Using "Zones" to help Organize your Kitchen
The kitchen is one of the most important, and utilized rooms in the home. It is also one of the most common and easiest spaces to become cluttered and disorganized.
As a Certified Professional Organizer, one of the first things I do with a client is complete a walk-through of the space. This allows me to get a feel for space, determine the level of effort required to achieve their organizing goals, and for the Client to share with me their paint points and ultimate vision. Even if you decide to not work with a Professional Organizer, having a clearly defined vision or goal will go a long way to keep you motivated and create long-term simple maintenance strategies.
No matter the size of your kitchen, sectioning the space into designated areas or "zones" is the simplest way to keep items organized and accessible for day-to-day use.
A typical kitchen is usually made up of five (5) different "zones". Depending on your daily routine and the amount of space available, these "zones" can vary in size and location within the space.
Zone 1: Storage
Typically, storage in kitchens are found in cabinets (above or below counters), drawers and in larger kitchens, an island.
Storage is one of the most important aspects of a kitchen. Grouping liked items together (i.e. baking supplies, cookware etc.) keeps everything together and accessible.
With smaller spaces, it is important to be creative and constructive with your space (for example, using lazy susans to organize cups/bowls or drawer dividers to separate items) will allow you to do more with less (especially if you de-clutter/edit items no longer used).
There is a variety of organizing storage solutions available on the market, but I like to encourage Clients to re-purpose containers they have laying around the home before purchasing brand new ones.
Zone 2: Preparation
When preparing food, either for a delicious home-cooked dinner with your family or meal prepping lunches for kids of the week, being able to easily access the items you need, and utilizing a clear workspace is important.
Typically, these activities are completed on a countertop (or island if available) so it is important to keep that space clear of clutter and other items at all times. not only will this create a specified working area, but help keep items organized and the space tidy.
Additionally, the items you use for preparing food (i.e. cutting boards, knives & food containers) should all be stored close to the designated food preparation zone to make items accessible and encourage you to use the space appropriately.
Zone 3: Food
Aside from storing our appliances, dishes & silverware, kitchens are primarily used to store food items. There are three sub-sections of this zone:
1. Pantry - storage for dry goods
2. Fridge - storage for fresh food
3. Freezer - storage for extra food
Just as it is important to keep the rest of the kitchen organized, the same process should be applied to your pantry, fridge and freezer. later blog posts will go into further detail on some organizing suggestions for these spaces, but it is important to note that they should not be overlooked.
In smaller kitchens where a pantry may not be feasible, but space to store items is limited, it is time to get creative to think of a spot that is close to the kitchen that can be turned into a pantry so you don't lose valuable kitchen storage.
For example, my husband and I live in a small 2-bedroom apartment with a small kitchen with limited counter and storage space. We decided to re-purpose a narrow hall closet that we were not using to create a make-shift pantry. It's close to the kitchen and allows us to make a great use of some "dead space" in our apartment.
Zone 4: Cooking
Having a designated place to cook meals or maybe just re-heat some leftovers for a quick lunch is important to keep your kitchen organized and tidy!
Storing items such as pots and pants close to the oven/ stovetop is a great way to remain motivated to cook more meals at home.
if you have a microwave, having a designated spot for it (that is not a countertop) will allow for more space to prepare food items. Also, to make sure these items keep working well, light cleaning of them daily (i.e. wiping down the surfaces) and more though cleaning every 2-3 months (i.e. cleaning your oven) will keep your kitchen smelling nice and food cooking well!
Zone 5: Cleaning
Last, but certainly not least, every kitchen should have a designated cleaning "zone".
The traditional location for cleaning supplies is under the kitchen sink. This is also a great place to hide recycling or garbage if you are limited on floor space.
Cleaning does not only apply to the supplies, but also to washing dishes, either by hand or with a dishwasher. Items such as dish soap or dishwasher detergent should be kept close to the sink or dishwasher. You can also keep your everyday dishes close by to make loading and unloading the dishwasher that much easier.
Practicing simple cleaning etiquette in your kitchen will not only keep your kitchen tidy but also sanitary to prevent yourself and others in your home from getting sick.
Sectioning your kitchen into these different "zones" will come in handy when looking to re-organize or declutter the space. Remember to consider all aspects of the room, including how you use the space now and what would make it more efficient in the future.
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About the Author: Brittany Smith lives in Ottawa, Canada with her husband and feline furbaby Zoey. She is a Certified Professional Organizer, Owner, and Founder of Control the Chaos, a Professional Organizing business that provides personalized in-home, virtual and digital organizing services aimed at transforming anyone's chaos into calm.