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How to Unpack and Organize the Kitchen

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How to Unpack and Organize the Kitchen

The kitchen should be the first rooms to be unpacked primarily because it's the one area of the home where most things happen, including meal preparation and family get-togethers. With that in mind, the space needs to be functional, organized and comfortable. This can be difficult for small kitchen spaces or for larger areas that have little counter space or few storage areas.

To help organize your kitchen space follow these quick tips:

  1. First, note where the major areas of the kitchen are located. These include the stove, the sink, the fridge and the main counter where you'll do most of your food preparation. Now recheck your item stock list to assess which things you'll be working with the most. Usually these items include pots, cutting boards, knives, silverware, dishes, dish towels, spices, etc... These are also the items you should unpack first.
  2. Next, collect all the boxes marked "kitchen" into one area.. If you've carefully labeled the box to reflect its contents, then you should have a pretty good idea of what is contained in each box. If you're unsure, sort through each one, unwrap larger items and take stock of what you have to sort and organize. It's important to do this first to ensure that when you place an item in a cupboard or in a drawer that you won't have to move it again.
  3. Unpack keeping in mind that the sink is the main work zone.. Since the sink is the area that is used the most, and the stove being second, assess the cupboard and drawer space surrounding the sink. Note the amount of storage areas that are closest and most accessible to these areas, that is, at a height where you need to do little reaching. Start unpacking the most essential items, those you use everyday, and place them in the accessible spaces in descending order. For instance, cutlery will be accessed daily, so place the cutlery in the drawer immediately to the right of the sink (if you're right handed), then place the dishtowels and cloths in the next drawer down, then perhaps your recipe books in the drawer below the one containing the towels.
  4. Arrange items in cupboards and on shelves. The sorting method described previously also applies to cupboard space. Plates, cups, glasses, and cereal bowls that will be used everyday should be placed on shelves that are at eye level or lower. Since glasses are used more than plates, they can be placed in a cupboard closer to the sink at eye level for ease of use. Items that you use less often, but still often can be placed behind more often used items or on a shelf higher up.
  5. Pots and pans should be stored close to the stove, along with their lids. You can also use the drawer below the stove for larger items that you may not use everyday, such as baking sheets, roasting pans, or casserole dishes.
  6. Store items that aren't used daily in cupboards above the fridge or stove. Heavier items should be stored on shelves near the floor. They'll be easier to access and you won't need to worry about them falling.
  7. Keep toxic substances in hard-to-reach areas. If you have young children, keep all cleaning supplies in cupboards that are high up, out of their reach. Otherwise, soaps, detergents, and cleaning agents can be kept below the sink.
  8. Put away special items.Good dishes, china and other special occasion items can be stored in a china cabinet, buffet table or in cupboards that you won't be accessing daily. Keeping them in an out of the way area will ensure that they're kept safe.
  9. Store canned goods and dry food stock separate from dishes. Spices can be kept close to the stove. I prefer a drawer space for spices; labeling tops of jars allows me to quickly scan for the spice I need. Other options are spice carts that sit on the counter or racks that hang over the stove. Just remember that spices need to be kept in a dry, cool place to maintain freshness.
  10. Keep a list. For cupboards that contain multiple items, you may want to keep a list of contents on the inside of cupboard doors. After our last move, I did this just so I didn't spend a lot of time hunting for items. Once I felt more familiar in my new space, I took the lists down.

Other Helpful Resources

While this list provides a good starting point to organizing and unpacking your kitchen, additional helpful tips and suggestions can be found at the following websites:

  1. About.com
  2. Home
  3. Moving
  4. Moving In
  5. Settling In Tips
  6. Kitchen Organization - How to Organize the Kitchen After You Move

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