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42 Kitchen Organization Ideas for a Clutter-Free Space

If the kitchen is the heart of a home, you don’t want it a jumbled mess. Not only will kitchen organization free up valuable countertop space for meal prep and enhance your cooking experience, but a tidy space will also make family gatherings that much more enjoyable when you’re not distracted by clutter.

“In any kitchen, whether you are a chef or a hungry snacker just grabbing a spoon for a yogurt, having everything in its place makes for a smooth and efficient experience,” says Susan Yeley, creative director and owner of Susan Yeley Homes. “A kitchen that is well-organized is a place people want to be, inspiring creativity and togetherness.”

Reader’s Digest spoke to more than a dozen organizing experts and home designers to bring you the 42 best kitchen organization ideas that can transform your culinary space from cluttered to categorized. The best part? These storage solutions are quick and easy to implement.

1. Group by need

coffee bar in a kitchen with a coffee maker and a tray with mugs, coffee, and teaTMB STUDIO

“There are three things that happen in the kitchen: prep, cook and serve,” explains Laura Cattano, professional organizer and founder of Organizational Design. “The best thing is to zone out your kitchen by those categories.” For example, to keep from running around the kitchen all morning, Yeley employed a spacious cabinet for all coffee and tea needs by gathering mugs, coffee and coffeemaker in one place.

2. Keep everyday utensils within reach

Kitchen utensils, tools and dishware on on the background white tile wall.ALMAJE/GETTY IMAGES

Store spatulas and serving spoons next to the stove in an attractive ceramic container or other kitchen counter organizer–but don’t overfill it. “Not every single cooking utensil needs to be right by the stove,” says Cattano. Leave out what you need, and hide the rest in a drawer.

3. Organize oils

Bottles on kitchen worktop, close-upJOHNER IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES

Exposure to light can make cooking oils go rancid if you don’t use them regularly. If you like having them on the counter, put them in opaque containers and stylize them so they don’t look like you forgot to put them away. “Place a tray under them so it looks intentional,” says Cattano.

4. Store storage containers with lids on

Food storage containers in an organized kitchen cabinetTMB STUDIO

Reusable storage containers are ideal for storing leftovers or taking lunches to school and work. There’s just one problem—it can be hard to find the right lid when you need it. Here is the solution: If you’re placing storage containers in a cabinet, store them with their lids on—that way you can stack them too.

5. Think vertical for trays and baking sheets


Save a great deal of space and create a far more pleasing aesthetic by storing decorative trays vertically, like interior designer Courtnay Tartt Elias of Creative Tonic. This works especially well in a butler’s pantry, where you can showcase your goods. For less ornate items such as baking sheets, buy an adjustable rack and place it in a deep cabinet.

6. Maximize under-cupboard storage space

Closeup of modern kitchen interior design with upside down hanging empty wine glasses rack in room for storageABLOKHIN/GETTY IMAGES

Let empty spaces inspire your kitchen organization ideas. The space under your cupboard is the perfect spot for storing wine and cocktail glasses, as well as other stemware. Stemware holders are easy to mount underneath your cupboard and leave the lower part of the cabinet free for other things.

7. Corral spices in a drawer

Rd Kitchen Organization Spice Drawer Muriel SilvaMURIEL SILVA/COURTESY BROGDON BUILDERS

If you’ve got a cupboard full of spices, it can be hard to find the garlic powder when you need it. Cortney Brogdon of Brogdon Builders suggests you line up your spices in a drawer–and maybe even alphabetize them–so you won’t have trouble finding pepper and paprika in a pinch.

8. Put the top surfaces to work in small kitchens

jars and plants on top of white fridge in an organized kitchenTZIDO/GETTY IMAGES

Utilize the top of your refrigerator or cabinets for items you rarely use–especially those that can double as decorative touches. It can also be a good place to store cookbooks and decorative items such as baskets, plants or vintage flea market finds.

9. Install a magnetic strip for knives

magnetic knife holder in kitchenJMSILVA/GETTY IMAGES

Countertop kitchen knife holders take up unnecessary space in your kitchen. To give your counters a cleaner look, install a magnetic knife holder on the wall. Since the knives will be visible, they are easy to grab for chopping.

10. Hang pots and pans to free up cupboard space

Pots and pans hanging on a kitchen wallCARLINA TETERIS/GETTY IMAGES

Sometimes the best kitchen cabinet organization tips involve taking things out of the cabinets altogether. Organizing pots and pans doesn’t just take up a lot of space—it can also end up messy and disorganized if you keep them in a deep cupboard. A pot rack mounted above the kitchen island (or wherever you have space) can offer up to 20 hooks for hanging your pans. And there’s often a sturdy shelf on top for lids and other kitchen gadgets.

11. Use a flatware organizer

Open drawer with cutlery in a modern kitchenBRIZMAKER/GETTY IMAGES

A flatware organizer makes it a cinch to set the table—no more deciphering a salad fork from a dinner fork. Opt for an expandable drawer organizer, which is customizable, so it typically works for nearly every kitchen.

12. Store pot lids vertically

drawer in kitchen with pot lids in vertical storageYULIA KHVOSCH/GETTY IMAGES

If you’re storing your pot lids in a drawer, you know how annoying it is to sift through them when you’re hunting for the right size. Storing them vertically in a pot lid organizer will ensure that they’re neat and easily visible.

13. Adjust shelf height in cabinets

food organized in a pantry in a kitchenTMB STUDIO

Don’t let the shelf height define how you use your space. People tend to put cereal on a top shelf because that’s the one with the most space, but it’d be easier to reach on a lower shelf, says Jodie Watson, founder and president of Supreme Organization. On the other hand, too much space for canned goods, and you’ll probably start stacking items into an ugly, unstable pile. If your cabinet shelves are not adjustable, buy shelf risers to split one shelf into two.

14. Use a curtain for messy storage

curtain hiding messy storage under counter in a kitchenCOURTESY SARAH SZWAJKOS PHOTOGRAPHY

Save the pretty jars and cookbooks for open shelving but tuck all the unsightly boxes and random items on the shelving below, and disguise the storage solution with a charming curtain. Sarah Fischer of Sarah & Sons Interiors points out that “a simple curtain elegantly hides the recycling bins and bulky back-stock.”

15. Remove outer packaging

lazy susan and baskets used to organize food and snacks in a kitchen pantryTMB STUDIO

What do Goldfish crackers and Cheerios have in common, aside from being kid-approved nosh? They both come in too much packaging! As soon as you get individually wrapped snacks, cereals, drink mixes and the like, take them out of the original boxes or bags, recommends designer Meredith Owen. Corralling the loose items into clear containers will help you know what you have at a quick glance, and when to stock up again. For space-saving single-serve snack storage, invest in several bins that will create a uniform facade but can be lined up with baggies and bars within.

16. Arrange items in deep cupboards by size

organized deep ktichen cupboardsCOURTESY STEFANIE WIIK

When filling your cupboards, place taller items in the back of shorter ones so you can glimpse them all at the same time without pulling things out of the cupboard. “Take advantage of pantry bins to make the most of the depth of your cupboards,” says Stefanie Wiik, professional organizer, certified KonMari consultant and founder of Neat Victory. “You can pull them out like a drawer to better reach the back.” Wiik also recommends placing appliances one behind the other.

17. Invest in clear containers

clear storage containers for pantry items in a green cabinetMADELINE HARPER/COURTESY ANASTASIA CASEY

Packets of rice and grains and large boxes of cereal can turn into an unsightly pile. Interior designer Anastasia Casey of IDCO Studio is all about clear containers in different sizes so that cabinet storage is uniform. You can even stack smaller containers together as the need arises. Plus, when you store dry goods in clear containers, you’ll know when it’s time to replenish them. Note: Be sure to label them, since it’s all too easy to mistake salt for sugar.

18. Organize cans

soup can organizer in a pantryTMB STUDIO

When your cupboard is wall-to-wall cans, finding chicken noodle soup can test your patience. A multi-tier can rack will keep it all neat and organized—and impress your nosy in-laws next time they visit.

19. Place produce in baskets

modern kitchen with fruit stored in black metal basketsNICOLE DIANNE/COURTESY COLLECTED INTERIORS

Some produce–like tomatoes and bananas–don’t belong in the fridge, but that doesn’t mean you want them piled up on your counter. The team at Collected Interiors is in favor of wire baskets as a convenient (and attractive) storage solution.

20. Add dividers to your junk drawer

open junk drawer with items organized in clear binsTMB STUDIO

Your junk drawer doesn’t have to be a chaotic mess. All those miscellaneous items can be separated and organized so you can find them again. Drawer organizers help keep pens, batteries, receipts and other necessities more orderly, making your junk drawer less of a disaster zone.

21. Set up a drop zone by the door

A small entrance mudroom with a hooks for hanging jackets and hats and organization which connects the garage to the house in a new construction homeUCPAGE/GETTY IMAGES

“The kitchen is still one of the first places we go when we enter a home,” says Maeve Richmond, founder and coach of the organizing company Maeve’s Method. “All the stuff of life that comes in the door accumulates in the kitchen.” To keep your meal space from becoming a catchall for your jackets, hats and other gear, Richmond recommends setting up a designated “drop zone” where you walk in. Giving these items a home will make putting groceries away that much easier.

22. Make a place for mail

mail drop station in a kitchen with bins for recycling junk mailNESTOR MARTINEZ NIEVA/GETTY IMAGES

Mail can get out of control—fast! It just keeps on coming. Take a few minutes to go through junk mail so you don’t lose important correspondence or bills in the shuffle. To keep the recycling in order, Yeley designates a special bin for all those flyers so you can toss them immediately. “The new normal—opening our work spaces up for guests and entertaining—dictates kitchens that still work hard but look and feel elegant and tidy,” she adds.

23. Keep cleaning products contained

organized cleaning supplies in bins under kitchen sinkTMB STUDIO

If it takes you 20 minutes to find a fresh sponge, then your cleaning products could use some organizing TLC. Group like housecleaning supplies in plastic caddies, along with sponges, scrubbers and rubber gloves, and keep them organized under your kitchen sink.

24. Create space with over-the-door hangers

over the door organizer on kitchen islandCOURTESY STEFANIE WIIK

Whether you’re looking to hide grocery store bags or need a spot for an easy-to-reach cleaning arsenal, over-the-door organizers are perfect as a small-space storage solution for essential items, Wiik suggests.

25. Contain water bottles

water bottle storage COURTESY STEFANIE WIIK

Put an end to the madness that involves searching for a reusable water bottle every time you leave the house. A water bottle holder in the cabinet is one way to keep them in one place. Wiik also likes using a basket, as it helps to contain water bottles and lids. Or try this trick that Laura Williams of ATX Interior Design uses in her own home: an over-the-door shoe organizer on her pantry door. “It is the best way to keep all the bottle pieces together and easy for the kids to get their water bottles themselves,” she says.

26. Arrange storage for easy access

kitchen with utensil drawer and plates for hosting a partyJULIE SOEFER PHOTOGRAPHY/COURTESY CREATIVE TONIC DESIGN

“Storing frequently used smaller dishes and trays in easy-access open shelves and lesser-used larger pieces a bit higher up (or to the back of deep cupboards!) makes it easy to see what dishes you need,” Tartt Elias says. This type of kitchen organizing is especially useful in a second pantry or when you have friends helping out as you host. No one wants to open a zillion drawers searching for a candy dish.

27. Back-stock your pantry

organized pantry in modern kitchenCOURTESY SARAH SZWAJKOS PHOTOGRAPHY

A pantry is only as good as its setup. Placing everything at random only creates more chaos. Back-stocking—buying things in multiples—can create order (and save you trips to the store). “Put the most frequently used items on the middle shelves for easy access,” recommends Erica Thompson of Organized by Design.

28. Install pull-out cabinet drawers

pull out pot and pan storage in kitchenMURIEL SILVA/COURTESY HERITAGE HOMES JACKSONVILLE

If you’re tired of trying to find what you need in the back of deep cabinets, pull-out cabinet drawers are about to become your new best friend. They’re easy to install and make it easy to grab your pots and mixing bowls, notes Jason Ulm, vice president of Heritage Homes.

29. Organize your fridge with clear bins

Organized Refridgerator shelvesTMB STUDIO

It’s worth it to spend a few minutes organizing your fridge. Not only will you be able to more readily find ingredients when it’s time to prep dinner, but you’re also less likely to waste food, like those leftovers from last week that got hidden in the back. To create a space for everything, group similar items in clear plastic refrigerator bins, suggests Lauren Bowen, a home cleaning expert with Two Maids.

30. Switch to multipurpose cleaner

cleaning supplies organized under the kitchen sinkTMB STUDIO

Instead of cluttering the space underneath your sink with specialty cleaners, switch to a multipurpose cleaner that can be used on the countertop, stove and sink. Imagine how much more space you’ll gain by having one bottle instead of five. Keep the specialty cleaners for stainless steel, granite or glass with the rest of your cleaning supplies in another area.

31. Try a peg system for dishes


Think outside the cupboard. Wooden peg systems are a wonderful alternative for those who want dishes within arm’s reach. You can customize this storage solution to your needs, according to Unique Kitchens & Baths, a custom cabinetry and design studio. Just make sure the drawers are strong enough to hold the tableware.

32. Add secret storage in a small space

secret pull out storage drawer under kitchen table benchCOURTESY GINA ROGERS PHOTOGRAPHY

The best kind of storage solution is the one you don’t see. Yeley took advantage of a breakfast nook by adding pull-out drawers that could be used for everything from pots and pans to odds and ends. When storage space is short, you have to get creative. “Using every nook and cranny purposefully is both sustainable and practical,” Yeley says.

33. Employ an appliance tower

Kitchen Organization Appliance Cabinet TowerCOURTESY SARAH SZWAJKOS PHOTOGRAPHY

Instead of covering every surface with an appliance, give your countertops some breathing room. “Whether your kitchen is small or big, the last thing you want to do is clutter every square inch of counter space with appliances,” says Thompson. “A cabinet tower with electrical outlets cleverly conceals all those hardworking appliances, including the microwave and toaster oven.”

34. Group glassware together

glass shelf in kitchen displaying glassesELIZABETH MESSINA/COURTESY ERIN FETHERSTON

To create more space in your kitchen, dedicate open shelving that’s designed for glassware. Celebrity interior designer Erin Fetherston opted for an organization method that groups glassware on glass shelves. The combo looks as if it is a beautiful display, not storage.

35. Place wine storage in a cabinet


Designate a spot for your libations, even if you don’t have a built-in wine fridge. Williams is all about functional and hidden wine storage. “By incorporating wine storage into your cabinetry design, you are really maximizing the cabinetry,” she says. Not to mention keeping bottles off the countertops.

36. Install an appliance garage

appliance garage in modern white kitchenNICOLE DIANNE/COURTESY COLLECTED INTERIORS

To make cabinetry more accessible and organized, opt for an appliance garage to house appliances you use often. Better yet, treat it like a serving station, as seen by the design firm Collected Interiors. Once breakfast is done, the coffee station is out of sight and out of mind.

37. Mount floating shelves


If a lack of cabinet space is preventing you from decluttering your home, mount floating shelves on the walls to create extra storage. Since whatever you put there will be visible, fill it with items that can be incorporated into your decor. Think beautiful vases, planters and bowls, as seen in this Unique Kitchens & Baths example with a brass railing that keeps the pieces safe from slipping. Tamara Day, host of the HGTV show Bargain Mansions, also suggests storing heirloom items in the open, where they can be appreciated. “I have all my great grandma’s and grandma’s platters stacked in my kitchen on open shelves,” she says. “I am reminded of these incredible women every time I reach to use the platters, and it makes me super happy.”

38. Hang paper towels inside a cabinet door


Paper towel rolls are another annoying but useful item that can take up precious kitchen counter space. Interior designer Amy Zee-Haight found a solution. She recommends a custom paper towel holder that is built into a drawer. “Handy but hidden,” she says.

39. Add a designated bar area


If possible, section off your kitchen into specific areas, recommends Annie Mennes of Garrison Foundry Architecture. “A separate bar area adds some character and utility to the existing kitchen or dining room,” she says. You’ll never have to look for a corkscrew again—or take up valuable fridge space with wine bottles.

40. Play up a themed rolling cart

themed kitchen cartCOURTESY STEFANIE WIIK

“A rolling cart can be functional and fun, giving you added storage when you need it, and it can be tucked away when you don’t,” Wiik says. You can group items together onto a rolling cart based on the occasion. Use it as a mimosa station during brunch or perhaps a hot cocoa trolley for your kids during the winter months. You can also use it to hold baking equipment, coffee essentials or bartending tools.

41. Create pull-out vertical storage


Sure, you can install small adhesive hooks on the back of your cupboard to hang measuring cups, measuring spoons and other small items. But you’ll likely get more use out of the space with custom vertical storage that can house everything from utensils to sauces, Ulm notes. Bonus: Placing a custom cabinet near the cooking area will keep you from running all over the kitchen, making dinner prep more efficient.

42. Build a hidden charging station

outlet built into a kitchen drawer to manage cords plugged in devicesTMB STUDIO

These days, kitchens are for cooking—and charging. Day recommends creating a hidden charging station for electronics and phone accessories. She says, “Use an extension cord with a power strip in the back of a drawer. All the cords and plug-ins are hidden, and you can have a moment of electronic-free space in the heart of your home.”

Source: Readers Digest

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