Is your kitchen a disorganized mess? If you’re renting in northern Colorado, you may have a small kitchen that doesn’t provide you with a lot of space. In that case, it’s even more important to have an organized kitchen.
When you’re organized, everything has a dedicated place, which typically means your kitchen gadgets, silverware, and other items are arranged in a way that takes up as little space as possible. If your kitchen isn’t as organized as you would like it to be, here are a few tips that will help you get the mess under control.
Have a Plan
If you’re new to house rentals in northern Colorado, you’re actually in a good position as far as organization goes. That’s because you likely have all of your kitchen items in boxes, so you don’t need to take everything out of your cabinets. This means you can start with a plan. There are a few things you want to do before you begin opening boxes and arranging all of your items.
First, take an inventory of what you have and determine what’s going to need the most space. Baking dishes, cookie sheets, and other bulky items may need to go in your lower cabinets, which are typically larger or have wider doors. Second, if you don’t have a dedicated pantry, you may need to set aside at least one cabinet to hold your canned and dry foods.
Once you have an idea of what needs the most space, you can start mapping out how you’ll use the kitchen. This isn’t necessarily something you can only do when you’re moving in. You can map out your kitchen’s flow at any point as long as you’re willing to rearrange your cabinets.
The idea here is to think about how you cook and how you move through the kitchen while doing so. What makes logical sense? For example, you will want to have your spices in a cabinet near the stove since you will need to be able to get to them while you cook.
You may want to have your serving bowls and other items closer to the stove, too, so you can transfer your food directly from pots and pans to the bowls and platters without carrying a hot pan across the kitchen. On the other hand, your plates and cups could go closer to the sink so it’s easy to put them away after washing them.
Purge Unused Items
You may have had the best of intentions when you purchased that dehydrator you’ve only used once, or maybe you have moved that zucchini noodle maker your sister bought you for your birthday seven years ago through several different kitchens.
Regardless of what it is or how it came into your possession, there’s no point in keeping kitchen utensils and gadgets that you’re not using. They’re just taking up space. If your kitchen is fairly small, you don’t necessarily have any room to dedicate to these items.
You can apply the “if you haven’t used it in the past year, it’s time to let it go” rule, though there may be some exceptions in the kitchen. For example, you may only use your large roasting pan when you host a family holiday, and depending on how you rotate hosting duties, it could be over a year since you’ve done that.
However, if it’s something you’ve never used or only used a few times years ago, it can likely be donated, sold, or passed on to someone else.
Do You Have Unused Space?
Is there a blank wall in your kitchen that you never use? Maybe you have a lot of space in the middle of your kitchen that seems wasted. There are a few different things you can do to make this usable storage space.
If you’re renting a house in northern Colorado, you may believe that you’re limited to the storage provided, but that’s not always the case. For example, there are many different small temporary islands you can purchase for your kitchen. Some of these islands are even on wheels so you can move them out of the way when you don’t need them.
For wall storage, you will find that baker’s racks are quite affordable. While they are mostly open storage, this can be perfect either to use for some of your items that are more decorative or for those things that you use the most. You simply grab what you need off the rack, and you can always see where the belongings are.
Look in your cabinets, too. Do you see unused space between the items in the cabinet and the next shelf? If so, you can purchase a cabinet shelf rack. These racks are like a floating shelf that sit over the items on the shelf. They typically have very thin metal legs so they don’t get in the way.
For example, you could put your plates under one of these racks and their matching bowls on top of it. It effectively eliminates the wasted vertical space in your cabinets and increases the number of shelves you have.
Another space you may be able to make use of is the back of your pantry door. If you have a full door on your pantry, you can hang a clear organizer such as those made for shoes on it. These deep pockets can be used for many different kitchen gadgets or even boxed foods such as macaroni, pancake mix, and cookie mixes.
It’s a little extra space that can make a huge difference in organizing the kitchen in your house.
Magnets Can Create Storage
There are a number of different kitchen organization products out there that make use of magnets. Many people have seen the simple magnetic stripe that you can stick your knives on, but there are other solutions that make use of magnets.
Magnetic spice jars, for example, can be attached to these magnet stripes or even stuck on your refrigerator. There are even magnetic storage racks that stick to the side of your refrigerator and can hold a number of different items.
Buy the Right Organizers for You
Many people purchase those divided silverware organizers because it seems like everyone has them. But are they the right organizational solution for your kitchen? In some cases, no. Instead of spending money on organizers that don’t really work, think about what does.
If you don’t have a lot of silverware and don’t need any more, maybe a few small baskets will do the trick. You may have no need for a set of kitchen canisters, either. If that’s the case, don’t buy them. Only get the organization items that you will actually use and that you know will help you keep your kitchen from becoming a mess.
Understand that Organizing is an Ongoing Process
While it’s true that the biggest organizational hurdle is going to occur when you either move in or when you decide to rearrange, that’s not necessarily the end of the process. You may buy some new kitchen gadgets, serving bowls, or other items that need to find a home. In that case, you may need to reorganize at least one cabinet.
Normally you don’t have to move everything around, but you may need to reorganize a cabinet here and there, especially those that hold your plastic containers—it seems like the containers and lids often get separated or jumbled up.
Your kitchen pantry, on the other hand, may need to be organized once a year or so. That’s because it can be easy to toss things on the shelves or in baskets when you’re in a hurry.
You may also find that some of the dried goods have been in the pantry for too long. While they may last longer than fresh foods and meat, dried goods can still go bad. Even things like cake mixes can expire. Periodically check all of the dates on your foods and toss anything that is old.
Don’t Forget the Refrigerator
Don’t forget that the refrigerator is also a part of your kitchen and will need to be organized. Like your pantry, it will need to be regularly purged of expired foods, old leftovers, and anything else that has gone bad. You will also want to be sure you organize items in a way that makes sense to you.
You may want to put the foods you regularly use or plan on cooking next towards the front. You could designate specific shelves for certain items, which can help you easily find what you need and see when you’re running low on certain foods.
For frozen foods, be sure you label and date anything that is wrapped in foil or frozen in baggies. The last thing you want is a freezer full of mystery foods.
While making large batches of some foods and freezing them can be a great way of meal prepping, make certain you are actually eating those meals later. If you’re not, you’re both wasting food and space.
These are just a few tips for making sure your kitchen is organized and that you have an idea of what goes where. While the initial organization and cleaning make up an afternoon, once it’s done, all you really have to do is maintain your organization and enjoy your kitchen.