Stop sabotaging your own efforts to tidy up.

By Katie Holdefehr
August 16, 2019
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Design by Jess Bunge, Photography by Sara Tramp for EHD

If the kitchen is the gathering area and hangout spot of your home, maintaining order in this room is likely a never-ending battle. Despite your best efforts to declutter and organize the kitchen, there always seems to be more appliances, more cooking tools, more dishes than the room can possibly hold. Keeping the kitchen organized is hard enough (especially if you have kids or roommates), so you want to make sure you're not inadvertently sabotaging your own best organization efforts. Here are some common organizing mistakes people make, which could be leaving your kitchen more cluttered than it needs to be. Start by fixing the five mistakes below, then try adding a few of our favorite kitchen organization tricks.

RELATED: 5 Tricks for Organizing Your Kitchen Counter—And Keeping It That Way

Mistake #1: Keeping Too Many Appliances Out on the Counter

Be honest, when's the last time you used that rice cooker that's taking up valuable real estate on your kitchen counter? If you haven't used an appliance in the past month, it probably doesn't need to be out on the counter. If you haven't used it because it's seasonal (you use your KitchenAid mixer during the holidays, but experience a lull in the summer), see if you can find it a storage spot in a cabinet or in the kitchen island.

Otherwise, decide if you need to keep the appliance at all. If you invested in that juicer during a long-abandoned juice fad, it may be time to resell or donate the appliance. Rather than focus on the loss of the appliance, just think about all the precious counter space you'll gain.

Mistake #2: Not Using Vertical Storage Correctly

It's a common complaint: If only my kitchen had just a little bit more cabinet space. But there's a good chance you're not taking full advantage of the cabinet storage you have. One reason is that we don't know how to use the upper cabinets that are hard to reach. Because you'll need to get out a step stool to access things stored there, it's the ideal spot for those serving platters and fancy dishware you only pull out once or twice a year. Alternatively, use this space for extra cleaning supplies. No matter what, don't place your everyday dishes in the tippy-top cabinet.

Similarly, if you have tall kitchen cabinets with excess vertical space in between shelves, try adding a shelf divider to maximize your storage. And don't forget about the top of the cabinets—it's the ideal spot to add some stylish storage bins (just be sure to choose lidded bins to protect your belongings from dust).

Mistake #3: Not Considering How You Cook

When arranging our kitchens, we often make the mistake of organizing according to appearances rather than functionality. Try this exercise: mindfully walk yourself through the steps you take to prepare a meal in your kitchen. What do you reach for first, and then what next? If you have to walk back and forth across the kitchen just to gather your supplies, it's time to reorganize.

Keep cooking tools and your go-to pots and pans as close to the stove as possible, then stash food storage containers in a cabinet near the fridge so you can drop off leftovers without taking any extra steps. You just cut your meal prep time in half.

Mistake #4: Not Using Wall Space

Don't make your drawers and cabinets do all the work—add hooks, a towel bar, or a magnetic knife rack to blanks walls in your kitchen. No only will storing a couple dish towels on wall hooks free up drawer space, but it makes them easier to grab when it comes time to dry the dishes.

Mistake #5: Buying Organizers You Don't Need

If you have a stash of organizers taking up space in your pantry or cabinets, now's the time to sort through them. Oftentimes, we buy containers before analyzing what we actually own. The result is a collection of bins we don't really need. Before you buy any drawer dividers or pantry storage, take stock of what you plan to keep in each organizer, then carefully measure the shelf or cabinet before purchasing.

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