All too often, we spend just as much time cooking a meal as we do looking for the materials needed to prepare it. Organizing your kitchen — which most likely is packed with too much food and cookware — can be quite the challenge. To clear your space and your mind, just follow these pointers on storage and kitchen layout. We'll help you find a place for everything so you'll have easy access when you need it most.
Your first step is to get everything out of the cabinets. Next you'll sort it all into groups according to where it is used.
While sorting, ask yourself if there are things you haven't used in the last few years. If there are, then move these items out of your way. You don't have to throw them away; instead, give them to someone or store them in a less-used area.
The keys to cabinet storage are to avoid stacking and to make everything accessible. There are several specialty organizers available for cabinets. Lazy Susans give you easy access to items in corner spaces. Step shelving in cabinets will help you organize canned goods, different-sized dishes and small appliances and their accessories. Wire baskets on slides will make your deep cabinets easily accessible.
Keep in mind while you're organizing that there are three basic work areas in the kitchen:
To make working more convenient, determine where you want the prep area to be. Place any basic ingredients, mixing equipment, or bowls and measuring cups here.
Put pots, pans and cooking utensils near the range so they'll be handy when you're cooking.
Store silverware and tableware here so you don't have to run all over the place when putting away dishes. Also, keep your dishes for leftovers here.
Kitchen Work Triangle
The kitchen triangle connects the three work areas in your kitchen. The distance between the areas should be no less than 4 feet and no larger than 9 feet. Don't let the sides of the triangle total more than 26 feet.
Try not to let any traffic patterns violate the triangle. If two people are going to be working in the kitchen at the same time, allow more than the usual 4 feet between opposite work centers.
Pots and pans can take up a lot of your storage space, but they can easily be stored so they are organized and convenient. Hang a decorative wrought-iron rack on a kitchen wall or suspend one from the ceiling. Aside from being handy, it will make your kitchen look professional.
Store pot lids by adding shallow bins to the back of the cabinet doors. If you have a deep drawer, divide it into compartments.
Cookie trays and the like can be stored by adding a horizontal divider to a cabinet.
Whether you're modifying an old kitchen or envisioning a new one, planning is very important. Cabinets, appliances and pantries must be laid out to fit your family's needs. Start planning by drawing a basic floor plan of your kitchen. Measure as close as possible — within an eighth of an inch. Include dimensions of walls, windows and doors. Indicate where cabinets, lights and appliances currently are if you're remodeling. This sketch will be the basis for developing your new kitchen.
Professional kitchen designers have seen it all, and they know how to deal with the most common problems. Here is some of their best advice to make your kitchen function more smoothly: