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A Step-By-Step Guide To Planning An Organized Kitchen

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I have observed an interesting phenomenon over the years.

Wherever an item is placed in a kitchen on move-in day is the place where it tends to stay.

As a home organizer (and someone who thinks about efficiency a lot), I have witnessed this in the homes of my friends, family, and clients.

The problem is that move-in day (when most people simply unpack boxes and find homes for the things inside) is NOT the best time to be organizing a kitchen for most homeowners. They’re busy, overwhelmed, and not in the best state of mind for completing this important task.

So what often happens is that people throw things in cabinets “just to get them off the counter” and whether it was the best place or not… that’s where they will stay.

A Case For Planning An Organized Kitchen

I have moved over 10 times in my life.

I’ve moved into apartment kitchens.

Large and small kitchens.

I’ve been lucky to remodel a kitchen and even build a kitchen from scratch in our custom home.

And you know what I’ve learned?

An organized kitchen doesn’t just happen. An organized kitchen must be planned.

Planning how you’ll use your kitchen is essential if you want to:

  • Use your current kitchen more efficiently
  • Make the most of the kitchen in a new home
  • Plan a remodel or custom kitchen

Planning ahead helps you:

  • Set up your space for efficiency (which improves your daily life)
  • Foresee trouble spots and find solutions to eliminate them
  • Purchase any necessary organizing tools ahead of time
  • Set up your kitchen quickly and with confidence

The following process is a system I have developed over the years for planning an organized kitchen. It works to improve the organization of any kitchen. I have used this for my own projects and it’s the way I plan organization projects for my professional organizing clients as well.

I’ve created this FREE workbook to help you in planning an organized kitchen that includes all the tools from this post. It includes reflection pages, grid paper, inventory lists, and shopping lists to help you plan things right.

5 Steps For Planning an Organized Kitchen

Step 1: Reflect

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again (and again). Reflection should always be the first step when you’re planning a project.

You should take the time to consider

  1. What is working (and what is not) in your current space.
  2. How you plan to use your new space.
  3. What do you NOT want in your new space?
  4. What non-cooking activities (if any) will you need to accommodate in this space?
  5. How often will you entertain?
  6. Do you need to declutter/purge?

If you want to do a deep dive into reflection about your home (including the kitchen), check out my Dream Home Workbook. It’s a guided journal with 7 days of easy to complete exercises to help you think intentionally about what you really want from home.

Step 2: Take Inventory

  • Grab a pen and paper and take inventory of everything you have in your kitchen. 
  • Open every cupboard and drawer, working through the contents one at a time.
  • Write down anything you store in your kitchen, and sort things into general categories as you go.

Tip: Don’t forget to include things stored elsewhere if you’re tight on space and have things stored in other places like basement or dining room.

Step 3: Map It Out

  • Make a sketch of your kitchen layout with boxes (see above).
  • This works for your existing kitchen or your proposed new layout if building or remodeling.
  • “Place” items into each space by writing the name of the item where you plan to store it.

Step 4: Consider Efficiency

Look at your map and consider systems and processes like:

  • Loading/Unloading Dishwasher
  • Making Breakfast
  • Cooking Dinner
  • Baking
  • Cleanup
  • Meal Prep

I find it helpful to literally write out the steps and supplies I’ll need for each process I regularly complete in the kitchen. Here’s an example:

Look back at your sketched-out plan and ask yourself,

“Do I have everything I need to complete each process in a convenient location?”

Obviously not everything can be stored in your most convenient drawers or cabinets, but this will at least help you start to think about storing things in the best possible location. Planning an organized kitchen means you can prioritize dedicating your “most valuable” cabinet real estate for your most frequent tasks.

That’s where your efficiency will improve and impact your experience the most.

Step 5: Determine Organizing Supplies and Products Needed

To maximize your storage space, you will probably want to include at least some organizing products.

Some favorite kitchen organization products include:

  • Drawer dividers
  • Paper towel holders
  • Shelf risers
  • Baskets
  • Hooks
  • Turntables
  • Baskets
  • Sliding Drawer Units




In this example you can see how I use grid paper to plan out which products I’ll buy to organize my drawers.

  • First I sketch out the outline of the drawer or cabinet to scale (1 box = 1 inch).
  • Then I pull up the organizer specifications I’m considering (in this case, I’m using the Container Store’s line of Everything Organizers).
  • Using the dimensions available, I sketch where I would place the organizers inside my drawer outline. Again, one square is one inch.
  • Sometimes things are not a perfect fit. My drawers are 13″ and this line is only available in 3,6,9,12, and 15-inch increments. It’s ok to have a little extra space on the outsides! But if this bothers you, you might want to look for a different product that fits your exact measurements.
  • When you finish each drawer or cabinet, add the number of each size/type of organizer you will need to your shopping list (I have included a shopping list template in the free planning an organized kitchen workbook).

And that’s the process! If you follow these 5 steps for planning an organized kitchen BEFORE move in-day, you will be amazed at how quickly everything comes together.

A well-laid out, intentionally planned kitchen is a beautiful thing. And it will make your life so much easier.

Thanks for being here.


If you found this helpful, you might be interested in my other Building a Custom Home posts.


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