I’ve been spending the last few days hanging out with my mom and baby sis organizing several rooms in their homes and it’s been so much fun. I’m sure they feel like there are still a lot of projects that need to be completed. We made great progress though and it’s really exciting to see how things are coming together. I’m hoping to share some peeks into their spaces soon.
Well, last week we covered basic home organizing essentials and simple cleaning routines as we eased back into school and work schedules. I thought we could kick off this week by concentrating on the heart of the home – the kitchen.
We’ve lived in this little island cottage for about 7 years now and the kitchen was one of those spaces we just couldn’t quite get right. Given we use the space multiple times a day, you can imagine it drove us (read: me) totally bananas. It was not uncommon for me to be found cross-legged on the floor surrounded by pots and pans with all of the cabinet doors wide open “getting a plan together.” I moved things around nearly every week trying to make the kitchen more efficient until I made one simple change….
I divided the entire kitchen into work-friendly zones.
These zones included a cooking zone, bake station zone, drink station zone, lunch prep zone and a cleaning zone. Let me show you the cooking zone….
Pots and Pans – For the longest time we struggled to keep the pots and pans organized. The cooktop and oven came as a package deal which meant having pull out drawers to store pots and pans in wasn’t an option. We used to keep them next to the stove and almost every night they would come tumbling out of the cabinet. I decided to move the pots and pans to the upper cabinet about a year ago and we haven’t looked back. It’s so much easier to find a specific pot or pan while cooking and the lids are stored in a basket on one of the shelves to help save space. If you have a smaller kitchen or don’t have upper cabinets, no worries, organize your pots and pans by keeping all the them together in the same space or consider purchasing a pot rack.
Dishes – To keep our everyday dishes organized, we store them in the cabinet next to the stove. The cabinet is also by the dishwasher and sink which feels like an added bonus. This kitchen work zone helps to make plating food more efficient during meals. It also makes clean up a breeze when we when we’re unloading the dishwasher to put the dishes away.
Spice Drawer – The spices are labeled and placed in a drawer next to the stove for easy access while cooking. The glass jars are clear so we can always see if we’re running low on specific spices. I made all of the labels using PicMonkey and we bought these jars at Dollar General for $1 each. You can always find spice jars and labels online.
Cooking Utensil Drawer – Most of the utensils we use for the stove are kept together and organized in this drawer. If you don’t have a drawer you can designate specifically to cooking utensils, set a pretty ironstone pitcher, champagne bucket or crock on the side of your stove and fill it with your cooking utensils.
Kitchen Linens Drawer – Everything from oven mitts to flour sack towels are kept together in this kitchen linens drawer.
Small Appliances Cabinet – Of all the decluttering that happened in the kitchen going through the small appliances took the longest. I had no idea we were hanging onto a small blender, a food processor, a large blender, a Magic Bullet and an emersion blender. Consider donating small appliances that serve the same function in lieu of keeping one that is multifunctional. It’s also a good time to consider donating the small appliances you no longer use or use once in a while.
The Baking Zone
Kitchen Island – The kitchen island is our baking station. We keep mixing bowls, cake decorating utensils, cookie cutters, baking pans, rolling pins and silicone mats in this space. The top of the island is a food prep area and the stand mixer is one of the few appliances we leave out year-round. It’s close to the sink when there are messes and close to the oven when it’s time to bake. If you don’t have a kitchen island, no worries, consider using a small mobile work station that can serve as an island.
Baking Station Utensil Drawer – We keep all the utensils related to baking in this drawer. As you can see it includes everything from measuring cups to wooden spoons. Using a utensil divider is another way to help keep all of your items neat and organized.
Everyday Flatware Drawer – We ditched the big wooden knife block in order to keep our everyday forks, spoons and knives together. Without a doubt use caution and care if you choose to store knives this way. Especially if you have small children, elderly adults or mischievous pets that could access the knives as sharp objects can cause harm and injury. This is another drawer we kept close to the dishwasher and sink to make meal time prep and put away a breeze.
The Drink Zone
All of our glassware from champagne flutes to tea glasses are kept in these two cabinets. While they’re further away from the dishwasher, we wanted to make grabbing a glass of juice in the morning from the refrigerator or making a glass of iced tea in the afternoon as easy as possible. We’ve also created a spot in the lower cabinet to store holiday mugs and a basket for storing to-go cups.
The Meal Planning Zone
On the other side of the refrigerator is our built-in desk area. The drawers hold office supplies and the cabinets are used for household related items like cards, receipts, important documents and cookbooks. It’s also where we keep our simple cleaning schedules.
The Lunch Prep Zone
Just across from the drink zone is the lunch food prep zone because it’s the closest to the refrigerator and we eat a lot of salads. We keep food storage containers, napkins and to-go flatware in the drawers above and larger food storage containers, collapsible lunch bags and plastic pitchers in the lower cabinet.
The Cleaning Zone
Paper Goods Drawer – This drawer holds most of the paper goods from wax paper to individual trash bags. We used to keep all of these items in the pantry but this has worked out so much better for us – no more hunting around!
Kitchen Cleaning Supply Cabinet – Everything from gloves to various cleaning supplies for almost every space in the house save for the bathrooms is kept in this cabinet. We also keep the bigger boxes of trash bags and bulk paper towels in here too. Any time you have littles, elderly parents or mischievous pets you need to make sure cabinets like these are locked or kept out of their reach. It goes without saying chemicals can cause harm and injury so use caution and care if you chose to create a cleaning supply cabinet. These baskets are a little too flimsy and shallow to hold all of the cleaning supplies so I’m looking forward to the arrival of these galvanized caddies.
Recycling and Trash Cabinet – Just under the sink is where we house the trash and recycling receptacles. Again, it’s mostly for the convenience of being close to the sink and cooking zone which makes cleaning up kitchen messes really easy.
The Best Ways to Organize the Kitchen Take Aways
I know this was a long post but I struggled for years to have a functional kitchen. I wanted to be as detailed as possible about how breaking your kitchen into work-friendly zones can help to make your space more efficient so that you don’t have to struggle like I did. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Evaluate how you use your kitchen
- Declutter before organizing the kitchen into zones
- Place items you want to donate in bins or boxes next to the front door so carrying items to your car will be easier
- Create a zone for only what is necessary based on your current lifestyle
- Use your kitchen or dining room table as a staging area for items you want to transfer
- Wipe out/clean zones before placing items you want to transition into their new spaces
- Maximize the cabinet and drawer spaces you have
- Use baskets and drawer dividers to help corral supplies
- Pair similar items together in drawers and cabinets
- Use a second shelving system to increase storage options in your kitchen
It took about almost a full day to get a solid plan together, declutter, transition items then organize each zone so this project is best completed when you have some uninterrupted time. That being said, the kitchen is one of the most used spaces in the house so making it more efficient was worth every minute.
See you guys back here tomorrow. It’s been almost a year since we gave our pantry a mini-makeover. I’ll share our top pantry essentials and why we’ll never go without a pet feeding station again. Until then, I’ll see you on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.