Organize your kitchen with these 10 simple principles

It always interests me how other people organize their kitchens. A well-organized kitchen employs certain principles, and organized people instinctively use these principles.

If you’re not one of those people, however, you may struggle. I hope this post gives you some guidelines to work with as you organize (or re-organize) your kitchen.

How to organize your kitchen using 10 simple principles - easy organizing tips!

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Use these 10 simple principles to organize your kitchen

1. Group small items.

If you do nothing else to organize your kitchen, spend some time and effort “containerizing.” This step gives you the biggest bang for your buck.

When you group things like this for storage and display, you gain instant clutter control and a pulled-together look. Instead of a bunch of clutter, a tray or basket unifies the items.

Your brain sees a grouping instead of several random objects.

Organize your kitchen by using these simple principles. If you want kitchen organization tips and ideas, this post will give you tons of inspiration! Lots of photos of cupboards, cabinets and counters.
Little items, like spices, can be stored in little baskets. Labels here would make this even better!

Most people have a crock next to the stove for cooking tools like spoons and spatulas. This is the same principle at work. Get matching utensils to help this area look less cluttered.

organized kitchen using bins
These aren’t the prettiest containers, but they are the perfect size and no one sees them in the cupboards.

Here are some ideas for groupings:

  • a tray with coffee supplies
  • a baking basket with cupcake papers, chocolate chips, baking powder and soda, sprinkles, and vanilla extract
  • a basket with bags of dried pastas
  • a basket full of spice jars – easy to clean and easy to find what you want
  • a bin full of lunchbox containers. Here are our favorites.

I *love* these baskets, bins and trays! The Cafe Station is so rustic and that wire basket is so vintage!

cucina-cafe-station-c milk-crate weave liners
Cucina Cafe Station
(Pottery Barn)
Small Milk Crate Wire Basket (Amazon)
Y Weave Storage Bin (Amazon) Seagrass Storage Baskets

You can even use baskets that are quite large as long as what you put inside is also fairly large. For example, large bulk bags and containers of oats, rice and flour can go into large bins.

Little bottles and containers should be kept in somewhat smaller baskets or they’ll get lost and you’ll end up digging around to find things.

But these things are even better stored in glass as explained in the next point!

2. Use glass containers to store food

Food becomes décor when you put it into a pretty glass jar! I’ve got 3 glass jars on display in our built-in hutch. Dry goods take up lots of room in the cupboards. Why not put them on display instead?

organized kitchen glass decorative containers
My children would like me to say for the record that the sugar jar actually contains rice and there is no sugar in the house. We need a new label.

If you keep a lot of dried goods, they can end up looking quite messy on pantry shelves, even if you put the bags into bins or baskets. Instead, remove the packaging and store them in jars. Instant update!

Here are some of my favorites.

Fun Glass Storage Jars

multi jar penny-candy-jar blue
Colorful Kitchen Canisters (Amazon) Heritage Hill Glass Jar (Amazon) Penny candy jar (Amazon) American Reproductions Glass Canisters (Amazon)

3. Use matching rectangular storage containers

If you want your cupboards and fridge to look neat and tidy, opt for matching, rectangular food storage containers. Containers like this are perfect for leftovers, cookies, cupcakes, and muffins.

organized kitchen glass containers stacked
This is about half of our glass food storage. I love how neatly they stack. Glass does require more cupboard space since it won’t nest, but it lasts forever and you avoid storing your food in plastic.

Rectangular containers (this is my favorite set) are easily lined up and you can see at a glance what’s inside and how much is left. No more mystery leftovers and food waste in the back of the fridge 🙂

Stackable clear containers are perfect for storing dry goods and making the most of space in your kitchen cabinets, as talked about in our post about organizing the no pantry kitchen.

4. Keep kitchen counters clear

Counter space should be work space, not storage. Cooking with cluttered counters is stressful.

Keep your kitchen counters as clear as possible even if it means using wall space or moving some kitchen tools to less convenient storage places. Maybe the stand mixer can be kept on a shelf in the garage?

organized kitchen clean counters
This before and after shows my counter with our over-sized toaster oven and then the smaller toaster. See how much more room there is! (I apologize that the angle is different, but you get the point.) And that small toaster gets put away every morning under the island.


organized kitchen storage bins
Our kitchen island is quite large and has room for storage underneath. This helps keep the counters clear.

It probably takes 30 seconds to retrieve a gadget from another part of the house so don’t be afraid to set up a shelf somewhere (like a nearby closet) with kitchen gadgets.

5. Be ruthless when it comes to paperwork!

A pile of paperwork is classic kitchen clutter! Banish it by making sure each adult in the house (and possibly each child) has their own inbox for paperwork. You’ve probably got important papers in those piles!

Instead, use a bulletin board to keep important notes, shopping lists, and papers safe and in sight. More on organizing paperwork here.

6. Declutter those plastic storage containers!

If it doesn’t have a matching lid or if it’s stained or misshapen, toss it out. Better yet, switch to glass and never have to replace your plastic food storage containers again.

We’ve been using our current set for about 4 years and have only had to replace 2 lids.

7. Nest and stack

Platters, serving bowls, and mixing bowls take up tons of room unless you can stack them. I’d even go so far as to declutter a bunch of mismatched mixing bowls in favor of one set that nests perfectly.

All your mixing bowls should be able to stack. The same goes for any frying pans. You’ll save tons of cabinet space. Plus, your shelves and cupboards will look much neater.

Gorgeous Nesting Mixing Bowls

farberware oxo kitchenaid stainless
Farberware Classic Mixing Bowls (Amazon) OXO Stainless-Steel Mixing Bowls (Amazon) KitchenAid Classic Mixing Bowls  (Amazon) Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls  (Amazon)


8. The 80/20 rule applies to the kitchen, too.

You probably spend 80% of your time using 20% of the items in your kitchen. This includes ingredients, appliances, dishes, etc.

Don’t hesitate to declutter those things that you never touch. You’ll save space and your cupboards will stay much tidier.

Pssst – Need help with decluttering? Check out our print book, Step-by-Step Decluttering! It’s an actual physical book, and it’s free – just pay shipping!

9. Divide your drawers

Drawer organizers instantly improve the look of shallow drawers for things like kitchen utensils, measuring cups, and small tools. You can find drawer organizers to fit any drawer or DIY your own.

organized kitchen inside drawers
Ahhh. Just a little order goes a long way.

If you’re not afraid of a DIY project, make custom drawer dividers using this system. We have several drawers with this system and I love how they fit perfectly.

10. Use labels

It may be clear to you how things are organized, but without labels, the rest of your family may not understand your system. Labels help everyone put things away where they belong.

Here are 10 easy ways to make labels.

This doesn’t mean your kitchen doesn’t get messed up!

Ha! As if, right? But it does mean that it’s easier to clean up and even when it’s messy, you’ll still enjoy it. And make sure to use this simple tip to keep your house cleaner. It saves me hours every month!

Organizing the kitchen makes a big difference in how efficient and attractive your kitchen is. Use these 10 principles to keep it looking and working it’s best.

Once again, 10 simple principles to organize your kitchen:

  1. Group small items into bins, baskets or onto trays.
  2. Use glass containers to store food
  3. Use matching rectangular storage containers
  4. Keep counters clear
  5. Be ruthless when it comes to paperwork!
  6. Declutter those plastic storage containers!
  7. Nest and stack.
  8. The 80/20 rule applies to the kitchen, too.
  9. Divide your drawers
  10. Use labels

Want to learn how to declutter and organize your kitchen – and ANY area of your home?

Organize Like a Boss 2.0 is here to help! Learning our OLAB principles will have you maintaining control in your home for good.

olab 2.0

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6 thoughts on “Organize your kitchen with these 10 simple principles”

  1. 1. I love the word “corral,” as in “Corral those small items.”
    2. One of the most helpful organizing tips I ever heard was Jennifer Fulwiler’s recommendation to store food storage containers with the tops on. It has saved me so much time and frustration over searching for lids.
    4. I love my island to be clear, but oh, it’s a battle!
    5. My nemesis and weakness!
    7. Did this yesterday with my baking pans and what a difference it made!

  2. Needless to say marble might be one off the most costly materialls to have as a counter prime.
    The offset to this cost is that marble can be one off the
    longest lasting materials forr a countertop, so your price-per- year will likely be lower than almost anything else that you could use.

  3. Good post. I learn something new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon evgery day.
    It’s always useful to read through content from other writers and practice a little something from othher sites.

  4. i have a small kitchen. I need my counters clear! And I only have one outlet.

    So, I store all my electrical appliances in the big cupboard under the section of counter with the outlet. That way they don’t clutter my counter and they are all very accessible when I need them. (Microwave is the exception.)

    My mother-in-law (with more kitchen space than myself) has a whole cupboard for baking. Bowls, measuring cups, ingredients and all. When she wants to whip up a batch of cookies or anything else it is SO easy. She stands at the counter, opens the cupboard and has everything she needs right there.

    I guess the principles here are:
    -put like things with like.
    -put items close to where you use them.

    Thank you for your posts. I enjoy many of your posts, although I rarely leave comments.


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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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