4 Things I Learned When I Moved into My New Kitchen

published Mar 25, 2015
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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

You know how moving goes. You pack up all your dishes and glasses, all your pots and pans, and all your canned goods and half-empty boxes of pasta. You have big plans for your new space. You’re going to unpack your stuff in the most organized way possible!

It sounds great in theory, right?

I had big plans for my new kitchen the last time I moved. I bookmarked all of our organizing posts (all of them). I felt ready and excited. Queue the moving truck and bring on the packing tape. Umm, here’s how it really went!

My Original Plan

I have lived in apartments with tiny kitchens for all of my adult life, and now, for the first time, I was about to move into a place with more cupboard space than a few of those apartments combined. To say I was excited was a vast understatement.

I saw this move as my opportunity to finally get myself organized. Instead of barreling into the kitchen and shoving things into whatever cupboard seemed convenient, I wanted to plan and deliberate. I wanted a junk drawer with actual organizational containers keeping everything tidy. I wanted my plates within easy reach of the dishwasher. I wanted to make sure rarely used appliances were tucked away, but not forgotten. I wanted drawer liners and non-skid padding.

In the days leading up to the move itself, I snapped pictures of my new space, measured counters and drawers, and generally prepared myself for Organiza-mageddon Move-a-Thon. (I was willing to workshop the name.)

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

How Things Really Went Down

The trouble with a move is that you’re moving. Even if you’re just moving one town over, as I was, it’s a lot of work. Of course, you’re not just moving the kitchen, you’re moving your whole home — along with deciding where to put the plates, you’re also figuring out where the couch goes, realizing your dresser won’t fit, shuttling boxes between two spaces, and wondering if you’ll ever see that pair of shoes again. I quickly realized that doing a complete kitchen re-organization in the middle of this was a lovely dream best put on the shelf.

However, I did carve myself an hour of time to do one thing: I made a rough map of the kitchen with notes on where things would go. This post on setting up a kitchen was enormously helpful. First, I made a list of all the major groups of kitchen goods: dishes and glasses, sauce pans and pots, spices, baking supplies, and so on. Then I actually took out some graph paper and mapped it all out. My goal was to get everything into generally the right zone in the kitchen; major reorganization could happen later.

And it worked! Unpacking felt much less stressful and seemed to go much more quickly because I already had a plan for where each item would go. At the very least, I can feel proud that this was the first move where I didn’t, at some point, break down in tears amidst piles of paper and boxes. There was still a lot of work to be done, but within a few days, I had the kitchen in decent working order.

First meal in the new house? An egg scramble with chard, jarred red peppers, a stray potato, and leftover gouda cheese. No salt, though — the salt shaker was still MIA.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

My Kitchen Moving Takeaways

  1. It’s important to pick your battles wisely. For me, it was important to have that basic map of the kitchen all set before I started opening boxes. For you, maybe the priority is painting the kitchen walls or finding containers that fit in the junk drawer. Whatever it is, understand that you won’t be able to do everything on your list and pick your priorities.
  2. There are some things you can’t plan for, or won’t realize, until you’re actually moving in. I didn’t fully realize how high our new cabinets were or the fact that my 5’2″ self would only be able to reach the bottom two shelves without assistance. This caused a bit of a conundrum with my original plan for the everyday plates and glasses — I had to take a deep breath and figure out a new strategy. My workaround may not be ideal, but it will do for now.
  3. There are other things you won’t know until you’ve lived in the kitchen for a while. It’s hard to really know what your meal prep work flow will look like or where guests will cluster or if it’ll be super annoying to get your stowed waffle maker out again and again until you’ve lived in the kitchen for a while. All you can do on move-in day is make your best guess and then see how everything shakes out in the weeks and months to come.
  4. You should set a follow-up date with your kitchen. And to that end, set yourself a reminder to re-evaluate the kitchen in a few weeks — it’s all too easy to settle into familiar routines and never revisit some of the things that could make your life in the kitchen better. In the meantime, start a list of ideas: Should you move the silverware to that other drawer? Does it matter that you need a step stool to get down a water glass? What would help tidy up that black hole of a pantry cupboard?

I love the lists like 5 Things You Should Do in Your New Kitchen Before Moving In — they give us lots of ideas and great things to think about. It’s good to have big, ambitious, exciting plans when you’re moving into a new place! But it’s also OK if a few of those plans don’t happen, or don’t happen quite the way you planned them to. As I keep reminding myself, it’s just a kitchen — what has been placed onto one shelf can once again be moved to another.

Particularly Useful Resources

Some of these resources helped me before the move; others I’ve flagged to help me when I get down and dirty with organizing in a few weeks.