Kitchen zone reorganizing using simple upgrades (and one downgrade)

I have fun reorganizing and updating my kitchen. We have tons of cabinets, but lots of space doesn’t automatically equal organized space.

Over time, things can still become messy.

It’s important to take the time to keep your kitchen zones organized so your kitchen can be used to its full potential.

Here are some simple kitchen zone reorganization updates that can make a big difference.

A super-quick kitchen reorganization that stayed on budget and took just an afternoon. See how I did it with lots of before and after photos.

The Tools Behind My Simple Kitchen Zone Reorganizing

After a trip to Walmart, I came home loaded up with a selection of baskets and bins. I also snagged some removable chalkboard tape and chalk pens.

There was even a snazzy new toaster in the mix.

kitchen zone reorganizing materials - bins and baskets
I love a nice set of bins and baskets!

Please keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to go out and buy new organizing supplies. We often preach that those free (or nearly free) containers do the trick just fine!

Also, check out this post on budget-friendly organizing containers for more ideas.

The Kitchen Zones I Reorganized

With all these goodies, I reorganized 4 zones in our kitchen:

  • open storage under the island
  • the pantry
  • junk drawer
  • counter space

Even though I only show these 4 zones, it’s the same principles that can be applied to any zone in your kitchen.

What Are Kitchen Zones, exactly?

Ah, yes, before we go on it might help to clarify a kitchen zone. For this article, we are talking about a few key areas in my kitchen.

However, kitchen zones are often referred to when it comes to kitchen organization as a way to increase the functionality of the kitchen’s workspace.

For example, having all the items you will need for a specific task within reach without moving around the kitchen. Think about a coffee station with mugs, sugar, and teaspoons in one zone.

Zone 1: Under Kitchen Island

First, I revamped and tidied up underneath our kitchen island. This area is a fantastic storage space, but over time, it had collected all kinds of clutter – jars, baskets, 2 containers of oatmeal (2!), bins of potatoes, and pots.

I consolidated the oatmeal into one container, replaced the bins with 2 matching bins and corralled all the lunch boxes into this awesome vintage milk crate. These larger bins are so much neater than a mish-mash of smaller ones.

The reorganized area under the kitchen island is a huge improvement!
The reorganized area under the kitchen island is a huge improvement!

Doesn’t it look great? It’s so much neater and more attractive now.

Zone 2: The Pantry

The pantry needed a LOT of work.

I pulled everything out and wiped down the shelves. How did I end up with so many duplicate items? I discovered 2 almost empty gallons of white vinegar, 2 containers of peanuts, and 3 bottles of apple cider vinegar. Oy.

kitchen pantry reorganizing before and after
The pantry needed a lot of work! Luckily some baskets and labels made this so easy.

After consolidating the duplicates and throwing out a few things I no longer wanted (hello, dry milk that I bought 12 months ago), I had a lot less to put back.

Before refilling the pantry, I adjusted the shelves. I decided to keep the top shelf a bit lower. Bottles and jars will go on this shelf and having it lower will make it easier to see what’s on this shelf.

I arranged the rest of the pantry like this:

  • larger bulk items on the bottom shelf (all purpose flour, gallons of vinegar, coffee, any extra bags of potatoes, etc.)
  • one bin with pastas and one with gluten-free baking supplies on the next shelf
  • smaller baking supplies and a bread basket on the next shelf up


kitchen zone reorganizing using labels
Look how cute these chalkboard labels are! My family will have no problems finding what they need.

The icing on the cake was these chalkboard labels.

I try not to get too fussy about labels, but I do like it when they look cute. I think this was a nice compromise and it took just a couple of minutes to do.

It should be really easy for everyone to put things back where they belong with these labels in place.

Related read: 7 Clever Ways to Organize a Small Kitchen If You Don’t Have a Pantry


Zone 3: Junk Drawer

The junk drawer was a quick win.

All those little individual compartments just make me happy!

And they will keep making me happy because the junk drawer will continue to be more organized.

You can definitely do something similar by adding in small boxes and containers that you have around the house, too.

Zone 4: Counter Space

And lastly, I addressed a part of the kitchen counter – a common clutter hotspot.

The new toaster replaced the toaster oven (which would be the downgrade mentioned in this post’s title). This counter area is so much less cluttered and brighter now.

Bonus – a regular toaster is a LOT faster to toast than a toaster oven!

Initially, I wasn’t sure if this was a good use of my budget. Now that I can see the results, I’m really happy I made this switch.

kitchen counter reorganizing before after
Look at all that extra counter space!

Tip: It’s really good to assess the usefulness of your kitchen tools and appliances. You might be cluttering up your kitchen workspace by holding onto tools and appliances that don’t serve you in the best way.

Considerations When Reorganizing Your Kitchen Zones

  • Clear containers are great for organizing a bunch of smaller items inside cupboards, but clearly designed labels also help.
  • You don’t have to go out and buy all new containers to have an organized kitchen.
  • Keep like items together as much as possible.
  • Group items that are used together in the same area (or zone).
  • Downgrading kitchen appliances or tools to their smaller or more basic versions can be a good thing. There’s no need to take up precious kitchen space with a tool that doesn’t get used to its full potential.
  • Drawer organization is just as important as cabinet organization, so take the time to insert dividers and shallow containers there, too.

Are you feeling inspired to reorganize your kitchen zones now?


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12 thoughts on “Kitchen zone reorganizing using simple upgrades (and one downgrade)”

  1. FYI, you probably shouldn’t store the potatoes and onions together for very long. It might be okay in the open air, but onions produce a gas that causes the potatoes to sprout very quickly (and spoil quickly, I learnt the bad, stinky way). Also, unless you use the potatoes very quickly (we are a family of 7 and can go through 5 pounds of potatoes a night) they should be stored in a dark area so the peels don’t begin to turn green.

    I love the wire baskets SO much, and the wooden one with the painted scrollwork. OMy they are lovely. SO lovely. Great job! Hope it makes your job way easier! I added a few lazy susans to a deep cupboard that stores our on-the-go coffee mugs and water bottles – SO nice to not have them all toppled over all the time (unless the son spins it really fast to MAKE them fall off). I love organizing!!! Great work!

  2. The clear plastic tray with several bins is just what I need for my junk drawer. What department at Walmart did you get them from?

  3. I use the baskets often with many things but for some reason never thought to do it with the bread. will definately be adding that into my kitchen.


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Welcome. I’m Sarah!


I’m the creator of Decluttering School (formerly known as Early Bird Mom), lover of organized spaces, encourager to women and mom to four boys. Click here to read more!

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