By Gabrielle. Photos by Amy Christie for Design Mom. This post was brought to you by Wolf.
Let’s all pretend we’re just moving in and setting up our kitchen for the first time. Maybe it’s our new house in a new town. Maybe it’s our first college apartment. Maybe we’re newlyweds setting up a home together. Or maybe we’re none of those things and it’s just time to reorganize our existing kitchen. We want to set it up right, so that the kitchen works. When the mood to cook strikes, we find the pantry stocked. When we reach for a spatula, it’s exactly where it should be. A kitchen that’s efficient and hard-working and inviting. A kitchen that inspires us to cook!
Doesn’t that sound lovely? I think so too. That’s why I’m delighted to be working with Wolf on their Reclaim The Kitchen initiative. They’ve done all the homework so would-be cooks don’t have to. They know the basic tools and ingredients to have on hand, the basic techniques to know, and they’ve got some no-brainer recipes to get you going. Everything necessary to help people get back to cooking in their kitchen.
This post is about how to organize a kitchen for maximum efficiency. In other words: It’s great to have essential kitchen items, but how you keep and store them is just as important to having your best kitchen! Right? And to be extra-helpful, I’ve included the tips below in a handy cheat sheet you can print out and post on your fridge — or even iron on to your grocery tote!
Let’s get right to the tips.
Tip #1: Keep the things you use most, close at hand.
There are certain kitchen items you use every day. They vary for everyone — a juicer for one person, a French press for another — but whatever your daily use items are, they should be the closest, most accessible items in your kitchen.
See all those wooden spoons? When I’m cooking, they get used a lot. So they live right by the stove within easy one-hand reach. My go-t0 pot? It’s at the front of the deep drawer next to the stove — the first one I see when I pull open the drawer. Oven mitts? They go next to the oven, so they’re right where they’ll be needed most.
Related: Anything you use more than once per week shouldn’t need a step stool to get to.
Tip #2: A place for everything and everything in its place.
The goal is to designate a shelf or drawer or cupboard for everything, so you know just where to find them. Keep the pickles in the same spot in the fridge. Keep the rice in the same spot in the pantry. That way, when you’re running low, you’ll notice it and be more likely to add rice to the grocery list. You also want the contents of the shelf or drawer or cupboard to make sense. For example, you could keep your spices near the stove so that you’ll be able to reach them quickly while cooking.
In a new kitchen, this step often takes me some time to figure out. After a week or so of using a kitchen, I might find myself switching the cutlery drawer and the dishtowel drawer, or moving the drinking glasses to the other side of the sink. It’s okay to take a minute to figure out how you move around in a new space before you designate an official spot for everything.
Tip #3: If you can’t see it, you won’t use it (or eat it).
This might be my favorite tip. I love it because it keeps me from wasting food (one of my pet peeves). When you’re stocking your pantry remember this: if you buy a can of black beans and put it at the back of your cupboard, and then put a container of corn meal or a box of pasta in front of it, there is a 100% chance that can of beans will never be seen again and will eventually be thrown out when you move.
If you can’t see it, you won’t use it! It’s true for food, and it’s true for kitchen tools too. If you have an awesome waffle iron that lives in the back of a cupboard behind the crock pot, you will probably never use it. Out of sight, out of mind.
To make sure you can see everything, don’t overstuff your cupboard or pantry shelves. And don’t overfill your drawers. If you do, you won’t use anything that’s at the bottom, and it will make getting anything out of the drawer, or putting anything into the drawer unpleasant. Better to get rid of things than overstuff. Donate items you don’t really need, or if you have a rarely used item that you must keep (say a favorite tool that you only use on Thanksgiving), go ahead and store it in the most inconvenient spot in the kitchen so it doesn’t get in your way, but it’s there when you need it. You can also try open shelving!
Tip #4: Keep the sink cleared.
Really, keep the sink cleared and dishwasher empty or running. If you have to clean before you start cooking, it will put you behind, or prevent you from getting started at all.
Related: solve ongoing issues. Is there a cooking task that you dread? Solve it. Never a clean cutting board? Try several small cutting boards, instead of one big one. Can’t find your favorite knife in a drawer full of tools? Try a wall-mounted magnet strip. Stinky kitchen rags (another one of my pet peeves)? Prevent them by hanging washrags to dry on hooks inside the cupboard door.
Tip #5: An empty countertop is the best invitation.
This is a fact. If you used to love baking and find you avoid it now, it might be because your countertops have become too cluttered. Cooking and baking take up space! So store as little as possible on the counter and keep your countertops as empty as possible when not in use. Then, when a recipe catches your eye and walk into the kitchen inspired, the countertop will be waiting for you, ready to receive your creativity, and everything you pull out of the pantry and cupboard and fridge.
Tip #6: Beautiful tools make hard tasks easier.
This is sort of a bonus tip, because it’s not necessarily about efficiency. The reality is, cooking and baking make a mess. Dirty dishes, baked on pots and pans, sticky countertops, messy floors. Part of creating in the kitchen is cleaning up. And I recommend making the whole process much more palatable by choosing beautiful tools.
Pretty soap, a gorgeous wood scrub brush, a fresh dishtowel, a happy dustpan. They all help make your kitchen a pleasant place to work in. Good-looking tools make dishwashing and clean up more appealing. Plus, if they’re beautiful, you won’t mind keeping them out in the open, which makes cleaning even easier. And I should note: good-looking doesn’t have to mean expensive. No need to break the bank to make your space look pretty.
Here are all six tips in a handy cheat sheet. (If you’d like to print it, download the file here.)
For the DIYers out there, you can even print each tip out on a piece of iron-on paper, and make yourself a set of reusable canvas grocery bags! Download the printable tips (one per page) here.
Tell me, Friends, do you have a favorite among the tips I listed? And what would you add to my list? How do you keep your kitchen efficient, inviting and organized? I’d love to hear!