The 52 Best Kitchen Cabinet Organizing Ideas of All Time

updated Jul 16, 2020
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Credit: Anna Spaller

The kitchen is, no question, the hardest working room in your home. It’s a room chock-full of many kinds of cabinets (or open shelving) that must support all sorts of activity. Your kitchen needs to house everything you will cook, what you will cook with, what you have cooked, and then also needs to have the room and efficiency for you to do all that cooking, keep you comfortable while you eat it, and then clean up after all’s said and done.

So everything inside this multi-purpose cabinet room, if you will, needs to be necessary, first of all. (Check out this decluttering checklist if you need help getting started in this department.) Once you’ve whittled it down to what you need, it’s time to store each item right where you need it in a way that you can get it out and put it away easily.

It’s a tall order, but one that must be filled for your kitchen to function like the frustration-less well-oiled machine you’ve always dreamed of. No one can tell you exactly how to organize your kitchen because the best use of your particular space depends on tailoring your storage decisions to the ways that will best serve you and how you work in the kitchen.

Here is some cabinet organization inspiration to get you started.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

1. Use tension rods to “file” your baking sheets and muffin tins.

No one wants to pull the cookie sheet out from under six others. Store them vertically instead of piling them on top of each other. A tension rod gives you instant, usable slots so you can slip bakeware in and out with ease.

2. Use turntables inside your cabinets.

Turntables are the kitchen storage secret weapon when it comes to making any dead space functional. Use them to make spices accessible or so that you can see and grab exactly the right hot sauce from your collection. They’re also great for organizing bottles of oil that you might keep in the cabinet next to the stove for easy access while you’re cooking.

Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani/Kitchn

3. Use drawer dividers everywhere you can.

Drawer dividers keep like items with like and help direct your hand to exactly the utensil or tool that you need. They also keep items from being piled on top of each other and from sliding around in drawers.

Credit: Rachel Jacks

4. Eke out extra storage space by installing toe-kick drawers.

This storage hack is a bit more involved to implement, but if your kitchen cabinets are just too full, adding hidden drawers to your toe-kick areas maximizes cabinet space and is the perfect solution for storing flat or rarely used items. Family Handyman has great how-to instructions, if you’re handy.

5. Take things out of the cabinets.

One of the keys to successful organizational systems that can be maintained is that spaces aren’t overcrowded. If you’re short on kitchen cabinet space, consider taking some items out of your cabinets and storing them elsewhere in your kitchen. Taking pots and pans out of your cabinets and hanging them frees up valuable cabinet space and it can look really good.

Credit: Alexis Buryk

6. Use the sides of your cabinets.

It’s amazing how much space goes wasted when you stop to really look at your kitchen. If you have cabinets with exposed sides, use them! Add a rail, hooks, or even shelves.

Credit: Anna Spaller

7. And use the space above the cabinets, too.

If your cabinets don’t go all the way up to the ceiling, you can still make use of that above-cabinet space. Turn it into storage for bulky (and not-often-used) pots, the cookbooks you pull out every once in a while, extra ingredients, or even a spot to show off a collection.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

8. Create a “pantry” in a drawer.

You don’t have to be confined by where you’re supposed to store things. If it makes sense for you to put items that would typically go in a pantry in a drawer instead, do it. These bins from The Container Store can be used to separate items in deeper drawers and keep them tidy and accessible. Labels keep everything where it’s supposed to be.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

9. Store small pantry items in a sponge holder.

Those kitchen sponge holders that suction onto the side of the sink? With some adhesive strips, you can securely stick those onto the sides of your pantry storage, or the back of a cabinet door, or even right on your kitchen backsplash to keep small snacks at reach (and keep them out of your cluttered cabinet).

Credit: Lana Kenney

10. Use hooks to hang mugs on the underside of shelves.

Hanging mugs from hooks takes advantage of the unused space above a stack of plates or bowls. And you’ll be able to reach your favorite mug without shuffling the others out of the way.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Prop Stylist: Stephanie Yeh/Kitchn

11. Hang cleaning sprays with a tension rod.

An oldie but a goodie, this tip makes good use of the awkward cabinet space beneath your kitchen sink. Hang your cleaning sprays from a tension rod affixed across the cabinet and keep what you need simultaneously out of the way and within reach.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

12. Or with an over-the-cabinet towel bar.

Those small cabinet door towel racks can be flipped around so the rung is on the inside of the cabinet instead. The rung, like the tension rod, provides a perfect handle for hanging your cleaning bottles. 

13. Store mixer attachments in your mixing bowl.

Mixer attachments, especially the whisk, take up a lot of space. Guess what stores them perfectly and keeps them right where you need them? The mixing bowl! If you’re worried about attachments scratching the bowl, line it with a towel.

Credit: Devon Jarvis

14. Turn a pegboard into a pantry.

If you don’t have cabinet space for your dry goods, you can bring them out of the cabinets with this pegboard pantry scheme.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

15. Decant your staples.

By pouring pantry staples like sugar, pasta, and grains into uniform and matching containers, you not only maximize space, but you also get rid of unsightly boxes and bags and keep everything airtight and fresh to boot. Labels ensure everyone knows exactly what’s what.

Credit: Erika Tracy

16. Store serving platters vertically.

Use a cutting board organizer to store your serving platters on their sides. This way you can pull out and put away exactly what you need when you need it without having to pull a pile out of the cabinet and go through a stack.

17. Add drawers to your cabinets.

Installing drawers in your cabinets transforms them from untamed caves into orderly storage units that serve up exactly what you need. Simple drawers like the ones above can house small, light items, while heavy-duty drawers can accommodate larger, heavier items, such as pots and pans. If you can’t install your own, find a right-sized free-standing drawer unit to set inside your cabinets.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

18. Hang bags with pants hangers.

This tip is ingenious, and it gives wire shelves their one redeeming quality — you can hang things from them. Pants hangers serve as both chip clips to keep contents fresh and as hangers to keep bags from flopping everywhere and chips from getting crushed.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

19. Organize drawers with diagonal drawer inserts.

Diagonal drawer organizers make tidy cubbies for both your long cooking tools and the small ones without wasting space and without having to mix items in slots that are too big for them.

Credit: Kaitlin Garske

20. Store small appliances on rolling plant stands.

You might actually use your ice cream maker when you don’t have to haul out two rows of small appliances to get to it. Inexpensive rolling plant stands turn your pantry floor into a functional appliance garage you’ll love.

21. Store like with like.

Storing similar things together serves both aesthetic and practical purposes: Grouping items that look the same is pleasing to the eye and having the same kind of things together also helps you know what’s where — and what goes back where.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

22. Label everything.

When you’re looking at a collection of disparate containers filled with all kinds of different contents, it can be visually and mentally overwhelming. Labeling restores calm. Yes, you know what’s inside just by looking through clear containers, but labels give you just the amount of distance and information to not have to perform that mental exertion. Seems slightly ridiculous; makes a huge difference.

Read more: 9 Things You Can Label to Make Life Easier and Stay Organized Forever

23. Cover glass cabinet doors.

Glass cabinet doors can be a beautiful component of kitchen cabinetry. But not when what you see through those doors is unsightly. If you need to make utilitarian and unaesthetic use of a glass-fronted kitchen cabinet, consider covering it with attractive paper.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

24. Make your own pot lid hangers.

Use Command hooks to make instant, custom pot holders that live on your cabinet doors. Hold each lid up to the cabinet door and place Command hooks at 8:00 and 4:00 (pretending your lid is a clock face). The lid should rest securely within these hooks and you’ll be able to grab it when you need it.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

25. Use a dish rack to organize kids’ dishes.

A dish drying rack is perfect for storing and organizing kid dishes, cups, and utensils, which you want to keep within easy access, but don’t want the kids having to stack and unstack.

26. Hang a curtain rod below the cabinets.

To free up a drawer or two, mount a curtain rod below your cabinets to hang your utensils (with S hooks or just hooked on). You can mount it to the backsplash, or directly to the bottom of your upper cabinets.

27. Create instant storage with stick-on shelves.

For organizing small items that you need quick access to, Command strip-mounted caddies are an excellent solution. Just stick them on the inside of cabinet doors to make storage out of thin air.

28. Go mostly neutral for basics on open shelving.

Clear glasses and white dishware give the eye a place to rest on open shelves.
By avoiding eye-catching patterns and colors, you cut down on the busy look that open shelves can fall prey to.

29. Or embrace color completely.

This on-display kitchen proves in such a delightful way that drawing attention to the utilitarian objects that are visible in a kitchen with open shelves can be beautiful.

Credit: Anik Polo

30. Add shelf risers.

Shelf risers double your usable cabinet space. To maximize the vertical space in your cabinets (or in your pantry), add shelf risers. They allow you to store things on top of each other without stacking and to pull things out without the hassle of unstacking.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

31. Use a toilet paper tube to keep mats rolled.

Baking mats prevent stuck-on cookies and we love them. But they’re floppy and thin and big and not so easy to store. Rolling mats and inserting them in a toilet paper tube allows you to store them neatly in a drawer.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

32. Install a magnetic knife strip on the side of your cabinets.

If there’s no room in the drawers or on the countertop for a knife block, and no room on the walls for a knife strip… well, you can mount that knife strip directly on the side of your upper cabinets to keep important tools in easy reach (of adults, at least).

33. Or put a magnetic knife strip inside your cabinets.

Shuffling around for sharp blades isn’t safe. A magnetic knife strip makes excellent use of otherwise wasted space and keeps blades safely out of the way yet within sight and reach.

Credit: Erika Tracy

34. Store your cookbooks in rainbow order.

Storing books in rainbow order is a polarizing topic, but can anyone deny how awesome it looks? Arranging cookbooks in rainbow order on open shelves in the kitchen says that somebody took the time to put them that way and makes everything feel deliberate and tidy.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

35. Adjust the height of your shelves.

Sometimes the most simple solutions are also the most elusive. Realizing that you can adjust your shelves can transform the inside of your cabinets into spaces that work for you and your personal kitchen cabinet storage needs. Try it.

36. Leave space between sets of items on open shelving.

Allowing items to breathe, even on shelves that are full, gives the illusion of space. Avoiding a crowded look prevents even open shelves from looking cramped and cluttered. Especially note the space around the stand mixer in the photo above. Breaking up stored items with art also creates the relaxed look of extra space.

Credit: Cambria Bold

37. Store messy items on saucers.

If you store things that tend to drop debris or leave messes, set them on top of small plates or shallow bowls. This will keep messes from spreading all over your pantry or cabinet interiors, and will keep neighboring items clean as well.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

38. Add a “shelf” with a tension rod.

Tension rod to the rescue again! Create an instant shelf for small items by putting a tension rod across the length of a cabinet. It’s perfect for setting spices, small jars, and boxes of specialty seasoning on.

Credit: Rachel Jacks

39. Install a sink tip-out tray.

Create a spot for bottle brushes, pot scrapers, and sponges behind that hitherto fake panel between your counter top and your under-sink cabinet. Just look for a “tip out tray” kit that includes a tray and a hinge to install.

Credit: Leela Cyd

40. Employ the pantry “golden rule.”

The pantry golden rule says that you must be able to see everything that’s inside. This can be applied to the interiors of your cabinets and drawers as well. The benefit is that you’ll always know what you have, you’ll be forced to edit what you keep, and it makes putting items away so much easier.

Credit: Erika Tracy

41. Go through your food storage containers.

Food storage container organization is tough. There are so many shapes and sizes, and each container has a lid that also has a shape and size. To make everything nice and neat, the first step is going through your entire collection to see what you have, what you can get rid of, and what you might need.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

42. Then store the lids with a roll-up drying rack.

Combine a roll-up drying/cooling rack and a plastic storage bin—which will allow you to store all those messy, mismatched food storage lids in one tidy, easy-to-grab spot.

43. Arrange items by height.

Little things make a difference when it comes to storing a collection of items. Just like arranging children’s books by height on a bookshelf looks tidy, placing pantry items or items within kitchen cabinets according to height lends a definitive air of orderliness (even when there’s more on the shelf than this).

44. Use magnets on the underside of your cabinets.

The surface underneath your cabinets can also be used to keep items organized and off of surfaces. Here, spices are stored in jars and affixed with magnets to a strip on the underside of cabinets. Not only is this a storage solution for spices, but it frees up interior cabinet space for other items.

45. Create a pantry cabinet.

If you don’t have a dedicated pantry, you’ll need a way to store dry goods, oils, spices, and all the things a pantry would normally house. Installing pull-out drawers in a cabinet allows you to see everything you have while also maximizing your square footage of space. Pulling items from the top like you can when they’re stored in pull-out units is also far easier than digging and shuffling inside stationary spaces.

Credit: Rachel Jacks

46. Use a cabinet door to hang your paper towels.

Paper towel vs. rag debate aside, the inside of a cabinet door is an excellent place to hang a paper towel roll, however, if you use them. Get one that mounts more permanently to the door with screws, or try a paper towel holder that hangs off the top of the cabinet.

47. Add a bunch of containers to your junk drawer to contain smaller items.

When you corral little things in sections, you prevent the jumbled mess that junk drawers so often become. You can find the things you need, have some idea where to put new items you toss in the junk drawer (stick like with like), and at the very least, are better able to see what you have.

Credit: Kelli Foster

48. Label the tops of spice jars stored in drawers.

You’ll drive yourself crazy guessing which container the cinnamon’s in and picking up six before you grab the right one. Save yourself the hassle by adding simple labels (masking tape and Sharpie are fine!) to the tops of your spice jars. The concept works for other jars stored in drawers as well.

49. Line up your labels.

We tout the usefulness of labels to tell us what’s in our containers and to direct us and others about what goes where. But one important detail makes even the labels look organized: lining them up. In this open-shelving kitchen, the lined-up, uniform labels add to an overall sense of orderliness, even when many disparate objects are on display.

50. Apply styling principles to items on shelves.

When collections are grouped together rather than scattered throughout a space, they look intentional and artistic rather than junky. This concept isn’t just useful for the set of globes you have on display on your living room bookshelf; it works just as effectively in the kitchen.

51. Use a rolling cart to add even more storage to a pantry.

A rolling cart that fits into your pantry maximizes the space allotted to storage without sacrificing any functionality. To get to items either on the cart or behind it, all you have to do is roll it out. Store the same category of items on the cart, such as baking items, so that you can bring them all close to hand when you need them.

Credit: Devon Jarvis

52. Or use a rolling cart to keep all your kitchen basics together.

If you’re really tight on storage, put your most-often-used kitchen essentials on a cart together, and move it to wherever you’re chopping, stirring, or washing. If you’re always using it, it’s never really in the way.

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: The 52 Best Kitchen Cabinet Organization Ideas of All Time