.
- Keep tea and coffee making equipment, and mugs near the kettle.
- Keep knives, measuring spoons, weighing scales and chopping boards near the work surface.
- Keep crockery, cutlery and tea towels near the sink/ dishwasher.
- Clear your kitchen surfaces to give you room – so if you only use your bread maker or slow cooker once a week thinks about putting it away in between.
- Stack vertically not horizontally where possible and go for wall-mounted organisers like spice racks, knife or utensil holders.
- Invest in a cookbook stand if you often use recipe books.
Store items as close to their related zone as possible.
The point of dividing your kitchen into zones is so you can store things in the right place to improve your cooking flow! For example, knives, mixing bowls, chopping boards, spices, and other prep utensils should be stored where you do most of your prep work, in the preparation zone. Cooking utensils, pots, pans, and bakeware should be stored as close to or near the stove or oven, in the cooking zone.
Store your everyday dishes in the cabinet closest to the sink or dishwasher.
Digging into the details on this a little more, this diagram notes you should store your everyday dishes (the non-consumables) right next to the cleaning area, or where your sink and dishwasher are.
This makes a lot of sense when you think about it. What are you normally unloading from the dishwasher? All your everyday plates, glasses, and silverware! So whatever cabinet is closest to your dish rack or dishwasher, that’s where you should store your dishes if possible.
Divide your kitchen into five zones.
The basic work zones to think about in your kitchen are as follows:
Consumables zone: The area used to store most of your food. This may actually be split into two zones: one for your refrigerator (fresh food) and one for your pantry or food cabinets (dry goods, oils, etc.).
Non-consumables zone: The area used to store everyday dishes, including plates, bowls, glasses, and silverware.
Cleaning zone: The area that contains the sink and dishwasher (if you have one).
Preparation zone: The area where most of your kitchen prep happens. This may be a stretch of the countertop or a kitchen island.
Cooking zone: The area that contains the stovetop, oven, or range, and possibly the microwave.
Most kitchens can be divided up into these areas. Even if you have a tiny apartment galley kitchen, you still probably have the essentials: a fridge (consumables zone), some cabinets (non-consumables zone), a sink (cleaning zone), a little countertop space (preparation zone), and a stove (cooking zone). Once you’ve mapped out your zones, you’re ready for the next step.
Create prep space as close to the stove as possible.
Another thing we noticed in this diagram is how the prep area is situated next to the stove. We agree. In The Kitchen Cookbook, we note that one of the most important things in setting up a kitchen is to have adequate counter space close to the stove. Ideally, you shouldn’t have to take more than a few steps to put your prepped food into a pot on your stovetop, or in the oven.
If you don’t have a lot of existing countertop space next to your stove, this is where you need to get creative! Whatever space you do have, clear it off and prioritise it as a prep space. Remove the microwave and move the fruit bowl! You need that space to chop vegetables or mix ingredients, so let it be just that.
Of course, keeping items precisely within their zone isn’t always entirely possible if your kitchen is tiny and you need to, say, store your bakeware on top of the cabinets, or the only available pantry space is in a cabinet across the room from the fridge. But this idea of seeing your kitchen as a collection of zones and grouping things together by their purpose is something to work towards! There will always be exceptions unless you have a perfect kitchen.