Please help me organize my kitchen!

stephfAugust 15, 2012

We recently moved into this house, and I'm having a very hard time getting the kitchen to function properly. In our old kitchen, it seemed like everything belonged where it ended up. That's definitely not the case here. In our new kitchen, we have a lot more drawers and fewer cabinets. We have two smallish cabinets on either side of the stove that we are trying to shove our pots and pans in, and every time I open those cabinets they come toppling out.

We also have one of those tall cabinets beside the fridge that I would normally use as a pantry, but we have a separate pantry off the kitchen, so we really have no idea what to put in there. There are 2 minor issues with this tall cabinet. Number one, when you open the cabinet door you are faced with a custom spice rack that goes from the top of the cabinet all the way to the bottom, so to get into the rest of the cupboard, you have to swing the spice rack out of the way (like a door). The second issue is that this cabinet only has 1 shelf, so it kind of looks like a broom closet with a teeny tiny shelf at the top. There is a lot of wasted space in there. Because of the spice rack, you almost feel like you are obligated to put baking stuff in there (or other "spice related" products), but the reality is, we don't use the baking stuff very often, and because this cabinet is right in the kitchen as opposed to down the hall in the pantry, we would like to put stuff in there that we would actually use on a regular basis.

My kitchen feels chaotic and I'm at a complete loss with how to fix it. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

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I'm not sure I can visualize the cabinet as you describe it. Could you include a picture or diagram? Lacking that, could you store paper goods or kitchen linens in there? Something that won't be affected by the heat given off by the refrigerator? Or, could you remove the spice rack?

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 4:41PM
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Every single time I've moved, I've unpacked the kitchen and put stuff in what seemed like a logical place. And every single time, about a month later, I have to completely reorganize the kitchen.

So don't feel badly that you are struggling with this. I think we tend to follow the organization we had in our last kitchen, but that doesn't work for the new kitchen unless it is identical.

First, for the odd, tall cabinet. Can you take out the spice rack and use it as a broom closet? Or install other shelves to make it more usable?

Second, try organizing by "centers." A meal prep center. A baking center. A clean-up center. An eating center (if you have an eat-in kitchen).

The prep center would have access to the sink for washing veggies, a place to chop and dice and mince, a place to cook the food.

The baking center would have access to baking ingredients, the mixer, baking pans, etc.

It helps to think outside the box sometimes. I had a kitchen with a small cabinet on one side of the stove and nothing but wall on the other. Like you, I tried to keep the pots and pans in the cabinet and it was a nightmare every time I tried to get something out or put something back. I finally used the small cabinet to hold cookie sheets and other baking pans on the vertical, and put a small stainless shelving unit on the other side of the stove for the pots and pans I used every day.

There was plenty of cabinet space in that kitchen, but very little of it was near the stove. The stove was near the sink, so by putting the shelves where I did, I could easily grab a pan and fill it with water and put it on the stove with just a few steps.

Consider putting the pots and pans in some of the drawers, if any are deep enough. It might actually be easier to deal with them in a drawer--they won't be stacked on top of each other, they will be easier to see, as some of them won't be hiding behind the others.

Or put just the few pots and pans you use daily in the oven-side cabinets and store the others elsewhere in the kitchen. There's no rule that they all have to be in the same place.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 5:58PM
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What if you put hooks in the back of the tall cabinet? Could you hang your pans there? My pots are stacked in a pull-out shelf inside a cupboard. We bought ours from Bed Bath& Beyond, but HD and Lowe's have them, too.

Can you just take out the spice rack? Sounds like wasted space unless you use a lot of spices frequently.

Congrats on the new house!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 9:35PM
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Fori is not pleased

Do the pots and pans fit in any of the drawers?

Ya know that's the big thing on the kitchen forum here--drawers for everything! I did it myself (then moved). Do you have my old kitchen? The pots go under the cooktop! :P

I miss all drawers in a kitchen--if they're big enough, they really do make things easier.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2012 at 11:35PM
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Pics please.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2012 at 11:17AM
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If you post pics or a diagram, you are guaranteed to get some top-notch advice from the kitchen mavens around here. (Some has already been posted.) The kitchens forum is also a great place.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 10:06AM
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I would use those small cabinets for baking pans and cookie sheets. If there is a shelf take it out or raise it higher. I have 2 cupboards like that. I raised the shelf higher towards the top and I store all my cook books on those shelves. The ones I use most often are on one shelf and the rest are on the other. My cookie sheets, trays and cutting boards are stood on end on one side. The other holds things like cake pans and muffin tins on end.

I would remove the spice rack and add shelves or use it for a broom closet and for storing all your cleaning supplies. If you have a lot of drawers you probably have a deep pot drawer. It is so much easier to arrange pots and pans in a drawer than on a shelf. Get yourself a lid rack to set in the drawer and stack your pots and pans in the rest of it.

I find the secret for organizing any space is containers and baskets. They needn't be expensive wicker in a kitchen just cheap plastic.

Anything you remove from the kitchen like the spice rack should be saved for resale purposes

    Bookmark   August 17, 2012 at 12:58PM
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skinny cabinets may *seem* good for broom closets, but I think they're not, really. How small are those shelves? Can canned goods go on the spice-rack shelves? Soda? Cleaning supplies?

I keep my pots & pans *across from* the stove. I find that it's not really necessary to have them next to it.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2012 at 4:01PM
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Thanks for all the replies!

I ended up fixing the shelves in the tall cabinet and we are now storing all of our appliances in there (toaster, coffee maker, kettle, mixers, etc.) I'm still keeping the pots and pans in the small cabinets beside the stove for now, but I've put all of the pans in one and all of the pots in the other, so at least things are stacking a little easier now. I also installed a shelf in each for holding lids. It's not perfect, but it's a lot better than it was.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2012 at 8:55AM
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