You can scrub and declutter your kitchen to sparkling perfection, but if your mugs are a mile from the coffee pot and your cooking spices are buried in the pantry, it won’t stay that way for long. That, sweet friends, is an issue of poor kitchen “flow” (or strategic item placement that will inevitably make your cooking and cleaning routine way more seamless). We checked in with Annie Draddy and Michelle Hale, the gurus behind the professional organizing company Henry & Higby, for six genius tips to maximize kitchen flow.
1. Organize In “Zones”
Do as good chefs and designers do and think about your kitchen as a series of dedicated areas. (One for prepping food, cooking food, storing food, eating food, etc.) The general rule of thumb is to keep like items with like items so that you: 1) Know where to find them and 2) Know what you actually have so that don’t overbuy and end up with 20 boxes of rice pilaf.
2. Store Seasonally
So how do you get this extra counter space for dedicated “zones”? Easy. You pack away your sweaters and coats when spring temps return—but are you doing the same for your Crock-Pot and cookie sheets? Like closets, kitchens should be modeled for seasonal efficiency, so you don’t waste valuable easy-access storage space on items that won’t be used for several months. Instead, stash off-season items in your garage or a spare cabinet, then pull out timely favorites (like your lemonade pitcher and ice-cream maker) come summertime.
3. Keep Spices On Hand
Storing ingredients you cook with regularly (think olive oil, oregano and kosher salt) far from your stove is a silly way to add extra time to meal prep. Speed up your daily cooking routines by putting oils and spices somewhere sensible—aka actually near the stove. Ideally, these guys should be stowed in a stove-adjacent cupboard (to reduce visual clutter), but if that isn’t in the cards, use a stylish tray on your counter to corral everyday essentials.
4. Cater To Your Dishwasher
OK, not to bemoan the dishwasher (they’re literally the best thing to happen to kitchens ever), but unloading it can be taxing on our back. To make dishwasher unloading less of a workout, store dishes, glasses and silverware as close as possible to the dishwasher. Clear cabinet space above your appliance, then remove freshly cleaned dishes and return them to their rightful place in one fell swoop.
5. Optimize Your Meal Prep
Psst: The single best place to store your cutting boards (from a flow perspective) is behind, underneath or next to your sink. That way you can easily rinse food, chop it on the cutting board and then get those veggies onto your stove (or sandwich) with minimal effort. Oh, and three cheers for easy cleanup (you know you’re washing that thing constantly).
6. Set Up Stations For Your Favorites
Does your world revolve around coffee? Make a mini coffee station with all the fixings (sugar, mugs, coffee beans, etc.) grouped in one place. Avid baker? Set up a nifty little baking station for the next time you make cookies. You’ll save energy and show off your personality, to boot.