I love the fresh start after the holidays. Going through the house and fixing some of the organization challenges we have is so refreshing! Since Anthony and I moved in together, it’s been difficult merging our belongings into one household. No area proved worse than our kitchen. Anthony, bless him, didn’t really have a clear kitchen organization system when I moved in. Plus, in a rush to get things unpacked, we just kind of threw my stuff in there too. Now, we’ve taken some time to re-organize and purge, which was SO NECESSARY. Between the two of us, we easily had 20 coffee mugs. Even being the coffee fanatics that we are, it was too much. Plus, the placement of some of our kitchen tools messed up the flow of food prep.
Last weekend, I decided I’d had enough. We pulled everything out and organized our WHOLE KITCHEN in just a few hours, using these concepts to drive the process. These concepts won’t cost you anything but time. But, I promise they are well worth the investment. 😉
Group Like Things Together
Now, I’m sure you’ve heard of the sacred triangle in a kitchen. But, in case you haven’t, here is a great resource that explains the concept of the triangle vs. work zones from HGTV. Ultimately you have to decide what’s best for you. Anthony upgraded his kitchen before we started dating, but I’m actually quite happy with the layout (I think the only thing I would add is a small island for a little extra prep space that isn’t across the room from the stove). 😉 He did a really fantastic job and I love it! It just needed some organizational love.
In our kitchen, we decided to organize in three basic categories: Food Preparation & Serving, Food Storage, and Beverages. The largest category is the Food Preparation & Serving, as it includes our pots, pans, small appliances, and dishes. Basically, if it has anything to do with preparing or serving food, it is located at the left side of our kitchen, easily accessible from the stove.
Within each of those big categories, we broke things down into smaller categories. Then, we thought about the things that we use most often vs. the things we only use occasionally. The things we use most often are in the closest reach, moving outward to the things we only use a few times a year. This really helped streamline our cooking efficiency because we aren’t constantly moving around things we don’t use to get to the thing we use all the time. That, and everything that is used for similar purposes is grouped in the same part of the kitchen, so we can just pull everything together at once instead of searching different cabinets. You can see the basic layout of our kitchen below:
Organize by Purpose
While I mentioned this a little bit above, I can’t express the importance of organizing by USE/FUNCTION. Seriously, this has changed the way I think about my entire house. In the kitchen, it actually divided my dishes in two — my drinkware is actually on the opposite side of the kitchen from the rest of my dishes.
We put everything we use while cooking in close proximity to the stove because it’s where we use them. A few months back, we moved our Keurig closer to the refrigerator because we both like cream in our coffee, which inspired the location for our drinkware as well. Having all our cups and beverage stuff near the fridge makes it easy to add ice or get our cold beverages.
We also keep our storage containers by the fridge, more out of necessity than anything else. Since most things we put in our tupperware end up in the fridge, and that was where there was the most room left, it seemed like the most obvious choice.
Ultimately, we like to think about not only grouping things together by type, but by purpose and location of use. We moved our cutting boards near to our knives (I know, no brainer, right?) and gathered our scattered small appliances into one part of the kitchen — right by the outlets we plug them into but tucked out of sight. This process is much easier if everything is already taken out. We had to work in waves. Our cabinets may hold a lot, but when they’re all empty, you can’t move around everything splayed on the floor.
This was probably the most important step in organizing our kitchen. I wasn’t kidding about the mugs. We have so many! Plus, we had a lot of stuff we never used — odd tupperware with missing pieces, three can openers (seriously, who needs that many?!), and way too many dishes. Partly, we had so much stuff because we never purged when we merged our households. The best part about getting rid of the extra stuff we don’t use is that now we can invest in the things we do need because there is space to put them! We’ve got our eye on some new stainless steel pots to up our cooking game, which I’m so excited about getting some time in the future! 😉
We always end up donating the stuff we purge. Though, we currently have so much stuff in the donate pile that we might end up having a tag sale in the spring. Of course, that requires storing all the stuff we want to purge, but that’s a conversation for another day. If we don’t end up doing that, we’ll probably take it to our local thrift store so it can be loved by someone new. 🙂 A lot of what we found is still in good working condition. We just don’t need it anymore. We’re also recycling a few things that are too far gone, and throwing out a few things as well. When deciding whether or not to donate, we try not to give them broken stuff. That’s just not cool.
Most Often Used = Easiest to Access
We have some very tall cabinets and I can’t reach the top shelves, even though I’m a decent height of 5’7. So, before we put everything in their new homes, I remember saying — Okay, what do I rarely use? I wanted to put these things on the shelves that are hardest to reach (a.k.a. I need to bring out our little stool from the mudroom). For example, we have two slow cookers. While most days I only use one, there are a few occasions a year (Thanksgiving especially) that I use both of them, so I didn’t want to get rid of the second one. My extra slow cooker now lives nestled neatly on one of our top shelves and the one we use most often is tucked in with our mixing bowls.
I bake bread much more often than I bake anything else, so I wanted my loaf pans close at hand. So, I moved my cake pans and pie plates up to accommodate that lifestyle. We drink wine and beer (we brew our own!) much more often than mixed drinks, so those glasses live right above our water glasses for easy access. Before you start organizing, think about the life you live, and create organization systems based on what you do and use most. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself later for not putting the mixing bowls on the top shelf, just because they’re light!
Create a Replacement Schedule for Tired Cookware
Every once in a while, I like to go through my kitchen and take stock of what’s starting to get “too loved to use” anymore. I keep note of what we have replaced recently. I just bought this awesome stock pot from CuisinArt* so I don’t need anything like that soon. But, some of our nonstick stuff is starting to go, so we have replacements ready on our wish list.
Sometimes we get lucky and we get things as gifts. My mom got me the Cuisinart Food Processor* I’ve been drooling over for a combo Birthday/Christmas gift this past year. I use it all the time! But, most of the time we just update as we need to. Still, it’s helpful to have a list of things that are starting to go, so we can shop around for a deal well before we need to replace things and save some hard-earned money!
The only thing we don’t really have a schedule of replacement for is our tupperware. That, we pretty much just buy when they start to look worn since it’s far less expensive than a lot of other kitchen products.
Kitchen Organization Made Easier
The thing I love about these organization concepts is that they are free to implement into your kitchen TODAY. It took us a few hours to go through everything last Saturday, using the opportunity to clean our cabinets in the process. Ultimately you can use whatever kitchen organization swag you want to make your organization systems prettier. These concepts work either way!
The point is to make your kitchen organization intentional. That way, you’re more likely to stick to the system. Anthony and I did this process together so that both of us would be on board. While I took the lead on a lot of things (having experience working in and organizing a kitchen), his input was valuable. Plus, now we don’t have to try and figure out where the other put things after unloading the dishwasher. 😛
What are some of the concepts you use to organize your kitchen? What are your favorite containers and systems? I’d love it if you’d share them in the comments below! 🙂
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