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How to Organize Your Kitchen Step by Step

KitchenIf you want to organize your kitchen to change your life, it’s a pretty good place to start. Kitchens are often the most in-demand rooms in the house. Beyond food, kitchens are gathering places, homework stations, information centers, and more. When kitchens are disorganized, it makes your life harder. So, let’s talk about how to organize your kitchen.

How to Organize Your Kitchen

1. Define Your Kitchen Goals

It’s hard to hit a target if you don’t know what it is, so defining exactly what you want to change in your kitchen is important. Do you want to have less stressful mornings? More help? Less crowded shelves or clear countertops? Do you want to eat healthier or simply prepare more food at home?

2. Determine Which Areas Aren’t Working

Look at where clutter gathers and where things are hard to find, access, or put away. Also, consider traffic patterns. Where are people getting in each other’s way while someone’s trying to set the table, unload the dishwasher, or access food or tools?

  • Countertops
  • Cabinets
  • Drawers
  • Pantries
  • Refrigerator
  • Freezer
  • Shelves

You can also evaluate what activities you’d like to be doing in particular parts of the kitchen and what’s getting in the way of that. Maybe you need a mail system so the counters don’t have paper on them, or a homework station to store school supplies. Kitchen problems aren’t always about food. 

3. Investigate What’s Causing the Problem

Problems in the kitchen (or any other room) aren’t always about the storage or the amount of stuff we have. Consider whether any or many of the issues below are causing your kitchen not to function as well as it could.

  • Communication: Other people don’t know where things go
  • Place: Things don’t have a place or the right place
  • Excess: You have more stuff than you have storage
  • Systems: Need systems or habits to get things done
  • Time: Don’t have enough time or a set time to do things
  • Task Management: Don’t have the right people doing things

4. Give Yourself Permission to Organize Your Kitchen in Stages

You don’t have to organize your kitchen all in one day or even one week. You can break kitchen organizing down into area. Maybe you start with the pantry, frig, or freezer. Or you pull everything out of all the drawers and figure out what you want to keep and get rid of, then truly consider which drawers should be used for particular items. You don’t have to put the silverware back in the same drawer it’s always been stored in just because that’s where you put it first. Maybe you want it closer to the dishwasher, or the table to make it easier for someone to set places while someone else is cooking. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in a kitchen, so break it down into manageable steps, turn on some energizing music, and start with either the area that’s causing the most trouble or the one that feels easiest to fix. You don’t have to do it alone either. If it feels overwhelming, enlist a family member, a friend, or a professional organizer to help.

Kitchen Organizing Solutions

Certain storage areas may work fine while others are so full you’re worried about something dropping out every time you open them. Look at your kitchen to see areas are working and what isn’t.

Consider Storage Areas

  • Kitchen cabinet for beveragesCabinets (upper and lower, with shelves or pull outs)
  • Countertops
  • Drawers
  • Shelves
  • Islands (built-in or islands)
  • Furniture: Armoires and hutches, buffets and sideboards, liquor cabinets
  • Deep storage: attics, garage, off-site storage

When you choose where things need to be stored, use the top three organizing commandments:

  1. Keep what serves you and let go of the rest.
  2. Store like with like.
  3. When deciding where things should be stored, consider how often something is used, where it needs to be used, and who uses it.

Assign Kitchen Stations

Think of a restaurant kitchen where people have very distinct jobs that happen only in that part of the kitchen. While our home kitchens may require a sink to be both for dishwashing and food prep, we can still assign tasks and tools to certain storage, surfaces, and areas of the kitchen. This makes for less mess, bumping into each other, and overstuffed miscellaneous drawers.

Kitchen Stations

  • Drink/Beverage
  • Food
  • Prep/Cooking
  • Baking
  • Lunches
  • Dishes
  • Pots & pans
  • Serving
  • Storage and leftovers
  • Cleaning
  • Command center

Utilize Various Storage Solutions

You do not have to get a $30,000 kitchen remodel to make your kitchen function. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a remodel can be great and if you need help planning yours, check out my remodel planning services. Before you consider major renovation costs though, see what other solutions you can use to make your kitchen work more efficiently and maximize your storage.

Kitchen drawer filled with spice bottles
This drawer turned into spice storage with Youcopia spice drawer liners for less than $20.
  • Baskets, bins, and caddies
  • Bottles and canisters
  • Drawer organizers and utensil separators
  • Helper shelves and baskets
  • Lazy susans
  • Cabinet pull-outs
  • Spice storage: drawer, in a cabinet, on the counter, tiers, wall mounted
  • Vertical pan organizers
  • Mop and broom holders

I’ve got many of my favorite kitchen storage products on my Organized Kitchen Pinterest Board


It is not fair to assume that just because something is obvious to you, other people will recognize the categories you’ve set and know where things are supposed to go. Label shelves, bins, containers, lazy susans, and anything else that holds a specific category of foods. Sometimes, it’s even worthwhile to label both the shelf where something should be and the bin that holds items on that section of the shelf. That way, it’s easy to match container to the spot where the container should be put away. Plus, labels keep us honest. When we’re feeling a little lazy or just putting something in the general vicinity of where it goes, labels remind us that there is actually a place where something should be. 

Let Your Kitchen Organization Evolve

Once you’ve organized your kitchen, you may find that some things work well and others need some tweaking. If it turns out your counters keep being cluttered with paper, maybe you need a mail system. Or, you might discover that your pantry shelves keep being overfull. Do you need to buy less or add storage? Once you’ve dealt with the big problems so your kitchen is functional and mostly working, you’ll be able to approach these issues one at a time with less stress. As Voltaire said, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Make it better, then check back.

Contact Me

If you’d just really rather have some help than trying to do this by yourself, or you’ve gotten your kitchen working much better and you’d like to see if there’s anything else you can do, contact me via email or call 512-591-8129

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