Kitchens can be one of the most functional or dysfunctional places in our homes. When they function well, it is great, but when they don’t it is a disaster. The physical design of your kitchen can also cause it to be dysfunctional. Unfortunately, we often don’t have control over that aspect of our homes. We do however, have control over how we organize our kitchens. When a kitchen is organized well it can make even the most poorly laid out kitchens more functional.
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Purge and Clean
The first step to making your kitchen more functional is to purge the space and clean it. You will see what you have and be able get rid of what you don’t need in the space. You can find my guide to purging cluttered spaces here.
Store Items Near Where They Are Used Most
This is one of the most important rules of the kitchen. Place items near the area where they are used. When we move into our homes, we are often in a hurry to just get stuff out of boxes so we place items in cabinets where they fit with little thought to where they will function best. For a long time, we had kitchen items like spices, pots and pans, coffee cups and silverware in spots that just didn’t make functional sense. My husband and I were constantly bumping into each as we criss crossed the space to get what we needed. When I deep clean the kitchen every summer I sit and evaluate where items are and how they function. If they are not in a good spot based on how we use them, I move them.
Here are some tips on where to put items based on usage.
Coffee/Tea Cups-Near the coffee maker or kettle.
Spices-Near the stove and food preparation areas
Pots and Pans-Near the Stove
Dishes, Glasses and Utensils-Near where you prepare your food
Food storage and bags-Near where you clean up food
Small Occasional Use Appliances (Mixers, Crock Pots, etc)-In a pantry or cabinet out of the way.
Here’s the biggest tip I can give you about this. Make some changes and try them. If they work, keep them. If they don’t, put things back.
Keep Your Counters Clear
It can be difficult to keep kitchen counters clear, but it is one of the best ways you can make your kitchen functional. If you are constantly shifting stuff out of your way to cook and prepare food, then you have you have to evaluate why.
One of the most common reasons your counters are cluttered is that the kitchen becomes a dumping ground when you come home. Check out my tips for eliminating clutter, specifically the section on breaking old your old habits.
Another reason our counters are cluttered is that we store too many items on them such as small appliances, cook books, and utensils. Try to re-evaluate your cabinet and pantry space and see if it is possible to find a home for these items. The only appliances I keep on the counter are the toaster and the blender. All the rest of the small appliances we use are in our pantry. I moved my cookbooks to a cabinet near the stove and I only keep one small utensil holder near the stove for items we use regularly.
Clean Up Thoroughly After Every Meal
Many people fail to do this and it quickly leads to a frustrating mess and a disorganized kitchen. When you are done with a meal, put all ingredients left out away, throw out all trash, store leftovers, wash all dishes, put those dishes away and wipe all your surfaces down. If you can make this a habit you will find your kitchen is a much happier place to be in and way more functional.
Keep Your Stuff From Getting Buried
Do you ever wonder who actually designs cabinets and kitchens? I do and I often say to myself, what were they thinking? I have yet to meet someone who loves every aspect of their kitchen design completely. There is always a problem with some cabinet design or feature. The biggest problem I see are big, deep cabinets that cause our stuff to get buried. My husband was convinced the other day that we had no saltine crackers. I was sure we did, it turns out they were way in the back our deep pantry cabinet. Here are some ways to keep your items from getting lost.
Store rarely used items in the back. For example we have a fondue pot. We only use it a few times a year, so I store it in the back of the pantry.
Elevate Items So You Can See Them
Use a turn table
If your cabinet is big enough you can use a lazy susan. You can then store your items and rotate them around as you need them.
Create a Command Center
A command center is a place in your home used to provide a central command for some purpose. At my home we use it for storing office supplies, schedules, homework, and the family calendar. There are many reasons to create a kitchen command center, but one of the best reasons is to corral items that would otherwise clutter your kitchen counter or desk. When you put items back where they belong, they do not clutter your counters or get lost.