Recipe for an Organized Kitchen
With today’s open-plan homes, the kitchen has become the most active room in the house. It is the place we gather to spend time with family and friends, do homework, read mail, pay bills, fold laundry, watch T.V. and of course eat. As a result, the kitchen has become the most difficult room in the house to keep organized. Our usual organizational challenges of overflowing cabinets and exploding junk drawers are compounded by mail, toys, clothes and all sorts of clutter. If your kitchen could use some help getting organized, the following tips are a great recipe for an organized kitchen.
1. Know Your Flow
Although each kitchen has a slightly different layout, most have the following fixed elements: range, stove, microwave, refrigerator, sink and dishwasher.
If you look at the layout of your kitchen, you will notice that these elements are situated in a triangle. In the diagram below, the stove and range are situated on the left side of the room, the sink and dishwasher are in the middle and the refrigerator is on the right. This triangle is referred to as the Workflow Triangle.
Kitchens are designed using this triangle formation for optimal efficiency. What this does is make the number of steps needed to get to any element in the kitchen as short as possible, thus maximizing your work efficiency in the kitchen.
In addition, there are five main functions that take place in a kitchen. Using the ORDER System as your guide, plan the stations of your kitchen to revolve around these five functions. Be mindful that they should be placed as close as possible to any related appliance. For example, place your potholders and trivets in a drawer as close to the stove as possible.
Food Storage: Refrigerator/freezer, pantry or dedicated cabinets and drawers. In addition to food times, also include paper towels, plastic ware, disposable cups and plates
Food Preparation: Designated area for chopping, slicing, mixing, etc. Close to the sink for washing produce.
Cooking: Near the range and oven. For storing pots, pans, potholders and trivets.
Baking: Bake ware, baking specific equipment, parchment paper.
Food Serving: Items used to plate meals, such as dishes, utensils, napkins, etc. Include items for making lunches and wrapping up leftovers. Aluminum foil, plasticwrap, sandwich bags, luch boxes, thermal containers.
Cleanup: Near the dishwasher and sink, and close to where dishes and flatware are stored.
2. Inexpensive Storage Solutions
Your storage solutions don’t have to be expensive. Check the dollar stores for plastic bins, baskets and containers. Check stores that carry overstocks, closeouts and slightly dented items for great deals on storage racks and freestanding units.
Find creative ways to reuse items you already own. Try this inexpensive storage solution for spice bottles: completely cover the bottom half of a shoebox with the same contact paper you used on your shelves. Fill the box with your spices and set it inside your cabinet for easy “pull-out retrieval”. If you are short on cabinet space but have plenty of wall space, try using an old bureau to store canned goods, towels or extra dishes and cookware. The top can double as a place to serve food buffet style.
Don’t forget to “nest” items inside one another. For example bowls of graduating sizes can be fit one inside the other.
3. Toss the Clutter
Get rid of what is old or that you don’t use. Toss expired herbs, yeast and baking powder. If you can’t remember the last time you used some of your cooking gadgets, why not send them off to a new home where they will be appreciated. Make a vow to not bring in any more small appliances, gadgets or knick knacks. Clear off the counters and decide what really needs to be out. If an item has no use in the kitchen it needs to be put somewhere else. Bag or box the items to be dumped, sold, donated or given to a friend.
4. Clean It
Clean out one cabinet at a time. Wipe down the shelves. Clear and wipe down countertops. If you have tile, now is a good time to clean the grout with a degreasing solution. Replace tattered dishtowels. Replace torn or worn shelf paper. Clean out the inside and outside of the refrigerator. Clean the oven. Don’t forget to clean the top of the range and the knobs. Dust the ceiling fan. Dust the top of your cabinets and refrigerator.
5. Home Sweet Home
Every item needs its own home. When items have a designated place they tend to get put away. If they don’t have a home then they tend to get lost.
Utilize bins and baskets wherever possible to keep “like things” together.
Be sure to put a label where an item belongs. If you designate its home with a label, 99.9% of the time the item will be returned to its home.
Go vertical. The important concept here is that any time you use vertical space it will free up horizontal space. Utilize the empty vertical wall space in a nearby closet by installing shelves that can be used to store canned goods. Install hanging broom and mop holders. Employ hooks, pegboards, and Lazy Susans. If your counter space is at a premium, see if you can mount some of your small appliances under a cabinet.
6. Easy Access
To make accessing things easy, place them close to their point of use. For example: if your coffee maker sits on the counter, store the coffee cups, cream and sugar in the cabinet above it.
7. Never Let Clutter Back In
Once you have spent all that time organizing your kitchen, you’ll want to make sure that the clutter stays out. Set some time aside once a month to check for clutter buildup. Also spend a few minutes each night putting away anything that doesn’t belong in the kitchen. Nip that clutter in the bud before it takes root.
HINT: If you haven’t already noticed, the first letter of each rule spells out the word kitchen. It’s a handy way for you to remember each tip.
© 2002-2011 Blair Massey