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Well-organised kitchen cabinets are at the heart of any smooth-running kitchen. A kitchen might look fabulous on the outside, but if the contents of kitchen cabinets and drawers are in a jumble, then chaos will reign. Meaning ideas for how to organise kitchen cabinets become essential to restore order.
When it comes to kitchen storage ideas a combination of cupboards, drawers and standard-sized shelves will cover the basics, but fine-tuning the interiors to solve specific storage needs or problem areas can make a big difference to how your kitchen functions.
How to organise kitchen cabinets
‘My rule of thumb is to only bring in extra storage if really necessary,’ says professional organiser, Vicky Silverthorn, Youneedavicky.com (opens in new tab). ‘You’ll be surprised after a good de-clutter at just how well your kitchen stores things without much help.’
‘Go through drawers and cupboards to see what you have, what you actually use and how many repeats you have. Then think about where everything belongs before putting it away again.'
Whether you’re looking for ways to re-organise crowded kitchen cabinets, tips to tackle untidy drawers or clever kitchen shelving ideas (opens in new tab), our rundown will have you covered.
1. Organise hard-to-reach corner cabinets
Corner cabinets can be notoriously difficult to access, with blind corners making it tricky to see or reach what’s inside. A three-quarter carousel unit is a great way of tackling the problem in a tight corner spot. Perfect for a full-height larder unit. Half-width doors fold out, with swivel interior shelves that make it easy to grab what’s inside.
2. Downsize with slimline larder storage
While a traditional full-sized larder or pantry is the dream, if your kitchen is on the small side, it might not be possible, but there are alternative kitchen pantry ideas that might work instead. Compromise with a slimline version that can be squeezed into a 40cm cm deep cupboard.
‘Try an innovative larder system that moves the contents of the cupboard out to you,’ says Graeme Smith at Second Nature Kitchens (opens in new tab). ‘It’ll make the contents easier to see and access so packets and cartons don’t get left at the back of cupboards.’
3. Store non-essentials lower down
Larger appliances that are used every day are fine living out on work surfaces, but for those used less frequently or for bulky items that eat up space, try storing them out of the way in lower-down cupboards so they can be pulled out when needed.
A rotating half-sized carousel will give easy access to hard-to-reach corners in base cabinets which are ideal for storing saucepans and bakeware.
Buy now: Utrusta carousel, £110, IKEA (opens in new tab)
4. Set up a tea and coffee station
‘Group kitchen kit and supplies together in a place that makes sense, so that your kitchen flows better’ says Vicky Silverthorn. ‘Tea and coffee should live next to mugs, cups and kettle. Likewise, keep oils, spices and utensils close to the hob for easy access.’
Consider devoting one cabinet to a drinks station with tea and coffee-making essentials stored close to the kettle or coffee maker so everything can be accessed easily. Include mugs, cups, tea spoons and extras like flavoured syrups and milk frother.
5. Use slot-in racks to organise cookware
Flat items like baking trays, lids and chopping boards often get shoved in a drawer or cupboard, but un-stacking them every time you want to use something is a pain. Organiser racks - similar to a toast rack - let you slot items in individually for easier access.
Buy now: Small lid and plate storage rack, £7, A Place for Everything (opens in new tab)
Buy now: Serving dish storage rack, £18, A Place for Everything (opens in new tab)
6. Hang cleaning supplies on a rail
Try this neat trick and inexpensive idea for organising an under-sink cabinet. Use a length of curtain tension rod - the spring-action kind - fixed in place just below the sink. Then simply hook cleaning spray bottles up out of the way and tidy the rest of the cupboard’s contents into neat plastic baskets at the bottom.
7. Double-up on shelf space
Kitchen wall cabinets with fixed shelves often have large gaps in-between that get wasted, particularly above shorter items. Double-up on shelf space with these clever raised inserts that give another layer of storage on top for jars and packets.
Great for food storage, these raised inserts also come in handy for storing crockery and glassware, rather than having too-tall stacks of bowls and plates that might topple.
Buy now: Variera shelf inserts, £4, IKEA (opens in new tab)
8. Utilise wasted cupboard space
These slide-out containers are another option for utilising wasted space in-between shelves. Mounted on rails underneath a shelf (or under a cupboard) the air-tight containers have easy-open lids and are ideal for storing dry ingredients like rice, pulses or pasta.
Buy now: CupboardStore under shelf storage container set, £35, JosephJoseph (opens in new tab)
9. Try stacking to save inside space
‘Stackable baskets are a great solution for any type of kitchen,’ says Simon Glanville at A Place for Everything. ‘They’re lightweight space savers that create another level within the cupboard without having to pay for costly kitchen improvements. Adding these to the kitchen gives extra storage, without taking up precious counter space and means that all your tins and dry good are easily accessible.’
10. Make good use of cupboard doors
Utilise wasted space inside kitchen cabinets with clever door-mounted pockets. Strategically positioned so that they don’t bash into shelves, the fabric pockets are perfectly sized for small items or loose odds and ends that often get lost at the back of cupboards.
11. Organise pantry storage for easy access
Store fruit and veg in easy-access baskets so you can dip in and grab what you need without having to take everything out. This under-shelf basket slots in place and is a great way of utilising wasted space above short jars and tins.
Opt for mesh, wire or woven baskets when storing fruit and veg so that air can circulate and supplies won’t perish.
Buy now: Observator basket, £3, IKEA (opens in new tab)
12. Elevate small jars and tins
Tall kitchen cabinets and deep shelves mean that smaller items often get left unseen at the back. A shelf stepper lets you see what’s inside cupboards more easily, with smaller items at the back elevated, so they don’t get lost.
This one expands to fill shelf space and has a non-slip surface to stop jars from rolling around.
Buy now: Expandable shelf organiser, £19.99, Lakeland (opens in new tab)
13. Organise like with like
Grouping supplies and ingredients together makes sense so you can grab everything you need in one hit when you’re prepping or baking. Wooden crates and lift-out storage caddies are great for small items like spice jars, packets and cartons, or even cake-decorating kit. Buy in an assortment of sizes to make full use of cupboard space.
Buy now: Wooden pantry storage pantry bin with handle, £11, A Place for Everything (opens in new tab)
14. Use drawers to keep crockery safer
Tall stacks of crockery can be tricky to grab if they’re stored in a too-high kitchen cabinet. Utilise space lower down by storing bowls and dishes in deep storage drawers. Wooden peg dividers keep stacks separated, with buffers at the edges to keep dishes from sliding and chipping when drawers are opened and closed.
15. Get drawers better-organised
Table linens, cloths and oven gloves often end up in an untidy heap or get shoved to the back of a cupboard. Storing textiles in a drawer will keep them flat and make them easier to find. Organise drawers with adjustable wooden dividers that simply slide apart to section-off the contents and can be used on any size drawer.
Buy now: Set of two expandable wooden drawer dividers, £20, A Place for Everything (opens in new tab)
16. Store pan lids on the backs of doors
Lids can easily get separated from pans and end up rattling around at the back of a drawer or cupboard. These wall-mounted pan lid holders utilise otherwise-wasted space on the backs of cupboard doors, with lids slotting in so you can find them first time.
Buy now: JosephJoseph CupboardStore pan lid holder, £9.50 for four, John Lewis & Partners (opens in new tab)
17. Keep essentials close to hand
Shift spice jars, condiments and oils off the worktop but within easy grabbing distance of the hob. This open wall unit keeps everything at eye level and has a swivel shelf so that essentials are accessible.
Buy now: Enhet swivel shelf, £7.50; IKEA (opens in new tab)
18. Make use of end space
Squeeze in a shelf or two at the end of a run of units or on the reverse of a kitchen island unit. Small shelves are perfect for cookery books or for showing off decorative kitchenware. While a row of baskets makes handy extra storage for loose fruit and vegetables.
19. Slot trays and boards in-between cupboards
Find use for wasted inches between kitchen base units by adding a slot-in holder for wooden chopping boards and kitchen trays. Or add a pull-out rail and use the space to hang tea towels and oven mitts.
20. Finish off with a set of slimline drawers
Utilise wasted space at the end of a run of kitchen units by slotting in an extra-narrow set of drawers. Positioned close to the hob, they make the perfect space to slot in spice jars, oils and condiments so that everything’s to hand when cooking.
‘Strategic storage will make your kitchen stand out and ensure you’ll enjoy using it every day,’ says Ben Burbidge at Kitchen Makers.
How do you decide where to put things in kitchen cabinets?
‘Know where everything lives,’ says Vicky Silverthorn. ‘Look at gadgets and utensils and assess whether you actually use them or need them. Is a peeler, squeezer, corer, slicer really necessary when one knife might do? Do you have space for all of them?'
‘Don’t fill cupboards with things that aren’t needed anymore. Having multiples or ‘just in cases’ is a waste of space,’ Vicky adds.
‘Organise food cupboards like a supermarket,’ says Vicky, ‘with everything lined up and labels facing forwards so you can see what you have and what you need to buy. Get into the habit of putting new shopping (with longer use-by dates) at the back and shifting everything forward as you go.'
What is the first thing to do when organising kitchen cabinets?
Before you start, take everything out and pile it on a kitchen worktop or table so you can assess exactly what you have, what you have too many of and what you no longer need.
Get rid of any chipped crockery, cracked glassware and broken appliances first. And if there are gadgets and gizmos that are rarely used, consider re-gifting them so you can free up some extra cupboard space.
Organise the rest of the contents into categories, such as tableware and glasses, serving dishes and platters, cookware, small appliances, etc. Assess what you have and how you use items, so that those you often use together (such as cake decorating kit or coffee and tea-making essentials) are all stored in the same place.
Think about where everything belongs before putting away. Don’t store things high up or at the back of cupboards if you use them daily - likewise don’t clutter work surfaces with things that aren’t used daily or weekly. Having too much out hinders easy prep and reduces overall space. Free-up worktop space by tucking larger items (like toasters and blenders) away in a cupboard near to the surface you’ll be using them on.
Reserve one section of storage, such as a larder cupboard or wall cabinet just for food, organising it into perishables and store-cupboard ingredients and making sure that most-used items are easiest-accessed.
Lisa is a freelance journalist who has written about interiors for more than 25 years and has worked on all the major homes titles, primarily Ideal Home, but also including Homes & Gardens, Country Homes & Interiors, Style at Home, Livingetc, Woman & Home, Easy Gardens and Good Homes magazines. Homes and interiors have always been a passion and she never tires of nosying around gorgeous homes, whether on TV, online, in print or in person, as well as being a serial shopper/bargain hunter.
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