Click here to learn more and get your free ticket or all access pass to attend the Simplify Your Summer Online Summit

Week #2 Organized Home Challenge
Kitchen Drawers & Kitchen Cabinet Organization

This week's challenge is all about kitchen drawer and kitchen cabinet organization, where you will both declutter and organize things in a way where you can easily access what you need, when and where you need it.

In the kitchen drawer and cabinet organization challenge you'll get step by step instructions for how to organize these spaces, including under the sink, for pots, pans and dishes, the junk drawer, and more {part of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge on Home Storage Solutions 101} #52WeekChallenge #OrganizedHome #KitchenOrganizationuse this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

The key to this challenge is to break it up into smaller chunks if you begin to feel overwhelmed, so I've tried to do this in the action steps below.

It also helps to keep in mind the overall purpose of organizing your kitchen cabinets and drawers. It is not to make them beautiful, and ready for a magazine cover although if they are afterward that is great. Instead, the purpose of organizing this area of your home is to allow you to easily access what you need for cooking or other kitchen activities when you need those items. With that in mind you can make good decisions about functionality and organization to suit your family's needs without making more work for yourself than you need to.

Also, I know many of you have joined this challenge as part of a New Year's Resolution to "get organized." Around this time is when you may begin to lose some enthusiasm for these resolutions, because you get discouraged or lose steam. I've (tried) to make this easy for you, with just one task per week, so that you can feel this is doable, and keep motivated. However, if you're beginning to feel unmotivated skip down to see suggestions for keeping the momentum going, if you need some encouragement.

Are you new here? This Kitchen Cabinet Organization Challenge is part of the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren't already a regular reader).

Kitchen cabinet and drawer organization step by step instructions {part of the 52 weeks to an Organized Home Challenge} #OrganizedHome #KitchenOrganization #52WeekChallengeuse this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Before you begin, keep the following guidelines and overall ideas in mind when doing the Kitchen Drawers and Cabinet Organization Challenge:

First, as great as it can feel to tackle the whole kitchen at once don't get more out at one time than you can deal with, including the time needed to put stuff away. You don't want to start the process, pull EVERYTHING out, and then run out of time to deal with and then have piles of clutter everywhere. That's why I want you to only work on one or two cabinets or drawers at a time.

Second, as you pull stuff out from little used drawers or cabinets you will most likely see some really dusty stuff during this Challenge. If you want, fill your sink with some warm soapy water so you can give things a quick clean up as you go along. (This is not mandatory, but I know some people can't stand dusty stuff once they see it.)

Third, as you completely empty a drawer or cabinet it is the perfect time to vacuum or sweep out the dust from inside the cabinet, or line (or reline) the shelves or drawers, if you wish. Again, this is not mandatory and if it will slow you down too much, don't do it. However, it is a great opportunity if you have the time and desire to do this task.

Step 1: Recall The Functions Of Your Kitchen From Last Week

The first step of the Kitchen Cabinet Organization Challenge is to recall what you determined were the functions of your kitchen as part of last week's kitchen organization challenge. If you don't know or recall what I'm talking about, take a minute and re-read that portion of last week's challenge.

Keeping these functions in mind as you work on the subsequent steps below will help you know what to declutter completely, what to store in a different area of the house, and how to arrange the stuff you keep in your kitchen cabinets and drawers.

Step 2: Declutter Your Kitchen Cabinets And Drawers

The second step in the Kitchen Drawers and Kitchen Cabinet Organization Challenge is removing the excess stuff from your cabinets and drawers, so there is actually room in them for what you want to store.

getting rid of kitchen clutter hall of fame

The goal for your kitchen drawers should be to allow them to open and close smoothly, and for you to be able to retrieve what you need from them quickly without having to search around too long.

The goal for your kitchen cabinets and cupboards should be to retrieve things without having to unstack and restack too much, especially for those things used on a daily basis, and for nothing to fall out on us as we open the doors.

You may need to be ruthless, and remove more and more stuff until you can meet these goals. That might mean doing a couple rounds of purging, until you pare it down enough.

Declutter The Stuff You Shouldn't Have In Your House Anymore At All

The first part of the kitchen cabinet organization challenge's decluttering phase is to remove all the stuff from your kitchen drawers and cabinets that should not be in your house anymore. These items should be thrown away or donated to charity.

Here are examples of these types of items:

  • Broken items
  • Duplicates
  • Excess items (like too many coffee mugs, or plastic drinking glasses)
  • Oprhaned lids or containers with missing lids
  • Things you never use (because they are ugly, don't work well, you don't really like them, etc.)
  • Things you haven't used in the last year, at least

Remove Stuff From Your Kitchen Cabinets And Drawers That Should Go Somewhere Else In Your Home Instead

The next step in the decluttering process of kitchen cabinet organization can also be be difficult, and that is removing things that should really go somewhere else in your home.

First, remove and put in a better place all the stuff that doesn't serve the functions of your kitchen. For example, if you've got lots of medicine in your kitchen cabinets, but you've decided that should go elsewhere instead, move it now. (We'll organize medicines in a later week of the challenge.)

How to declutter kitchen cabinets

For a detailed list of which of the 15 minute decluttering missions pertain to this room of the house check out the getting rid of kitchen clutter hall of fame, which also has inspiration of what others have accomplished with these challenges in their kitchen.

Then, everything that you have left, and that is related to a kitchen function, should be sorted in the next step.

Decluttering your drawers and cabinets can become very overwhelming if you do it all at once, and make quite a mess. Here's my article on how to declutter your kitchen cabinets, and also my article for decluttering kitchen drawers, both with step by step instructions for how to do this without getting your kitchen into a worse state during the process than you have to to get the job done.

Step 3: Sort What Is Left According To How Often You Use It

The third step in the Kitchen Cabinet Organization Challenge is to sort the items you've decided to keep in your home, and will most likely stay in the kitchen, into one of three types.

  • Items used everyday
  • Items used often (once every couple of days to every couple of weeks)
  • Items used seldomly

Your kitchen drawers and cabinets only have so much "real estate," or space to place items. Some of that real esate is very easy to get to, such as a drawer right by the sink, and some may be difficult to get to, such as the cabinets requiring you to stand on a step stool to access them.

shelf organizerGain more space in your cabinets by using shelf
organizers for dishes [Purchase on]

The rule for kitchen drawer and kitchen cabinet organization is that the more often you use something, the easier it should be to get to.

If you're still concerned that you don't have enough space in your cabinets and drawers for what you've got left after decluttering, take a hard look at the seldom used items and maybe do another round of purging. In addition, consider putting some of these items elsewhere if you are going to keep them, in another storage area in the house, so you aren't taking up prime real estate with the roasting pan you only use at Thanksgiving, for example.

Anything used seldomly, but that will stay in the kitchen, should go in the least accessible places. Be careful, however, with high storage areas, such as on top of your kitchen cabinets, or even in high cabinets. Only large things which are light should go up high, and not things which are very heavy, or need to be stacked or nested. Things that are heavy or need stacking, but are used seldomly, should go in the far back of the inaccessible lower cabinet, for example.

Now, in the next step you'll begin placing all the stuff you use daily or often in the rest of your kitchen drawers and cabinets. In that step of the Kitchen Cabinet Organization Challenge you'll be giving priority first to the items you use every day, and then the often used items, giving stuff used often the most "prime" real estate in your kitchen.

Step 4: Strategically Place Everything In Your Kitchen Cabinets And Drawers According To Their Zones

This final step in the Kitchen Drawer And Kitchen Cabinet Organization Challenge is where you actually organize the stuff you have left. The key to this step is to place stuff where it would most logically go, to make it easy for you to grab when you need it.

One of the simplest ways to do this is to think of your kitchen in terms of "zones" or areas of use. Then, make sure you keep the stuff close to where you'll use it. For example, pots and pans should be close to the stove, and the paring knife should be close to the kitchen sink and cutting board.

Here are some common kitchen zones you should consider using, and the items that should be in them. (Please note that there will be some overlap between zones so don't get too caught up in splitting zones up, versus what works for you. Further, your kitchen layout may not be ideal, so just do the best you can with what you've got. Just thinking it through can improve the space you've got to work in dramaticaly, even if it isn't "perfect" or doesn't exactly follow the rules below.)

bakeware organizerDon't stack cutting boards and
cooking sheets for easier
access [Get on]

Food Preparation Zone

The food prep zone is the area where you cut, chop, clean, mix, stir, etc. the food you are preparing. This area needs some open counterspace, and most likely will be close to the sink.

You should keep items such as your knives, cutting board, mixing bowls, mixers and blenders, measuring cups and spoons in this zone.

Cooking Zone

The cooking zone is where you do your cooking, either on the stove or in the oven (or microwave). It should therefore be close to these appliances.

You should keep items such as pots and pans, cooking utensils, potholders and bakeware in this zone.

Dishes And Dishwashing Zone

Simple Human sink caddySimple Human sink caddy is an example of
keeping dishwashing zone organized
[Purchase on]

The dishes and dishwashing zone is the area where you keep your everyday dishes and eating utensils.

(Your good china and silver should most likely be stored elsewhere. Check out other portions of the site for hints on storage for china, glassware and crystal and storing silver.)

This area should be close to the dishwasher and/or sink for ease of cleaning up and putting everything back away after use. You should also keep dishwashing supplies in this area, or in a sub-zone of this area, such as dish soap, sponges, dish cloths and kitchen towels, etc.

Please note that if you've got children it is a good idea to have a special section, within their reach, for certain types of dishes, such as non-breakable cups or bowls so they can get themself a drink or water or a bowl of cereal for breakfast without your assistance. Trust me, it will save your sanity to have this easy access area for them, and will be worth the time invested in the whole Kitchen Cabinet Organization Challenge!

In addition, if you want your kids to set the table or put away dishes from the dishwasher, make sure they can reach these items without difficulty or you won't be able to assign them these chores.

Here's my tips for how to declutter dishes, because you only want to keep the stuff you need in your cabinet because otherwise they will be overloaded.

Eating Zone

The eating zone should contain things you use on a regular basis for eating meals, such as tablecloths, napkins, salt and pepper shakers, serving bowls or platters, etc. It could also contain bibs for the baby.

Please note that the serving bowls and platters I'm referring to for this zone should be things you use regularly, not the ones you use only on special or holiday occassions.

Idealy the items for this zone should be stored close to the kitchen table, or dining room table, whichever you normally eat your meals at.

Food Storage Zone

We will focus on the food storage zone in the next couple of weeks of the challenge, so don't start tackling it just yet during the Kitchen Cabinet Organization Challenge this week. However, if you don't have a dedicated pantry, you may need to save some space in your cabinets or cupboards for some food storage so I mention it now just so you can keep it in mind.

Further, a non-food item that does belong near the food storage zone are the supplies you use for saving leftovers, such as aluminum foil, plastic baggies, and kitchen wrap, and you may wish to organize those types of items this week as well.

That concludes the main zones in the kitchen. Really think through where stuff should ideally go in your kitchen based on those zones and shift things around until they make sense, and fit in the space alotted. This step of the Kitchen Drawers and Kitchen Cabinet Organization Challenge is what will make your kitchen feel functional, and end up saving you a lot of time, since things will be easier for you to use when needed.

I also thought I would give special attention to three common areas in our kitchens that can be organizational challenges, so you can think through how you'll handle them as part of the Kitchen Drawers And Kitchen Cabinet Organization Challenge.

Kitchen Junk Drawer

kitchen drawer organizerSeparate items in kitchen drawers with
dividers [Available on]

Every home seems to have a junk drawer, and most likely it's in the kitchen. There is nothing wrong with a junk drawer -- if it actually gets used to retrieve miscellaneous items often, like twist ties, rubber bands, etc.

If it is a waste land where stuff goes in, and never comes out though, get rid of that stuff and put it in a more permanent place or the trash can.

The key to a functional junk drawer is to clean it out periodically, such as once a month. That way it keeps its handy functions without being overrun and cluttered to the point that it's no longer useful.

You can check out the ideas for how to organize your junk drawer here, which features lots of before and after pictures from readers who've taken on this challenge.

Plastic Food Storage Containers & Water Bottles

I asked on the site's Facebook wall what people's problem was in the kitchen, and many people mentioned Tupperware and plastic food storage containers, along with reusable water bottles.

The most important step in dealing with this area of kitchen cabinet organization is to make sure you aren't trying to save too many of these containers. Do you really need that many water bottles, or plastic containers? You should start by paring down your food storage containers and water bottles.

Next, consider square containers that nest instead of round containers which take up lots of room. In addition, keep the lids of the containers in a separate drawer or basket, so they don't fall out when you open the cabinet door.

There are so many great ways to organize these containers, so I would love for you to share in the comments what works for you, to give other people ideas and suggestions. If you've got pictures to share, please do so in the creative storage solutions section of the site, and the best ones just might make it into the hall of fame.

Under The Kitchen Sink Storage

under sink shelf organizerUnder sink shelf organizer to keep items
within easy reach [Purchase on]

Finally, under the sink can become a wasteland for cleaning supplies, sponges, etc. and become a mess quite quickly, so I wanted to address it as part of this week's Challenge.

Again, the key is really to declutter the area and think about how you want to use it, instead of it being a catch all area where you throw stuff. Here's my article on how to declutter under your kitchen sink for more guidance.

Once you've decluttered you can also use some of the kitchen storage solutions ideas below to containerize the area, and make it more functional.

Please remember too, that if you do keep anything toxic or dangerous to children or pets under your sink to childproof the area to make sure that no one in your family gets harmed, since this is an easily accessible area.

Make sure to check out these ideas for under kitchen sink cabinet organization shared by readers, including lots of pictures of what they did as part of this challenge.

Step 5: Consider Kitchen Storage Solutions For Your Drawers And Cabinets To Maximize The Use Of Your Available Space

When doing the Kitchen Drawers and Kitchen Cabinet Organization Challenge you may realize you need more storage space in your kitchen, to make it more functional. Here are some ideas for ways to maximize the space you have, to easily find what you need in your kitchen quickly.

  • Turntables or lazy susans, for pots and pans or other items
  • Decorative baskets to hold seldom used items on top of kitchen cabinets
  • Shelving to display cookbooks, or other pretty bowls or dishes
  • kitchen cabinet organizer setKitchen cabinet & drawer organizers
    [Find on]

  • Utilize wall or ceiling storage space by hanging things from them, such as pots and pans, or installing a magnetic strip on the wall to store knives, spices or cooking utensils
  • Similarly, utilize hanging space on the inside of kitchen cabinet doors to hang towels, or create more storage space
  • Create more cabinet space with a rolling kitchen cart or making your own kitchen island with storage spaces
  • Add extra shelves within cabinets to reduce "air" space and lessen need for stacking items too high
  • Add shelf dividers or roll out shelves within your kitchen cabinets
  • Add hooks or racks within the shelves of the cabinets
  • Silverware caddy or drawer tray
  • Drawer dividers or small storage baskets for insider drawers to containerize your drawers (especially useful for organizing cooking utensils or junk drawers)
  • Pot lid organizer
  • Vertical racks to divide and organize your cooking and baking sheets, and cutting boards (see ideas in my bakeware organizer ideas article)

Listen To Taylor's Video Tips For This Week's Organized Home Challenge & Declutter 365 Missions

Do you want more in-depth tips and instructions for how to do this week's missions and challenge all about your kitchen cabinets and drawers? If so, I've got recorded video tips from me, Taylor, from the video archives in the Declutter 365 Premium group, all about this week's challenge and missions.

These video tips are available on demand in the archives, once you're a member of the group.

In Week #2's video I discussed the following topics, among others:

  • How to declutter without making a bigger mess, using the tips for decluttering storage areas, like cabinets and drawers, as an example
  • Kitchen organization tips
  • Declutter 365 missions for this week
Declutter 365 Premium video archive available on demand all about kitchen decluttering and organizing, part 2, on Home Storage Solutions 101use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

I suggest watching the video archive for the week, perhaps while you're doing some decluttering or cleaning around your home, before starting the week's missions and Challenge, and then you'll be able to breeze through that week's worth of decluttering missions, as well as organize what's necessary for the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge, based on the advice and instructions within those videos.

It really is like having me, Taylor, available, 24-7, as your decluttering and organizing coach, for every area of your home!

Plus, once you're a member of Declutter 365 Premium you get access to not only this video, but all the videos for the 52 weeks of the year, for 5 years (that's over 260 videos available in the archives!)

Learn more about the Declutter 365 Premium Group

Get This Kitchen Decluttering Checklist + 32 Other Decluttering Checklists For Your Home

Right now you're decluttering your kitchen, and there's a lot of stuff to declutter in this space.

Get your 2 page kitchen decluttering checklist, plus 32 other decluttering checklists, to help you declutter your entire home here.

Get this kitchen decluttering checklist and 32 other decluttering checklists for your home {on Home Storage Solutions 101}

I've done the hard work of breaking down these tasks into smaller more manageable steps for you, so you don't get overwhelmed or worry you're forgetting a task, and you can go at the pace you want, whether that's fast or slow.

In addition, you can tackle these decluttering tasks in whatever order you want when you use these checklists!

Click here to learn more about 33 Decluttering Checklists Pack

Tell Me How The Kitchen Cabinet Organization Challenge Is Going For You

I would love to know how this week's kitchen cabinet organization challenge is going. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you've organized this area of your home below in the comments.

organize kitchen cabinets hall of fame {part 1}

I also love before and after pictures of kitchen cabinet organization, and would love to see some of yours. Submit your pictures (up to four per submission) and get featured in the Creative Storage Solutions Hall of Fame. You've worked hard to get organized, so now here's your chance to show off!

Lots of people have written in showing me what they've done so far, and I'm busy trying to get everyone's pictures up in the hall of fame. Here's what I've got up so far:

Sneak Peek For Next Week's Challenge

Organize Pantry Challenge

We're working on our homes slowly, one area at a time, so don't get too distracted from the kitchen cabinet organization challenge, and focusing on your cabinets, drawers and under the sink this week. However, I want you to know that we're focusing on the kitchen for a couple of weeks, so you don't have to do it all this week.

Next week we'll begin focusing on organizing the food storage areas in the kitchen, first starting with organizing the pantry and then the next week after that moving on to the refrigerator and freezer. Since the kitchen needs so much organization and constant attention, because it is used so often, I've given us plenty of time to get it done.

Thanks So Much For Joining These Challenges

During the past week a lot more people have joined, so I again wanted to take the time to welcome everyone who is participating. I've heard from so many of you already expressing your excitement to get started and make this year a great and organized year for yourself, your home and your family. I am honored that you'd let me help you with this goal, and I don't want to disappoint.

Keep The Momentum Going And Don't Get Burned Out Or Discouraged

Don't be impatient with yourself. Slow progress is still progress.use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

I want you to remember not to get burned out by taking on too much too quickly! This week's challenge, and also the 52 week challenge and Declutter 365 missions as a whole, are all about going slowly, and building habits as we go along. Your house doesn't have to get organized all at once. In addition, don't feel like if you've missed a challenge or two you can't even begin. Instead, do what you can, when you can, and feel good about your accomplishments.

Let's not let the enthusiasm die down, and give up as can happen with many New Year's Resolutions. So many of you have shared how much clearing off your kitchen counters helped your everyday life. Making life easier is the reason you started this challenge, and if you continue I know you'll see positive results. The same thing will happen as you complete each challenge over the course of the year, so let's keep up the good work! If needed, get an accountability partner and do the challenges together (I know quite a few of you are already doing this!)

Make Sure You Make The Most Of These 52 Organizing Challenges

Get your copy of the printable one page 52 Week Organized Home Challenge schedule for the year here, so you can see all the challenges we're working on.

Get your schedule for this year's 52 Week Organized Home Challenge

Further, if you'd like to join a community of others who are all commmitted to these organizing challenges and corresponding decluttering missions, and want more interaction with me, Taylor, video archives of Taylor providing more tips for each of these challenges and missions, as well as live monthly group coaching sessions focusing on the skills and habits necessary to maintain your home from now on, I'd urge you to join the private and exclusive Declutter 365 Premium Facebook group (you can learn more about it at the link).

Declutter 365 missions premium

In addition, have you gotten your Declutter 365 Products yet, to make sure you can get even more assistance with decluttering and organizing your home this year? There are both free products (like the Declutter 365 calendar, a $20 value), as well as add-ons, such as daily text messages, planner stickers, and a Premium Facebook group, as well as a pack of printabe decluttering checklists.

Declutter 365 products to help you declutter your home over the course of this year

Pass These Challenges Along Or Help Promote It To Your Friends And Family

If you're enjoying these challenges, and feel like they're helping you I would also appreciate you passing them along to someone else who may also benefit from them. Each of you has already really helped me spread the word with social media, and I would appreciate any additional support you can give. It really does make a HUGE difference.

Finally, remember I really would love to hear how it's going, so be sure to keep me updated on your kitchen cabinet organization progress!

In the kitchen drawer and cabinet organization challenge you'll get step by step instructions for how to organize these spaces, including under the sink, for pots, pans and dishes, the junk drawer, and more {part of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge on Home Storage Solutions 101} #52WeekChallenge #OrganizedHome #KitchenOrganizationuse this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Some links on this page are affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase a product through them I receive a small commission which helps me provide this information to you for free, plus support my family. My integrity and your satisfaction are very important to me so I only recommend products I would purchase myself, and that I believe would benefit you. To learn more please see my disclosure statement.

Click here to learn more about and get your free ticket or all access pass to the Simplify Your Summer Online Summit, where Taylor and 29 other experts are speaking

Get Decluttering & Organizing Tips Newsletter


Join the Home Storage Solutions 101 newsletter, and get as your free gift the 2024 Declutter 365 Calendar (a $20 value) from me, Taylor, your decluttering and organizing guide.

When you work through the Declutter 365 missions, and accompanying 52 Week Organized Home Challenges, you'll be able to declutter your home one mission at a time, organize what's left, and learn the skills, habits and routines to maintain your space from now on.

* indicates required

Share Your Comments, Tips & Ideas

I would love to hear from you, sharing your thoughts, questions, or ideas about this topic, so leave me a comment below. I try to always respond back!

Let's Stay Connected!

be a fan of Home Storage Solutions 101 on Facebook Follow Taylor on Pinterest follow Taylor on Instagram

Subscribe To Decluttering & Organizing Newsletter

Subscribe to the decluttering and organizing newsletter

Join Declutter 365 Public Facebook Group (500,000+ Members)

Click to join the Declutter 365 Facebook group

Get Daily Texts

Get Planner Stickers

Coaching From Taylor

Decluttering Checklists Pack

Get Help With Meal Planning

Get Organized HQ