When you first move into a house or apartment, the kitchen may seem to be big enough to handle all of your storage needs. All it takes is one or two new must-have gadgets, or the birth of a baby to make your kitchen seem way too small. Things become stacked up on each other and you risk an avalanche of cereal boxes every time you open the refrigerator door. When you are making your Grandmother’s special stuffing recipe for Thanksgiving, you can’t find where the box of ground thyme went and you are running out of time to find it. Leaving items on the floor or stuffing them in cupboards create a safety hazard, as that teetering can of cat food can end up falling on your head and that extra jug of juice stored on the floor can send you stumbling.
At this juncture, you have two choices–either learn to live with the mess and disorganization or find a better way to store your all-important kitchen items.
Here are ten useful kitchen storage tips to get you organized and back on track in a hurry.
1. Take an Inventory
This procedure requires you to take everything (yes, everything) out of your kitchen pantry and drawers. Look for any expired items or old bottles of spice that have a thick coating of dust. If you have three one-fourth full bottles of cinnamon, combine them in one and pitch the empties. Will you ever use that giant tub of molasses or that box of petrified cake mix that has been there since 1984? This is also a great opportunity to check for weevils or other insects that have invaded your kitchen storage space and get things cleaned and treated before reorganizing. Stack same shaped items together to make more room.
2 Aim Higher But Smarter
Yes, you can store items up high but do it the right way. Erecting sturdy hangers for your pots and pans frees up space in your lower cabinets. Building or buying a spice rack helps you keep all of your spices and baking extracts within easy reach, yet out of the way. Put up hooks for oven mitts and pot holders close to the stove, but not so near that they can accidently fall on the burners and catch fire. Put up secure hooks for aprons and dishtowels as well.
3. Same Sized Containers
If you store items in plastic ware, be sure they are all the same shape, if not the same size. Also, when buying pet food, look for stackable containers rather than round cans, as they will take up less room, plus they will be easier to open. Look at shape as well as price when purchasing products, and save yourself a headache later when trying to put items away in your pantry.
4. Rack the Knives
Having some knives here and some knives there is not only disorganized, it can be dangerous. Stick them all in a butcher block holder and wedge the holder between two larger items, like the microwave and coffeepot. Choose slender ones with lots of spaces darting vertically not diagonally, as it will take up less area. If you have small children and you need to store knives higher, consider building a small add-on shelf on which to put your knife holder.
5. Rolling Cart
So your kitchen didn’t come with a built in island, no problem. You can buy a rolling cart that has drawers and space underneath to store your potatoes and onion bags. Some of these carts have stools that slide in underneath out of the way until you need them. The top of the cart can be used as a second work surface for setting down hot plates or cooling cookies, freeing up more counter space near your sink. Cover the cart top with cutting board material and you have an extra place to make salads. The cart can also double as a rolling bar when you entertain.
6. Separate Your China
Don’t keep your Aunt’s best Lennox with your everyday plates you bought from the big box store. Put the good china in a hutch in the dining room or store them elsewhere, so you have more room for dishes that you use every day. Some platters can fit in a groove behind the dinner plates so that you can store them upright instead of flat. Nestle items like butter dishes and small garlic roasters between the stacks.
7. Check Your Cleaning Products Under the Sink
How many bottles of window cleaner do you have under there? Condense and combine cleaners but only if they are the same brand of the same product. Have only one spray bottle or a squeeze bottle for each product and fill it from a refill container, rather than buying large spray bottles over and over. Put like items together in groups and push the ones you don’t often use to the back of the under-sink cabinet. If you use a lock on your cleaning product cabinet, hand a little plastic holder or basket on your cabinet door to store the lock while you have the cabinet open, and then you will find it easily when time to lock the cabinets up again.
8. Minimize the Decor
Yes, that kitchen witch is adorable; however, your could build a wine glass rack in the same space. Buy kitchen tumblers that are all the same size and get them square, not round shaped if you can. The same goes for plates. Large plaques that say “Bless This Mess” or “My Kitchen, My Rules” can be replaced with hanging baskets or holders for drying herbs. When space is limited, every item needs to be functional.
9. Organize your Silverware Drawer
Be sure your knives forks and spoons are all “spooning” together in a rubber or plastic holder to make the best use of drawer space. If there is room, surround the silverware holder with your spatulas and cooking spoons.
10. Find Hidden Areas
That little space behind the kitchen curtains is windowsill area that can work for you. Keep items like spray bottles of vegetable wash or your extra boxes of baking soda out of sight but handy when you need them. You can also use this area to hide your cat food can covers or extra kitchen ties grouped together in an empty jelly jar.