Is your kitchen organized to its fullest potential? Odds are, you could stand to give it a bit of a refresh. "The key to keeping an organized kitchen is to check in a few times a year to assess what is working and declutter what you’re not using," Alexandra Kozak, of Living Simply Pittsburgh, says. "Systems may need to be tweaked, and these quarterly checkups will prevent large-scale decluttering projects down the road." In order to get started making your space as organized as can be, you'll want to be sure to avoid these nine common mistakes.
1. Not Removing Packaging
Decanting pantry items is not only aesthetically pleasing—it has a functional purpose, too! "Taking food items out of the packaging allows you to see what you have so you don’t overbuy," notes Kim Salisbury of Home Method Co.
2. Stuffing the Area Below the Sink
While it's easy to let the cabinet underneath your sink get extra full, it's best to keep what's under there to a minimum. Amelia Pleasant Kennedy, of A Pleasant Solution, recommends storing daily and weekly cleaning essentials below your sink, but finding somewhere else to house the occasional supplies. "Pull-out drawers are a great way to maximize the height of this area," she adds.
3. Not Creating Zones
A well-organized kitchen features plenty of different zones that create a functional flow, according to Salisbury. Keeping alike items together—such as pots and pans— is crucial to creating ease when using the space. Alejandra Rivera of Your Organizing Studio is also a proponent of zones and suggests engaging in some space planning first, as not planning first often leads to people throwing things in random places. "I’ve noticed that clients place items in random places without planning ahead and not optimizing their kitchen space, which makes cooking a stressful and unenjoyable experience," she says. "Knives, cutting boards, and trash should ideally need to be closer to make the meal-prepping process go smoother; the same should be with the glasses and the refrigerator, and mugs in the proximity of your coffee station."
4. Not Using Labels
If you're tired of family members placing kitchen items in places they don't belong, try a label system. "If you want folks to always return items to the right spot in the kitchen, consider adding labels to shelving and inside of drawers identifying exactly what goes where," Pleasant Kennedy says.
5. Letting Rarely Used Accessories Take Up Space
If you love to entertain, it's likely you own more than your fair share of kitchen items. However, not everything merits a prime storage spot. "The kitchen is not the ideal place to store large serving trays, bulky seasonal appliances, or holiday-specific dishware," Pleasant Kennedy says. "Move items that are used infrequently to a storage closet or other easily accessible area outside of the kitchen. Consider what you use on a weekly basis as items deserving top priority in the kitchen."
6. Owning Too Many Utensils and Gadgets
The more cooking supplies, the merrier? Not necessarily. "Drawers can quickly become overfilled with spatulas, ladles, potato mashers, garlic presses, cheese graters, measuring spoons, and other handheld tools tossed into a drawer without much thought," Jill Moore, of Organized Jill, says. Moore suggests first getting a handle on your collection by installing some drawer dividers. Drawer dividers can help you avoid shuffling through your collection of cooking supplies, but also allows you to see just how many supplies you have and how many you actually need.
The same goes for small appliances. "Many kitchens were not designed with enough storage for all the convenience appliances that we have today," Moore says. "Having too many specialty items can cause crowding in cabinets, drawers, pantries, and eventually spill out onto countertops taking up valuable food preparation space."
7. Buying in Bulk
While it may be tempting to stock up on consumables to save some cash, this isn't always the best option. Bulk consumables take up more space and are also more likely to expire before you can fully use them.
8. Not Making Your Cabinets Work for You
You can easily rejigger your cabinets so that they best suit your needs, "Cabinet shelving is often movable and adjustable, and raising or lowering of the interior shelves helps move items closer within reach and maximizes available space," Pleasant Kennedy explains. "Under cabinet shelf trays also add space where needed." And she shares one additional tip to prevent wasted space, which is adding hooks to the insight of cabinet doors.
9. Not Utilizing Vertical Space
Your kitchen is so much more than just its countertops, using vertical space is very important when you're trying to make the best of your storage and organization."This usually can be solved by adding extra shelves to cabinets, using baskets or risers in pantries, or even adding containers on top of cabinets where appropriate," Lili Pettit, of Clutter Healing, says. That said, keep in mind your personal needs to ensure that your storage best suits you—don't place everyday items too far out of your reach.