With a few tricks up your sleeve, you can have everything within reach - and sight - without worrying about keeling over onto the kitchen floor. Julie Morgenstern, an expert in organizing and time management, offers these 10 tips for organizing your kitchen:
1. Have a plan of attack. Start with a strategy based on how you want to function in your kitchen. Prioritize by identifying the frequently used must-have items and the things you use only occasionally.
2. De-clutter in chunks. If the job seems overwhelming, start with the most visible items first, such as what's on the countertops. You'll get a feeling of instant change and gain motivation to do the next chunk.
3. Seek treasures instead of trash. Focus on searching for hidden treasure versus ditching the unwanted. This will allow you to transform organizing into a positive experience.
4. Banish flimsy dividers. Pitch pitiful plastic trays and replace them with sturdy wooden drawer organizers. This will help you create a happy home for spoons, whisks and what-nots.
5. Lay out a landing strip. Designate an official drop zone for car keys, cell phones, etc.
For example, Diamond Cabinets' Mini Message Center features hooks, shelves and a write-in message board, all concealed behind a door, creating a perfect solution for on-the-go organization. It can be found on the Diamond Cabinet Web site, www.diamondcabinets.com.
6. Cubbies aren't just for kids. Containerization is the name of the game, so create your own kitchen cubbies wherever you can. Stash wire baskets or transparent storage boxes on shelves so you can see and grab things quickly.
7. Create eye-level storage. Make items easier to see and reach by adding eye-level shelves or a tall pantry unit for small jars of spices or tall bottles of oils and dressings.
8. Let there be light. Proper lighting ensures a comfortable environment for a variety of activities, so consider installing dimmers. The Diva dimmer from Lutron allows you to set light levels to full brightness for meal prep and art projects, and to lower levels for others such as mealtime and late-night tea. Visit www.lutron.com for more information.
9. Divvy it up in drawers. Kitchen drawers needn't be junk drawers. Use them to store items that can be folded or stored flat, such as cloth napkins or candles. Some drawers even come with wooden pegs to hold stacked dishes in place.
10. Make organization part of your life. Schedule a time for organizing into your daily routine, such as after the kids get home from school. A daily 10-minute dose of it can keep your kitchen in check.