Steal These Kitchen Organizing Tips from an Interior Design Pro

updated Mar 30, 2020
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(Image credit: Sara Ligorria-Tramp / Emily Henderson Design)

Emily Henderson helps people design their kitchens and indoor spaces every day. It’s literally her job. For proof of Emily’s pro status, just take a look at her resume: interior designer/home style expert, winner of HGTV Design Star, New York Times best-selling author of STYLED, and founder of Emily Henderson Design … just to call out a few things! She usually works on other people’s spaces, but of course when it came time to design the kitchen of her new mountain house, Emily was up for the challenge.

Although Emily had lots of tricks up her sleeve, she turned to Target’s Made By Design line for many of the new kitchen’s organizing needs, as well as a little help from professional organizing company NEAT Method. Keep reading to steal Emily and NEAT Method’s best organizing tips — and find out the surprising place she keeps all her dishes.

(Image credit: Sara Ligorria-Tramp / Emily Henderson Design)

1. Store dishes in lower-level drawers.

Instead of the traditional route of keeping plates and bowls in upper cabinets, Emily took a different route and put them in drawers below the counters. “We wanted fewer upper wall cabinets in the kitchen because we wanted to install a large window, so it made sense to store the dishes this way.” The storage swap has a bonus: “It’s easier for the kids to help unload the dishwasher and set the table.”

(Image credit: Sara Ligorria-Tramp / Emily Henderson Design)

2. Consider peg-style dividers.

Especially if you’re going to steal this plates-in-a-drawer idea. “This peg system helps keep the pieces inside from banging around and breaking, and we can move the pegs around based on the size of the dishes.” Note: This peg-style organizer also works well for all your food storage containers!

(Image credit: Sara Ligorria-Tramp / Emily Henderson Design)

3. Find pieces that are stackable (and match).

“The Made By Design plates and bowls are super light and were designed to be stacked, and the same goes for the glasses. This is perfect for our mountain house because we like to entertain there and need plenty of cups, bowls, plates. And while I love mixing in vintage and handmade pieces in the kitchen, it can often be a waste of space and unless styled really well, will end up looking messy.”

(Image credit: Sara Ligorria-Tramp / Emily Henderson Design)

4. Invest in pantry storage.

Emily admits she has a pantry problem:”My family is constantly going in and out of the pantry for snacks and it’s hard to keep up with.” But she also has a solution: “If you invest the time and money into organizing the space, it’s actually kind of fun to keep it neat. The Made By Design food storage containers paired with these cabinet baskets have made such a difference in this area.”

(Image credit: Sara Ligorria-Tramp / Emily Henderson Design)


Taking everything out of its original packaging helps Emily save money in the long run, she says. “I love that it looks so much cleaner, but it’s really more about keeping better inventory of what I have. Before I started using these storage containers, I never knew what I had in my pantry! I would run out and buy more of something I already had because I couldn’t see it in my own cabinet.” It also prevents messes! “I’m not the best at using clips after opening a bag, so I would have ingredients — like almond flour — spilling everywhere.”

(Image credit: Sara Ligorria-Tramp / Emily Henderson Design)

6. Clear (mostly) everything off your countertops.

“This house was designed to have a more minimalist look. We wanted the wood and light to be focal points. Because we have the space to tuck away appliances — like the toaster and microwave — we do. I don’t typically like much out on my countertops and ideally never want to see appliances.”

(Image credit: Sara Ligorria-Tramp / Emily Henderson Design)

7. But leave out what you use most!

“I leave out a spoon rest, decanted cooking oils, and my Dutch oven on the stovetop because I use it so often. The kitchen was designed for convenience.” You know, like any good kitchen.