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30 Ways to Control Kitchen Clutter

June 30 2009

Simple storage ideas offer effective organization in the kitchen.

Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens®

Storage Tips 1-5

Cleaning and organizing are important aspects of preparing to show your home for sale. Don’t overlook one of the most important rooms: the kitchen. It’s an area that can easily become overrun with, well, stuff. Stuff to cook with, stuff to help you cook, stuff from the mailbox, stuff from the car. The kitchen is usually a place to drop things off as people move through the house.

Some simple changes will make a big difference in the appearance and organization of your kitchen. It will benefit you and can also impress the potential buyers. Show them how accommodating your kitchen can be. From customized cabinetry to no-install containers, find out what you can do to clear up the clutter fast.


1. Bring the pantry closer to you. A pullout pantry system has wire shelf sides that prevent items from falling out and allow easy viewing of the contents. Pullout pantry systems, especially those that extend into toe-kick space near the floor, must be installed perfectly level and plumb to operate smoothly.

2. Take cabinets to the top. If you’re planning for new cabinetry, choose designs that reach the ceiling rather than those topped by a soffit. Although high-rise storage is more difficult to reach, it can conveniently conceal infrequently used items.

3. Specify upper cabinets that rest on the countertop. Shelves positioned between your shoulders and waist require no reaching to store stacks of dinnerware.

4. Shift dry goods into airtight, stackable containers. Often, packaged food products can be stored more compactly when transferred from their packaging into stacking containers.

5. Install a wire wall grid to keep kitchen tools handy. Turn a bare section of wall into a hook-and-hang center. For more storage, add accessories, such as spice racks and cookbook holders.

30 Ways to Control Kitchen Clutter

Stackable containers provide
compact storage. Image courtesy of

Storage Tips 6-10

6. Store spice bottles one deep, on their sides with labels visible, in shallow drawers, instead of stacking them, says organization consultant Ginny Scott of California Closets in Portland, Oregon. The best location for spice storage is below a cooktop or to the side of your range. The flavor of spices stored above a cooking surface may be adversely affected by the heat.

30 Ways to Control Kitchen Clutter

To retain flavor, store spices
away from a direct heat source.

30 Ways to Control Kitchen Clutter

Make the most of shallow storage

7. Claim shallow storage spaces. It’s easier to see what’s on hand when items aren’t hidden behind each other.

8. Divide your drawer space. Adjustable inserts help organize flatware and other items inside your drawers. When designing custom drawer space, specify shallow drawers to store utensils one deep for easy viewing.

9. Choose full-extension pullouts. Drawers and trays that extend fully allow the use of back corners without having to reach deep into cabinets to retrieve a pot or small appliance. You may prefer drawers because they save having to first open a set of doors.

30 Ways to Control Kitchen Clutter

Save precious space with a door
storage rack. Image courtesy of
Merillat Industries.

10. Attach racks to the inside of cabinet doors to boost storage options. Be sure to allow enough clearance within your cabinets for racks that tidily stow paper products.

Storage Tips 11-15

11. Adjust shelves to fit specific contents. Choose adjustable shelves that can be as widely or closely spaced as necessary. Professional organizers recommend measuring your stacked dishes to determine the shelf height your dishware requires.

30 Ways to Control Kitchen Clutter

Measure stacked dishes to
determine the required shelf space.
Image courtesy of SieMatic Corp.


12. Make the most of between-shelf spaces. Wire baskets that hang from shelves let you fill unclaimed “air space” with more food items, dishware, or linens.

13. Retrofit cabinets with tray dividers, slide-out bins, and plate stackers. Bins are especially useful for containing and organizing small items, such as tea bags, spice packets, and gelatin boxes.

 30 Ways to Control Kitchen Clutter

Spare cabinet space with cup hooks.
Image courtesy of The Container Store.

14. Avoid stacking or nesting items that fit badly together, such as cups with handles. Use cup hooks that attach to the bottom of an upper shelf, and pull out for access.

15. Keep things conveniently out in the open. Pot racks make use of space above an island. Keep in mind that pots displayed on a rack look picture-perfect only when they aren’t used much.

Storage Tips 16-20

16. Store shallow items, such as cutting boards and platters, upright. Even narrow spaces next to your range or your sink can be used in this manner. Use dividers to separate items for easier retrieval.

30 Ways to Control Kitchen Clutter

Pots and pans are easy to access
hung above an island. Image
courtesy of Enclume Design
Products, Inc.


17. Put unused space to work. Incorporate shallow drawers into the toe-kick space below lower cabinets to hold a folding step stool, dustpan, or newspapers for recycling.

18. Fill in the space under a cooktop with a tilt-out tray for spices and roll-out trays for pots and pans. Or, slide in a movable cart with shelves to accommodate cooking equipment.

30 Ways to Control Kitchen Clutter

Store stuff neatly in an
under-the-sink organizer. Image
is courtesy of Snaidero USA.

19. Wrap storage around plumbing lines and ductwork. A wire unit fits around the water lines and drain pipe under a sink, a handy spot for cleaning supplies. (Avoid storing food items in areas that may get too warm.)

30 Ways to Control Kitchen Clutter

Keep things out of the way — but
handy — in side shelving on an

20. Add shelves or niches to the end of a cabinet run. The side of an island or cabinet is a prime spot for storing cookbooks and displaying kitchen collectibles.

Storage Tips 21-25

21. Combine open and closed storage for visual interest and accessibility. An arrangement of pantry, wine cubbies, and open shelves makes use of often-wasted space around a refrigerator.

30 Ways to Control Kitchen Clutter

Open and closed storage
accommodates a variety of items.


30 Ways to Control Kitchen Clutter

Hang towels out to dry on a
pullout rack.

22. Keep dish towels in a cubbyhole close to the cleanup zone. Use a pullout towel rack with more than one bar to air-dry and store towels.

30 Ways to Control Kitchen Clutter

Easily sort recyclables in a
four-bin unit. Image is
courtesy of HomeCrest Cabinetry.

23. Round up your recycling. A four-bin unit lets you sort recyclables, then conceal them behind doors. The most convenient location for this unit is next to the sink so cans and bottles can go straight from a rinse into the appropriate bin. Or, choose a location near the door where you exit the house to limit how far you must lug the bins.

24. Free up counter space with built-in and mounted appliances. Mount a can opener beneath an upper cabinet, a knife holder inside a cabinet door, and a television high on the wall.

25. Group items by size. “This is the best way to use space more efficiently,” says organization consultant Alice Winner of Hummelstown, Pennsylvania, especially when you size shelves to fit the groupings. Keep in mind, however, that grouping similarly sized items that serve different functions, such as tall cereal boxes and a blender, may take more time when you’re searching for something.

Storage Tips 26-30

26. Move kitchen items you don’t use every day into other rooms. “An empty chest or armoire in your living room can store extra dishware,” says productivity and organization consultant Lynn Meyer of All About Time in Chicago.

27. Set up a streamlined household communications center. Conceal a message board or calendar on the back of a closet or cabinet door. Use baskets or cubbyholes, one for each family member, in a closet or cabinet to sort mail, and stash pens and notepaper.



Customize storage units to
maximize kitchen space.

28. Get creative when designing custom storage. Next to this pullout pantry, stemware hangs from slots above a pass-through, and cubbyholes near the ceiling house wine bottles.

30 Ways to Control Kitchen Clutter

Keep related items close together
in a preparation zone.

29. Group items by task, then stash the groupings near work zones. In this beverage preparation zone, stemware and glasses are stashed next to a wine cooler.

30. Designate a temporary clutter-holding zone. A basket, for example, can house odds and ends belonging in other rooms until you have time to return them to their rightful places. Sort and return the items in the basket daily, however, or you’ll have a clutter catcher rather than a solution.