By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Come to order

It is time to re-organize my kitchen. This has been made clear by minor problems, like having things fall out of certain cupboards when they’re opened.

This is annoying. Also occasionally destructive.

The kitchen gets re-organized every few years, when the previous order and tidiness resulting from the last session have gradually yielded to the natural entropy of the universe and progressed into chaos.

“It’s not dysfunctional – much ...” I protested recently, while watching a video showing before and after shots of someone else’s kitchen being professionally re-organized.

So, yes, the top of the refrigerator, which is supposed to be kept clear for maximum efficiency of the refrigeration unit, is covered with thermoses and water bottles, like the before shot in the video, which looks anything but tidy.

And, all right, it’s true that the drawer of utensils such as spatulas, wooden spoons, pestles, juicers, pizza wheels and so forth is really hard to find anything in – much like the one in the video. And fine, yes, there are a lot of random bags and bottles in the cupboard that are difficult to search through. And the spices are kept in at least four different locations – although those make sense to me, if not to anyone else, and unlike the kitchen owners from the video, I can at any given moment, lay my hands on precisely the herb or spice I want, with little effort.


So, it’s not dysfunctional … much.

Watching the video was interesting. Part of the problem in that kitchen was clutter, and some of it is in my kitchen, too. But not, actually, most of it. On the other hand, if lack of storage space is a problem, it’s well worth thinking about which items you actually use and whether some are just taking up space for no apparent reason.

Inefficiency can be a major problem.

We, for example, have one of those very wide, deep cupboards that you can pack quite a lot into – provided you don’t mind having to take every single item back out any time you want to reach to the back of the cupboard, or even check to see what you have on hand.

This is not efficient.

But the organizer had some professional secrets.

One was to figure out the basic problems the kitchen presented, before moving so much as a single measuring spoon.

Another was to create a plan for where everything would go – again, before she ever began actually tidying up.

A third was to make use of some of the handy organizing paraphernalia now available – after she made her plan, so the choices were made purposefully.

There are all sorts of ways to increase kitchen efficiency without having to hire a contractor for a complete remodel.

Pull-out shelves or drawers, for example, can be installed for deep cupboards, making it possible to reach all the way to the back without having to first unpack the entire cupboard. Lazy Susans are another helpful device, making it easy to quickly search through an assortment of spice or condiment bottles, for example.

Dividers can be installed so that different utensils are easy to locate in a drawer, rather than tangled up together.

Shallow shelves can sometimes be installed on the inside of cupboard doors for smaller items such as spices.

Labels can help to ensure that everyone puts items in their designated place, rather than whatever shelf, or hook, happens to be empty.

It is worth taking some time to think about how you cook, the organizer noted, and arranging things accordingly.

In my own kitchen, my husband installed a row of hooks just above the stove. Those hooks are one of my favorite kitchen features. That’s where my metal measuring cups hang – in order (except, ahem, when someone who is not me puts them away) – so that it’s easy to snatch exactly the one you want, without having to pay much attention. A ring of metal measuring spoons hangs next to them.

That single small feature has, I’m certain, saved hours of swearing while searching for a misplaced measuring cup or spoon. Although there was that unfortunate incident where I removed a flat grater from the hooks and promptly dropped it behind the stove. Twice. In hindsight, it might not be the best location for hanging flat items.

At any rate, I now have some helpful new ideas for the great re-organization of 2014, and I hope you have garnered some useful tips as well.

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