Organization Project: Kitchen Overhaul

Today is a tale that I see and hear about all. the. time. The kitchen seems fine on the outside...

Not bad right?

Then you open up the cabinets:

And so you understand how I switched it up, here's the layout:

Now, typically when I work in a larger kitchen I batch it out - food first then everything else. However, nothing was working well for my client and I knew I wanted to rearrange practically everything. I tell my client that we may not get it all done today, but I really wanted to just rip the whole place apart and start fresh.

She was game!

We started by pulling out all the food, sorting everything like with like and ditching the expired goods. Then we started tackling the other cabinets. There were a lot of glasses that were left over from college parties that found their way to the charity pile. Other glasses went to go live in their bar. We then found homes for little used appliances above the refrigerator and moved or donated anything else that didn't belong in the kitchen.

Then I started putting everything back. The biggest problem with this kitchen was the cabinet design. Here is Exhibit A on why straight bachelors that don't cook and aren't designers shouldn't go designing kitchens. There is no pantry or really good place to put food - something that a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house should have. The next challenge in the kitchen here is that the cabinets are either shallow with too few shelves or super deep and tall with no shelving at all. The two cabinets in the island are giant holes with no shelving. Still, we totally made these work.

Above the cabinet went from catch-all to a place for my client's entertaining platter, back-up coffee pods and packing tape. (I know...tape seems strange but it works for this client.) We didn't want anything that would be used too often up here since my client is a little shorter.

Then I moved the food from the island cabinets and  oils/spices from Upper Cabinet 3 and put it all in Upper Cabinet 1. It makes much more sense to have the food and spices within arms reach of the stove.

As you can see, we have spices and seasonings on the bottom, easy for my client to get to. Next are canned goods on bottom and directly above. All of the carby goodness is together middle left. Lesser used seasonings and dressings are up top along with sugary things that my clients sometimes use but don't want to use often.

(This was also where I wish there was another shelf to put in there as it would have really helped with some of the crowding.)

With many of the glasses moved or removed, it made it easy to consolidate Upper Cabinets 1 and 2 into just Upper Cabinet 2.

Plates and coffee mugs (in dishwasher or being used when I took this pic) are used most often so they're the easiest to reach. Glasses, bowls and mixing bowls are just above with the infrequently used items up top.

Upper Cabinet 3 went from spices, which didn't make much sense so far away from the stove to a small snack cabinet. (Nothing on the top shelf because there wasn't really anything that needed to live there.)

The lower cabinet in the corner had become a catch-all since it was so big. Once everything that didn't need to live down there was removed, it is now easier for my clients to get to their pots and pans to cook.


At this point, our session was over and both of us had other appointments to get to so we couldn't extend it. I told my client where to put the rest and she very diligently completed her "homework." What was crazy-stuffed with food that was hard to see is now lesser used mixing bowls, food storage and doggie central.

The second cabinet of overstuffed food became home to entertaining items. (And yes...the extra shelving in these pictures was in there with the food in the before pics. Totally surprised me when I found it!)


Now my client has a kitchen that is much easier to function in and keep organized. When I last talked to her she said that it is now soooooo much easier to cook and keep clean. Hooray!

Total hands-on time: 5 hours.

Lesson learned: if your kitchen doesn't work, don't be afraid to rip apart the whole thing, start fresh, totally rearrange and downsize to make it fit and work.

Do you need help getting your kitchen under control? Email me at