The best way for organizing kitchen cabinets and drawers is to organize them around work spaces. Kitchens are places of work essentially and organization of work spaces is important to efficiency. Plus, an organized work space just feels good. In this article we’ll cover various work spaces you will likely have in your kitchen and suggest how to organize each to maximize work flow.
My wife is an organization freak and she has our kitchen very tuned for work flow. To give you an idea of how she can be I’ll share with you that she won’t let me pack the car for trips. She will literally pull everything out of the car and repack it if I try. Not because I didn’t do a good job, but because I didn’t do a perfect job. Continue reading to learn more about kitchen work spaces and tips from my wife for organizing each.
Cooking Work Area
Let’s start with the area around the stove top with a focus first on cooking and not baking just yet. I’m not personally a big baker. I mostly cook meals as opposed to baking. Our stove top area is very much focused around cooking. If you’re a big baker you will obviously want to switch this up a little but we will get into that in a minute.
Most people have a range which is a stove top and oven in one unit. We have a 1950’s gas cooktop and on the other side of the kitchen we have a 1950’s oven. We’re due for a kitchen makeover. This separation is convenient for organizing cooking and baking. Around our cooktop we’ll address counter surfaces first. Clutter is bad and just gets in the way. We do keep utensils near the cooktop such as spatulas, wooden spoons, tongs, etc. Paper towels are mounted under an adjacent cabinet. Aside from these items, the workspace is clear.
Above our cooktop we have a convection microwave flanked with some minimal storage for a few cookbooks simply because there isn’t much room to take advantage of there. Above the microwave we have some just within reach cabinets that we use for spices and similar items that we may need such as cooking oil, vinegar, cooking spray, etc. We use a stepped rack to allow easy access to spices further back in the cabinet. Frequently used items are placed in front while more rarely used things are migrated further back.
We have a drawer right next to our cooktop that is specifically dedicated to cooking accessories such as measuring cups, measuring spoons, and more unique tools such as a garlic press, small can opener, and more.
Below our cooktop we have a large cabinet space for storage of pots, pans, pasta cooker, rice cooker, and a few other specialty items. We use wire racks to stack protect and stack different pans and better take advantage of the space.
A great organization hacks to use in your kitchen are lazy susans to make accessing items further back in your cabinets easier. Another great hack is taking advantage of the back side of cabinet doors. Some 3M hooks can be great for hanging lighter items. You can also grab some purpose built things like a spice rack specifically meant to mount to the inside of the cabinet door. This will make it much easier to see and grab these small items.
Baking Work Area
As I mentioned earlier, our oven is not underneath our stove top. It’s wall mounted in a cabinet next to counter space we use as a food prep and baking work area. We have a slim cabinet that is ideal for storing sheet pans, a large cast iron griddle, muffin tins, and similar items just to the left of the oven.
Above the oven we have a large cabinet space. it’s fairly high up so we use it for those rarely used bakeware items and a few other rarely used items. In truth, there’s a lot in there that we should go ahead and get rid of but my wife is very sentimental and a lot of it is from her grandmother so she can’t bring herself to part with it.
Below our oven we have several drawers. The first is our utensil eating utensil drawer – knives, forks, spoons, etc. Our kitchen isn’t very large so this was the best location for these. Drawers beneath hold cling wrap, aluminum foil, jar openers, oven mitts, kitchen rags, chip clips, and more.
Above our sink which is just left of the prep area next to the oven is where we store all the various casserole dishes and pyrex baking dishes.
Racks are essential to properly organizing bakeware. Whether it’s sheet pans or casserole dishes, you’ll need quality sturdy racks to take full advantage of the space you have and to make it easier to get to the bakeware you have when you need it.
Food Prep Work Area
Ideally your food prep area will be large. Ours unfortunately isn’t as large as it really needs to be but we make due with what we have. It’s a fairly decent amount of space between the since and oven. We keep a couple cutting boards leaned against the cabinet with the oven and knifes on a magnetic wall mounted knife holder on the side of the cabinet next to the sink. I hindsight, the magnetic knife holder wouldn’t be my first choice. It’s reasonably strong and holds knives fairly well but heavier knifes, if bumped, can fall and this is obviously very dangerous. A good knife block would be preferable even though it will use up some of our precious counter space.
Rolling pins and similar baking tools are kept in a drawer to the right just under the oven and some smaller tools are kept a bit further away on the other side of the sink. Unfortunately the dishwasher is underneath our prep area so there isn’t any cabinet or drawer space we can take advantage of directly beneath the work space. Our KitchenAid mixer is kept on top of the refrigerator directly opposite the prep area. We also have a couple other things like a food processor and juicer kept there as well.
If you have a smallish kitchen like we do I hope your prep area is a little more practical than ours is. It’s cramped to work at and nearby storage is very limited. This may be why baking tends to be less common at my house than cooking. Frequently cooking is much less involved and is easier to perform. If I had a better laid out kitchen I’m sure I’d do a lot more baking.
Washing Work Area
Another challenge area is the area of the kitchen sink. Drawers in front of your sink aren’t possible obviously but a nice flip out storage bin is possible for keeping sponges, brushes, drain plugs, and the like in easy reach without them needing to use up any counter space.
Underneath the sink is a common place to place trash and or recycling. In my case the space under the sink is just too cramped due to a rather poorly laid out plumbing arrangement. We do have some pull out racks and bins for easily accessing cleaning supplies and a drain rack.
Best Method For Organizing Cabinets and Drawers
The best method for organizing kitchen cabinets and drawers means focusing on the tasks and maximizing efficiency around the work areas for those tasks. We broke down the primary work areas as cooking, baking, food prep, and washing. You may have some different areas that you will want to tackle but chances are you’ll have at least these basic ones. Hopefully this article gave you some good ideas for how to optimize your space and you learned some great tips.