Kitchen Organization 101

For many homeowners, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the house and the center of daily life. Families gather here to eat, socialize and cook together. That’s why it’s great to have a kitchen that’s not just appealing to the eye but also organized and practical.

Ellen Delap, a Certified Professional Organizer and owner of, shares a number of ways you can turn your kitchen into a welcoming and functional space for everyone.

Set aside time to organize.

This isn’t a five-minute project, so be ready to dedicate some time to getting it right. “This is why you need to literally set appointments with yourself to get started and move forward,” says Delap. “By setting up that time, you’re committing to rearranging the kitchen, which sometimes gets put on the back burner.”

Arrange the kitchen one section at a time.

It’s called “chunking.” Some people may want to work on organizing the pantry first or the area by the stove or the drawers. “I try to break it into manageable chunks at a time. Then I try to assign spaces, which I call zones, to different designations throughout the kitchen,” says Delap. For instance, create a coffee area on your counter or island where the coffee maker can sit, with mugs, filters and supplies in a cabinet nearby.

Try decanting food and ingredients.

Have you ever stored flour in a glass canister? Or dumped snacks into a basket? That’s decanting. Basically, it’s removing food from its original packaging and putting it into a more permanent, and often clear, container. From pasta and rice to coffee and spices, you can neatly stack canisters and jars to make your kitchen feel and look more organized. Add labels to the containers, and if you want to be creative, decorate the canisters or buy colorful ones to match your kitchen.

Consider point of use.

Keep items close to where they will be used the most. For instance, place cooking utensils near the stove, either in a drawer or in a stoneware canister on the counter. Store glasses near the dishwasher, as this makes it easier to unload them. As for silverware, flatware, linens and tablecloths, “I try to group them by where people are eating,” says Delap. And before you put anything on the counters, ask yourself: “Do I want these items out or hidden in cabinets or drawers?” You want to make sure your space isn’t cluttered or busy.

Keep items in your pantry in order.

Kitchen pantries generally hold a lot of supplies, from cans of food to cereal boxes and syrup. But the larger the pantry, the more important it is to be neat. Meritage Homes offers pantries that are larger than normal, so there’s more room to store and organize items.

“What you need to do first is go through everything and throw out what’s expired,” says Delap. “Then start grouping things together and lining them up according to what you access most. Whatever you use most frequently should be at eye level.” If you have a lot of canned goods, think about purchasing a shelf helper to maximize space and avoid stacking cans on top of one another.

If you like to keep your pantry well stocked, consider buying an auxiliary pantry and keep it in another room or the garage.

Purchase budget-friendly items for more organization.

If you have a lot of spices in your cabinet, you may want to buy a Lazy Susan to make the spices more accessible. Look for a double-decker turntable to add even more storage space.

According to Delap, another popular organizational feature is a ledge shelf that mounts on the wall and can be used to display dishware or hold small appliances. This will give you more counter space to use for other purposes.

Don’t crowd the top of your refrigerator.

Many people love to put cereal or other items on top of the fridge, but Delap discourages this because it can make it look cluttered and unorganized. Find other spots, like the pantry or cabinets, to store them instead. Either keep the top of the refrigerator completely clean or, “you can put something decorative there that matches your kitchen and gives it a pop of color,” says Delap.

This list covers general recommendations for your first-year home maintenance schedule. Homeowners should also check their homeowner manuals as well as their apliance manuals for manufacturer recommended maintenance for each appliance. A regular schedule of preventative home maintenance can help avoid bigger problems in the future. With a home-care routine, you'll keep your house feeling and looking new for as long as possible.

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