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Want to Stay Organized in the Kitchen? Create Zones

Want to Stay Organized? Create Zones

What is the best way to organize a kitchen? If you want to get organized and stay organized, set up zones. It uses the same organizing principle of keeping like things together but takes it a step further by creating broader categories for everything in the room.

Organizing Tip: store things in the room in which you use them

 The kitchen is one of the best places to start because it already has well defined zones such as a cooking zone, prep zone and clean up zone. To gain the most efficiency in your kitchen, it’s important to store things so they are close to these primary zones.

Cooking, Baking & Stovetop Zones

I like to categorize my cabinets by type and have one cabinet strictly for baking pans, cookie sheets and cooling racks, another cabinet for cooktop pots and saucepans and another for oven-safe pans and casserole dishes. Place these items conveniently nearby:

  • Cooking utensils

  • Hot pads

  • Trivets

  • Spices

Prep Zone

This is the zone where you need to allow the most space. It is where you chop, mix and prepare your food. The best location is the countertop next to your sink or an island if you need more elbow room. Ideally, you want everything centralized here, so you won’t have to walk to another part of your kitchen to grab something. Keep the following items in this zone:

  • Cutting boards

  • Measuring cups and spoons

  • Mixing bowls

  • Strainers

  • Food processors, mixers and blenders

  • Knives, mixing spoons, kitchen tools and gadgets

  • Openers

Clean Up Zone

This one is easy - your clean up zone should be close to your sink and garbage can. It is the place where you put leftovers in storage containers and where your dishwashing supplies are located. If these things are not already within a step or two of the sink, take some time to rearrange.

  • Food storage containers and wraps

  • Dish cloths and towels

Pantry Zone

One rule of thumb I follow is to only put food items in your pantry. However, if you have a large pantry, I recommend designating a section that is just for food, then set aside another zone for baking ingredients, canned foods, pasta, rice, snacks and beverages. Continue with other non-food items such as, paper goods, serving platters, pitchers, canning, etc. Then, make separate zones for things such as large appliances and supplies that are only used occasionally. The more you can categorize and subdivide the space, the more easily it will be to find and put things away.

Organizing Tip: When arranging thing on your shelves, follow this guide:

  • Place the things you use most often at eye level

  • Place heavy items on the bottom shelves

  • Place items used less frequently on top shelves


Specialty Zones

Do you have a passion for a certain type of food or style of cooking? If so, create a zone for those things that you love. In my home, I have one cabinet solely dedicated to coffee & tea, another one for popcorn (my husband’s nightly addiction) and another cabinet reserved for appetizer plates since we love to entertain. One of my clients has an affinity for Italian cooking and set aside an entire cabinet for those items.


Use a Zone Offense

Create zones in every area of your home. Use zones to help with incoming mail and office filing. It is especially helpful in garages which tends to be a dumping zone. Create separate storage areas for automotive supplies, painting supplies, hardware, electrical, recreation and so on.


My Best Advice

Name your cabinets and name your drawers. Use dividers in drawers to further categorize items and use separate bins or trays to hold like items such as vinegars or oils. As silly as it may sound, this will save a lot of time when you get questions like, “Where is the can opener?” In fact, I guarantee that if you create zones, you will soon find that you won’t get those questions anymore.


Happy Organizing!



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