Countertops should hold only things you use on a daily basis. Create a permanent spot for everything else, including appliances. "Clutter-free countertops make you feel like you have things under control," says Meryl Starr, author of The Home Organizing Workbook.
Divide and Conquer
Avoid jumbled messes in drawers and cupboards with dividers, bags, and caddies for frequently used items, such as silverware, napkins, even baking supplies. Most cabinet manufactures have good options for pullouts, shelf inserts, hooks, and other kitchen organizing tools.
Corral Personal Items
To prevent the room from becoming a dumping ground, try this rule: By dinnertime, the kitchen must be clear of personal items.
To get a handle on all the food, gadgets, and equipment that live in the kitchen, catalog those you use regularly and divide them based on where in the room they're most used. Store things as close as possible to where you use them. If you rarely or never use an item, give it away or store it in an out-of-the-way spot, such as in the basement, on high shelves in the pantry, or in the back of a corner cabinet.
- Hang aprons, pot holders, and dish towels on pegs (mount them at least two feet away from the stove).
- Arrange your kitchenware by frequency of use, with everyday dishes on an easy-to-reach lower shelf and special-occasion pieces up above.
- Group objects by purpose and assign them to specific cabinets, as with the bakeware centralized here.