12 clever ways to organise your kitchen

PHOTO: Ikea

It's one of the most used spaces at home, and yet it's almost always first to fall into disarray. Blame it on a lot of factors, really: Lack of storage, too much stuff, or a lack of space altogether. Whatever the reason, we're pretty sure you find yourself thinking, "Surely, there must be a better way to organise my kitchen?"

This led us on a hunt on the WWW for great kitchen organising ideas, and below is a list of tricks that we think you'll love. Whether you've got a space-challenged kitchen in your HDB unit, or a spacious restaurant-style one in your landed home, you'll find quite a few gems on this list that you'll want to use in your happy place.

1. Refrigerators don't usually have floor-to-ceiling heights, and more likely than not, yours will have unused space just above it. Make it functional by building a storage cabinet for trays, platters, or even baking stuff. Crown moulding and beautiful cabinet doors make it look more furniture-like than DIY.

11 easy ways to organise your kitchen

  • "There are five main zones: cooking, preparation, cleaning, storage, and food. Everything in your kitchen should fit into one of these five categories," says Toni Hammersley, author of Complete Book of Home Organisation. Dividing the kitchen into zones helps create areas of focus - everything you need for a specific task is just within your reach. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • Toss what you no longer need or use. "Toss out those old spices and replenish them with fresh and new jars. Pull out all [your items] from your cabinets, pantry, and drawers so you can take inventory of what you have," adds Hammersley. Laura Leist, author of Eliminating Chaos, suggests gathering garbage bags and storage bins, so you can easily sort your stuff into donations or items that can be recycled. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • You can choose to hang them on a rail, slide them into multilevel wire racks, place them on an open shelf, or stack them inside a cabinet. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • "Kitchen counters often attract clutter, and this can lead to a crowded and defeated look," warns Sember. Use baskets or cute metal caddies to store knickknacks and loose papers like takeaway menus, receipts, and bills. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • "Follow two basic themes when organising cooking equipment: point of use and frequency of use," says Philip Schmidt, author of A Clutter-Free Home. "Frequency of use is just as straightforward: everyday pots and pans belong right in the cooking area, preferably hung on a pot rack. Give less priority to occasional-use pieces, such as double boilers, stockpots, and roasting pans." (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • "Whether you prefer plastic or glass, most food storage containers consist of two pieces: base and the lid. Gain control of this area by storing lids separately, in a designated basket or tucked inside a hanging door organiser," says Hammersley. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • "Consider using DIY kits on the inside of cabinet faces. They are available in many styles and finishes," says Schmidt. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • Look for one that maximises your kitchen drawer size. "If the organiser is smaller than your drawer, a non-slip mat beneath it can prevent it from wiggling around," says Sember. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • Organise your knives with a knife block; otherwise use an in-drawer knife tray if you want to keep them organised yet out of sight. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • Sember explains, "In other words, wine glasses on the left, juice glasses in the middle, regular glasses on the right. That way you're not reaching around the juice glasses in the front row to get to the water glasses behind them in the second row." (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • Just paint them to match your existing cabinets and voila! More storage space for you. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)

2. Here's another tip where looking up in the kitchen will get you that storage space you so desperately lack (or perhaps make you go "Why didn't I think of that before?"). Put baskets on top of your upper cabinets if space permits to store items you don't normally use often. Wire baskets give off a vintage industrial look, while rattan ones look great in cottage-style kitchens. If your kitchen's more on the contemporary side, go for beautiful lacquer boxes for a high-gloss feel.

3. Pot racks are a great way to get those pots and pans out of the cabinets to make way for other items that should be kept hidden away (like those plastic takeaway containers). Hang them up on the ceiling or from S-hooks on a handrail on the wall.

4. Placing dry food in containers like these glass jars with scoops make it easy for the chef at home to see whether he or she is running out of ingredients, as well as make for a beautiful display either on open shelves or in the pantry. Plus, you're able to control how much to buy when you're out in the grocery, which helps keep costs down.

10 rules for a well-planned kitchen

  • What and how you cook will influence the design of your kitchen. Someone who uses the wok frequently will have different requirements from that of an avid baker, for example, in terms of the appliances and equipment needed. Make a list of the appliances you will need, so you can determine how much storage you require. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • Take note of where your electrical sockets, water inlet and outlet provisions, and pipes are. "Well-designed cabinets hide the pipes yet provide easy access. You should also factor in potential requirements for equipment, such as heat ventilation and the occasional servicing," says Bu Shukun, director of interior design firm, Architology. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • The triangle takes into consideration how the general kitchen user works, especially at the three main points: cooktop, sink, and refrigerator. Planned together with the kitchen shape, these units should be placed within easy reach but not too close together.

    "Being left- or right-handed also affects placement. For a right-hander, place components like dishwasher, counter space and cooktop from left to right. It is the opposite for left-handers," says Leslie Tan from Ikea Singapore.

  • Opt for a kitchen shape that provides maximum storage and ease of usage. Ewins, a distributor for kitchen systems, recommends a linear layout for smaller spaces - where cabinets are fitted against a wall - and a U-shaped layout for medium to large spaces. The latter maximises the use of your space; a wider layout can even accommodate a kitchen island. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • Multipurpose spaces and transformable furniture will make the most out of your kitchen space. Extendable tables are convenient solutions if you need more space to prepare food, whereas kitchen islands or breakfast counters can double as dining areas and provide storage.

    If you have a kitchen island countertop, Davina Lim from kitchen appliance brand De Dietrich suggests equipping it with additional kitchen amenities such as a preparation sink. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)

  • Plan your cabinets and equipment such that they are comfortably accessible. Consider the height and depth of counters; for example, you will need to hunch if the countertop is too low or tiptoe if the wall cabinet is too high. The recommended width between two parallel counters is at least 100-119cm, as cabinet doors take up space when opened. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • Keep flammable items such as dish towels and curtains away from the stove or heaters, and ensure rugs are anti-slip. For a child-friendly kitchen, use drawer locks to keep knives and harmful detergents out of reach and place corner bumpers on sharp edges.

    Install ovens at a safe height of 91cm from the floor to prevent curious kids from placing their hands on the door or opening it when it's hot. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)

  • The interior fittings of your storage units should be planned with commonly used items in mind. Consider a basket drawer that pulls out to reach sauce and seasoning bottles easily. If you have an L-shaped kitchen, corner solutions help utilise unreachable spaces. Don't forget rails for pots and hooks to hang your pans from, as these save countertop space. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • A glass backsplash is easily wiped down, and a granite worktop is hardy and heat-resistant. Although tiles are prone to a grease build-up, you can clean it easily by scrubbing the surface with warm water and powdered bleach. Stainless steel is another durable and easy-to-maintain material. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)
  • Save money in the long run by investing in durable worktops and cabinets, and smart storage systems. Avoid building structures and compartments that are not versatile in function and size, as you might need to replace current appliances with larger-sized ones.

    A well-maintained and neat kitchen also adds value to your home. Whether or not you are intending to sell your home, "flexibility and functionality in the kitchen, to ensure maximum usage of space and storage, is imperative," says Andrew Ching, chief designer of interior design firm D5 Studio Image. (Photo: Shutterstock.com)

5. If you're stuck with a small cabinet to store all your kitchen needs, consider buying a lazy susan or turntable. It's not so expensive, but it gets the job of reducing the time you spend looking for that darn can of tomato soup.

6. Pull-out racks in cabinets work to let you reach items that are stored at the back. If you can't afford to invest in cabinet rack systems, use plastic bins that fit inside your cabinets instead.

7. Shelf inserts like the ones from Ikea add precious real estate inside your pantry or cabinet by way of another cabinet level (without you having to nail or hammer or screw anything).

Small kitchen design ideas

  • Being the heart of the home, the kitchen has to be well-organised and pretty, no matter how small.
  • Keep the kitchen light and airy by lining a wall with open shelves instead of upper cabinets.
  • Display special-occasion dishes on top shelves and everyday items on lower ones.
  • Make this space extra hardworking-hang your pots, utensils, knives, and other kitchen implements on your wall.
  • Make this space extra hardworking-hang your pots, utensils, knives, and other kitchen implements on your wall.
  • In a small house white makes everything look cleaner and larger, it's optical.
  • Install glossy-white laminate cabinets or shelves and drawers, opt for white subway tiles, or make use of white marble counter-top.
  • If the kitchen isn't large, use only a few colours so as not to overwhelm the room.
  • You can use a checkerboard floor to make the room eye-catching.
  • Even if your kitchen is done up in an all-white motif, you can still add pops of colour to make it livelier.
  • Bright yellow cabinets? Orange backsplash? Pastel green fridge? No problem.
  • Create an eye-catching focal point without dropping a lot of cash by lining the wall behind the cooktop with decorative tile.
  • Make the kitchen fun, happy, quintessentially you.
  • Display your DIY projects, inspiring typography, chalkboard lists, photos, and other personal collections.

8. Another unused space you should look into are the sides of your refrigerator. Check this quick tutorial from Classy Clutter on how to make a pull-out canned goods shelf made just for this space.

9. Aunt Martha sure knows how to make homes look more Instagram-ready. This tip on stacking teacups makes your cup-and-saucer cabinet look nice, plus takes the difficulty out of grabbing that cuppa for your java on those hectic Monday mornings.

10. Check out another tutorial on how to make a "toekick cabinet" out of stuff from Ikea to make the space under your bottom kitchen cabinets usable.

Read also: 8 organising essentials for a beautiful kitchen

11. It's such a drag to have to, uh, drag out your appliances to the nearest (and sometimes, only) available electric outlet. Installing a strip of outlets under your upper cabinets can help make food preps so much easier.

12. It makes sense to lay your utensils horizontally in your drawers, but placing them vertically like this seems much more space-efficient. Look at all that room for not just spoons and forks, but knives, steak knives, bread knives, soup spoons, teaspoons, salad forks, serving utensils…

Creating better homes and family.