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Organize Your Kitchen

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.

Organize Your Kitchen

Getting Started

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. Decide if you'll throw them away, donate them or store them in a less-used area.

The key to cabinet storage is 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:

  1. Preparation area
  2. Cook-and-serve area
  3. Sink area

Shop Cabinet Shelf Organizers

Creating Separate Kitchen Areas

Use a Lazy Susan

Prep Area
To make working more convenient, determine where you want the prep area to be. Place any basic ingredients, mixing equipment, bowls and measuring cups here.

Cook-and-Serve Area
Put pots, pans and cooking utensils near the range so they'll be handy when you're cooking.

Store silverware and tableware close by so you don't have to run all over the place when putting away dishes. Also, keep your plastic ware 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.

Good to Know

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.

Storing Pots and Pans

Organize Pots with a Rack

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.
 
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 sheets and other pans can be stored by adding horizontal dividers.

Shop Pot Racks

Good to Know

You can also use tension rods to create dividers between pans.

Storing Your Spices

Spice Drawer

It's easy for your spice cabinet to become a jumbled mess. In order to clean it up, there are several ways to organize them.

Drawer Storage
Add a spice organizer to an empty drawer. It's best to use a drawer close to your range so they're in close proximity as you're cooking.

Under-the-Shelf Magnetic Storage
Make the most of unused space beneath your shelves. Affix magnets to the tops of your spice jars and under the shelf where you’d like to store your spices.

Built-in Shelves
Put up a small shelf to hold your spice collection. Spice bottles don't take up a lot of room so wasted spaces can easily be converted.

Wall-Mounted Magnetic Storage
Affix a sheet of metal in the area where you want your spice rack. Purchase a set of matching, clear-glass spice jars and glue magnets to the lids. You can also add these jars to your fridge.

Back-of-the-Door Solution
Mount a small shelf on the back of a cupboard or pantry door. Consider using acrylic to build these shelves, so you can easily identify your spices.

Shop Spice Racks

Planning Kitchen Upgrades

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.

Learn From Professional Kitchen Designers

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:

  • Position the dishwasher within 36 inches of the sink. Leave about 21 inches of standing space between the side of the dishwasher and cabinets.
  • Leave space near the cooking area for smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
  • Leave room for more than one waste container: one for trash and another for recyclables.
  • Leave 15 inches of counter space on the latchside of the refrigerator. If you have a side-by-side model, leave 15 inches on each side.