To this day, one of my favorite movies is the Disney classic “Snow White.”
…and not because of the handsome prince or the romance of “true love’s kiss,” but because of the joy I feel in my heart when I see Snow White take the dwarves’ drab, dirty little cottage and turn it into a lovely little hideaway worthy of Better Homes & Gardens. With the help of some extremely talented forest animals, of course.
Fortunately, even if your animals’ only tricks are “sit” and “roll over”, you can rest assured that it is possible to create a clean, organized and homey kitchen (regardless of size) with just a few simple principles.
1. Group “like” things together.
Often, one of the most disorganized and messy parts of a kitchen is what is behind closed doors – especially the pantry. It becomes very easy to let things get disorganized when you’ve got a myriad of items and only a few shelves. The easiest way to wrangle this mess is to clear things out and group similar items together, creating several “categories” as you go. For me, this equates to “convenience snacks” like fruit leathers, lara bars, popcorn, etc, “coffee & tea” which includes all of the obvious beverage supplies, “paper goods,” “dry goods” which includes my baking soda/powder, cocoa, etc., and “lunch box supplies.” Other great categories can be spices, canned goods, etc. I even have little containers for my chip clips and straws!
2. Pick up some cheap, appropriately sized containers.
The dollar store or “value” section of your local supermarket (the Target front dollar section is my personal jam) will be your best friend here. Look for plastic bins that can corral your “like” items together. It’s great if you can find matching ones or even some with a fun design orpattern. Adding a little “decor” to your organization system will help keep you motivated to keep it pretty! In addition, several different sizes of similar hinged-lid glass jars work as great canisters that allow you to easily see when you’re running low on flour or your favorite grain (like quinoa).
3. Get your label on.
There is nothing like a pretty label to help you (and the rest of your family) keep track of where things need to go. And you don’t need an expensive label maker to make them! One idea is to follow my lead by making some faux chalkboard labels with a bit of black card stock and a white paint pen!
4. Utilize drawer organizers.
Using small organizers that you can find everywhere from the famed “Container Store” to your local dollar store, you can easily keep your drawer clean and organized. Place the items you use most towards the front in their own containers (I have small mini-bins for my measuring cups and spoons) and items you use less often towards the back. In addition, an in-drawer knife block is a great way to keep your knives organized and in good condition, without having to have them out in the open (and easily accessible for little ones!).
5. Minimize and compartmentalize your tupperware storage.
The cabinet that stores all of your “food storage” items is often the most terrifying cabinet in one’s kitchen. It’s one of those “how quickly can I open the door and shove this in before everything falls out” kind of cabinets…but it doesn’t have to be. There are two tricks to keeping this from being your reality. First, evaluate how much tupperware you really need. Personally, I’ve found that having a few different sizes of cylinder shaped tupperware (for things like soups, sauces, etc.) and then a few different sizes of square/rectangular tupperware (with a few pieces of each size) are more than enough for my food storage needs.
Once you are able to reduce your items, pick up a few medium bins that will fit just inside your cabinet sort of like a “drawer.” Then group your tupperware by shape/size in each bin and slide it in a lower cabinet! This system keeps things organized and from tumbling out and also puts a “cap” on the amount of tupperware you can accumulate. Plus it’s way cheaper than any built-in drawer system you can find!
6. Roll up the rags.
I have minimal drawer space in my house, so I had to get creative with things that would normally require a drawer. Enter this slim basket of dish rags. I simply roll up my dish rags for easy access and slide the basket onto the top shelf of the “slimline” cabinet that is commonly next to sinks. This allows for another “makeshift” drawer that keeps my dish rags under control and out of sight!
7. Go liner crazy.
Drawer lining paper isn’t just for drawers anymore. On top of protecting the insides of your drawers, it can act as a pretty pantry backdrop, shelf paper for often-used cabinets, a fun adhesive label for your recycling system, or even a pretty background to see through glass-fronted cabinetry. And don’t feel like you’re relegated to standard contact paper prints… a little bit of spray adhesive can be combined with a myriad of paper products – from wrapping paper to your favorite scrapbook print – to achieve the same look!
8. Have fun with colorful/pretty kitchen items.
Don’t feel like you have to purchase extra decorative items in order to have a pretty kitchen. Instead, use colorful or clean-lined kitchen items that you already own to up the ante of your kitchen decor. Brightly colored kitchen utensils grouped in a fun utensil holder adds an extra pop of color beside the stove, or a pretty display of your favorite cookbooks show off your greatest sources of kitchen inspiration. Other great options might include a favorite pitcher with some fresh flowers or even a small chalkboard with your weekly menu plan!