For most Southerners, the kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where biscuits are made and breakfast is served and little ones help with the cookies and where everyone gathers for midnight snacks. A truly functional kitchen, though, requires a lot of organization so the chef can always find their favorite biscuit cutter or wooden spoon or cast-iron skillet and busy mornings can go more smoothly.
If being organized isn’t a natural state for you, we’re here to help. Like any project, laying a good foundation is the key to success and the same goes for an organized kitchen.
If you want an organized kitchen, start by getting rid of these five things:
A packed junk drawer
Every kitchen seems to have one, but we’re just going to say it—junk drawers are lazy. Yes, it’s hard to know where to put bottle stoppers, spare salt cellars, twist ties, clothespins, cooking twine, and corn holders, but if you want an organized kitchen, you’re going to need a system. Look for drawer organizers like mini storage bins, silverware trays, or the like at places like Ikea or the Container Store to corral the odds and ends that end up in every kitchen. Take some time to sort through that junk drawer, tossing what is truly junk, and organizing what remains and then the next time you need those corn holders, you’ll know exactly where they are.
Items stored far from where they are used
When you cook, are you constantly having to leave your roux unattended while you hunt for a whisk? When you’re chopping cabbage for your famous slaw, do you have to a distant pantry to find the vinegars you need? Is your dishwasher far from where you store your plates? If you’re thinking of reorganizing your kitchen, take time to study your cooking workflow. Then consider moving vinegars closer to your work station, your plates near the dishwasher, and cooking utensils near the stove.
Small appliances cluttering counters
While smoothie fanatics and soup enthusiasts may use their blenders every day, most of us don’t need constant access to the puree function. Similarly, those stalwart KitchenAid mixers are ideal for kneading cinnamon roll dough or making batches of cookies, but they take up a good deal of countertop real estate. Same goes for rice cookers, Crock Pots, and Cuisinarts. To leave yourself a little counter space to actually cook on, stash small appliances in cupboards or a pantry or even a repurposed closet. When you do pull that rice cooker out of storage, be sure to put it back when you’re done, so it’s not cluttering up your counters again.
A cabinet filled with pots and pans
In almost every kitchen, there is one cabinet that you never want to open for fear of unleashing an avalanche of pots and pans and lids. Figuring out a system for storing pots and pans—without taking up all the cupboard space— can be a challenge for even the most organized chef. Luckily there’s an easy solution: A handrail outfitted with S-hooks that can transform a few square feet of wall into a convenient rack for kitchenware. As for those pesky lids, buy adhesive hooks and stick them to cupboard doors or buy a lid organizer, it’s a small investment in an organized kitchen.
An under-the-sink disaster site
It’s ironic that so many of us let our cleaning supplies wallow under the sink in disarray. Instead, make under the sink spic and span: Use adhesive hooks to store kitchen rags and dishwashing gloves on the door while they dry. Put liquid dish soap, dishwashing packs, window cleaner, and counter cleaning supplies on trays to catch any spills. Keep new sponges and scrub brushes corralled in washable organizers. If your cleaning supplies are tidy, it could make cleaning seem less of a chore.
There’s also one thing that everyone should have in their kitchen, organized or not: A fire extinguisher. Pick one up at your local hardware store, make sure you know how to use it, and keep it in a place that is easily accessible from your stove, because when there’s an emergency, there’s no time to waste