7 Steps to a Clutter-Free Kitchen


GIVE EVERYDAY ITEMS PRIME COUNTER SPACE “Like real estate, the kitchen is all about location, location,” said Collette Shine, a professional organizer in Manhattan who describes her countertops as “the Park Avenue of the kitchen” where only a small selection of appliances and utensils are allowed to reside. That includes her Keurig coffee maker, a small blender and a carafe holding spatulas and ladles.

Gravy boats, turkey lifters and other infrequently used tools are stored on high shelves in the “outer boroughs” of her cabinets. “We tend to use a small amount of items frequently,” said Ms. Shine, whose company is called Organize and Shine.

But everyone’s kitchen needs are different. Don’t put the toaster on the counter if you rarely make toast. Maybe your juicer deserves that prime real estate instead.

PERSONALIZE YOUR PANTRY Keep canned goods visible using an expandable three-tiered shelf in the pantry or deep cabinets, like Expand-A-Shelf (about $15 at the Container Store), recommended Alejandra Costello, a professional organizer in Purcellville, Va.

“Round items are best stored on round organizers,” she said, like the OXO Good Grips Lazy Susans she uses in her kitchen to hold spices, oils, vitamins and medicine bottles. But two round cake pans and a pack of marbles will also do the trick, she noted: “Place marbles inside one cake pan and place the second cake pan on top; it spins just as well as a store-bought lazy susan.”

To corral snacks, sweets and paper goods, Ms. Costello uses free-standing drawers at the bottom of her pantry; she recommends filling them with clear, airtight containers to hold dry goods, identified with chalkboard or dry-erase labels that are easily updated when contents change.

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For a client who loved smoothies, Ms. Roberson put stackable food containers with labels in a drawer near the blender.

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Megan Cencula

THINK BEYOND THE KITCHEN Professional organizers are not averse to using office supplies or other hacks in the kitchen to keep their shelves tidy. Ms. Costello, for example, uses a paper sorter to store baking sheets and cutting boards upright, making them easier to see and grab. To keep the outside of her refrigerator free of clutter, she lined the inside of a cabinet door with sheet metal, so she can use magnets to stick photos and phone numbers there. To keep her tea bags tidy, she uses interlocking drawer organizers (about $6 at the Container Store).

Ms. Shine likes to use common kitchen organizers in unconventional ways to corral odds and ends, using a magnetic knife rack in the back of a cabinet for food processor blades or on a wall as a drop zone for keys, which tend to clutter up countertops. Infrequently used tools like butane torches and spice grinders are kept in a Rubbermaid pull-down spice rack, about $19.

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Another tip from Ms. Roberson: Nest pots inside one another and use a lid organizer or dish rack to make the matching lids easy to find.

Credit
Megan Cencula

MEASURE YOUR SPACE Before you run out and stock up on spice racks and shelving, be sure you know exactly how much space you have to fill. “The biggest mistake I see people make is not measuring their drawers before going out and buying drawer organizers,” Ms. Shine said. And even after measuring, organizing pros recommend installing expandable or spring-loaded dividers, for flexibility.

TACKLE THE FRIDGE “It’s rare that people outfit their refrigerators the same way they do their pantries or other cabinets in the kitchen, but if they choose to go the extra mile, they’ll be surprised at how much space they gain, money they’ll save, and how little goes to waste,” said Ms. Roberson, of Organize with Faith. “Crispers are rarely big enough to carry or properly divide all of your fruits and vegetables.” Her solution: supplementing them with glass canisters, baskets and plastic bins.

First, measure the space between the refrigerator shelves. “Your goal is to maximize the entire depth of the fridge by finding Tupperware that will fit front to back,” she said. When shopping, pick up a few different styles to help categorize and eliminate the possibility of cross-contamination — as in, “Tupperware with white lids is for leftovers,” she said. “Tupperware with blue lids is for fruit and veggies; longer trays hold uncooked meat, and dairy.”

Another tip: Adding a lazy susan to the refrigerator helps prevent condiments or other items from getting lost and spoiling before you can use them.

GET RID OF WHATEVER YOU DON’T USE Donate rarely used cooking appliances. “Wedding gifts like pasta makers and egg poachers are nice,” Ms. Roberson said. “But if you’d rather buy a pint of Ben and Jerry’s than make your own ice cream, let those gadgets go.”

That also applies to expired canned food, spices that are stuck to the bottle and duplicate kitchen tools, she said: “How many measuring cups and mixing bowls do you really need?”

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