Organizing your kitchen doesn’t have to be stressful! If you break the process into manageable pieces, you can start with confidence. When we organize a kitchen, we start with the acronym I CARE: Identify, Categorize, Assign Homes, Relationships, and Ease of Maintenance.

Identify

What does your ideal kitchen look like? Do you prefer a minimalist look, with clear countertops at all times, or do you prefer to have kitchen gadgets out and ready to use at a moment’s notice? If you prefer to order in for most meals, your ideal kitchen will look very different from someone who cooks breakfast, lunch, and dinner from scratch.

What do you want to use the space for? Is your ideal kitchen a place to stop and grab a coffee on the way out the door, or do you dream of a space where you can entertain friends and family?

What rules does YOUR kitchen follow? Once you know the answer, you can plan how to organize your kitchen.

Categorize

The next step toward your ideal kitchen is categorizing what’s in it now, and letting go of what you no longer need. Do you have duplicate items? How many of each thing do you really need? When was the last time you used that cool kitchen gadget? If it’s been a while, it might be time to let it go. These are the rules we use for decluttering:

  • Purge items first:
    • Return recent purchases if you find you don’t need or want them.
    • Sell items that are worth the time it takes to list on a website like eBay, or through a garage sale.
    • Donate what isn’t worth selling, but could be useful to someone else.
    • Recycle paper and plastic according to your local regulations.
    • As a last resort, throw away trash that can’t be returned, sold, donated, or recycled.
  • Repair items that are fixable instead of buying new ones, to cut down on waste.
  • Keep items that you love or need.

Assign Homes

Once you’ve pared down your kitchen clutter to the essentials, you can assign each item a logical home, creating space and keeping what you need easily at hand. It’s especially important in kitchens to create staging areas, because cooking requires specific sets of items.

Keep similar supplies together in one area. Does your kitchen need:

  • A baking station?
  • Drinks station
  • Snack station?
  • A stovetop cooking station?

Keep your ideal kitchen in mind as you create these staging areas—if you don’t cook much, you won’t need your stand mixer out all the time.

Relationships

Ask yourself how often you use each item. If you use something every day, keep it on a counter or in an easy-to-reach drawer or cabinet. Once a week? Put it on a higher or lower shelf. If you use something once a year, seasonally, or only for special occasions, keep it behind something else, or on your highest or lowest shelf.

Ease of Maintenance

You’ll know you assigned items the correct homes if your system is easy to maintain. Keeping like with like (in staging areas), using labels, and keeping consistent homes for items will make it easy for you and other people to put kitchen tools back where they belong. If you find it difficult to keep your kitchen free of clutter, it may be time to let go of more items, or rethink where they go.

If you’re not ready to organize your kitchen from top to bottom, you can also use I CARE on smaller areas first. Start with a drawer or cabinet and go through the process step by step; starting small can help you increase your confidence!