13 Common Kitchen Organization Mistakes You Might Be Making—And How To Fix Them

Organized Kitchen Cabinets

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Whether you whip up delicious meals in a tiny apartment kitchen (raises hand) or have a sprawling kitchen island in your countryside home, organizing a kitchen can be really tough. Especially because there are so many pots, pans, utensils, and food that must be used and consumed while creating a delectable dish.

Below, we’ve asked two organizing experts for the typical kitchen organization mistakes they see with their clients, and various ways they guide clients on how to fix them.

1. Storing things that you use every day up high or in hard-to-reach places.

“Anything you use frequently in your kitchen should be easy to access to save you time and gain efficiency throughout your day,” explains Audra George, a professional organizer and owner of Pretty Neat: An Organization Solution in Oklahoma City, OK.

When the space’s functionality is thought out and our routines are consequently streamlined, we have more respect for the space and are more inclined to maintain the neatness of the space, explains Crimsyn Hawk, a professional organizer and owner of Spaced Organization in Atlanta, GA. “Your kitchen needs to be arranged in a way that makes sense for you and how you operate in it on a regular basis.”

If that means your cooking grains and baking flours live in a cabinet to the left of your stove because you use them often and that location makes most sense to your routines, so be it. “Just because a magazine displays kitchen storage one way, does not mean that storage solution is the best one for you,” explains Hawk. “It’s important to take some time and figure out what your ideal storage layout looks like, and then you can go through and make the systems pretty from there.”

2. Keeping unnecessary duplicates.

“I can definitely justify having two (or even three) sets of measuring cups, as those are items that get dirty quickly and it’s beneficial to have more than one set while baking or cooking large meals,” explains Hawk. “However, there isn’t much reason for having two or three can openers. It’s ideal that we only keep what we need for our routines and tendencies.”

In doing that, we can store our items neater in our drawers without excess items piling up around them. “When we store our items neater, they’re easier to find, simpler to access, and quicker to put away in a neat manner (so the cycle can seamlessly continue),” says Hawk.

3. Storing holiday dishes and items that are rarely used in prime spaces in your kitchen.

According to George, you don’t want to allow rarely used items to take up prime real estate in your kitchen storage. “Store these items up high and out of the way until you need them,” she suggests.

4. Stacking your pots, pans, and baking sheets.

According to Hawk, most kitchens she works in have at least one tall, deep cabinet. “This is the first thing I look for during a kitchen consultation when the client has their pot and pan set or baking sheets and dishes stacked on top of each other,” she says. “With a deep cabinet, we can install an adjustable rack that holds the pans vertically, making them much more accessible and neat.”

5. Using drawer organizers that slide around in your drawers.

“I physically cringe when I open a drawer and the organizing tray(s) slide around and cause unnecessary banging noises,” explains Hawk. “If your drawers are suffering in this way, museum gel will be your new best friend. You can order the gel dots on Amazon, or you can order the gel or putty form by jar.”

To use this, just take a small dot and put them on the corners of each of your organizers to secure them to the bottom of your drawers. That way, they don’t slide around and slam into the edges of your drawers every time you pull them open. “You can easily remove the dots if you need to move things around, as they will not cause damage to your drawers,” she says.

6. Storing similar items in multiple areas of your kitchen.

You want to store similar items, that logically go together, in the same area or zone of your kitchen. “For example, you should store all the food in one area of your kitchen, and all the bakeware in another,” explains George. “This makes it easier to locate what you need quickly and allows everyone in the home to know where to find things and where to put things back.”

7. Organizers that don’t fit properly or use the space inefficiently.

When you’re shopping for organizing products, it’s super important to obtain proper measurements of your spaces in order to find the best fitting solutions for your items. “Ill-fitting solutions can be just as unhelpful as no solutions at all,” explains Hawk. “For example, if you have a cutlery organizer that is too small for your drawer and leaves large gaps on the sides of it, you’re more likely to fill those gaps over time with items that don’t belong.”

You’re less likely to throw random items into spaces if there are set systems and designated spaces for specific items. “So, if you were to instead get an organizer that expands the entire width of the drawer, you can spread out your contents neatly and take up more space for the things that belong in there (rather than inviting the opportunity for random stuffing in the future),” says Hawk.

8. Storing kids’ snacks, plates, and cups up high where they need help getting them.

Once your kids are age-appropriate, you can store their items in a lower cabinet or drawer where they can reach the items, as well as help put them back, suggests George. “This is a win-win for everyone in the house!”

9. Shopping for organizing products and organizers without properly decluttering first.

Do not shop for products for your kitchen before you go through each section and remove, donate, or toss all items that are not necessary for you and your routines. “Product sourcing and purchasing is done after you have established your ideal inventory,” explains Hawk. “While shopping for organizing products and tools, it’s important to remember that you’re not just shopping for your space. You’re shopping for systems to keep your things in your space in a way that will make it easiest for you to function within it.”

If you go and purchase organizing products before you’ve done the decluttering process, you’re likely not going to be installing the most intentional systems into your spaces.

10. Not using bins to contain items in deep cabinets.

George suggests using bins to contain items in your cabinets. “This will prevent you from losing items in the back where you can’t see them or reach them well,” she explains.

Another issue to watch out for is not using vertical space in your cabinets. “Sometimes you will need to adjust shelves in order to make sure you’re not wasting viable vertical space, and sometimes you won’t be able to adjust shelves depending on your kitchen’s structure,” explains Hawk. “Either way, there are simple tools and methods that you can use to make sure you’re optimizing the vertical space, and doing so in a way that increases functionality for you and other occupants in the kitchen.” Dinner plates can be stored sideways on vertical racks to make for easier accessibility; bowls and plates can be stored on shelf risers to break up the vertical space and aid in functionality; and mugs and wine glasses can be hung from the top of the cabinets by hooks and stem holders to allow for storage below them.

11. Keeping things in their original packaging

If you’re someone who thrives off of neatness and uniformity, it’s in your best interest to do away with keeping things in their original packaging. “Spices, for example, can be much easier to see and quickly grab when stored in uniform jars with uniform labels,” suggests Hawk. “All of the colors and different packaging in your spice cabinet or drawer can be overwhelming to some people. If you’re one of those people like I am, make all of the simple shifts to uniformity in order to invite more calm into your routines.”

12. Buying too much food in bulk.

According to George, buying in bulk is great, but some folks don’t consider what space they have to actually store these items. “Buy in bulk the things you use most and don’t buy everything in large quantities if you don’t have room to store it,” she says.

13. Keeping food storage bins in many shapes and sizes.

“We recommend buying storage containers in similar shapes where they can nest inside one another and save space,” explains George. “It is also much easier to make sure you have all the appropriate lids when they’re the same brand, color, etc.”

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