The fanatical belief that remodeling doesn't need to cost you a fortune - or your sanity.

How Do You Keep A Kitchen Organized?

Posted on February 18, 2011

Martha Stewart's Cantitoe Corners Kitchen (

Listen…  If you’ve got a perfectly organized kitchen, this conversation might not be for you.  I mean, you can read along, but you may be shocked at what you’re hearing.  If Martha Stewart’s color-coordinated  kitchen perfection has been mastered in your home, well… I’m going to need a picture to see the proof.  (seriously, please share in the comments)

For the rest of us, kitchens are one of the hardest working rooms in a house – serving so many functions at once for so many people.  Breakfast on the fly, lunch packing for multiple people – somebody’s picky, somebody eats gluten free – somebody threw a spoon full of yogurt at the dog!   Coffee and dishes,  people cruising around in the same space like bumper boats at a carnival – and everybody’s got a different agenda.

There was actually a birch log in this cabinet.  Along with SpongeBob...

Forget housekeeping, evening meals, and washing up after dinner.  Your dishes look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa – you never did figure out why they sit so sideways in the cabinet …  and God help you with the sippy cups, bottles, dishes, and glasses!  Whatever somebody else needs always seems to be exactly where you’re standing! Sheeeeeeeeeeeesh.

If you’re lucky enough to have a live-in relative,  a housekeeper, or a nanny cruising around too – well kitchen mess surely exponentiates with every person that has to successfully function out of this little room-o.

I rescued a pickle, crayon, and Barbie shoe from this drawer.

We’ve all been there.  Who has time to sort all the crap out of the cupboards and fix all the woefulness?  Here are a few things I’ve learned about keeping the Kitchen organized:

Purge. Nothing creates new energy in a kitchen like releasing the old.  Have a drawer full of take-out seasoning packets, chopsticks, and forks?  Do you avidly keep every plastic container from Whole Foods so you can save the planet while sending friends home with leftover quinoa? Figure out what you actually use, have the proper lid for, and have room to store – and shed the rest to a recycling bin near you.

Matching glasses from a restaurant supply store & Target

Purchase. If it’s been a while since you’ve had a single dish that matches in the kitchen it might be time to do yourself a solid and get some new ones.  Practically speaking, mismatched dishes and glasses don’t always stack well and they take up more room – impractically speaking they can really drive you nuts visually too!  Dishes don’t have to be expensive either – (hello, Recession?) the various sets below all came from Target for a client with two little girls.

Dishes don't have to cost a fortune.

If you have the room, think about buying more than the standard set of eight, ten, or twelve of certain items.  Only you know what your family goes through most frequently, but most Moms crank through small bowls, plates, and cups for kids pretty fast.  Get a few more dishes – spend more time playing Angry Birds with the kids, less time standing at the sink.  You know you want to…

Dish organizers double the space

Partition. Older cabinetry often divides pantry space in a way that doesn’t coordinate with the size of anything you own.  Seriously.  So do yourself a favor and hit Container Store, Bed Bath and Beyond etc. and grab some shelf & drawer organizers.  Things stay put a lot better when they have actual spots to be organized into.  Who knew?

no pickle in this drawer!

Post. If you want to be a bold, bold kitty – once you’ve sorted through what you want to keep, and gotten coordinating dishes and separated Church and State, try labeling where you want things to live.  It’s a great social experiment! See if it helps everyone keep things where they belong or if your family calls mutiny.

Tea, coffee, and me!

What helps you stay sane in your kitchen?

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  • LeeAnne Michayluk

    All our dishes are white so even if they're from different sets they look cool together. We have open cubby style shelves right over the dishwasher so the kids unload like items 0nto like – as in coffee mugs in that cube, dinner plates in that one – it works.

  • Laurie March

    Brilliant! Love putting the kids to work :)

    All white dishes is also a Ninja way to coordinate.

  • Carley

    I've got old cupboards that only fit the smallest cereal boxes, which er go through in a heartbeat. So I rely on big airtight containers for everything… They're great for scooping out flour, or rice, and great for all those half used boxes of pasta (seriously, why don't they make those resealable?). And yes, labeling is the only way to go. :)

  • Dava Casoni

    Oh Laurie – I love you! Thanks to Carley for sharing this. How did I miss subscribing? DOH! It's on my feed list now! Great way to start my Sunday morning :)

Client Love for Improvemental

Laurie did a museum quality restoration of my 1921 Craftsman. She also managed my move, had the chimney rebuilt, supervised the installation of new rain gutters, a new hot water heater, and about fifty other things. She somehow did all of this on time and on budget. She's really good. She did such a good job on my house, I recommended her to my parents. That's not something you do unless you're really happy with a person's work.

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