...Or, How to Keep Your Kitchen Counters Clutter-Free
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When it comes to achieving and maintaining an organized space, having the right tools is key. This is especially true in the kitchen.
In this post, I'll show you the kitchen drawer organization essentials that help us keep our kitchen clutter-free.
1. A Drawer Divider System
Before drawer dividers, the inside of our Tupperware drawer was a mound of plastic chaos.
Once we installed dividers, it became easy to keep things organized. Compartmentalizing a drawer delineates where things belong. A place for everything, and everything in its place! This is the home organization mantra I try to obey for every room in the house. (See this post for how it applies to keeping kids' stuff under control).
In our Tupperware drawer, we stacked containers based on size and shape, and placed their lids in adjacent compartments for ease of use.
Same idea in the pots and pans drawer:
Yes, these really are all the pots and pans we use. See this post on how the Instant Pot made so much of our kitchenware obsolete.
Our IKEA dividers were made to fit IKEA drawers. But, no matter the drawer size or shape, you can find an adjustable drawer divider system that fits:
2. A Spice Drawer Organizer
I'm Team Spice Drawer (vs Team Spice Rack). I do everything I can to keep our kitchen counters clear and clutter-free; a spice rack displayed on the counter just seems like an unnecessary eyesore.
Spices stored in a drawer can be just as accessible as counter spices, if you choose a location within arm's reach of the stove.
Simple, inexpensive inserts transform any old drawer into an instant spice drawer! I put my most utilized spices in this drawer and order them alphabetically for ease of use. Lesser frequented spices go in the adjacent cabinet.
If you don't already have a designated spice drawer, almost any drawer will do. Here are some adjustable in-drawer spice organizers that will suit almost any drawer:
YouCopia Spice Rack Drawer Organizer, 24-bottle (Amazon.com). This one can be cut along its length or width to fit any drawer.
3. A Lazy Susan (for those awkward corner cabinets)
If you don't have an organization system for that awkward corner cabinet, you'll find yourself nearly crawling into it to reach items at the back. The solution? A Lazy Susan! With the turn of a shelf, you have the cabinet's back-corner-nether-regions at your fingertips! This is cabinet maximization gold, especially if space is limited.
We use this Lazy Susan by the stove to store tea and coffee as well as cooking oils and lesser used spices (does anyone know what marjoram is for?) or those spices too big or awkward to fit neatly into the spice drawer.
This deeper Lazy Susan is the perfect home for appliances and is the resting place of our kitchen hero, the Instant Pot.
If you don't already have a built-in Lazy Susan, don't fret! You can get one post-construction, with adjustable height, which fits in a variety of different cabinet widths.
4. Baking Tray Racks
These are essential to corral baking trays and muffin tins. There's nothing worse than opening a cabinet and having tins come clanging out onto the floor! (True story from before we had these racks).
I'm not much of a baker, so our baking tray cabinet, which sits high above the oven, has plenty of room for my son's Play-Doh, markers, scissors, glue, and other implements of home destruction. (See this post for more on hidden toy storage ideas for your common spaces)!
Our baking tray racks are screwed into the cabinet. For a free-standing option:
5. A Cutlery Drawer Organizer
Want more details on our kitchen?
Okay, who doesn't already have one of these, right? The problem most of us face is that if the organizer's not custom fit to the drawer, there's a lot of wasted space.
The solution? Modular cutlery boxes that you can Tetris-fit into any drawer!
Our modest little cutlery drawer: we don't need much for our little family of three (though, admittedly, I hadn’t unloaded the dishwasher by the time I took this photo).
These are the cutlery boxes we use:
Alternatively, this expandable cutlery organizer can be custom fit into most drawers:
6. An In-Drawer Knife Block
Counter-dwelling knife blocks get no love from me! Along with the spice rack, they top my list of things that ruin an otherwise perfectly good countertop.
The solution? An in-drawer knife block! Just like the spice rack, the in-drawer version is just as convenient as the countertop type (as long as the drawer's in your prep area). Bonus safety feature: being in the drawer adds another barrier between the knives and your kids!
Our in-drawer knife block (I think we got this at IKEA, but they don't seem to carry this model anymore).
This one is even more compact:
7. An Appliance Garage
By now, you know I'm all about keeping hidden what most (normal ?) people would have no qualms about displaying in plain sight. This is my basis for achieving a clean, streamlined aesthetic.
The next victim on my Countertop Hit List: appliances. Especially the toaster and coffee maker.
It's not difficult to have an outlet installed inside a cabinet to create an 'appliance garage'. If you have the option, it's best if the cabinet is at, or near, counter level. Efficiency tip: if you store your cereal and other breakfast supplies in the same cabinet, this can seriously streamline your mornings. For more on an efficient morning routine, click here).
Of course, for an appliance garage to work, you need appliances that fit completely into the cabinet; almost any toaster fits the bill, but only pint-sized coffeemakers will work.
We're very happy with our Nespresso Essenza Mini by De'Longhi. We made the switch from a clunkier Keurig machine a few months ago, and haven't looked back! It makes top-notch espresso, heats up quickly, and brews a cup in under 30 seconds! (And of course, the fact that it tucks neatly away in the appliance garage, and can even be used while in the cabinet, earns major points in my book).
8. An In-Drawer Trashcan and Recycling Bin
There's no greater kitchen atrocity than a large garbage bin in plain sight. And, with all the in-cabinet trashcan options currently available, there's almost no excuse.
Our trash, recycling, and compost bins are housed in these two cabinets. Click here for more on our little, white IKEA kitchen.
We have an IKEA pull-out drawer made specifically for a trashcan and recycling bin. The sliding top drawer makes for convenient storage of trash/recycling/compost bags. The compost bin is in the adjacent cabinet.
Top drawer: garbage bags, recycling bags, compost bags.
Bottom drawer: recycling and trash bins.
Under the sink, on the inside of the cabinet door, hangs the compost bin. Having all three waste bins in close proximity to each other, and to the sink, maximizes efficiency. The built-in dishwasher is just on the other side of the pull-out trash drawer.
Even without built-ins, you can add a pull-out frame and waste bins to any large kitchen cabinet:
Isn't this an ingenious use of that awkward corner cabinet space?
9. A Food Wrap Drawer
There are all sorts of mounting devices and roll holders you can purchase for foil and cling wrap. But, this is one area that doesn't require much ingenuity. All you need is a shallow drawer; the rolls come with their own cutting mechanism built into the packaging, and I find these easy enough to access in a drawer versus hanging from a mounted dispenser.
Our food wrap drawer usual suspects: plastic wrap, foil and parchment paper with some Ziploc bags and 'chip clips' for good measure.
If you can't spare the drawer space, something like this might be useful (but, promise me you'll mount it on the inside of a cabinet door):
10. An In-Cabinet Dish Cloth Holder
Whether you use rags or dish cloths, please don't make these a permanent fixture on your kitchen faucet! Instead, get an adhesive towel holder for the inside of your sink-adjacent cabinet.
This holder has a firm grip on the towel. We switched to this grippy holder from the hook-type hanger after getting annoyed at how easily the cloth falls off the hook when opening and closing the door.
This is the same type of grippy adhesive towel holder we have. You can also make use of these in the bathroom.
Bonus Item : A Label Maker
Okay, so this is technically number eleven, but I'm calling it a 'bonus,' because I only thought to add it after the fact and because '10 Must-Haves' sounds better than eleven!
I use my label maker, the DYMO LabelManager 160 to label our dry goods containers and my son's toy storage bins; but, the possibilities are endless! You can even leave helpful/passive-aggressive notes for your family around the house (imagine a 'Dirty Clothes In Here Please!' label on the laundry hamper).
You may recall I've gone on about my love of label makers before. If not, check out this post on useful gadgets for decluttering.
There you have it: my top 10 (plus one) essentials for kitchen drawer organization!
Any tips and tricks to share from your kitchen? Let me know in the comments below!
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