Tips and tricks for organizing kitchen cabinets

June 05, 2018

Today we're talking organization! One of my favorite topics because of all the things I do in our home, organizing the spaces makes the biggest impact on how we live. An organized space makes our lives easier, lowers our stress and saves us money because we don't buy multiples of everything. 

I didn't realize when we moved in how long it would take me to get this house lean and mean though. We have more storage space in this home so I thought it would happen a lot quicker! Some closets I did deal with sooner than others: 
organized linen closet

Best closet ever for cleaning supplies

Tips for an organized pantry

And I have to tell you -- there was a remarkable difference in how I felt in the house when those spaces were organized. It's SO NICE to find something when you go to look for it! The older I get, the less I can deal with clutter in our home. It makes me twitchy. 

I say that, and now I'll show you the insides of the lower cabinets in our kitchen. 😂 I don't know why I waited so long to tackle them because these areas were really started to drive me crazy. From the outside the kitchen looked like I had it all together!: 
Bright kitchen with wood accents

But here's how the insides looked: 
Cabinet mess before

Organizing the lower cabinets

Not horrendous, I know. (If you want to see some good messy befores check out the posts I linked to above!) But I never knew where anything was. I would quite literally open the doors and throw stuff in. We've lived here nearly eight months now and that was getting old. 

I decided it was time -- and like every organization project I have to take everything out and see it all in one place. There was one more cabinet I didn't get a photo of that I included as well. The cat was not in a cabinet:
Organizing the kitchen cabinets

He just likes to be up in my business. :)

I started by looking over the island with everything on it and picking out things I knew I didn't want. I use the Konmari method (it has changed my life!) and it makes it easy to decide what I'm keeping. (That's the key to Konmari in my mind -- you decide what to keep, not so much what to get rid of. It's so much easier for me!)

Then whatever was left I separated into piles -- pitchers, bowls, baking dishes, etc. It became a lot more manageable by the time I got to that point.

I took advantage of the empty cabinets and cleaned them really well. Then I started to assess where I wanted to put items. I lucked out big time when I realized the small shelf in our lower cabinets is removable. You know the one I'm talking about? The skinny one in the back that is difficult to get to and always seems to get in the way of the tall stuff you want to store? In our old house I removed a couple of them and it was a MESS because I had to cut them out.

I did a little dance when I realized ours are adjustable and removable. YES! I took it out of one cabinet and installed these jobbies I've had for years:
Tall dividers for awkward kitchen stuff

I think I got them at IKEA but these are very similar! I've used them here and there over the years and they are super helpful for awkward items like big pans. I installed two of them in this cabinet since I could take advantage of the height and depth without that back shelf. 

It ended up going much faster than I thought it would! Here is one cabinet before and after: 
Tips for organizing lower cabinets

Decluttered and organized lower cabinets

One thing that I've learned over the years when decluttering and organizing -- it's OK to have empty space! Let your stuff breathe! Just because you have space doesn't mean you have to fill it. I don't know why, but at first that was uncomfortable for me. Now I love it. ;) 

Here's the other one, this is the cabinet I removed the shelf from: 
How to declutter and organize kitchen cabinets

Hacks for organizing lower cabinets

I made a quick DIY shelf for one side (I did this in our old house too). I love doing this because it makes it easier to access items. I put the larger mixing bowls that I don't reach for as often in the back underneath. 

And in the "baking" corner cabinet I put some odds and ends on the top shelf and put larger items on the bottom: 
Clean and organized lower cabinets in kitchen

Does anyone have that cool shelf for the mixer (affiliate)? The one you install and then it brings it up to counter height? It's so expensive so I wonder if it's worth it! 

I keep our everyday appliances in our pantry and the others go in the tall cabinet above our ovens: 
Tall cabinet over oven

I love this cabinet! When I was unpacking the kitchen shortly after moving in I realized I had totally forgotten about that one -- it was like finding treasure. ;) 

I shared my storage hack for over the fridge in the old kitchen and repeated that here: 
Hack for using cabinet above fridge

IKEA has the BEST stuff for kitchen organization! That's where I find most of my favorite items. (These are also very similar, you just can't adjust them.) I also use those expandable organizers for my pot lids in the drawers under our stovetop. 👍

In the old house we had the dining room/library built ins for most of the serving stuff we use when entertaining and for holidays. I keep the smaller items in our island cabinets now and the new console in the morning room for larger items:
Dining area with cane console

This piece has SO much storage! And I love that ALL of my larger serving dishes are in one spot. They're so easy to access too: 
Decorative console storage in dining area

Storing large dishes in dining area

I haven't shared the uppers in the kitchen because we really only have two and they're pretty basic. The drawers though -- those are for a different day. They need some big time binging and organization! But now that the pantry and cabinets are done, I'm most of the way there as far as the kitchen is concerned! 

It's already made such a difference having these so clean and organized. I just feel at ease when I open the doors. I've said it a million times but tackling projects like this make me feel SO much better about life in general. It's amazing how much having "tidy" spaces reduces my stress. And at extra stressful times I always find solace in making the little spaces in our home more streamlined. 

Do you enjoy binging and organizing? Does decluttering stress you out or make you feel lighter like it does me? It always boosts my mood, I love it! I'm off to donate a few more bags of stuff! :) 

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  1. I love tiding and organizing and I too feel lighter somehow when it is done ... sadly it's one task that is 'hidden' from view and is often forgotten until everything comes tumbling out and demands to be sorted!

  2. KonMari is LIFE!! It was a big game changer for me - why was I always picking a couple things to get rid of when I should have been choosing what to keep?! I recommend the book to EVERYONE!

  3. I need to go through all my kitchen cupboards and do this! I love your idea of putting in the dividers so you can stand up tall and skinny items! Brilliant!

  4. I love a good cabinet organising! A tidy kitchen gives me life. I think it's because I spend so much time cooking! ❤️

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  5. I also had those half shelves removed from all but one of my lower cabinets (nearly had to use dynamite since they were notched in) and as a Christmas gift to myself, had double tier roll out racks installed. Why I didn't have that done years ago is beyond me. The organization and ease of use is amazing and probably the favorite upgrade in my budget kitchen reno.

    I'm a big believer in kitchen organization. When you shop, put away, prepare, cook and then clean up, that's enough kitchen work. You shouldn't have to deal with messy and inconvenient cabinets and drawers as well. Yours look amazing.

  6. When I renovated my kitchen a few years ago, I put in ALL drawers except for one narrow lower cabinet that fits my mixer. All of my dishes, serving plates, pots, pans, casseroles, and even small appliances are in big, deep drawers. (I insisted upon frameless cabinet construction so I could fit taller items, such as my stock pot, in the drawers). I absolutely adore it. I have never been so organized in my life, and it has stayed that way for several years. So much easier to find things, and no more getting on my hands and knees to search for things hidden in the back of lower cabinets. (It wasn't my idea; it was all the rage in discussions on the old Garden Web site, now owned by Houzz.)

    1. I did the same in the kitchen I designed in my old house. Drawers are a thousand times more functional than those cavernous bottom cabinets that dominate most kitchens! Take a stroll through the kitchens on display at IKEA: all drawers on the bottom except under the sink! Smart, functional design.

      In my current house I didn’t get to design the kitchen, so I’ve also resorted to removing that little shelf and using IKEA organizers.

  7. I had a "mixer shelf" put in when building a house several years ago. It was the only fancy thing I wanted in the kitchen! I loved it. They do pretty much eat up an entire cabinet (I think I was able to store my extra mixer bowl and attachments under it, but that's it), but as someone who uses my stand mixer a lot, it was worth it.

  8. Like a previous commenter, when I designed my new kitchen 2 years ago, I put in mostly drawers , some of which are very, very deep so they can hold very large items. Actually, as I look now, I only have lower cabinets under the sink, and a large floor to ceiling pantry cabinet!

  9. Re: the retractable mixer shelf: My personal opinion is that Kitchenaid mixers are works of art. It's one of the only things I keep on my counter. :)

  10. These are some great organizing tips. I can’t wait to use them in my newly remodeled kitchen. I have lots of deep drawers now and it can hold a lot of things but I don’t know how to fill them properly. Most importantly, I have to know where you got your kitchen pendant lights from! they are fabulous and I want them!

  11. Great tips, Sarah... thanks for sharing!

  12. Great tips! I am SO fortunate: we built this house 5 years ago and the kitchen cabinets came with pull out shelves in each lower cabinet. Then my hubby installed pot and lid organizers in my cabinet under the stove for me. That has been a Godsend! I will check some of your other organizing posts too. I love to organize!


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