Blog by Beebe Cline

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How to Organize Your Kitchen Cabinets, One at a Time

Kitchen cabinet doors and drawers can hide a multitude of sins. On the other hand, it’s a real treat to open them up to see nice, organized shelves where everything is easy to grab when and where you need it.

Is it time to organize your kitchen cabinets? It can be a big job, so don’t try to do it all at once. Take your organizing one kitchen cabinet at a time, committing an hour a day or a weekend to the task.

How to Clean and Organize Your Kitchen Cabinets

Start with something easy, like your everyday dishes. Follow these basic steps, which you can then apply to all your kitchen cabinets and drawers.

1. Gather some tools. Have cleaning supplies and a box for donations ready. Gather bubble wrap or newspaper for wrapping up any breakables you’ll be donating.

2. Assess your cabinet. Check out the way everything is organized (or not) right now. Is it easy to grab the dishes you need? Do random items wind up stashed in here and get in the way? If so, vow to find a better home for them.

Is it easy to put all your dishes away from the dishwasher? If not, you may want to move your dishes to a cabinet that’s within easy reach when you’re unloading.

3. Clean. Take everything out of the cabinet. Scrub down the shelves with soap and water. If you’re a shelf liner person, rip the old paper out, then scrub the inside of the cabinet, then replace the liner. A wide range of cool patterns is available.

4. Edit. Determine what you use and what you don’t. Put everything you don’t need or love into the donations box.

5. Check your shelf heights. Assess the height of the shelves in your dish cabinet and how they affect how you can organize things. Are you storing tall items too high because that’s the only shelf that will accommodate their height? Find an arrangement that’s easy for you to use and maintain, then adjust your shelves accordingly.

6. Get inspired. Peruse photos of beautifully arranged open shelves and glass-front kitchen cabinets. Pretend your dishes won’t be hidden behind closed doors and that you’ll be looking at it all the time. Even if your perfectly organized cabinets have solid doors, it’s truly a pleasure to open them up when everything is pretty and neat.

7. Load. Put all your keepers back in, saving the dishes you grab first for the most accessible places.

8. Consider a touch of whimsy. I have white everyday china, and people tend to give me fun sets of salt and pepper shakers. When I open up my everyday china cabinet, there’s a pair of chartreuse kissing fish in front of my cereal bowls that makes me smile every time. A small, lovely blue-and-white vase my sister-in-law gave me sits in front of my wooden salad bowls.

9. Feel proud. Take a step back and admire your work. Show it off to others — you deserve praise for your effort, and it will motivate you to keep going.

10. Repeat. As you tackle the rest of your kitchen cabinets and drawers, follow these same steps.


How to Organize Your Everyday Glassware Cabinet

If you have a cabinet within easy reach of the dishwasher and the fridge, that’s the one you want for glassware — easy to grab a glass for a fresh beverage, easy to put it away. If there isn’t a cabinet within easy reach of both, choose whichever is more convenient for you. Organize your glasses by use and color, and if they have patterns on them, line them up and face them out neatly.


Where to Put the Good China and Glassware

Basically, unless you throw dinner parties all the time, “the good” means “the rarely used.” It’s that family heirloom set or beautiful china and crystal you may have received as a wedding gift and use only on special occasions. If that’s the case, it’s not so important to store these dishes close to the dishwasher. You can follow the steps you did to organize the everyday stuff.

If you do have glass cabinets or a special china cabinet, by all means put your beautiful dishes on display. You can prioritize arrangement over ease of grabbing things — after all, being able to admire these favorite pieces is important. Give them more space if you wish, whether you want to enjoy your plates on plate stands or your teacups and saucers lined up in a row.

Organize Your Barware

You may want to set up a separate barware cabinet close to where you serve wine, beer and cocktails, whether that’s a counter space, buffet or bar cart.

Use the skills you honed setting up your everyday glassware storage. Other items to include: bottle openers; cocktail napkins; wine tags; toothpicks; swizzle sticks; ramekins for olives, lemons, limes and cherries; cocktail umbrellas; and any other bar supplies you like to have around.

You may also want to create a designated wine and liquor cabinet (if you have kids, this may be way up high over the fridge or in a locked cabinet). Start planning a get-together as you do this so you’ll have a chance to share and enjoy your fabulous new arrangement.

Vases and Pitchers

Like your good dishes, these items are worthy of display. If you don’t have a visually open spot for them, dedicate a shelf or an entire cabinet. When you come home with a bundle of blossoms from the grocery store or freshly cut flowers from the garden, it’s nice to make the kitchen sink and adjacent counter your own little floral studio.

It’s also nice to open a cabinet and find a choice of nicely organized favorite vessels for your handmade bouquets. Other items to include are frogs, chicken wire, clippers, scissors and twine. Put these all together in a large, square vase. If your vase cabinet has doors, you can use a simple shoebox to hold your bouquet-making tools.


After You’re Done

Load everything you plan to donate or recycle into the car and drop it off, or arrange for a favorite charity to pick it up. Who knows? You may be so proud of your new cabinets that you feel ready for glass doors or open shelves.

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