How to organize your kitchen drawers in 6 easy steps - the expert guide to a decluttered life

Knowing how to organize your kitchen drawers means your whole life will feel like it has a sense of order. Let the experts guide you through their simple steps

kitchen drawer with wood dividers
(Image credit: Kate Guinness)

Given how much we rely on the kitchen to be the hub of the home, how do we ensure that our they alleviate our pressures and not add to them?  How do we avoid spending 10 minutes rummaging in countless drawers to find a peeler? Or have to lift out huge cast iron casserole dishes to access the frying pan you use everyday? 

The answer is by having some superbly well organized kitchen drawers. In fact, when planning a modern kitchen, this is often one of the biggest considerations designers take into account.

‘When designing a kitchen I always like to think about the client’s daily routine and rituals before planning out the flow of the drawers,' says designer Antonia Winkler Von Stiernhielm from Studio Anton. 'Everyone has their own quirks, so understanding this first before designating spaces for items is really important.'

So whether you are renting a tiny apartment with a galley kitchen in the city, or you are planning a full kitchen refurb in a larger space, these simple tricks will help you get your drawers - and therefore your life - in order.

How to organize your kitchen drawers

1. Plan your drawers based on how you use your kitchen

blue kitchen cabinets with white countertop and plaster pink walls

(Image credit: Alessandro Tear)

Before you go and buy the hardware for your kitchen, consider first a mood board for your kitchen remodel. This is the first, and by far, the most important step in how to organize a kitchen. Take time to really think about how you use the space. What do you use most often? What do you rarely use? Do you do lots of washing up or do you rely on the dishwasher? How often are you using those bulkier appliances? Thinking carefully about these questions and more will help you to consider the best place to put items. 

‘A kitchen should have a natural movement to it which does require some preparation,' says Antonia Winkler Von Stiernhielm from Studio Anton. 'Take your time to think about where you usually are in the space when you use certain equipment or produce. For instance your pans should be located by the hob, or if you use specific items only on occasion then consider keeping them in those harder to reach kitchen cabinets.’ 

Similarly, interior designer Kate Guinness recommends ‘making sure you have convenient access to regularly used items so you don’t end up having to take other things out in order to get to them all the time.’

And interior designer Tom Morris also believes organizing kitchen drawers is made easier when you focus on how you are likely to interact with the space. For example he says ‘cutlery always goes as near as possible to the dishwasher but as far away from the hob as possible - there's nothing worse than getting under the chef's feet when you're trying to set the table.’

2. Avoid having the 'miscellaneous' drawer

Wooden kitchen with blue kitchen splashback

(Image credit: Plum)

Every home has one. The drawer with batteries and take out menus and pens that don't work. But the miscellaneous drawer is to be avoided at all costs. 

 ‘These drawers tend to become fuller and fuller over time and eventually sprawl into other parts of your kitchen/home,' says the interior designer Nadine Hadden. 'Organise your drawers into categories, get a label maker. Everything should have a place!’

And this is as good a rule as any for how to start decluttering.

3. Take everything out of your drawers to start you off

The only way to truly organize your kitchen drawers is to take everything out of them first. 'Unfortunately, when it comes to decluttering, everything is going to look a lot worse before it gets any better,' says the New York-state based tidying expert Corrie Jackson of Maison Haven. 

Lay all your utensils out on the kitchen counter and ask yourself if you still use them, want them or like them. Discard anything that doesn't come up to this standard. 

4. Use expandable drawer dividers

kitchen drawer dividers in a wood drawer

(Image credit: Amazon)

Then, before you put things back in, create a sense of order in your drawers. Antonia recommends using drawers within drawers. ‘Consider things like in-drawer chopping board holders and remember that when it comes to storage boxes and drawer dividers you can never have enough,’ she says.

And if you want to avoid using plastic in your home, designer Laura Marino from Studio L  shares a great tip. ‘One of my favorite finds is these expandable drawer dividers. So long awkward to fit plastic drawer caddys! They look great, are affordable and a great stocking stuffer for the home organizing enthusiast.'

Utoplike extendable drawer dividers, Amazon

Utoplike extendable drawer dividers, Amazon

These nifty bamboo drawer dividers are a kitchen design lifesaver. Adjustable from 13.86" to 18.9" length, 2.36" height, they should fit in almost any drawer and change pretty much everything.

5. Put your things back in according to an order

pull out kitchen drawers with jars neatly stacked

(Image credit: Kate Guinness)

It seems obvious, but a little order will go a long way. In deep drawers, stack dishes and serving platters carefully on top of each other and leave air around each pile. If you fill the space completely it will look cluttered even if it's not, and then you'll allow it to get messy faster. 

Then in shallow drawers, lay all utensils flat - don't put anything on top of anything else.  'Always divide up the space inside drawers to prevent everything from becoming a tangled mess over time,' says DIY expert and writer Cassie Fairy. 'From birthday cake candles and cookie cutters to jars of spices and egg cups, make sure you can see each individual item.' 

In general, you should avoid a technique that you cannot see yourself sticking to in the long run, envision if you will stick with the system and if it's not working for you after a few weeks ditch it.

6. Explore alternative creative storage opportunities 

industrial kitchen with pans hanging on a metallic strip

(Image credit: Future)

One of the biggest problems kitchen drawers face is over-stuffing. You could ease the pressure and find additional storage solutions around the room - from hanging storage baskets to brass rails with hooks and everything in between. These curated but visible spaces can become part of the decor in their own right.

Take this very industrial kitchen, above. A magnetic strip is perfect to fix   pans and knives to for easy reach, and to clear out those drawers. In a modern farmhouse kitchen, you might want to go for vintage plate racks or pegs to fix a mix of utensils to.

Designer Harriet Churchward is a fan of this approach. 'A condiments trug from replaced the need for a cutlery drawer, as I used it for my rosewood-handled cutlery,' she says. 'And a magnetic knife rack creates vertical storage and feels authentic in a wooden treehouse cabin.’ 

magnetic knife rack

(Image credit: Amazon)
Magnetic knife rack, Amazon

Magnetic knife rack, Amazon

The answer to all your drawer organizing woes, a magnetic knife rack is a quick fix that's quick to fix to the wall. Use for cutting knifes, pans, won't recognize your uncluttered drawers.

Charlotte Alldis started her interiors Instagram account Thrifted Abode nearly five years ago. Since then she has renovated two properties and has been passionately learning about interior design along the way.  She has just launched her interior design consultancy whilst also continuing to work as a Marketing Director for a hotel. Her work as a marketeer over the last decade has given her great foundations to appreciate good aesthetic design and the power of fantastic photography. She is beyond excited to finally kick start her interior design business.