How to Get Your Kitchen Storage Under Control
An expert offers pointers on where to start organizing the kitchen and what to do to help it stay neat
Having an organized kitchen saves time and makes cooking a pleasure, since everything is easy to find and access. It also promotes safety and saves money. We asked Cathy Player, organizing expert at Australia’s Howards Storage World, to reveal her top tips for organizing the kitchen — and keeping it organized. Here are her answers to our questions.
What’s the most common mistake people make?
Poor workflow. When you consider how much time you spend in the kitchen, it makes sense to be sure that essentials are properly positioned.
Make sure that frequently used items are within easy reach. This means that pots and pans should be stored near the oven and stovetop, glasses should be stored near the fridge, the rubbish bin should be positioned near the sink, and your chopping boards and knives should be near the prep [counter].
Also, having things in three different parts of the kitchen should be absolutely avoided —it’s too confusing. If you don’t have enough storage room, look for space-savvy solutions, such as a set of freestanding shelves that will take up minimal floor space while giving you oodles of storage up the wall. Even the smallest of kitchens can be a dream to cook in if properly planned and organized.
Where are the notorious trouble spots in a kitchen?
The second drawer — utensils tend to run out of control here. Incorporating simple drawer dividers is a quick and easy way to fix this.
The L corner of a walk-in pantry can also cause problems — items get lost in this corner. The solution is to think of this space as an archive zone, and use caddies with lids and labels to organize items.
And under the sink — it’s hard to deal with awkward pipes. Solve this by seeking out shelves that are specially designed to fit around pipes.
Is buying new storage products always the answer?
Recycling old containers is often a practical necessity. However, it doesn’t always make the best use of space. For example, using ice cream containers to hold your plastic lids is good in theory, but a tall plastic caddy could utilize the full depth of your drawer or cupboard to better hold all those lids together, putting in place a much better solution for very little cost.
Where should you start when organizing your kitchen?
I like the “stop, sort and solve” philosophy. “Stop” is the hardest one for most people to allow time for, but it’s the one that will deliver the most thoughtful solution in the end. If you stop and really analyze what the challenges are and brainstorm possible solutions, you can often come up with innovative ideas. Then “sort” everything out into groups, [donating] or discarding unwanted items. Lastly, “solve” the challenge by putting everything back into its new home.
Which product can make the biggest impact instantly?
Plastic caddies are the simplest and cheapest solution for almost every shelf, drawer or cupboard. However for the ultimate storage fix, consider a flexible shelving system that will maximize your wall space.
Which kitchen storage products are the most useful?
The fridge, drawers and pantry often get out of control because things get forgotten and lost at the far reaches. Out-of-sight food quickly gets out of date, which means a lot of wasted food going in the bin — bad for your wallet and the environment. A simple solution is to add long thin organizers to your fridge, pantry and drawers to keep everything grouped together. Label items so that everyone in your household can see exactly what is where.
What’s your top tip for staying organized?
Clean countertops are a sure sign that a kitchen is under control. So aim to have your cupboards sorted, pantry organized, knives safely stored and easy to access in a block or on a magnetic wall rail, and your paperwork where it belongs … not on the kitchen [counter]. If you want to identify your next organizing project, look to see what things are perpetually ending up on your kitchen [countertops].
What are some good storage tips for children?
There are two big things to consider when organizing your kitchen with children in mind. The first is safety. Ensure knives and sharp objects are well out of reach, and teach kids to put their cups and plates far away from dangerous spots in the kitchen, such as where you’re handling hot pots and pans.
The second thing to factor into the design of your storage system is empowerment. Putting children’s lunch items within their reach will enable them to pack their own things on busy mornings. It’s a great day for parents when you make the decision to share the load.