Kitchen Organization Questions, Answered By an Expert

Set up– “things in place.” It’s the first thing any culinary school student learns, the first thing any beginner cook learns online at a restaurant. You need to keep your things in place, your work space clean, your tools and ingredients organized. But there are so many moving parts: plates and wine glasses, cereal bowls and cutlery, spices and pantry items, serving dishes and roasters, utensils and baking supplies. Where should you even start?

To set you on the path to organized happiness, Charlene Tea, IKEA interior design specialist, answered the pressing questions you shared about kitchen storage on @goodhousekeeping. The best part? Her advice and product suggestions below apply to every kitchen, whatever its size, whether rented or owned.

1. How to get the most out of the organization of the lower cabinet? What are the strategies to use under the sink, pots and pans or countertops?

Interior organization is a matter of inserts. For the lower cupboards, Tea suggests using UTRUSTA separation wires to keep items like baking sheets and lids in check, and sliding metal baskets for pots, pans and small appliances.

“No more rummaging through your cupboards to find things in the back,” says Tea. “Plate holder or bins with handles it’s easier to grab items from lower cabinets, and it’s a natural way to keep items contained and organized. “

storage unit under black sink


Under the sink, she recommends installing a sliding tray system to have easier access to cleaning products, as well as garbage cans and recycling bins. “Store your cleaning supplies in easy-to-clean bins and use shelf inserts to take advantage of the vertical height to store more items,” she says.

2. What are the best uses for upper cabinets? How do you organize them to make them as effective as possible?

gray upper cabinets


Since the upper cabinets are at eye level, use them for everyday items you want to access, such as plates and glassware. “You want to prioritize frequently used items,” says Tea, adding that the cabinets should be classified by use.

“Make sure to separate food from dishes, cookware and utensils, so that each cabinet is sorted by type to help differentiate,” says Tea. Things like cooking oils and spices should be placed in a cabinet near the stove, while dishes should be near the sink or dishwasher.

If you have a small kitchen with limited cabinetry, Tea says you can use the shelves to create separation between the types of items. “Do not forget shelf inserts or glass racks are very useful for saving space and maximizing the use of storage, ”she adds.

She also notes that you should make full use of the vertical space available, by storing seasonal or rarely used items on the highest shelves or even above your cupboards.

3. My pantry is a MESS but we rent so I don’t want to install anything. What can I do?

pantry shelves


According to Tea, the first step in renovating a tenant-friendly pantry is to readjust your shelves. “Keep the food you use most often at an easy to reach level and try to group food in similar heights to maximize your space, so you can store as much as you can while wasting as little as possible,” says she.

If you need more shelves, use inserts to create additional levels for cans and jars with a variety of heights and sort foods by type, so the items you use together are close to each other – or better yet, grouped in their own basket and labeled.

Hermetic Plastic or glass containers are also a must for dry products like pasta, cereals, flour and sugar. “Storing your food in clear containers shows what you have and how much, which makes it easier to plan your grocery shopping,” says Tea. “They also make everything neat and tidy.”

She suggests using all available corners. “Use the back of the cabinet door and attach small items such as snacks or sachets of sauce so they don’t get lost,” she says.

4. What strategies are best for organizing in a small kitchen?

The first step in an organized little kitchen? “Purge!” said the tea. “Browse all your utensils, gadgets and small appliances, leaving only the items you use and really need.”

And take advantage of the wall space: “Hang rails and hooks to store small kitchen accessories or hanging utensils. It can free up valuable space in drawers and cupboards for other items, “says Tea, adding: KUNGSFORS system allows you to customize smart wall storage with options such as shelves, hooks and clips all connected together. “

For food storage, buy transparent stackable containers, making it easier to see what you have while saving space. If possible, add a little cart or kitchen cart. “It provides additional storage and another work surface when you need it,” says Tea.

5. What organized drawers look like – everything from utensils to herbs and spices!

organized kitchen drawers


An organized drawer makes items easy to find. The key to doing this rests on inserts – no messy tangle of utensils, no loose jars of spices rolling around and no clutter of plastic containers. IKEA has more than a dozen various trays and utensil and cutlery trays, as well as inserts for your most used items. Mix and match to find the perfect combination to fit your drawers.

6. How would you balance a closed organization with open storage?

stainless steel kitchen


Tea likes a combination of open and closed storage in the kitchen. “Having open storage is a nice balance,” she says, noting that it allows you to show off your favorite pieces and keep everyday items close at hand. Open shelves also take up less visual space, creating a more spacious look in the kitchen.

Closed storage is equally important, however, and protects your items from grease and dust. “Consider having only open storage space for your daily needs,” notes Tea. Cabinet doors will keep your items dirt-free and safe when you really need it.

For more inspiration and advice on kitchen design, visit

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