It’s January, and in January I always seem to tackle another problem area in my kitchen. The kitchen naturally comes with a complex set of issues. But the good news is, there are simple solutions to make the kitchen a friendlier space to cook in. I wrote a whole book about it (The Minimalist Kitchen). Today, I’m tackling the cabinets and drawers.
This post was created in an ongoing partnership with OXO, the brand I lean on in the kitchen. Their products just work. They’re smart, functional, and affordable.
I’ve pared down a lot over the years. But even a pared down kitchen can feel disorganized and inefficient. For evidence, see the before shot depicting a chaotic shelf of vinegars, oils, salt, pepper, extracts, etc. It’s fine, but not friendly or organized.
Enter the turntable. It’s not just for your grandma’s kitchen. If I was Oprah, I’d put one in every kitchen. You get a turntable! You get a turntable! Here’s why I love this gadget. For obvious reasons—it turns, making it easy to retrieve a specific item. But I also love that it acts as a divider. Dividers are a key ingredient to an organized kitchen. This one in particular from OXO has a lip to keep items contained.
Originally, I planned on using the turntable to house the vinegars and oil. But after repackaging them into glass bottles, they became an art piece when color coordinated. Visual happiness! The remaining everyday items were moved to the turntable, and now I can see everything at a quick glance and retrieve it without digging.
Tip: Co-ops and Whole Foods often sell oils and vinegars in the bulk section. You can refill your bottles and save on packaging. Read more here about how to shop in bulk.
Drawers are another big problem area in kitchens. Without dividers, they are often chaotic, producing expletives upon retrieval of an item. Apply the cooking concept of mise en place to the kitchen cabinets and drawers—everything in its place. Designate a space for every item and give it a home, bound by dividers. You’ll never be able to blame your husband for the missing spatula again. Ha!
This expandable utensil organizer from OXO is great for the utensil drawer. It has adjustable utensil dividers that can be moved to fit the size of your utensils. Notice the notches for the toddler spoons versus the adult spoons. So user-friendly! We also use inexpensive bamboo dividers in our drawers. Divide and conquer … those kitchen cabinets and drawers!
For more kitchen organizing posts, check out The Minimalist Pantry Part 1 and 2. For a comprehensive guide to creating and cooking from a minimalist kitchen, buy The Minimalist Kitchen and take The Minimalist Kitchen Course.
I appreciate the inspiration! What do you do with the original bottles of oil & vinaga etc if the new sleek container can’t hold it all? It seems that I could very well double the number of containers I’m storing, with both original & new both containing product. What are your ideas on that? Thanks!
I keep a specific area in my pantry for overflow to house things like oils, vinegars, nuts, sugars, oats, etc. Mine is at the bottom of my pantry. I recommend storing your overflow separately from the everyday to keep the everyday from overcrowding. I talk about this in more detail in my book coming out in April, The Minimalist Kitchen!
What are the spring looking items being stored next to your silverware? Just curious! Wishing my cabinets could look this neat!
although now I see the link that they are corn holders! I thought they were wine stem identifiers somehow
I grew up using corn holders and it’s the only way I can eat it now ?. My husband thinks they are superfluous but i love them!
LOVE your container for flour, where did you get it?
It’s from IKEA. It’s not airtight though, so I just use it as a pretty vessel!
Think you so much Melissa! I love and look forward to your posts like these! Can’t wait to get your book 🙂 Purchased some mason jars and a turntable yesterday and started my cupboard overhaul.
Nice idea about the oils. I keep mine in a tray to avoid oil on the shelf. Looking forward to your book :-).
Thank you, Ron!
Hi! OT – What is the color of the grout in your kitchen? Elbows deep in remodeling ours and it’s the little things like that I can’t make decisions on! Thanks!
I am also in the process of minimizing the products and utensils I keep in my kitchen. In your post for the minimalist kitchen part 1 you mentioned trimming your spices down to 24. I am curious, what 24 spices do you consider necessary in the kitchen. Love your articles. Can’t wait to read your book.
Great post & I plan to add a few of this tips to my kitchen. We have a family of five and often have guest and parents over for dinner. I cook everyday, and entertain often. I would love to hear how you are able to only use such minimal items and do you store extra items for entertaining somewhere separate? Thanks for such great tips.
Hi Shelley! I actually tackle this subject of entertaining and minimalism more in depth in my book that’s out in April. Balancing between the everyday and special occasion can be so tricky!
I will keep an eye out for the book release. Thank you!!
I want it all!
my kitchen cabinets are crammed full of baking supplies, tea, cookbooks, spices, jars and pitchers. I’ve been telling myself that I’ll take everything out and only bring back items as I need/use them but I haven’t done that yet. I want a more minimalist kitchen but it’s just as hard to get rid of old pantry staples as it is getting rid of a skirt that you never wear.
Parting with something perfectly good is so hard! This process has taken me over 4+ years and a couple moves. Actually, moving 4 times in 4 years really helped me get rid of stuff. I was moving unopened boxes around the country. Wait for my book to come out in April. It’s full of practical, in-depth solutions to help with this!
Your kitchen is absolutely beautiful, Melissa!
I’m feeling inspired to try your oil/vinegar bottle suggestion. And, the OXO turntable would be super helpful so I might have to grab one of those. Thanks for sharing!
These are great tips! Looking forward to your book. We live in a bungalow built in 1940 so we don’t have the luxury of large/deep cabinets and drawers. I would love thoughts on how to adapt for smaller spaces. I don’t think the turntable would fit in any of my cabinets.
Hi Cassie! I hope you are doing well! (And getting some sleep with a new babe.) I know the pain of living in tight spaces. That’s where a lot of my kitchen problem solving started. When you don’t have enough storage space, you have to create new spaces. In our past apartments, we would always use space in a closet for overflow, like bulk items (oats, vinegar jugs, oils, etc) and larger pans. That helped to free up space for the everyday in a tight kitchen. If you have the space, you could also add some narrow upper Ikea cabinets to create a “buffet” nearby. We did something similar here. I’m actually a huge fan of shallow cabinets (although I know there is a point of too shallow). Deeper storage spaces usually cause problems. If you can see it, you will use it. If not, it’s out of mind. I also measure everything before buying, even my containers. I find the specs online before buying in the store. I can’t look like that crazy lady with a ruler at the store. Ha! Let me know if other specific questions come up! The book is so much more thorough, addressing everything from storage to shopping.
They ARE very pretty, but won’t some of those things degrade/oxidize if kept in a clear bottle? This is why lots of oils are sold in dark green or brown glass rather than clear. Maybe you go through oil and vinegar faster than I do! 🙂
Hey Hannah! These are stored behind a cabinet so no sunlight hits them, which is what the darker colored bottles help protect from. I’m glad you brought this up! If storing oils and vinegars in sunlight, clear glass bottles are not the best option. Go dark. Glass is also a better material for storing/preserving oils and vinegar as opposed to the plastic bottles they are usually sold in.