I’ve never talked about my kitchen on the blog. I’ve barely even photographed it, because it’s usually a complete disaster. We’d have letters on our countertops, rotting fruit in a bowl, a fridge full of mismatched tupperware, pots and pans on the stove, and mugs – so many frigging mugs – everywhere! Now I LOVE to cook but absolutely hate to clean, so you can imagine how our kitchen could end up being a mess 90% of the time. And living in a small apartment where our kitchen is in direct view meant that when the kitchen was messy, the WHOLE apartment was messy.
The Container Store is currently running their annual 25% kitchen sale event now through April 7th, and they’ve partnered with me to help me figure out how to organize my kitchen and get it in order! This couldn’t have come at a better time because while I finish up my dissertation, Jonathan is actually taking over most of our cooking, so it was really important if we were ever going to make it through this season that our kitchen was clean and functioned well. We’ve reorganized the kitchen to maximize space and function, and we’re confident that our new kitchen organization systems will keep it much cleaner than before!
Before I even placed my order during The Container Store’s Annual Kitchen Sale, I went and opened up all the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen and took note of their current occupants. Then I designated a specific role for each cabinet – one for glassware, one for pots, one for pantry, one for baking & spices, etc. Once each cabinet had a designated role, I was then able to search for the storage and organization solutions at The Container Store that would best help me bring my vision to life. Don’t forget to have a measuring tape handy so you can make sure what you’re ordering fits your cabinets!
I scheduled a deep cleaning on the day my order arrived, because I knew I wouldn’t have the energy to clean AND reorganize. The cleaning service cleaned the inside of my fridge, oven, microwave, and dusted the interior of the cabinets which gave me the perfect starting point for our project.
Glassware, Dinnerware, and Serverware
The first issue in our kitchen was that we had a bunch of broken dishware that we needed to let go of, so first we went through all our plates, bowls, cups, and glasses, and got rid of anything that was chipped, cracked, or not in a full set. We had cups and glasses in three different places – wine and cocktail glasses on the bar cart, water glasses in the cupboard, and some mugs on the counter next to the fridge where we usually make tea, and other mugs in a set on top of the fridge. Talk about disorganized!
It was incredibly important to us to have one cupboard that held ALL our plates and glasses, so I ordered the Upper Cabinet Starter Kit. One of my favorite things about The Container Store is that they’ve created starter kits to make organization easier for you – just pick a kit, customize it to your liking, and keep it moving! Now there’s a place for all our everyday plates, fancy plates, mugs, wine and water glasses.
In the middle cabinet above the sink, I’ve organized all our mixing bowls, glass food storage (I threw away all our take out tupperware), and serving dishes. We used to keep a bunch of random KitchenAid stand mixer accessories at the top, but I moved those above the fridge since we don’t use them as often. A couple shelves from the cabinet starter kit came in handy for this cabinet too, as did my former lid organizer which now holds the lids for our serverware!
The Spice Rack & Baking
We use a lot of different spices when we cook, and although I used to use risers, I still would dig around looking for basil or cumin for minutes before giving up. This acrylic spice rack comes with uniformed clear bottles and labels to drastically improve your spice area! I was a bit surprised that turmeric wasn’t a label option, but otherwise almost all the other labels I needed were there.
I’d already been keeping my flour and sugar in storage containers, but we also use pancake/waffle mix almost every weekend, so I transferred that into a similar container that I saved from the pantry and just wrote the recipes on a sticky note. I also moved our muffin tins and bake pans to this cupboard from where they were in the bottom cabinet beside the fridge.
Pots & Pans
Pots were another issue for us, as it never seemed like we had enough storage for them. We kept some pots in the cabinet beside the fridge and some in a nifty shelf that I hung up with command hooks (one of my proudest DIYs in the house!) above the sink, but they mostly sat on top of the stove. I decided to move the pots closer to the stovetop where they’re used (essentially switched that cabinet with our lower pantry), and installed a roll out cabinet drawer to make it easy to store big pots in the back. These cabinet organizers come in a ton of sizes, so I was able to find one that perfectly fit into this narrow cabinet but was big enough to hold my beloved stew pot! To save space, I also added an over cabinet lid holder and got rid of two lids we never used.
Now that I’d moved all the pots and bakeware from their prior location, I was able to turn all the cabinets on the side of the fridge into a functional pantry. For the top cabinet, I added a few extra POP canisters to hold dried goods like grains and seeds – these things are seriously AMAZING and one of the easiest ways to tidy up a pantry. There come in a wide range of sizes to accommodate anything from pasta and rice to dried beans and ugali.
My ultimate favorite part of this kitchen reorganization is our new tea station. Jonathan drinks tea almost every day (shout out to all my Kenyans!) and he’s gotten me drinking it much more often. We used to keep a bunch of teas inside the cabinet, but also had some in a bowl on the counter for quick grabs. Now that all the mugs were moved to their proper place, there’s way more space on the counter so you can actually make tea in one place. This modular bin is the perfect size for holding tea bags, and I even have a slot for coffee for when our friends & family come to visit. Our unused bread box came down from the top of the fridge and now holds snacks and supplements.
In the bottom cabinet, I installed a different pull out cabinet organizer – this one has a base which makes it easier to place smaller items like oils and the basket I now use for onions, garlic, potatoes, and plantain. Kitchen tools like our mortar and pestle and grater are now in this cupboard, as well as the smoothie cups and slow cooker. I also installed a pull out lid organizer which I’m using to store the cutting boards. Removing them from the countertop cleared out a ton of visual space!
Fridge & Freezer
The only thing that our fridge was doing right before was keeping our food cold, and separating meats from veggies. I had fridge bins but they were too big to create useful division, so The Container Store’s fridge starter kit was a huge help. I also read up on the proper way to organize your fridge – drinks and leftovers closer to the top, eggs & dairy nearer to the middle, meats and veggies at the bottom where they’re kept most cool. Cans have their own place, as do eggs and wine bottles.
While our fridge has drawers, I’d routinely forget about spinach or other vegetables that was kept in them, so I switched out one of our drawers to a clear one by finding the model number online. Now I can store veggies and remember to eat them before they wilt! I’ve also moved much of our fruit to the fridge, because keeping it out on the counter led to a lot of spoilage. Although we’d love to be the kind of people who leave fruit out and can eat it all, it’s just two of us and we’re trying to be much less wasteful.
I’m ashamed to say our freezer had a ham in it from Thanksgiving 2017 ? so that had to go! I added a repurposed shelf and some bins from the starter kit to separate my African foodstuffs, frozen meats, and frozen veggies.
The cabinet above the fridge now holds miscellaneous items that we don’t use that frequently – our rice cooker, veggie spiralizer, KitchenAid attachments, plastic plates, etc. All the KitchenAid attachments are in one of the bins that used to be in fridge – corralling them together makes it easy to take a whole tray down to find the attachment we need rather than rummaging and creating a mess! Additional serving trays and bowls that are too large to fit in the cabinets now rest on the top of the fridge.
Under the Sink
I’d actually prided myself on having a pretty organized under sink area thanks to an awesome lazy susan that was on our wedding registry (shout out to the people who got us the mundane things!). But I knew it could be even better, and I proved myself right with the help of an expandable undersink organizer, which has nifty drawers that hold all our vacuum attachments and kitchen towels.
Trash & Recycling
I would have loved a pull out garbage can, but we also don’t like taking garbage out frequently so needed a bigger garbage option. For a while we managed with these trash cans, but although they were narrow, they wouldn’t fit side by side together without hitting the fridge door whenever it was opened. This meant that we threw away eggs, we’d have to walk to one trash can to put the shells, and another trash can to recycle the case. So annoying! During our staycation at June Homes, I saw a dual trash/recycler and KNEW we had to have one in our kitchen! The best part about this dual recycler is that the garbage bags are stored inside the back of the can, so now Jonathan never has an excuse for forgetting to replace the bag.
Keeping It Decluttered
Now that everything has a precise place in the kitchen, it’s much easier to keep it clean. Dishes can’t accumulate in the sink anymore because we’ve got a strainer there permanently – awesome for washing fruits & veggies, draining pasta, and clearing up counter space while doing food prep. The countertops are completely clear – all mail has been diverted to a cubby in the living room, the cutting boards and mortar are now hidden in drawers, and the fruit bowl is smaller and meant only for bananas (I may get a banana holder instead!).
I’m absolutely in LOVE with my reorganized kitchen, and I’m so happy that I was able to create it with the help of The Container Store! You can also take advantage of the kitchen sale and save on kitchen storage to help you organize your kitchen, declutter your kitchen, and organization systems to declutter your kitchen and make it more efficient!