18 Subtle Organizing Mistakes That Make Your Kitchen Look Sloppy

These common setups are a recipe for disaster. Cook up a better system for a clean, productive kitchen.

You group by item, not by need

opened cupboard with kitchenware insideKutlayev Dmitry/Shutterstock

You might keep your masher and microplane grater by the stove with other long-handled items cooking spatulas, but that’s not the most convenient setup. “There are three things that happen in the kitchen: prep, cook, and serve,” says Laura Cattano, professional organizer and founder of Organizational Design. “The best thing is to zone out your kitchen by those categories.” You might keep your spatulas by the stove, but your potato masher belongs near your countertop and big bowls. Take it a step further by asking exactly when you use each item. For instance, there’s no reason your mugs need to be by your water glasses, but putting next to the coffee maker will save you from running all over your kitchen in the morning, says Cattano. This is also helps you set up your kitchen so you can eat healthier.

You think only the counter is convenient

Kitchen space in house.White room with counter bar . scandinavian interior design. -3d renderingAmon SaeBea/Shutterstock

To keep from digging through stuffed cabinets, you might leave items like sugar and oils on the counter. But as long as your cupboards are clear, it doesn’t take much effort to open the door—and you’ll see payoffs with how clear your counter looks. “It doesn’t have to be on the countertop to be easily reachable,” says Jodie Watson, founder and president of Supreme Organization. “If you purge out the cabinets in your kitchen, you can keep sugar in the cabinet. You open the door and there it is.”

You leave big appliances out

Different appliances, clean dishes and utensils on kitchen counterNew Africa/Shutterstock

Feel free to leave appliances you use daily, like a coffee maker or toaster, on the counter. But anything you aren’t using every day should be stored in a cabinet to make more room on the counter. “Nobody likes to have to put the appliance away, but balance that against the precious countertop space,” says Maeve Richmond, founder and coach of organizing company Maeve’s Method. “There’s the convenience of having it out, but it’s more convenient to be able to chop more vegetables or have a cleaner space.”

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