Appleshine, kitchen, cleaning, organizing

A Guide to Getting Your Kitchen in Shape

Invest in transparent bins, can racks, and open shelving.

Meal prepping and letting your Seamless app gather digital dust is a great goal, but it's often futile when you return with a bounty of farmer's market produce that slowly wilts in an overstuffed, disorganized kitchen. Turns out, there’s a secret step one to every single recipe out there—and it’s getting your kitchen in order. As Amelia Meena, the New York City-based founder of Appleshine Organization + Design explains, considering how you actually use all the items in your kitchen can help you figure out better ways to keep things clean. For instance, you probably don’t keep your black tie gowns front and center in your closet, so similarly you wouldn't store your truffle oil on the counter. Here, five smart ways to keep clutter at bay.

1. Choose open shelves or drawers instead of cabinets.
Cabinets are ubiquitous in kitchens but they're more likely to house out-of-date appliances and pantry items. Open shelves are ideal because they let you easily see everything that’s in a given area, from pots and pans to your sea salt collection. "It's worth finding or hanging a small shelf near your cooking area with a handful of your most-used seasonings," says Meena. Even drawers can be more advantageous than cabinets, notes Meena, who suggests labeling all the tops of jars or other items so you can identify them just from looking down.

2. Weed out unwanted stuff. 
Be honest about how much dishware you really need. “Get rid of excessive duplicates and return borrowed items to their owners,” says Meena. “Consider your family size when deciding quantities of tableware to keep readily available—a family of four may only need six to eight place settings depending on the dishwashing cycles.” Chances are you purchased a box set, but if having eight bowls is just enabling you to go a week without washing one you might be better off donating a few or putting them into storage.

3. Don't buy lid racks but do invest in can racks.
“Kitchen-organizing tools aren't worth going crazy over," says Meena. For example, instead of lid racks, "the easiest and most space-efficient way to handle pots and pans is to keep them stored with their lids on,” she explains. Can racks, on the other hand, "double the amount of La Croix or soups for the same footprint of space.”

4. Take advantage of see-through bins.
Boxes get a lot of love when it comes to organizing dresser drawers and closets, and similarly are great for your kitchen and fridge. According to Meena, using basic, transparent tubs can keep things like bottles of olive oil from toppling into one another and even help you make better eating choices. “Separate things like healthy snacks into a box on a lower, easy-to-reach shelf, and less used items can go up higher,” she says. 

5. Clear off your counters.
“Resist the urge to put everything on the countertop,” underscores Meena. Leaving out canisters of utensils works, but only if you use them regularly—if you have a collection of ladles and risotto spoons that are gathering dust, reconsider whether you really need them. “Only keep out really heavy and aesthetically pleasing items (like a high-tech blender), or items used almost daily (your paper towel rod or coffee machine),” she says. One thing that should definitely be on your counter though is a beautiful fruit bowl that is kept freshly stocked. “It encourages easy, healthy snacking and the edible colors add a little beauty.”