Q&A Wednesday: I need help organizing my small kitchen!

Last Q&A Wednesday on our Facebook page, two readers submitted related kitchen oragnization questions to the Buttoned Up team.

Laurie asked:

Do you all know of any methods (not too expensive) to organize lids of plastic containers, and also lids for various pots and pans?

Lee Ann asked:

I have extremely limited storage space in my kitchen:4 small cabinets used for dishes and 5 small drawers used for towels and utensils. We do have a double door pantry for the food. Any ideas on creative ways to fit everything? I don’t even have space for cookbooks! (ps I hate clutter or the look of clutter, i.e.pot racks).

The good news is – there are definitely fabulous yet inexpensive ways to corral all of those plastic container lids. Ditto for making the most of the small cabinet space you do have.

I’ll start with the container lids

Organize Tupperware with Mesh Baskets that fit in cabinets
I am a huge Elfa fan. I have Elfa shelves installed in my pantry and in my boys’ small closets. They are high quality and, in my experience, stand up to a lot of repetitive use. So the first place I went to look for a solution was, naturally, the Container Store. Sure enough, I quickly found these mesh basket gliders that essentially mimic the Elfa system but for your kitchen cabinets. You could keep lids in one drawer and bottoms in another. $27-$35

QA Lids
Another easy & super-practical option: use drawer dividers to separate the space in your drawer, making room for lids in one area and containers in another. Depending on your drawer shape/size, you could divide the space vertically, as they do in the image above, or horizontally. You can get a set of two drawer dividers like these from OXO for about $20 on Amazon.

QA Lids - lid rack

Use CD racks to organize tupperware lids in drawers
Wire racks also make good container lid holders – and they’re versatile. You can use them in cabinets or drawers just as easily. {image above via Lifehacker}
Another great option – use wire dividers to contain them.

Organize your Tupperware lids in wire baskets
Wire baskets are an excellent choice for organizing lids and their corresponding containers because you can easily see what’s inside. Keeping lids separate from the containers makes it easier to keep both organized (similar shapes with similar shapes = more efficient storage). {image via: Raquel English}

Use a disrack to organize Tupperware lids
Finally – dish racks always make an excellent lid organizer…

Okay – now on to the kitchen.

When you have limited cupboard space, things can get out of control quickly. There are essentially three key strategic options at your disposal: (1) paring down to the absolute essentials, (2) maximizing every centimeter of the existing storage space, and (3) going vertical – using all available wall space. The ideas below are some thought starters.

Step 1: Pare down.
I’m sure you have already, but it can’t hurt to go back through the things you have and make sure that only the essentials are actually kept in the kitchen. Meaning, those things that you use every day. Special dishes for parties, fancy glassware, appliances you rarely use – all should be stored in another room or placed in storage. It may sound draconian, but honestly, think of the daily stress of having to wade through a bunch of things you almost never use just to get to the things you do want to use — that’s a weight worth dropping!

Step 2: Make the Most of Your Cabinet Spaces
There are lots of ingenious ways to make use of every square millimeter of space. Here are a few simple ideas.

Stacking shelves help you make the most of tall cabinets
Stacking shelves like these from the Container Store help you make the most of tall cabinets. $8.49

Mount a rack on the inside of a cabinet to organize cleaning supplies

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Door mounted spice rack

Drawer mounted spice rack
Door mounted spice rack
Use the dead space inside closed cabinets. Hang a door-mounted organizer for things like spices and cleaning supplies, like the ones shown above from Durasupreme. You could also do the same for pot lid-organizers – just mount a lid rack on the inside of a door.

Maximize storage space in your drawers with our two-tier, divided trays for silverware, utensils and cutlery

QA Double decker drawers
If you have height in your drawers, you might want to look into inserts like this one from Durasupreme – in one swoop, you double your drawer space!

Use lazy susans to organize small items on a shelf - and maximize space
If you have cabinets with small glassware or other small items – consider using lazy susans to maximize the space.

Organize utensils in a jar on the counter and gain drawer space
I’d also recommend picking your absolute favorite utensils and keeping them organized in a pretty ceramic jar on the counter – within reach of the stove. It not only is functional, it can look gorgeous and give you more drawer space to play with too.

Step 3: Go vertical
When you stop looking at the cabinets as your only storage space and open up the possibility of hanging things on walls – your kitchen might suddenly be able to “fit” what you’ve got. Below are a few ideas on how to use that vertical space.

Hanging utensils and spices above the counter saves space and looks organized
Hanging a rod above your stove & using it to artfully hang utensils and/or spices is a great way to open up otherwise cluttered cabinet space.

QA Vertical
In your facebook note you mentioned an aversion to things like hanging pots, but with an eye towards balance – they can look gorgeous.

Create a high shelf to display items & store rarely used appliances
Could you create a high shelf that borders your kitchen space like the one in this image? Not only does it look gorgeous, but it also will keep those items you use less frequently out of your hair during the day-to-day.

Use the tops of cabinets to display and organize bowls and vases
Use the tops of cabinets to display and organize bowls, vases, or small appliances.

What do you think – could any of these ideas help you organize your kitchen more effectively?