How to Organize Kitchen Cabinets (In a “Normal” Kitchen)

Make your kitchen efficient for the entire family with these simple tips on how to organize your kitchen cabinets and drawers. You will love spending time in your kitchen once you maximize your storage!

kitchen cabinet organization

Having a kitchen that is efficient is a really high priority for me! As a person who is really busy and really loves to cook, I need to make it as simple as possible to spend quality time in the kitchen. I want to spend my time cooking or baking something delicious, not trying to find a measuring cup or the lid to the pot I am using. A few key kitchen organization ideas have saved my sanity!

If you have been around for a while you will probably remember when we did a massive kitchen renovation to our old house. We learned so much doing that and we brought that knowledge into organizing our kitchen this time around.

When we moved in and realized we had fewer and less functional cabinets, I got busy making small improvements to make them work as well as possible. We got all of our kitchen storage arranged efficiently from the dish cabinets to the pantry organization to the cabinet under the kitchen sink, and it has made life so much easier. The key to it all though is to start with the best kitchen cabinet organization ideas and it will all flow from there!

I am giving you all my best tips for creating an organized kitchen space that works FOR YOU. All of our kitchens are arranged differently, but they all have the same basics–appliances, cupboards, some counter space and kitchen drawers. Maximizing the space you have while making it easy to move in the area while using it is the real goal. Smart organization is what makes it possible!

Tips for Organizing Your Kitchen Cabinets

Organizing your kitchen cabinets is a two-step process! PLEASE I am begging you, do step one before you even think about moving forward. It is impossible, not to mention overwhelming, to try to organize things you don't want or need! Once step one is complete, you can safely start moving through the ways to make your kitchen efficient and organized.

Step 1: Declutter Your Kitchen Cabinets

Do you dread cooking in your kitchen because it's full of clutter and not organized? If so, you are not alone! Kitchen clutter is a very real problem. Here's how to declutter your cabinets which you absolutely MUST do before trying to organize them.

Remove and put away any items that belong in other rooms.

Use a basket to collect items that belong in other rooms and return them to their proper homes.

Clear and declutter one cabinet at a time.

For cabinets and drawers that store non-food items, focus on the following: Get rid of any items that you don’t use, you don’t like, you feel obligated to keep because they were a gift or that don’t fit in the space/are difficult to store. Be sure to also get rid of anything that is not in proper working order.

For cabinets and drawers that store food items, focus on the following: Check labels and throw away anything that has expired (yes, spices and many other things go bad folks)! Gather together non-perishable food items that you simply don’t like or will not use and take them to a local food bank. If it’s perishable but you know you won’t eat it or use it, find someone to give it to or throw it away.

Decide what to donate, sell, or toss.

Consider selling quality items that you simply don’t use on eBay, Facebook or Craigslist. But don’t delay in taking action! For those items that are not “sale worthy,” donate them to a local charity or thrift shop, such as Goodwill (be sure to get a receipt of your donation in case your tax professional determines that your donation is tax-deductible). Toss anything that is broken or useless.

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Step 2: Organize Your Kitchen Cabinets

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that we gave our kitchen a budget-friendly makeover, and it wasn't just about painting the kitchen cabinets and making it pretty. We focused a lot on organization and function for maximum efficiency. Here are my tips for organized kitchen cabinets (that will keep you from wanting to pull your hair out).

Make sure items you use every single day are easy to access.

Easy access to certain things like bowls and mugs is important, while you may not need your gravy separator or your oyster knife quite as often! Make sure you put everyday items in easily accessible spots. Your dishes should be organized and easy to reach. What you don't need can go into the hard-to-reach cabinets and the dark recesses of the pantry.If you find yourself having to dig for or get a ladder to reach something you use regularly, you need to relocate it.

All of our dishes are on the lower shelves of our upper cabinets so that everyone in our family can reach them. But we store the fondue set and pancake griddle in the cabinet above the refrigerator that's hard to reach because we don't use them often.

We have a separate walk-in pantry where we store our food (we recently tackled a budget-friendly pantry makeover). But if you don't have a dedicated pantry, check out these amazing tips for organizing your food in kitchen cabinets.

Add pull-outs to your lower cabinets.

When we renovated our last kitchen, we opted for all of our base cabinets to have drawers, and we LOVED them! Drawers are so much easier to keep organized than cabinets. One of the biggest reasons kitchen cabinets become disorganized is that they become a jumbled mess. This is particularly true if you are like us and have base cabinets as opposed to large lower drawers. A cabinet full of pots and pans isn't easy to keep tidy and it's very hard to find what you need when it's a mess.

We were pretty bummed to realize that our current kitchen has almost all base cabinets–we had gotten used to the convenience of drawers. The good news is you can easily add pull-out shelves and organizers to make your base cabinets super functional and easy to keep organized! I highly recommend these, especially if you are going to stay in your home for any amount of time. And keep in mind you only need the ones that work in your kitchen and for your organizational needs.

In our kitchen we installed a new pull-out trash can/recycling system, an under-the-sink organizer, a pots and pans organizer, and a double-pull out for our larger pots and pans. You can see photos of everything in our kitchen below. You can also watch this Instagram story highlight to see me demonstrate/talk about everything and how it's used! I've also included links to the cabinet organizers below the photos :)

I love that the different pullouts are designed for specific jobs. It's not just for pots and pans! The one for cleaning supplies and sponges keeps the cabinet under the sink from becoming a black hole of cleaning products, dish detergent, paper towels, garbage bags and anything else you need.

I hate seeing the garbage can and there was no good place in our kitchen for one. Adding a pullout that connects to your drawer hides it perfectly, but it is still super accessible when you need it!

pots and pans organized on a pull-out rack
Rev-a-shelf trash can pull out with rev-a-motion
Rev-a-Shelf pots and pans organizers
under the sink organizer on pull out shelf

Scroll and click on any image for full product details.

Maximize your drawer storage.

We also worked hard to maximize our drawer storage, because we only have 3 small drawers in the work zone portion of our kitchen. Yes, you read that correctly!

I found the most AWESOME space-saving utensil and knife storage. We were able to combine TWO drawers' worth of stuff into a single drawer because of these genius products! Yes, that's all of our utensils AND knives in one small drawer. And YES, our drawer still opens and shuts easily (I even show you in my Instagram stories that you can watch HERE). I know lots of people love a knife block and a jar of cooking utensils in their cooking station but I don't love visual clutter. So if you are like me and NEED those things tucked away, go with maximizing your drawer storage space!

space saving utensil storage

I also found these really cool clear stacking organizers that allowed us to condense a lot of our miscellaneous kitchen stuff. A lot of people jam all these in a drawer and then don't even know what they have and definitely can't see it all. That is what makes this one of the best storage solutions for kitchen tools I have seen–it solves those problems! The top stack slides back and forth and can be taken off completely to access what's on the bottom. I love them! I'm linking to all of the drawer organizers that we used below.

space saving kitchen drawer organization
space saving kitchen drawer organization

Scroll and click on any image for full product details.

Create zones of similar items.

Zones make everything easier. By putting everything together in the space where you need it, your time in the kitchen is instantly more efficient. For example, we have a drawer for just kid stuff that includes plastic bowels, water bottles, lunch-making stuff, etc. Making lunches is quick and the girls can access everything they need in the kitchen! If your kids like to snack and you are tired of having to fix them and tired of them ravaging your pantry, have a snack zone with everything they are allowed to grab ready for them.

organized drawer with bamboo dividers

If you bake a lot, create a zone just for baking with your supplies and ingredients. We also have a “workspace” zone which is where we do all of our food prep for meals. We can easily reach knives, glass storage, pots and pans and our trash can.

Another very popular zone is our coffee bar which is right off of our kitchen (here are some awesome coffee bar ideas). I know personally that the last thing I want to do in the morning when I am barely awake is walk all over my kitchen just to make my coffee. I used an old thrifted dresser that I painted to keep the coffee maker, mugs, and everything we use to make our coffee all in one spot. We also keep our items to make tea there.

coffee nook with dresser

Use drawer dividers in large drawers.

We use these bamboo drawer dividers in the few large drawers to keep everything organized. Then you don't have crazy jumbled drawers every time you open and close them. We use them in our “kid stuff/lunch packing” drawer to keep everything organized and easy to find. Take advantage of drawer dividers for keeping larger items in drawers organized.

organized drawer with bamboo dividers

Use the back of cabinet doors for extra storage.

To maximize every inch of space, use the back of your cabinet doors. We use plastic hooks on the back of our upper cabinet doors for hot pads and oven mitts, but you can also use them for dish towels. You can also use hooks to hang big tongs, grilling implements, or large spoons that don't fit easily in a drawer. It is also simple to attach adhesive plastic bins on the back of the door for small items, cleaning supplies like sponges, and other odds and ends! Keeping track of small things is important because otherwise they just get tossed in a drawer and lost.

organized cabinet with pot holders hanging on door

Organize your junk drawer.

Everyone needs a “junk drawer”, but that doesn't mean it should be junky! We all need a catch-all spot for all the odds and ends of life that otherwise end up sitting on the counters or getting lost. I organized our junk drawer with this simple set of drawer organizers! No regrets.

space saving kitchen drawer organization

Y'all, we LOVE our kitchen now. LOVE IT. It's not only our style now, but it functions well for our family, too! Never underestimate what you can accomplish with paint and some organizing supplies!!!

Tools to Help you Organize your Kitchen

Now, let's talk about some other items that will help you achieve the ultimate kitchen cabinet organization.

Expandable kitchen cabinet shelves. You can effectively double the amount of storage in some of your upper cabinets by adding adjustable shelves. It's quick, easy and very effective.

expandable kitchen cabinet shelves

Pan Organizer Rack. If you don't want to add pull-outs to your lower cabinets, you can stack those pans in an orderly fashion with a simple pan organizer rack. I love this system for maximizing cupboard space and making it easy to grab the pan you want without having to juggle a whole stack. That is especially helpful when you need a pan quickly or if you have dirty hands!

pan organizers

Cookie Sheet/Cutting Board Organizer. Make your cutting boards, cookie sheets and muffin tins easily accessible with a simple organizer that allows you to store them vertically. That way, they are easy to slide out one at a time. No more clanging around your cabinets looking for your cookie sheets. This is an excellent use of kitchen cabinet space and makes life so much easier.

cookie sheet and cutting board organizers

Sliding Drawers for Lower Cabinets. If you plan to stay in your current house for a long time, why not go ahead and install sliding drawers for some or all of your lower cabinets? Talk about increasing your storage and making it more accessible! We love our pull-out drawers for storing pots and pans.

sliding drawers for lower cabinets

Add functional spice storage. There are lots of different options for storing spices, but these are two of my favorites. Also, just as an aside on spices, you can put them all in labeled matching glass jars if that makes you happy and feel more organized, but it's not a must! The most important thing it to have them accessible and organized! I have also seen epic spice drawer ideas, but since we have so few drawers, I didn't want to use one on spices.

The first is a chicken wire spice rack that is pretty enough to hang on a wall out in the open. Of course, you could also hang it inside a cabinet door if you want to keep it hidden.

hanging spice rack

My other favorite is the Pull Down Cabinet Spice Rack. It's exactly what it sounds like… You can pull it down and out of the cabinet so you can easily see what you are looking for!

pull down spice rack

Click on any image below for full product details.

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  1. I’ve really been enjoying your organizing tips. I live in a VERY small house with no garage, carport, basement, or attic! I’ve been working on decluttering and organizing for the last few months, and still have a ways to go, but at least I’m making progress and heading in the right direction. I’m using pullouts in some of my lower cabinets as you suggested, but to maximize space, I added a shelf over the sink and keep my dishes and most pots and pans there. If you have pretty dishes, why not keep them on display so that closed storage can be used for less pretty things? I also found a good and super-cheap way to keep spices organized. I found some plastic spice racks that can be mounted on the inside of a cabinet door. I probably should say, “spice clips” because they consist of a strip with several sets of “arms” that easily snap around a variety of sizes and shapes of spice bottles, holding them in place. While not the prettiest solution I’ve seen, it works for me. Having the spices on the back of a cabinet door means they take up virtually no cabinet or drawer space, but are still easily accessible.