10 Creative Ways to Make Your Kitchen Work for You

Being a professional and living in a new city doesn’t mean you have to live off of takeout. With some creativity and the right mindset, even the smallest kitchens can be functional and easy to work in.

Here are my 10 simple tips to help make your small kitchen more organized:

1. Have less

Yes, we’re starting with the obvious. You do not have the luxury of keeping multiple sets of the unused or unnecessary. Having just enough of everything will be crucial for setting up proper systems and will not overwhelm your storage capacities.

Take a look at the dish cabinet, for example. If it has been a while, go ahead and pull everything out, get rid of anything chipped, broken, mismatched or just plain unnecessary. Ideally, you should invest in one simple set for your daily use.

Give the cabinets a good clean and only put back the essentials, leaving the cabinets feeling clear and simple. If there are miscellaneous items that you would like to keep but not need for daily use, consider utilizing baskets or plastic bins inside the cabinet to “hide” these extra things until they’re needed.

2. Get smart

Use organization supplies to your favor in order to expand storage and maximize space. A perfect example is a kitchen shelf riser for plates, cups and bowls. Turntables are also useful when organizing higher cabinets.

Photo: Courtesy of A Beautiful Mess 101

 3. Spice it up

The cabinet above the stove is the most common place where people store their spices. However, this is less than ideal. First of all, the heat from the cooking is less than ideal for keeping your spices fresh. Second, these cabinets are usually high up, and things tend to get buried in the back with no chance of ever seeing sunlight until it’s time to move again.

Consider moving the spices to another location within reach of the stove, such as a side cabinet or drawer. Use your choice of turntables, tiered shelves, clear bins and bins with handles to set up a simple, yet effective inventory.

4. Look up

Vertical spaces get overlooked quite often. As professional organizers, we know there is potential if we see any unused wall or vertical space. Filing instead of piling your cookie sheets, pans and lids with a metal pan organizer will make a much better use of any space. Attach simple command hooks inside the cabinets or doors for various items like measuring cups or brushes.

Hanging some things on the wall instead of stashing everything in cabinets or drawers may offer some relief. Perhaps a magnetic strip can help organize the knives. You can hang some of the pots and pans with hooks on a sleek metal bar. These are fun solutions for those who like to display their things.

5. Look behind the door

There is a lot of potential for adding storage behind the doors. Door organizers are a great place to start, and there’s no drill needed for this type of project. You can have extra space in minutes to store anything from extra paper goods to back-stock kitchen supplies.

Photo: Courtesy of A Beautiful Mess 101

6. What’s in your drawers?

Here’s where I want you to be really ruthless. Drawers are notorious for collecting junk. You know all those evenings when you come home tired and you don’t feel like cleaning up the mess? Guess where most of the mess from the counters gets shoved into.

Now is the time to stop treating all your drawers like stash-and-dash places. Whether you have only one or 10 drawers, the principles remain the same: empty everything, sort and purge, put like with like.

Install some drawer organizers and place back items based on categories. Get rid of mismatched utensils. If it’s time for a fresh and simple set, feel free to invest in one as inexpensive as you’d like.

7. First in, first out

Give the food in your kitchen a needed supermarket makeover. Make sure you place your items in categories so that you can apply the first in, first out method. Make this a rule, and try your hardest to place new items behind older ones in order to reduce waste and make the most of your space and money.

8. Label everything

You might be tempted to skip this because it may seem more essential in big kitchens, but that is far from the truth. Labels are the glue that holds any organizing system together. Choose something that speaks to you in terms of aesthetics. You can do chalkboard labels, printed labels or decals. The important thing is to give things a proper home so clean up and storage is easy.

9. Don’t forget the fridge

A clean and organized fridge does wonders for inspiring you to eat healthy and keep up with the New Year resolutions you set. Clean it out. Purge anything old and unwanted. Install some clear bins to keep like-items together. You can even label these by category, such as condiments, meats, cheese, sauces.

A horizontal clear bottle organizer helps make use of the vertical space and can hold water bottles, wine or juices, etc.

Photo: Courtesy of A Beautiful Mess 101

10. Put it back

Last, but not least: You have to pick it up and keep putting it back. All of it. Daily.

We wish things magically returned to where they belong, but, unfortunately, we have to get up and maintain our spaces. Each time you use something, return it to where it belongs. Reset your kitchen in regular intervals so that clutter has no chance to build up and overwhelm you again.

Lori Cela, Owner, Time 4 Organizing, LLC (@time4organizing)