Cluttered kitchen? 9 tips for making more counter space and getting organized

Cluttered kitchen? 9 tips for making more counter space and getting organized
Source: Shutterstock
Source: Shutterstock

It's a fast and hard rule: Kitchens attract clutter. 

Between all those very specific kitchen gadgets you absolutely needed and the seemingly always growing stack of dishes and the utensils you left out anticipating a quick bite three days ago, your kitchen is covered in stuff. It's time to de-clutter and make the most of your counter space. 

We spoke with Dorothy the Organizer, of Hoarders fame, for some expert tips on how to de-clutter your kitchen — pain-free.

Pare down to the essentials

You need to make a mess to fix a mess. Take everything off your counters, out of your cabinets and unload your drawers. (With the right background music, this can be fun?)

Put all your items on a clean white towel to get the best view of your stock. Toss any broken kitchen gadgets, get rid of that extra can opener you have floating around (Good Will is a good place to donate it) and evaluate what pieces of clutter you actually need. 

For any space in the house, Dorothy recommends using her TAPP system, an acronym for: Toss it, act on it, pass it on, pile it/file it. Decide what you need to keep; what you've been waiting to act on, such as that wedding invitation stuffed in a drawer somewhere with an overdue RSVP card; what's not even yours, or better off with someone else; and what you actually need, like grocery coupons. When reloading your drawers, make your most convenient drawer your "priority drawer," which should have your ten most essential items in it. 

Get creative with space

Cabinet shelves
Source: Container Store

To keep countertops and drawers free of clutter, consider alternate storage places. The backs of cabinet doors, for example, work well for sticky hooks to hang smaller kitchen tools from. Try small wire command hooks ($6.87 on Jet.com), which can easily loop around ladle and whisk handles and are sturdy enough for kitchen use. Dorothy also recommends using a magazine organizer ($9.99 on Quill.com) in cabinets to organize long tubes of kitchen supplies, like saran wrap, foil and packages of ziplock bags. 

Think vertically as well. Stacking 20 plates on top of each other beneath 14 bowls isn't super conducive to getting a plate out when you need it. Instead of stacks resembling the Empire State Building, opt for cabinet shelves that will split up your space more efficiently. The shelves pictured above start at $4.49 each at ContainerStore.com. Keep your most-used items at eye-level so you're not always reaching for the colander you use on the regular. 

Make your kitchen stock visible

Four-piece Beehive Canister Set
Source: Joss and Main

Dorothy endorses glass jars as a great way to store dry goods and beyond. Instead of fussing with chip clips and rubber bands on open bags of rice, organize your food in glass jars, so you can see how much you have of everything and keep your food fresh. 

Dorthy also recommended considering open shelves or taking the door off a cabinet for an open-kitchen aesthetic if you want to see your beautiful kitchenware and food. Try this beehive container set, $34.95 at JossandMain.com.

Reconsider appliance placement

That blender you use once a summer? Why is it living on your countertop? Consider moving lesser-used appliances that collect dust on the counter to a storage spot, whether that be on top of the fridge or deep in a closet where they can be found during your rare cravings for homemade margaritas. "Consider moving unused storage trays under the bed, appliances on a rolling wire rack in a closet, but get it out of your kitchen, especially off of your counter tops if you're not using it weekly," said Dorothy. 

Put a Lazy Susan in the fridge 

YouCopia White "Crazy Susan" Lazy Susan
Source: Container Store

To avoid fridge confusion, put a Lazy Susan — or rotating turntable — on the top shelf of your fridge, which will spin around to show off your sauces and condiments while preventing the need to take out 12 bottles to get to the Sriracha you're seeking. This little trick will make getting your condiments out of the fridge a fun game of roulette. The one above from the Container Store ($16.99) can work in the refrigerator, under the sink or even in a cabinet. 

Remember that "oven" is another word for "closet"

Take it from a New Yorker (this writer), your oven is full of unused storage space. Instead of leaving that valuable kitchen real estate empty when it's not in use, fill up that oven with woks, loaf pans, baking sheets and any other space-guzzling kitchen tools that will feel right at home in the oven. Just remember to take everything out before you preheat it.   

Use your walls

Kitchen Organizer Pots & Pans Pegboard Pack by Wall Control
Source: Wayfair

Walls are pretty much useless when it comes to food prep, but cooking storage is another story. A pegboard offers many more square-feet of kitchen storage plus easy accessibility for those who are used to stacking pots and pans in an impermeable pile. Try the kitchen organizer pictured above, $90 on Wayfair.com.

Use your ceiling

J.K. Adams Small Grey Ceiling Pot Rack
Source: Crate and Barrel

Disguise your kitchen as a professional kitchen by hanging pots and pans from the ceiling. Install your own S-hooks or purchase a rack designed for ceiling installation, like this rack, $150 at CrateandBarrel.com

Keep it tidy

The most important part of de-cluttering is keeping things neat. Make it a habit to put away kitchen tools you're not using on the regular and you won't find yourself in an uncontrollable mess any time soon. 

If organizing really doesn't get you excited, Dorothy recommends an at-home Pantry Party, or her own version of Storage Wars. Take out all the kitchen items you don't need any more or never needed (think souvenir mugs and weird gadgets from relatives obliged to give holiday gifts) and invite friends to come over with quarters. And booze (she didn't say that, but this is a party and drinking may help with the next steps). Then, assign an auctioneer to auction off the items you no longer need. Anything leftover can be donated to a nearby charity. Look at you all organized and charitable. Great work!