OK, confession time: When Mark and I moved into this house in August, I kind of just threw dishes into the kitchen cupboards at random, without really thinking about what should go where. And things have more or less lived in the places I threw them since then. So I knew, when I began this project, that cleaning up my cupboards was going to need to be a task I'd take on. And I've been avoiding it. It just seemed like such a big pain in the butt. So, I decided to break it up. Today, just the top cupboards.
Before I began, I checked my source material. As was the case with other decluttering type projects, the older volumes were silent. Martha, though, had lots to say on the subject of kitchen cabinet organization:
It's not the amount of room you have that matters, but how you manage it. Saucers are often stacked, for example, and then topped with piles of cups, which simply don't pile up very well. The result is a lot of unused space. Instead, store cups and saucers in the same way they are used: saucer, cup, saucer, cup. They not only look better but can also be safely stacked higher, and when you pull out a cup and saucer, they are ready for use. Here are other ideas to help you make the most of the space you have:
Bowls, Pots, and Pans
Nest them to conserve space. Place paper plates or sheets of paper towels in between layers to prevent scratching (use nonabsorbent coated paper plates between cast iron-iron pans, which tend to retain traces of oil).
Fragile Trays and Platters
Stack them by size, with the biggest ones on the bottom and the smallest on top. Leave a few inches between stacks to avoid the possibility of chipping pieces when puling them out and putting them back in. Stack like shapes together--round platters in one stack, oblong platters in another. You can also lean platters against the back wall of a cabinet (secure them using rubber bumpers) and stack plates in front.
Nonbreakable Flat Items
Store cutting boards and baking pans upright, by installing tension rods vertically between shelves.
Glassware, Dinnerware, and Serving Pieces
Group by pattern, collection, or function--for example, all transferware in one group and Fiesta ware in another, or everyday glasses on one shelf and special-occasional stemware on another. Stack no more than four to six plates together (anything that has been repaired should always be kept on the top, or not stacked at all) and store glasses upright to protect rims.
Group wooden utensils in one crock, stainless-steel ones in another. Line up crocks next to the cooktop, for easy access.
No sooner had I read Martha's advice than I started to ignore it. These were the cabinets with which I began:
I tackled them one at a time. First, I took everything out. Then, I washed the inside of the cupboard down with a warm soap rag. Then I followed up with my beloved almond-scented Method wood cleaner. Finally, I replaced things in a way that made sense, removing anything that didn't belong in that cabinet. For each cupboard, I tried to put the most used items on the bottom shelves, the least used on the top.
When I finished, the cupboards looked like this:
I know, I know--upside down glasses and plates stacked ten-deep. I can't help it, I'm stuck in my ways.
This project took about 35 minutes.