6 Creative Ways to Organize Kitchen Cabinets

A woman pulling kitchen items out of a cabinet.

If you're like most Americans, you spend a significant amount of time in the kitchen, which is the central hub of most houses. That’s why it's so important that this space is workable and organized. This is especially true with your cabinets. After all, nobody wants to waste time digging through half-used bags of pasta and empty cereal boxes to find the pancake syrup. Here are some creative ways you can better organize your kitchen cabinets and keep your sanity, too.

1. Adjust Your Shelves

It's amazing how much more space you can acquire in your kitchen cabinets just by using the area effectively. Most modern cabinets offer a method for adjusting the space between your shelving, typically by moving the support pegs up or down. Take advantage of this feature to make your cabinets suit your needs. For example, if you're a tea drinker, you could make the lowest shelf tea box-height, giving you a second shelf easily within eye level and arm's length that perfectly fits your tea obsession.

2. Use the Inside of the Cabinet Door

We have a tendency to focus on the available shelf space, but there are many ways you can use the inside of the cabinet door to help reach your organizational goals. Tape up your meal plan, conversion charts (how many tablespoons are in a ¼ cup?), or favorite recipe. Alternately or in addition, use Command hooks to hang your measuring cups, measuring spoons, or hot pads. You can also make or purchase over-the-cabinet racks to help organize spices, pot and pan lids, plastic wrap and foil, cookie sheets, and cleaners.

3. Take the Doors Off

White open shelving in a kitchen.

Removing your cabinet doors or using open shelving has many benefits, beginning with the fact that now all of those once-hidden contents are now visible. This creates a desire to keep items streamlined, neat, condensed, and organized. It also nurtures minimalism. If you have 10 gadgets buried in the back of your cupboard that you never use, you’re likely to finally give them the heave-ho once you’re forced to make a decision about them. Open cabinetry also allows you to better see what you already have so that you avoid food waste and costs associated with buying duplicate items. You will also save time in putting away dishes and in searching for specific ingredients. If the thought of removing cabinet doors leaves you feeling exposed, you could always break in the idea by using open shelving solely for serving dishes and move to the food portions later.

4. Use Totes

Totes that slide out are a great way to contain half-emptied pasta bags and keep rice from spilling all over the cabinet. Plus, they create a streamlined look to your food storage cabinets. Clear totes are best so that you can see the contents. Label them so that the entire family knows what belongs inside. Use these for tea and cocoa packets, baking supplies, candy, fruit snacks, granola bars, nuts, spices, oils, and any number of other things.

5. Refold Your Towels

Vintage-looking towels in a cabinet drawer.

As with any drawer, stacking items fills the space rather quickly. However, if you throw out everything you know about folding towels and apply a new technique, you will find that you can double your available space. Instead of folding your towels and laying them flat in your drawer, try this process:

1. Fold the towel in half, end to end
2. Fold the towel in half again, end to end
3. Fold your rectangular-shaped towel twice, once one-third of the way down and again two-thirds of the way down
4. This creates almost a rolled look without the probability of it unrolling and allows for much more room in your kitchen drawer.

6. Employ Shelf Helpers

These simple racks create a whole new level of organization for cabinets that house plates, pans, cups, and even food. The idea is to use the entire space available between shelves, especially when adjusting the shelves or acquiring new shelves are not an option. For example, you can fit twice as many coffee cups on one shelf, rather than having a single row of cups with an umbrella of empty space above it. Of course, the other option is to test your stacking skills day after day.

Your kitchen cabinets hold a huge responsibility and a massive amount of items. You can start small or commit to a total overhaul, but remember to put items you rarely use on top shelves or toward the back of cabinets (or better yet, consider donating it). Consider your regular habits so that your new organization fits your needs. Focus on organizing the items you use the most. With a few changes, approaching your kitchen cabinets will fill you with anticipation rather than dread.