The average cooking adult spends between 10-15 hours in the kitchen every week. The kitchen is more than just a space where we cook and eat. It’s where we get energized for a new day, unwind after work, connect with friends, explore new foods and, perhaps most importantly: practice hospitality. A well-organized, enjoyable kitchen can make the difference between a stressful and relaxing cooking experience. Here are five tips for organizing your kitchen so that it works for you and becomes a relaxing, joyful space.
1. Organize your kitchen based on how you use it
So often, it can feel like the cooking utensils we need the most are never where we need them when we need them. There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to find something that you love to use all the time. Taking some time to pause and reevaluate how you actually use your kitchen can go a long way in boosting how much you enjoy cooking in it. Perhaps you love to use that one specific cutting board made of real Cedar, but it’s always at the top of the cupboard, requiring a ladder to access? Yes, your high-end food processor looks pretty on the counter, but if you only use it twice a year, should it take up prime counter space?
Take stock of your kitchen habits and evaluate how well the organization of your kitchen reflects how you actually function in the space. Try to arrange commonly-desired items in easier-to-reach places, putting items of occasional use further back in cupboards or on higher shelves. Even if the result is quirky and unexpected, you’ll save yourself lots of time and frustration. You may even find that you enjoy being in the kitchen more often!
2. Hang the dang thing!
Now that you have your pots, pans and gadgets in places that reflect your cooking rhythms and habits, it’s time to look more closely at spaces that you may have overlooked, including the ceiling. If you’re tight on space, why not consider hanging a pot rack? Hanging your commonly-used pots will free up precious cabinet space that you can repurpose for spices, food or dish storage. It can also help make it easier to get motivated to cook at all: sometimes just seeing the pots already out and ready for use makes it easier to get dinner going.
3. Fight Tupperware entropy
Many otherwise peaceful mornings have been cruelly upset by the phenomena known as “searching for a Tupperware lid.” Few things can compare to the frustration of this ritual. Similarly, few things can compare to the joy and euphoria of a well-organized, sensible Tupperware system. This can take a different form for each household, but here are a few universally acknowledged principles:
- Organize tops and bottoms separately
- Organize tops and bottoms by size
- Throw out missing and/or broken pieces
Although it may seem daunting, facing and conquering your Tupperware mayhem may just be one of life’s greatest and most underreported joys. It will give you back precious minutes of your day and maybe, just maybe save you some tears along the way. See other time-saving tips here.
4. Use modular shelving to transform wall space
A small kitchen is just a clever kitchen in disguise. The key to unleashing the hidden genius of your tiny kitchen is to look for storage space that doesn’t look like space at all…the walls. With some imagination, creativity, and modular shelving, you can transform wall space into fully functional storage space. Since this space will be open to the public, you’ll want to prioritize this space for items that are aesthetically consistent such as bulk goods stored in equally-sized mason jars, pretty spice jars, wine glasses, or neatly organized baking supplies. Modular shelves also provide opportunities for endless customization: Now that you know how you use your kitchen, you can employ modular shelves to make your kitchen as unique and flexible as you need it to be.
5. Repurpose kitchen space for new hobbies and interests
As you wave farewell to your college-bound kids, you can now turn a creative eye to the kitchen space that has for so long been designated for lunch boxes, pretzels, cereal, and sports drinks. It might be a good idea to have a section of the pantry designated for ravenous college students when they inevitably return, but once you’ve moved all their food items to that section, it’s time to get creative with the remaining space. Why not repurpose it for new hobbies like gardening or painting?
It’s also a chance to use the kitchen in a way that reflects the needs of those who will be using it the most. Planning to host more dinner parties and try your hand at more elaborate recipes? Bring the wine glasses down from the top shelf and put your new spice collection in the cupboard. Thinking of taking up baking? It might be worthwhile to transform the former lunch ware section of the pantry into a home for your baking-related ingredients. Remember: the kitchen should fit the routines of those who use it, adapting to new life seasons as they come.
No matter where you live, your culinary interests, budget, or lifestyle, your kitchen should reflect your interests, rhythms and values. The design and organizational advice you find in grocery-store magazines or catalogs can help jump-start the process, but ultimately, the best kitchen is not one that’s trendy, it’s the one that fits you. A well-fitting kitchen is one that’s enjoyable and relaxing to be in, one that frees you up to be creative and one that liberates your mind to focus on what’s really important: taking good care of yourself and the ones you love.
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