After a move, the kitchen should be the first room to be unpacked. That's because it's the focal point of the home, where meals are prepared and eaten and the family gathers. With that in mind, the space needs to be functional, organized and comfortable. This can be difficult for small kitchen spaces or for kitchens with little counter space or few storage areas.
Prepare the Kitchen
If you're moving into a new home, there's an excellent chance it has not been properly cleaned. Before you take anything out of your boxes, give your new kitchen a good cleaning.
Focus on places where you'll be putting your dishes, cutlery, glasses, and pots. If possible, use contact paper to create a fresh, easy-to-wipe surface on shelves and inside drawers. Be sure your countertops and sink are clean as well.
If you haven't done so yet, spend a little time moving around the kitchen space. Imagine yourself doing your usual chores. Where would you normally reach for cleaning supplies, pantry basics, pots, pans, or knives? By walking through a few ordinary kitchen projects you'll get a better idea of what items should go where.
Gather Your Boxes
If you've carefully labeled the box to reflect its contents, then you should have a pretty good idea of what is contained in each box. If you're unsure, sort through each one, unwrap larger items and take stock of what you have to sort and organize. It's important to do this first to ensure that when you place an item in a cupboard or in a drawer that you won't have to move it again.
Since the sink is the area that is used the most, with the stove being second, assess the cupboard and drawer space surrounding the sink and stove. Note the storage areas that are closest and most accessible to these areas, bearing in mind that anything stored much above eye level will be difficult to reach.
Start unpacking the most essential items, those you use everyday, and place them in the accessible spaces in descending order. For instance, cutlery will be accessed several times a day, so place the cutlery in the drawer immediately to the right of the sink (if you're right-handed), then place the dishtowels and cloths in the next drawer down, then perhaps your recipe books in the drawer below the one containing the towels.
Arrange Your Items Based on Frequency of Use
The sorting method described previously also applies to cupboard space. Plates, cups, glasses, and cereal bowls that will be used every day should be placed on shelves that are at eye level or lower. Since glasses are used more often than plates, they can be placed in a cupboard close to the sink at eye level for ease of use. Items that you use less often can be placed behind more often used items or on a shelf higher up.
Pots and pans should be stored close to the stove, along with their lids. You can also use the drawer below the stove for larger items that you may not use every day, such as baking sheets, roasting pans, or casserole dishes.
Store items that aren't used daily in cupboards above the fridge or stove. Heavier items should be stored on shelves near the floor. They'll be easier to access, and you won't need to worry about them falling.
Keep toxic substances in hard-to-reach areas. If you have young children, keep all cleaning supplies in cupboards that are high up, out of their reach. Otherwise, soaps, detergents, and cleaning agents can be kept below the sink.
If you have young children, you may want to be sure that certain items—such as plastic cups and plates—are easily accessible while more fragile items are hard to reach. If an adult in your home is quite short or uses a wheelchair or walker you might want to be sure they can reach the items they need.
Organize Rarely-Used Items
Good dishes, china, and other special occasion items can be stored in a china cabinet, buffet table, or in cupboards that are more difficult to reach. In some kitchens, very tall cabinets provide storage that can only be reached with a stepstool. Keeping fragile items in an out of the way area will ensure that they're kept safe.
Organize Your Pantry
Store canned goods and dry food stock in a pantry closet or similar space that is separate from your dishes, pots, and pans. Spices can be kept close to the stove. You may prefer a drawer space for spices; labeling tops of jars allows you to quickly scan for the spice you need. Other options are spice carts that sit on the counter or racks that hang over the stove. Just remember that spices need to be kept in a dry, cool place to maintain freshness.
Reorganize as Needed
After you spend a few weeks in your home, you'll probably establish a routine for cooking, serving, and eating meals. Once you feel comfortable with the routine, check to be sure that your first round of organization worked well. Are you really able to reach everything you need? Did you select a large-enough drawer for your kitchen gadgets, or are they overflowing? Reorganize as needed to be sure your kitchen works well for you and your family.