Image: Matthew Williams
Feel more confident in the kitchen, get your meals made more quickly and be a more organized hostess with these easy tips.
With a place for everything and everything in its place, an organized kitchen just feels more beautiful. Here, we present genius storage solutions from Remodelista: The Organized Home for the most-used room in your house.
1. Think like a shopper.
In retail parlance, it’s called merchandising: the art of arranging goods so they’re easy to access and visually appealing. Here are six principles from Sam Hamilton, kitchen designer and owner of March, a couture kitchen boutique in San Francisco. Apply them to your kitchen, and you’ll have a much more “shoppable” space.
- Use shallow pantry storage.
The items that are visible are the ones you’ll use (just as with the retail mantra, “What you can see is what sells”). So line up your goods in the front, and make use of risers in the back. When installing storage, measure accordingly: “You don’t want shelves that hold more than two rows of cans,” advises Sam. “Anything deeper, and things get lost in the void.”
- Create zones.
Just as retailers group goods by theme, you should set up areas in your kitchen for food prep, coffee making and so on. Cluster culinary essentials on trays to anchor them.
- Consider proximity.
Daily dishware belongs on the shelves closest to your sink and dishwasher, for ease of loading and unloading.
- Leave yourself elbow room at the sink.
Keep your work area as clear as a checkout counter. Ask yourself, What do I use here all the time? Relocate the rest.
- Conquer drawer space by dividing it.
Size up what you’re stowing and create compartments accordingly so that nothing is free-floating or jumbled. You can buy ready-made drawer inserts from big-box or storage stores.
- Look up, look down.
In stores, plenty of inventory is kept on hand but out of sight. The same rule applies in kitchens: Deep corner cabinets work well as appliance garages. And high cabinets are ideal for storing occasionally used tableware. For access to these spots, keep a stepstool or a rolling ladder handy.
2. Be prepared for an instant cocktail party.
You’re more likely to throw an impromptu drinks or dinner party when your tabletop elements are kept at the ready in one place. A kitchen or dining area drawer is especially useful for this kit. Pro tip: Store the items on trays so you can lift them out for quick delivery to the table – and then use the trays for serving.
- The Essentials: Bar tools (corkscrew, bottle opener, jigger and mixing spoon); tapers and tea lights; matches; ice bucket; glasses; trays.
- Also Cconsider: Ready-for-the-table flatware sets in pockets (pouches sized for a fork, spoon and knife make setting the table a fait accompli); cloth napkins rolled in napkin rings.
3. Pretty the pantry.
A jumble of assorted packaging – cereal boxes; sacks of flour and sugar; plastic bags of dried beans and pasta – makes it impossible to use your cabinets efficiently. Take a moment to decant your pantry essentials before loading them onto shelves (buy in bulk when possible), and you’ll gain space, order and a much prettier overall picture.
Designer Michaela Scherrer created open storage in her own kitchen by removing old cabinet doors she didn’t like. A decanting devotee, she stocks her shelves with a harmonious mix of Weck glass canning jars for dry goods, stacked tins for herbs and spices and cardboard boxes to fill with tea.
4. Think like a chef.
In a professional kitchen, space is almost always at a premium, so tools need to be easy to grab and work counters have to be kept clear. So who better to look to for culinary storage tricks than Dana Cowin, former longtime editor-in-chief of Food & Wine magazine. Here are five organizing tips she learned on the job.
- Adhere to the French notion of mise en place (everything in its place).
In a chef’s kitchen, the spoons never migrate. The pans are always where they were the last time you used them. “Think Julia Child and her pegboard for pots,” says Dana.
- Keep everything visible and within arm’s reach.
Hang pots and pans from S hooks, suspend utensils from a rail and store knives in a rack (so they don’t overlap and become dull). According to Dana, “Chefs would abolish most drawers if they could.
- Pare down.
Because of cost and space restrictions, chefs limit themselves to only the most necessary equipment.
- Buy staples in bulk and repackage them in smaller easy-to-store tubs.
Yes, even chefs advocate decanting, especially for ingredients like flour, sugar and cornmeal. And there’s no lugging required: In their new containers, these staples should be lined up and readily accessible, whether on a shelf or tucked away in a drawer.
- Shop at restaurant-supply stores.
These are great places to buy things for the home, such as cutting boards, white plates and stainless steel pot racks. The goods are well priced and made for heavy use.