FOR REAL LIFE
Have you ever gotten pumped at the idea of organizing your kitchen, made the perfect Pinterest board, come home with a handful of shopping bags and ended up with results that didn’t match your vision? I get it. Most of us don’t have time to channel our inner Marie Kondo. I’m sharing my best tips for kitchen organization for real life. To help you along, I’m teaming up with a few of my favorite organizers to take the guesswork out of playing Tetris with your junk drawer.
Before I dive into the fun stuff and give up all my secrets, we have to tackle the first step. Step One in any organizing project is to only keep what you use and need and either store items less frequently used elsewhere, or pass them on. If you skip this step, you will never quite achieve that Instagram-worthy space we’re all after. Once you are only surrounded by what you use, need and love, you can play around with the placement of items around your kitchen. For example, the everyday plates and glassware should be near the dishwasher for easy unloading, and things you use regularly should be at arm’s reach and eye level. Less frequently used items can be stored higher.
With Step One completed, you’ve pared down and simplified your kitchen, but don’t quite know what to do next. You are at a loss on how to turn your tiny kitchen cabinets into a spread worthy of Apartment Therapy. I decided to ask organizer and stellar entrepreneur Jen, founder of Life in Jeneral, how she maximizes kitchen storage. Jen and her team are always inspiring me with their ability to turn crowded and cramped spaces into dream-worthy ones. For more ideas, check out her Instagram feed.
Jen doesn’t let any space go to waste. For those awkward corners, she uses turntables (aka: lazy susans). They come in a variety of sizes and styles to fit any decor. Don’t limit yourself to using turntables for just food, either. They can hold household items ranging from cleaning sponges and supplies to sunscreen and nail polish.
In your tall shelves or cabinets, utilize clear canisters; they easily stack to fit any space. Not only do those stackable containers work beautifully in the pantry, but they also can hold items like coffee, sugars and tea at your coffee station.
“If you are unable to physically move the shelves, use stackable shelves to maximize the vertical space,” says Jen. These save you the agony of wondering what to do with the bowls and cups leaning in those precarious piles. Solved: kitchen storage and function problems.
Remember, everything looks more organized when its contained. After you’ve grouped items similar in function, drawer organizers are the way to go when you want to give some order to your kitchen drawers. Here are my five tips to eliminate the headaches that usually come with shopping for organizing products:
- Know the products offered at your store of choice—either local or online–ahead of time.
- Measure and plan which size product will hold your specific belongings.
- Grab a pencil, sketch your drawers and play around with placement.
- Create a shopping list.
- Buy some drawer dividers and shelf liner, just in case. You can always return them later if you don’t use them.
Now you are ready to transform your drawers. Using your previous sketch as a map, place the dividers inside each drawer and play around with placement until you find the perfect fit. If they seem to be sliding around the drawers a bit, cut some shelf liner to fit under the dividers. Voila, dividers secured! Step away and pat yourself on the back. You’ve successfully tamed your drawers!
Let’s be honest. I bet your dream pantry doesn’t include stale snacks falling off the shelves when you open the door. Mine either. I’d rather imagine beautiful pantry spaces assembled like those from the sister duo Brandie and Ryan over at Home Sort. Their spunk, energy, and ideas always motivate me. I had a quick little Q + A with them to ask what their go-to products are, so you can have a swoon-worthy space too.
Q; How do you store pantry staples like flour, sugar and nuts?
A: “Clear Glass Jars are where function and style meet. Store any item in a clear jar… easy to see what you’ve got, and even easier on the eyes.”
Q: What about items that don’t warrant such a permanent place as a glass jar?
A: “Like items find their home together in a fabulous basket, leaving your pantry sorted and styled.”
Q: I see you ladies use turntables in almost all of your pantries. Why do you like them so much?
A: “We love them because they fit in those corners where nothing else works. With a spin of the table you can easily access whatever you need!”
Q: What else can’t you live without?
A: “Labels are the finishing touch to any organization product. Labels make it easy to know what goes where and when you’re running low on a pantry item.”
Last, but not least, let’s chat about the horizontal spaces in our homes. Having a clear countertop creates “white space” that clears our minds so we can thrive and be more productive. Uncluttered space saves our minds from subconsciously registering everything we see, allowing for improved mood and creativity.
Grandma was right when she said to create “a place for everything and everything in its place.” Do you have your utensils in a crock because your mom did… or because you like them there?
Where should you put your incoming mail and papers? Not sure? Then go ahead. Take this opportunity to splurge on that stylish tray you’ve had your eye on. Your mail and your future self will thank you.
Before you shop for that tray or organize what you already have, however, take time to consider what you’ll invite to live in your home with you from here on out. Remember to focus on kitchen organization for real life. Is it beautiful? Useful? Well-loved? Will it have a place of its own? If so, you will not only feel better, but will also be more creative and productive. You will be able to thrive, not just survive, so you can spend your time doing what you love.
Laura Bostrom of Everyday Order is Northern New Jersey’s only professional organizer who merges function with style to create magazine-worthy, organized spaces.
Laura handles every aspect of organizing: from making sense of forgotten storage areas, to unpacking and home set-up, to maintenance programs. She’s a pantry and closet organization specialist known for her attention to detail, patience and stress-free flexibility.
Thank you so much to sweet Laura Bostrom at Everyday Order for helping navigate kitchen organization for real life. She kicks off our new series of collaborations with guest bloggers! If you’re interested in writing for The Identité Collective, send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Identité Collective is a full service creative studio for interior designers and boutique lifestyle brands. Offering bespoke branding, web design and social media content creation, we help small businesses elevate their digital presence to become industry experts. Want to work together? Shoot us an inquiry here.
Feature image from Raena Interiors.