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A well-organized kitchen saves time, energy and money, making life easier.


Published: 08/01/2012

by Helen Buttigieg

A well-organized kitchen is welcoming and also saves time, energy and money. Here are some simple ideas to help you create a nurturing yet functional kitchen.

How to set up an efficient workspace

1. Set up your work area to avoid unnecessary steps and extra trips. In an efficient work area, the sink, stove and fridge should create a triangle. Ideally, they should be no more than a step or pivot apart. For example, it can be hazardous if draining boiling water from stove to sink requires too many steps.

2. Your counter should be treated as prime real estate; keep only the appliances you use every day here. Not enough counter space? Improvise by getting a board wide enough to fit over the sink or fasten a hinged board to the wall and lower it when you need to.

Space-saving ways to store kitchen supplies

1. Store items for easy access so you can find what you need quickly and easily. Rearrange all items in cabinets to correspond with frequency of use. Most often used items should be stored in the most convenient places. Items used less often can be stored higher, unless they are too heavy. Post a list of contents on inside of cabinet door to help you remember what you have in hard-to-reach cabinets.

2. Store items near their point of use -- toaster near plate cupboard; coffeemaker near sink; coffee, measuring spoon and filters close to coffee maker.

3. Nest frying pans to save space, placing the largest on the bottom.

4. Pot lids can be kept in plastic baskets on the inside of cabinet doors.

5. Store the cutlery, plates and glasses that you use every day near the kitchen table to save steps when you set it.

6. Stand baking sheets and pans on their sides on wire divider racks, largest to smallest.

7. Pile plates and bowls on each other but don't mix sizes and types. Stack no more than three items on top of each other, unless they are the same size and type. Put the tallest items at the back of the shelf and the shortest in the front.

8. Hang a cutting board for easy access and to save space.

9. Use a permanent marker to code plastic containers to match their lids -- use letters of the alphabet.

10. Install a rack for wine glasses on the underside of a shelf.

11. Kids' cups and plates should be stored at kid-friendly height to encourage independence.

12. Avoid extra trips from dining area to kitchen by putting the tablecloths in a dining room hutch, rather than a second-floor linen closet.

Organizing food items

1. Group foods in like-kind categories so it's easy to see what you have in stock and avoid overstocking. Materials used only together should be stored together to save time (for example, pasta with sauce).

2. Avoid storing canned foods next to or over the stove. These can deteriorate as a result of the heat. It's better to choose a cool, dry cupboard.

3. Spices can be kept on a tiered platform so the ones at the back don't disappear from view. Buy only the quantity you can use within six months to a year, as spices lose their flavour over time.

4. Opened containers of sugar, flour, cereal and pasta should be poured into stackable, square, plastic, clear containers to keep bugs at bay. Always choose square pans and containers over round; square edges align and round ones don't, so anything round wastes space.

Favourite products

Here are some of my favourite products to help you maximize your kitchen space:

* Drawer dividers. Don't choose the ones with slots moulded to specific shapes, such as spoons, as they limit your options and waste space.

* Three-tiered wire shelf racks allow you to create two or three shelves from one.

* Revolving shelves can be useful for spices and cans.

* A double-tiered Lazy Susan is useful if you have a seldom-used corner space.

* Dish organizers allow you to store plates upright to save space.

* A narrow box keeps pouches of soups and pasta organized and stored upright for easy access.

* A paper and plastic wrap organizer can be usefully installed on cabinet doors.

* Jugs or vases can hold bouquets of small utensils like spatulas and serving spoons if you don't have room to store them in a drawer or cupboard.

Hellen Buttigieg is a professional organizer, coach and host of Neat on HGTV Canada. She is available for speaking engagements and can be reached by phone at 905-829-2219 or by email at For more information, visit

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