I have a saying (actually I just made it up) “the back of our kitchen cabinets reminds me of the back seat of our cars.” Always full of mystery items that get thrown back there or pushed and placed so we “don’t forget.” The thing is, we do forget what is back there because it’s not up front and center everyday. Just like the back seat of your car – when was the last time you sat back there? I don’t know if I ever have.
It is time to clean out those serving plates that belong to a friend and get rid of that Foreman Grill you haven’t used since your college days. How on earth do I get the energy to tackle this trash, you ask? Well my dear, a venti macchiato with an extra shot aught to do the trick for this job.
To get started you will need:
- Paper and pen to write down the organizing materials you will need to put it all back together
- Strong trash bags
- 3 large boxes marked (1) Donate (2) Belongs To (3) Sell
Step one – make sure counters, table, and floor are clear of any items (you will use these as a staging area)
Step two – start with one cabinet and pull everything out and place on counter according to type, i.e. – water glasses, wine glasses, dinner plates, spices etc.
As you are pulling things out remember:
- If any piece is broken, you haven’t used it in a long time, or you just don’t like it toss or donate
- If any of the pieces belong to someone else because it was left there at your last bbq, place it in the box marked “belongs to”
- Continue to do this with every cabinet in your kitchen
When I work with my clients, it never fails when we get to “that cabinet” – you know, the one where everything gets thrown in it because you don’t know where else to put it? My clients always say, “I have no idea what is even in there.” Do you have one (or more) of those cabinets? If you do, don’t worry – so do many others!
“That cabinet” might be filled with odds and ends such as candles, tape, batteries, phone books, lint rollers and dried up play dough. You get the picture. Half of those things probably go somewhere else. For now, categorize them on the kitchen table. Lets take a look at what we have to do next.
Are all the cabinets empty? Time to reload! Grab an apple for yourself and fill up your sink with some nontoxic cleaner. Wipe down all the cabinets inside and out. While they are drying take a look at what you have and think over these points.
- Do you have an over abundance of any type of item? Such as measuring cups, baking sheets, Pyrex bake ware, bowls, sets of dishes and plastic ware.
- Do you use all of them? Think about it this way, if you are a baker then you might need more that the average number of baking sheets than the occasional cookie maker. If you are big into chili or soup a large stockpot is a must.
- Make sure all your plastic storage ware has a mate. If it doesn’t get rid of it. Perhaps search for a brand that has containers that fit into each other and the lids attach such as Rubbermaid easy find lids.
- If you don’t use it, don’t remember the last time you’ve used it, and the coat of dust on it tells the whole story, donate.
What about the items that we only use once or twice a year but love them? I have a couple of crystal candy dishes that were my Grandmothers, which I love. I use them during the holidays and treasure the memory that they hold. Store these pieces in a space you don’t need to get to very often. In a kitchen with limited storage (like mine) holiday serving pieces can be stored on the top shelf in the pantry, in a hall closet, or in an area in your basement.
Now it is time to choose the right organizing tools. Here are a couple of things you need to think about before you start. What are the right organizing tools that you could implement that would give a better use of space? A couple favorites of mine.
- Drawer organizing trays. These handy little numbers come in all shapes an sizes. They usually hook together. I like to buy several of each size to piece together to suit the various sized cooking accessories used.
- Shelf dividers. Shelf dividers do just that; they add an extra shelf with in a shelf. You can double the space; imagine bowls on top and plates on the bottom. Limited only to your imagination. Great for soup cans, coffee cups, tea, etc.
- Pull out shelves. Bottom cabinet shelves are a pain. You have to bend down to see what is in there and the back recesses seem to swallow things whole. There are so many great pull out shelves available now. They just need to be mounted, next best thing to custom cabinetry and a whole lot cheaper.
- Added extras. Don’t forget things like spice racks and Lazy Susan’s. They all add ease and efficiency to any kitchen.
Once you have chosen some tools to implement, it is time to put everything back, but where? Some things to remember:
- Silverware and dishes should be near the kitchen table and dishwasher.
- Drinking glasses are best placed by the sink and dishwasher.
- Spices, cooking utensil and pots and pans locate by the stove.
- Bowls by the food prep area. (Do you notice the pattern here?)
- Items you don’t use very often such as pitchers, vases and such can be stored on the top shelf of the pantry or the cabinet above the fridge. (Pantry organization is a project all its own, see Organizing your Pantry on my blog.)
- Food items that are stored in the cabinets are arranged by usage. Place items used often on 1st and 2nd shelf. The top shelf is reserved for extras, things not used very much. In my home it’s baking ingredients. Things I keep easily within reach are the oil and vinegar because I love to cook.
Does everything have a home? If you get stuck on one section move on and come back to it later. It is just like putting a puzzle together. What a huge project and you did it! Time to celebrate or maybe just sit and look around to enjoy your hard work and organized kitchen. Congratulations, time to open the wine. Cheers.