Mistakes to Avoid When Organizing Your Kitchen

Mistakes to Avoid When Organizing Your Kitchen

(Image credit: Emma Fiala)

Any room can benefit from a bit of organization, but it's the kitchen — a high-functioning space that's often the most-used room in the house — that reaps the highest rewards. When you can find exactly what you need, or when you know what's stocked in your pantry, or when you're not wasting time walking around the room in the middle of cooking a meal — that's when the organization really counts.

It's easy to make mistakes if you don't give this space the thought it deserves. Here are five mistakes to avoid when organizing your kitchen.

1. Ignoring your zones.

When you set up a kitchen, it's easy just to pop things into shelves — but you may find that you're walking halfway across the room to put the dishes away or pull spices out of the cabinet. If you don't approach your storage thoughtfully, you can create time-wasters even in a tiny space.

Follow this tip: Store things near where you use them. That means putting the dishes near the dishwasher (for easy loading once the cycle is done), your spoons and spatulas near the stove, and so on.

2. Keeping things you don't use.

The biggest hurdle to being organized is having too much stuff, and having stuff that you don't use getting in the way of the stuff you do use. Even though it's easy to be sentimental — or hopeful — about little-used items, they can make it tough to get organized.

Follow this tip: The short version is to use it or lose it! If you have trouble getting rid of stuff, consider putting items you seldom use into a "donate box," and then take them out when you need them. You may find that box is still full when you're ready to give it away in six months.

3. Using your kitchen as-is.

With all those shelves and drawers, you may think your space is good enough for your needs — but you're missing an opportunity to add storage and truly make it work for you. You can (neatly) get two or three times as much storage out of your space if you're strategic.

Follow this tip: Think of your existing kitchen as the starting point for your needs! Adjust your shelves to fit what you need to store, place dividers in your drawers, and be on the lookout for spots where hooks or risers can add storage.

4. Ignoring your instincts.

While Pinterest can be the jumping-off point for many an organizing project, the reality is that most of those photos probably don't reflect real life! Labeled matching spice jars, color-coded cookbooks, and minimalist stacks of white dinnerware might not be for you.

Follow this tip: Go with the system that makes sense for you and your family, and don't worry about whether it will look good in a photo.

5. Thinking you're done.

Once you've got the kitchen set up, you might think that's it. Sorry, but no! As your needs change, whether it's revolving roommates or living with a partner or adding a family member, your kitchen will have to change with it.

Follow this tip: Plan to revisit your systems about twice a year (I find the spring and fall to be good times). Are you still using the same things? Is there anything that's not working for you? Keeping an eye out for places to improve will keep your kitchen working for you.

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