How to Organize Your Kitchen Cabinets

To Clear the Clutter for Happier Cooking

cabinets adjacent to the stove with items used most frequently

The Spruce / Rachel Vanni

The kitchen is one of the most used rooms in the home, especially if you’re an enthusiastic home cook or foodie. So, keeping things tidy and stylish can feel more like a pipe dream; something people do on Instagram but not in real life. In real life, utensils and appliances fight for space in drawers, obscure spice mixtures get lost in a sea of jars, and ill-fitting pots and pans stack one on top of the other.

But truly, it doesn’t have to be this way. This article will help you close the gap between your dream kitchen and reality by tackling one of the big-ticket items: your kitchen cabinets and drawers.

Clean Slate

Just like you can’t build a home on a lousy foundation, you can’t achieve your kitchen goals without giving it a deep clean. If you don’t have a full day or weekend to dedicate to this, we still recommend you don’t skip this step. Instead, clean your kitchen cabinets in segments, starting with those you rarely touch and finishing with the ones you frequently access.

If you have tough stains to tackle like grease splatters, take a gentle approach. Skip warm water and vinegar, because while it is a popular solution, it can dissolve the finish on your cabinets.

Sort and Plan

Now that your cabinets are refreshed, start pulling out all the appliances, utensils, and other items you want to reorganize. Depending on how large your stash is, you may even want to lay them down on a clean sheet or tarp so you can get a good look at everything. From here, you can plan to donate any excess, purchase additional items, and map out where everything will go. Of course, those with similar uses naturally jibe, but we take it one step further...

Heavy pots and appliances should be stored in lower cabinets or shelves, while those that are frequently used should stay closest to the stove or where you prep your meals. Tupperware and food storage bins can be kept in a higher cabinet that’s near the sink so you can move from pot, to container, to sink in one fell swoop.  

Overhead shot of pots and pans in drawers

The Spruce / Kristina Vanni

Another consideration (and possibly limiting factor) is space. If you don’t have a lot of counter space to work with, you may need to maximize your cabinets and drawers even more. Or, if the kitchen sports extra wall space, you may consider breaking out the drill to build additional shelving or hooks.

Visibility is Key

Have you ever torn into a drawer or cabinet to look for that one item, only to create a larger mess? This is precisely why we suggest making tools, utensils, spices, and more easily visible. If there’s anything we’ve learned this year, it’s that organizing our cupboards, freezers, and pantries can actually make us feel better and more at ease. We wanted a storage solution that’s efficient, affordable, adaptable, and clear, so we designed one ourselves—The Spruce Organization Collection.

Place kitchen items on specific shelves

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

Other ideas include building or placing increasingly higher standing shelves inside your cabinets to store spices, or simply placing the tallest bottles towards the back. Using a pull-out pantry will allow you to scan things quickly and easily. If you own certain utensils that are always in rotation (like a spatula or tongs) consider storing them in a holder on the counter for easy access.

Use Labels

Okay, creating tags for items doesn't mean you have to go overboard with the labeler. After all, there’s a fine line between helpful and exhausting. But if you want to empty out your dried goods from their packages and transfer them into more streamlined airtight containers that fit together like perfect tetris pieces, you will benefit from labels.

Place kitchen items on specific shelves

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

Labeling spices can help you quickly grab what you need or remind you to actually use a spice that you may have forgotten about otherwise. What’s more, you can think of labeling as an exercise, helping you to keep a mental tally of what you have so you can either buy replacements or avoid buying duplicates.

No Space Left Behind

Chances are the surfaces of your cabinets, tables, and walls hold untapped potential! Consider installing hooks to hang your pots, pans, or utensils (depending on how much space you have). You can effectively store knives, culinary scissors, and more by placing a magnetic strip on a wall or the side of a cabinet. Additionally, using a tension rod inside a cabinet or installing a bar on the interior side of its door is a great way to store spray bottles, gloves, and towels. You can even hang a pegboard on a wall in your kitchen so you can easily attach and detach wire baskets and shelves for extra storage.

Get Creative

It’s natural to get in a groove and forget to consider how to improve things. So, we’re here to remind you to get creative! Do you default to organizing your drawers in simple, vertical segments? Well, that may be wasting precious room. Instead, try creating custom-fit dividers so you can store both small and big items in their proper place. You can also place your dividers on a diagonal for a simple solution to the same problem—big items go in the middle slots, while small items are kept in the corners.

Storing Everything In The Kitchen

The Spruce / Margot Cavin

Apart from creatively using space, think of how you want to move and navigate in your kitchen.  For example, a rolling cart can help you quickly gather all you need for meal prep, or help you to maneuver heavy appliances.

Lastly, ask yourself if all your kitchen items need to be in your kitchen. What if you kept an electric kettle and tea or coffee setup in the dining room? Or how about a matching set of rarely used, but stylish dishware? Finally, cookbooks may also be great candidates for keeping in the next room over.

Think in all Dimensions

Learn to play Tetris with your kitchen cabinets and drawers by working with, not against, the shapes of your appliances, utensils, dishware, and pots and pans. For example, could you create more space by filing your plates or baking sheets in a rack instead of stacking them vertically? Or how about neatly propping up cutting boards on the interior of a drawer? This way, you can simply pluck them out instead of lifting the items inside to get to the bottom of the drawer.

Express Yourself

Becoming ultra-organized in your kitchen doesn’t mean you can’t express your personal style and in fact, we recommend that you do! What’s more, you don’t have to invest a lot of time or money if you don’t want to (though rustic ceiling beams sound lovely). Placing a few houseplants, a colorful rug, or a tile backsplash can bring just as much joy.