6 Smart Tips for Starting the Year Off with a Totally Put-Together Kitchen, According to Professional Organizers

published Jan 9, 2022
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Credit: Hayley Lawrence

You can change your habits anytime, but there’s something especially motivating about beginning anew at the start of a brand-new year. As we ease into 2022, you’re likely taking stock of old habits and dreaming up new ways that will better suit your goals — including how you work in the kitchen. 

So, what better time is there than now to get more organized? If you haven’t brainstormed exactly how to get there, you’re in luck because we can help. A couple of smart steps can set you up for success and prepare you to kickstart the new year with a totally organized working space. That help we promised? We asked professional organizers to lead the way with their helpful advice. Here are six practical tips you can follow to get your kitchen into shape.

Credit: Rusty Williams

1. Simplify the amount of equipment you own.

Start by ditching or donating those broken gadgets, cracked plates, and excess utensils. Why? You can’t start and sustain an organization system without getting rid of the stuff you don’t actually use. “The best thing to do for your kitchen in the new year is to create a fresh start by eliminating the items that aren’t serving a purpose,” says professional organizer Julianna Poplin of The Simplicity Habit. “Getting organized is much easier when you’re working with fewer items.” 

If you’re not sure where to begin, go through each drawer and cabinet, and pull out anything you don’t use on a regular basis — especially if it’s not functional or you don’t envision using it in the near future. Then, make a plan to give away the item to make room for the things you actually use. (This same philosophy works for maintaining order with food items in cabinets and pantries, too.)

2. Declutter your countertops.

Clutter on your counter doesn’t just make it harder to function in your kitchen; it also creates a chaotic vibe that makes your home harder to relax in. That’s why professional organizer Katie McAllister of Organized Treasure recommends resetting your counter after you determine what you want to keep around. Her rule? Don’t keep anything on the counter you aren’t using daily. 

“I recommend looking at your kitchen counter through the eyes of a friend, designer, or home stager,” she says. “The kitchen is such a functional space in the home, but it also contains some of the most beautiful finishes, so view the items on the counter as though they are decorating choices.” 

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

3. Create easy access.

To make your drawers and cabinets more organized, focus on making the contents easy to grab. For example, rather than stacking pots to save space, get rid of the ones you don’t use and make the more common items easier to find and use, according to McAllister.

4. Organize and streamline by kitchen function.

Professional organizer Brenda Scott of Tidy My Space has a brilliant tip for re-homing kitchen items: Organize according to how you use them. Keep your glasses near the sink, plates near the stove, and cutlery beside the sink and dishwasher. Just as importantly, take into consideration which hand you use to grab things. Does it make more sense to have the drawer of utensils to the right or left of the stove? Ask yourself: What feels right and makes your time in the kitchen easier?

5. Invest in the right organizers.

Once you’ve decided roughly where things belong, invest in tools that will help you sustain your organization system. Which organizers you buy will ultimately depend on your unique kitchen, but some products can efficiently work in a variety of spaces. For example, pro organizer Caroline Solomon likes this three-tier expandable organizer for saving space in her clients’ pantries or cabinets. 

For silverware drawers, Solomon swears by this sleek in-drawer knife organizer,  which comes in two finishes and can hold up to 15 knives. While you’re at it, grab an expandable silverware tray to fit in your drawer, and cork drawer liners to keep loose utensils from sliding around.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

6. Make sure your new habits are sustainable.

Starting the new year with an organized kitchen is one thing, but the bigger question is will you be able to keep it that way? According to pro organizers, your best bet is to invest in (and research!) organizational tools you’ll actually use — and ones you genuinely like. Remember: Organization is a day-to-day process, so it’ll be a lot easier to keep up those methods if they realistically match your lifestyle. 

What other organizational advice can you suggest to get your kitchen into tip-top shape? Tell us your ideas in the comments below.