Organizing Your Kitchen Spaces

I’m really excited and at the same time a little apprehensive about sharing the inside of my kitchen with you today. It’s kind of personal to open up my cupboards and drawers for display:).

Every kitchen is so different and every household has their own preferences, routines and nuances. I’ve lived most of my life in teeny, tiny kitchens, so I’ve had to learn to make the most use of the available space. My kitchen is still on the smaller side today, although compared to the kitchens I’d known for the first 21 years of my life and especially my first kitchen as a newlywed, it feels comfortably spacious. I especially love my pantry! IMG_1437 (500x333)

I sure have pinned tons of gorgeous kitchens on Pinterest and look forward to the day when Sergi andI have our own home and the kitchen of my dreams. My parents have a phenomenal kitchen and it’s so wonderful to use and take pleasure from whenever we go for a visit. My aunt and her husband, Natalya and Mike, just recently remodeled their kitchen and they did such an outstanding job, it really inspired me for the future.

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and no matter what kind of kitchen you have today, you can cook delicious meals for your family and guests. The quality of your food does not depend on the size of your kitchen.

Kitchen spaces are so versatile and unique, I would never presume that my way of organizing is immaculate or flawless. I am not an expert designer or organizer by any means. This is what works for me and my cupboards. I’d love to hear your ideas and tips about how you’ve organized your kitchens.

1. Drawer Dividers

Besides the regular ones that you have for your silverware, use a drawer divider to organize all the little kitchen tools that can so easily get lost and jumbled. Without a drawer divider, this place can have the tendency to be the messiest place in the kitchen. 

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You can also keep your drawers neat by fitting the pieces of the puzzle together so they fit well, so to speak.

Try to pack your things so they don’t slide around in the drawer. I also used a small box (from a package of Mentos) to keep tiny little items in place. This is where I keep my pens, Sharpies, scissors, rubber bands, etc.  IMG_1744 (333x500)

 

2. Stack and nestle.  IMG_1721 (500x333)

As much as possible, try to nestle your kitchen tools inside each other. This really saves space and keeps things neat.

By the way, I love my glass and metal bowls! They are wonderful. I bought a set of really nice quality plastic bowls when I first got married, but as you can see, I have only one plastic bowl left, and it’s wearing out it’s usefulness too. The rest have cracked, melted, etc. The metal and glass bowls are very durable and can be used in so many ways. I sometimes use the glass bowls to serve food  too.

Store smaller items inside the pots and bowls. Inside that big pot in the corner, I have a steaming basket and also my English muffin rings.  In the back right corner, I store the items that I use less often. I also store my extra Kitchen Aid attachments and a small hand held sieve. They are out of the way but easily accessible.  IMG_1723 (500x333)

 

3. Use your cupboard walls.

As you can see, I use every possible space for storage. Sergi drilled some regular screws in for me, and I hang my splatter screens and metal sieve on it. The lid holder is wonderful too. Storing lids was a nightmare before. They were always falling and frustrating me. I got my lid holder in Ikea. I’m sure you can find many different kids of lid organizers in many stores.

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I use my other cupboard wall to hang up my cooling racks and my pelmeni mold. I don’t use the pelmeni mold very often, so I have it stored in the back.

IMG_1728 (333x500) 4. Store the items that you use most often in easy to reach places.

This is kind of obvious and you’ll see this throughout my entire kitchen.

 

IMG_1725 (333x500) Since I use my baking sheets and chopping boards all the time, I store them on the side of the cupboard. I used to keep my baking sheets at the bottom of the oven drawer, but it was so annoying to get them out. I’d have to take out everything else too and putting them back in wasn’t fun either. This works perfectly for me.  IMG_1729 (500x333)

5. Store like items together. IMG_1736 (333x500)

 

This is the very top of my pantry. As you can see, I have my cereal stored together, and my pasta, rice, oatmeal, etc. on another shelf. Once again, since we don’t eat cereal too often, it’s stored at the very top. Pasta, rice, grains, oils and baking ingredients are easier to reach.

I highly recommend the OXO Pop Storage Containers. I keep my pasta, rice, buckwheat, etc. in them. I use small take out containers to store smaller amounts of food, such as cornmeal, etc.

If the item comes in a very well sealed and easy to use container, that’s where it stays. Couscous, oatmeal, dry mushrooms are in great containers already, so I don’t bother putting them into fancy storage containers, since the ones I bought them in do the job very well. Generally, I store items that come in bags or boxes in storage containers. This prevents things from spilling and other unpleasant situations.

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6. Be creative and think outside the box.

My husband made a custom made container from a cardboard box for me to store my potatoes,  onions and garlic. IMG_1741 (500x333)

Since I bake a lot, I found a great way to store flour and sugar – in cereal containers. I bought mine in Walmart. They are absolutely perfect. IMG_1365 (500x333) You can fit at least 2 packages of flour and sugar in each container and you can fit the entire 1 cup measuring cup inside the opening and use it to scrape off the excess. IMG_1364 (500x333) The containers also have a spout, which is very handy to pour sugar. IMG_1367 (500x333)

We also bought an additional small pantry to have more storage.

I store salt, pepper and spices that I use most often at the top on the left. Baking supplies – cocoa, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, etc. are stored together on the top middle shelf. I also continue to store like items together. Coffee, tea. Dry fruit. Vinegars and Asian ingredients. You get the point. IMG_1734 (500x333)

7. Clutter = Evil.

If you don’t use something more than a few times a year, chances are you don’t need it. Unless you have a large kitchen with lots of extra storage space, you can get by without many things.

I am a minimalist for sure, and even though I love to cook and get excited by useful tools and kitchen toys, I try not to have too many. I learned a great rule of thumb from Alton Brown – avoid unitaskers, unless you use it a lot, like the coffee maker or toaster. For example, I have an awesome Kitchen Aid stand mixer, so I don’t have a hand held mixer.

Keep your counters clear. This is a personal preference, but I don’t like to have anything on my counters except my knife block, standing mixer, toaster, kettle and coffee maker. The rest is stored and out of sight. As you can see, I don’t have any space for anything else anyway. IMG_1434 (500x333) Another thing that I have on my counter is a canister that holds my most used and large utensils. It’s so handy to have my spatulas, spoons, ladle, etc within easy reach right next to the stove.

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My husband is another secret to organizing. He can make anything fit. My Dad is the same way. Maybe it’s a guy thing? If I can’t figure out how to make room for something, I ask him to come take a look.

So there you have it. My little place where all the food on this blog is created.

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Comments

      • natasha says

        O Olga, where is your microwave? And what about other kitchen electric stuff like bread maker, meat grinder, juicemaker, etc. Where to find place for it other than on the counter?

        • says

          I try not to use the microwave too often, so I have it stored in the laundry room. It’s behind the doors between the refrigerator that the small pantry where I keep my spices, etc. These days, I use the Kitchen Aid standing mixer to make my bread dough and have a small attachment for meat grinding that attaches to the Kitchen Aid standing mixer. (I store it on the shelf in the cupboard withe my food processor and blender. If you look closely, you might be able to see it. I don’t have a juicer. As I mentioned in the post, I try to cup down on the number of appliances, and kitchen gadgets as much as I can.

      • natasha says

        Oh what about garbage? Sorry for being nousy. It’s also important part in the kitchen. :) do you store it under the sink or in a big container on the floor?

        • says

          The garbage is definitely important in the kitchen, Natasha. I should have mentioned it in the post, since I really like the garbage container that I have. It’s a really nice size and it closes well. Another feature that I really like is that you can open it with your foot. It looks pretty nice, too, for a garbage, that is:). If you look in the first picture, you’ll be able to see it. I have my garbage container standing next to the small pantry with spices, underneath the bookshelf. You can also see it in the picture where I opened the doors to that small pantry.

  1. Victoria says

    Thank you for sharing. I love that you are posting more organizing tips for us. I always get excited to learn some organizing tips from you. thanks : )

  2. says

    I love your organization tips. I am a bit crazy about organizing things also. Now I want to go to ikea and get a lid organizer.

    Btw, for cans you can get plastic bins at dollar store and you can stack so much more of them. Also I like how they look in a pantry.

    • says

      Thanks, Mom’s Dish! I have seen those bins and they are a wonderful idea. I don’t buy a large amount of canned food, so I rarely have enough to cover one shelf, so I don’t really need it. I’ll keep it in mind if I ever do need to think of a different way of organizing.

  3. Natalya Wilson says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Awesome tips, especially to hang staff on the sides of cabinets!! Love it! I started organizing our new kitchen… Want to say… It’s a lot of fun…and creativity… And WORK! :)

  4. Natalya Wilson says

    Have a question… Olga, so .. I see you storing potatoes and garlic together? How about onions? Do they have to be in fridge?

    • says

      If you look closely in the picture, I have the potatoes in one part of the box and the onions in the other half, right next to the small container with garlic. I keep them in the pantry and don’t refrigerate.

  5. Mariya G says

    This is a great post thank you! I would like to know how you organize your fridge because that is always my problem especially if I’m cooking for some event…:) (we are so blessed with food in this country!). Maybe that’s something u’ll consider doing? Once again thank u:)

    • says

      You’re certainly right that we are very blessed with an abundance of food. I don’t have any special way of organizing the refrigerator, mostly just store like items together, but I will try to remember to take a picture one of these days.

  6. Shirley says

    Excellent post Olga. U r a smart girl.
    Could to plz let me know the brand of ur kettle… I liked its shape….

  7. Oksana says

    Thank you so much, wow! That gives me some ideas. I really will buy the storage for lids, It seems the lid I need is always on the bottom of all the others. By the way, I also have the exact same containers for the sugar, and for flour I just use a shorter, but square container.
    Thankfully my kitchen is bigger, but I do keep unnecessary items, so I will continue to declutter. My biggest problem was keeping mail on the counters, and believe me it got messy quick, and bills, coupons, and junk mail that needed to be shredded was all together in one heap; here’s what I did, I bought a wall calendar with special envelope place for each month to keep our bills in. Took a filing folder, and put coupons I may need in there (so no more of them scattered around. Also I started a shoe box to throw in stuff to be shredded (like offers for credit cards etc)and I keep it in our office room, so now I sort my mail and that really helped keep the counters cleaner.
    Now I just have to figure out where to store my baking pans, since every time I have to bake something, I have to take them out of the oven and leave them on table or counter, which is very annoying. I will try your idea of storing them sideways

    • natasha says

      Good idea for mail, Oksana. It’s always a clutter,, if it won’t get organazied every day, it piles up and up and up… :))

    • says

      We pay all our bills electronically, so we get a very small amounts of mail. We don’t have any credit cards either, so that also cuts down a lot on the mail too. We get only a handful of letters a weeks. That’s a good idea that you have for sorting it, though, Oksana. Good for you!

  8. Margot C says

    You are so clever. I try I really try! I know what you mean about the stuff in the oven drawer. I have my cast iron in there. Wrong thing maybe

  9. Oksana says

    Very fun post, I loved it. And great organizing tips esp the one about hanging things on the walls of cabinets. I also have a kitchen on the smaller side and I have to really keep it organized otherwise it will get messy, out of order and drive me crazy!! Hehe…and it is so true what you said that one doesn’t need a great big kitchen to cook a good meal, we work best with what we have. And God sure blessed us with everything we need and MORE!

    • says

      Thanks, Oksana! I’m glad you found it helpful.
      We really are blessed. Thank God for the country that we live in and the abundance of blessings that we have on a daily basis.

  10. Olya Drozd says

    Thanks for this great post! That’s a great idea to hang the sieves & like stuff on the side of a cabinet with a tack or nail! I don’t know if you’ve seen, there’s great little step things for the pantry shelf to organize your canned stuffed better. So the back ones are higher. That way way you’re not pushing cans around looking for a certain ingredient…
    http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?SKU=10932289

    • says

      That’s a great suggestion, Olya Drozd.
      I don’t have too many canned items, usually they don’t even fill up one shelf. However, if I ever need more space, I’ll know what to look for.

  11. Tanya says

    cute kitchen. My first kitchen was very similiar to yours. Now I have my huge, spacey, white kichen :) and I have empty cupboards because I am very much a minimalist. oh and I love the color of your kitchen aid :)

    • says

      Thanks, Vadim. I’ve been on a spring cleaning obsession for the past few weeks, so I finally organized everything the way I like it.

  12. Mariya says

    What a great idea to hang things on the doors
    of the cupboards!! I am defenetely getting a lid organizer now, thanks so much for the tip Olga! ;)

  13. Liliya says

    Hi Olga! The coolest thing happened to me today. Went to ikea to get a lid organizer like yours. So there i am looking and looking and the only one i saw (i even asked) was not like yours. I liked that it hanges on the wall. I even opened your site on my iphone to see it again. But they said they dont have it:(. And then here it comes….the coolest thing…. two rows down i see you and your husband ;). You looked soo cute!!! Wanted to thank you for your site!!! Love all your recepies and ideas!!! Thank you and God bless you!!!

  14. says

    It’s always interesting to see inside people’s cupboards :) I think all in all my kitchen is a comparable size to yours, but it’s so hard to organize! You gave me the idea of maximizing more the sides, though I’m reticent to do it since we’re in a rental. I need to try those command hooks!
    I have a question about your onion potato storage. I’ve heard your not suppose to store those 2 close together because the onions make the potatoes spoil quicker. Do you go through your onions and potatoes too quickly for that to happen, or is it a myth??
    And you didn’t show your upper cabinets? I’m curious if you got any tricks to keep those better organized? I already use a lot wire shelves so I’ve doubled shelving space here and there. Just curious :)
    Also loved your post on staying organize while cooking! I need to learn to do the dishes as I go (no dishwasher in my apt :( )

    • says

      Thanks for the great feedback, Gen.
      The command hooks are a great idea!
      About the onions and potatoes – I’ve heard the same thing, but I haven’t seen it have any effect on my potatoes. We do go through them pretty quickly. I only buy a small amount at a time. The potatoes usually last for at least 2 weeks, but rarely more. I’ve never had any issues with the potatoes spoiling yet.
      In my upper cabinets I keep my dinner plates, cups and glasses. Nothing special. I don’t have too many of them, so I don’t have any storage issues.

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