Where to put things in kitchen cabinets and drawers.

Organized kitchen cabinet with labeled shelves for efficient space use
  Reading time 11 minutes

Before rearranging your kitchen cabinets, one thing is clear: knowing the space you have is essential. Each kitchen is unique, and the organization should be customized to fit its size and your personal cooking style. Assess which items you use daily and which ones can be stored away. For instance, everyday dishes should be placed in easily accessible upper cabinets, while bulkier items like mixers or slow cookers can be stored in lower cabinets or pantry spaces. Look at your kitchen’s layout – where is the kitchen sink, stove, and refrigerator? This will make a difference in how you’ll want to organize.

Prioritizing Kitchen Items

Prioritizing items goes hand-in-hand with assessing your space. The items that you use most often should be in the most accessible places. A table of usage frequency, like the one below, can help prioritize:

Frequently Used (Daily)Occasionally UsedRarely Used
Plates and bowlsServing plattersSpecial occasion dishes
Everyday glassesMixing bowlsIce cream maker
CutleryCake pansPasta machine

Understanding the Workflow

Keeping things in cabinets should hinge on your kitchen’s workflow, with everything positioned to enhance efficiency. The idea is to minimize movement; for example, storing your dishes and glassware near the dishwasher will make unloading and putting things away a breeze. Organizing your cooking tools around the stove or oven, and your food storage containers near the refrigerator simplifies meal prep and leftovers storage.

Sorted drawer with utensils in kitchen showcasing neat arrangement

The Art of Cabinet Organization

Arranging Upper Cabinets for Efficiency

When it comes to upper cabinets, the rule is simplicity and accessibility. Glassware and mugs should be at eye level, ideally near the sink or refrigerator for easy serving. Plates and bowls can follow in cabinet doors closest to the dining area, reducing the hassle of setting the table.

  • Glassware and Mugs: These items should be within reach and stored safely to avoid breakage. A hanging stemware rack under an upper cabinet could also be a great addition, saving precious cabinet space for other items.
  • Plates and Bowls: The stacks of your most-used dishes should be positioned within easy reach. Reserve the highest shelves for special occasion items that are used less frequently.
  • Food Storage Containers: Keeping lids and containers together will save time and frustration. Choose a cabinet near the refrigerator or dishwasher to keep these items within easy reach when putting leftovers away.

Making the Most of Lower Cabinets

Lower cabinets provide great storage for heavier items. Pots, pans, and lids should be stored here, with a lid organizer if possible to keep them neatly stacked. Baking supplies can be tucked away in these cabinets as well, since they’re only needed occasionally. Non-everyday appliances can find a home here, too – out of sight but still accessible when needed.

  • Pots, Pans, and Lids: Consider installing pull-out drawers in the lower cabinets for easier access. This way, you won’t have to dig through a mountain of cookware just to find the right pot or lid.
  • Baking Supplies and Mixing Bowls: If space permits, dedicate a drawer or cabinet shelf to your baking essentials. Standardize storage with clear bins or a carousel for smaller items like measuring cups and spoons.
  • Appliances You Rarely Use: Appliances that aren’t part of your everyday routine shouldn’t take valuable counter space. Instead, designate a spot in the lower cabinets. A stand mixer, for instance, could be stored there, and pulled out for the occasional baking project.

Drawer Dynamics: Best Practices for Every Utensil

Drawers are prime real estate in the kitchen for keeping things organized and within reach. Layout is crucial here, and typically involves three types of utensil drawers:

  1. The Everyday Drawer: It should be nearest to the dishwasher and stove, containing silverware and utensils you reach for daily. Drawer dividers will help keep each type of utensil in its place.
  2. The Prep Drawer: This includes knives, vegetable peelers, and other prep tools. Ideally located near the chopping area to streamline your cooking prep activities. Safety tip: keep knives in a knife block or a secure drawer insert to prevent accidents.
  3. The Specialty Utensil Drawer: Reserved for items like corn cob holders, measuring spoons, or pizza cutters – organized by use or type, stored where you use them the most.

Organizing your kitchen with these principles in mind isn’t just about putting things back where they belong, but, more importantly, creating a space that is in harmony with your cooking habits. This alignment between the flow of your movements and the positioning of your kitchen items away in cabinets is the key to a well-functioning kitchen. A well-organized kitchen is more than the sum of its parts; it’s an ecosystem that enhances your efficiency and enjoyment every time you cook.

Smart kitchen storage with pots and pans neatly stacked in cabinet

Space-Saving Tips for Small Kitchens

Maximizing space in a small kitchen requires creativity and smart organizational strategies. It starts with making the most of every inch and using every available nook in your storage spaces.

  • Utilizing Vertical Space: Often overlooked, vertical spaces can be a game-changer for cabinets organization in a small kitchen. Installing shelves that reach up near the ceiling can provide a home for less frequently used items, freeing up more accessible space for essentials. Stacking shelves and risers inside cabinets can double usable space and keep smaller items easily visible.
  • Implementing Organizational Tools: Drawer organizers, under-shelf baskets, and over-the-cabinet-door racks are invaluable for increasing storage capacity and keeping things orderly. For example, additional cutlery trays can help organize serving utensils or measuring cups that might otherwise clutter drawers or cabinets.
  • Decluttering Regularly: Reducing the number of items you have to store will make it easier to find homes for those you truly need. Setting aside time every few months to declutter and remove items you no longer use or need can free up a surprising amount of space.

Maintaining Your Organized Kitchen

Developing maintenance routines is as important as the initial organization of your kitchen space. Without regular upkeep, even the best-laid organizational systems can fall into disarray.

  • Daily Habits to Keep Clutter at Bay: The key to keeping things in order is to put items away immediately after use. A good practice is to never go to bed with a cluttered kitchen; take a few minutes each evening to ensure everything is returned to its rightful place.
  • Seasonal Reevaluation of Space: As seasons change, so do our cooking habits. Taking the time to reassess your space periodically, such as switching accessible items based on the season, will help maintain the functionality of your cabinets and drawers.
  • The Five-Minute Daily Organization Routine: Spend a few minutes every day checking the state of your cabinets and drawers. This daily check-in will help you catch any clutter before it becomes a bigger problem and ensure that every item is stored where it should be.
Optimized drawer dividers used for kitchen tools and flatware placement


In conclusion, the placement of items in kitchen cabinets and drawers can make a monumental difference in the efficiency and pleasure of cooking in your home. By carefully considering the layout of your kitchen, prioritizing the items you use most often, and employing space-saving tips and maintenance routines, you will ensure that everything in your kitchen has a logical and accessible home.

Remember that the organization is not a one-size-fits-all solution; it should be tailored to fit your individual lifestyle and space. It’s not just about keeping things neat; it’s about creating a fluent kitchen environment where cooking becomes less of a chore and more of a delightful experience. As you adapt these principles to your own kitchen, you may find that the act of cooking brings even more joy and less frustration, as every item you need is precisely where you expect it to be.


Q1: What is the best way to organize spices in a kitchen?
A1: Spices should be kept in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. Ideally, they should be grouped together either in a drawer with a spice drawer insert or on a lazy Susan in an upper cabinet. This keeps them easily accessible and viewable, so you can quickly grab the spices you need while cooking.

Q2: How can I organize my kitchen if I don’t have many cabinets?
A2: If your kitchen is short on cabinets, focus on vertical storage solutions and multipurpose organizers. Use wall-mounted shelves, hanging racks, and magnetic strips for knives and utensils. Consider a freestanding shelf or cart to increase storage space and keep kitchen essentials handy.

Q3: Where should I store my pots and pans for easy access?
A3: Pots and pans are best stored in lower cabinets near the stove. If possible, use organizers like pull-out drawers, hanging racks, or lid organizers to keep them sorted and within easy reach. Stackable pots and nesting pans can also save space.

Q4: Is it better to store dishes in upper or lower cabinets?
A4: Dishes are most commonly used, so they should be stored in an upper cabinet closest to where they will be set for a meal. This makes it easier to put them away and take them out as needed. Reserve lower cabinets for heavier items or appliances.

Q5: What’s a good system for organizing plastic containers and lids?
A5: A good system for organizing food storage containers is to nest them by size and shape, with the lids organized separately in the same area. You can use a plate rack or a dedicated bin with lid organizers. Keep this system in a cabinet near the dishwasher for easy cleanup and storage.