4 Things You Should Never Do When Organizing Your Kitchen — And 3 Things You Should Always Do

updated Jul 16, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Melanie Rieders

How anyone chooses to organize their kitchen is a highly personalized process. A lot comes down to preference and, of course, how your kitchen is laid out and how you cook in it. Still, there are a few hard-and-fast rules that we believe can be applied to everyone — no matter how big or small your kitchen happens to be.

While we realize that never and always are strong words, we’ve found that these principles really do ring true for every single kind of home cook.

4 Things You Should Never Do When Organizing

1. Don’t put items in a junk drawer all willy-nilly.

The only things that should be in a junk drawer are the items that you’ve deliberately assigned to live there. This means that the LEGO pieces, loose screws, and chapstick you don’t feel like putting back in your purse need to get put away. Make it a rule that nothing gets tossed in the junk drawer unless that’s where it actually belongs. 

2. Don’t keep duplicate tools.

It’s tempting to keep two extra peelers for that dream you have of your extended family sitting around the table, peeling potatoes for a Thanksgiving feast. But if that’s not likely to happen, pick your favorites and donate any and all duplicates you have.

3. Don’t hang onto things because you think you’ll need them later.

Your kitchen is not a storage unit. Hanging on to items you’ve never used but think you might some day is like paying rent or a mortgage to store junk. Don’t do it. The space in your cabinets or drawers is worth more. Be realistic about the type of home cook you are and/or will be in the future.

4. Don’t buy organizers just because.

Those organizing stores sure do a great job making baskets and dividers look like must-haves. And in some cases, they may be. But don’t buy an organizer without having an idea of how you’ll use it. Make sure the basket in question will actually fit in the space you have in mind and think about what you’ll put it in it.

3 Things You Should Always Do When Organizing

1. Do be a little picky about what gets stored out on the counters.

Cleared-off counters are the hallmark of an in-order kitchen. But that’s not to say that the counters have to be empty. Whatever you do allow on the counters, however, should be there for a purpose. For instance, the coffee maker that gets used twice a day can stay out. The toaster you only use every other weekend? That needs to find a new home.

2. Store items where you use them.

If possible, keep your dishes in cabinets or on shelves near your dishwasher. This way, when you go to unload it, you’re not crossing your kitchen 100 times. Keep all your cookware together near the stove, all the baking stuff together in a cabinet near your mixer, and so on.

3. Take advantage of vertical space.

There’s usually a lot of wasted wall space in the kitchen. We’re not saying to fill every inch with hooks and shelves, but definitely take advantage of that unused storage space. Think vertically in cabinets and elsewhere, too: Store baking sheets and cutting boards on their sides (“filed” into cabinets for easy access), and use shelf risers and organizers to create extra space in cabinets (as long as they’ll really work for you; see rule 4 above).