Sweater: c/o Everlane ($68!) Comes in multiple colors, and also a crewneck version for $55! It’s super soft and runs TTS.You can also see how I styled it with my favorite trousers in this blog post. Jeans: c/o Everlane, called the “kick crop” jeans–they’re designed for you to cut the bottoms to customize your own length! Super cool! Run TTS and also come in different washes! I also love their “modern boyfriend” jeans, which run large! Earrings: Amazon (they’re like $10! Best find ever!)
Organization is not typically my kind of word.
(Much like loading the dishwasher in an efficient manner, it’s just “not a Jessica thing”–as my mom might say.)
Up until this stage of my life, I would usually associate this word with others like, “boring,” “time-consuming,” and “waisted effort.” Truthfully, I hate the physical act of organizing.
Know what else I hate, even more? The state of being disorganized.
Much to my own astonishment, at the age of 29, I am craving more organization in my life than ever before. When everything has a place, it’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I feel more relaxed, and even more creative. (This is something I can only assume comes along with old age.)
The one place in my house that carries the biggest burden of my disorganized antics? The kitchen.
The poor, sad kitchen.
Let me show you some photos of what it looked like just a few short weeks ago.
On a scale of 1-10, how much anxiety does this give you? 😂
And for you clean freaks, I know what you’re thinking. “She purposely staged this and made it look extra bad for the photo.”
I’m proud (or ashamed?) to say–I did not. Really. That’s how it was. It was a big transformation, guys. It really was.
And then something magical happened–the Universe works in the coolest ways.
In January. I thought to myself, “I really need to get on my A-game. We’re married adults. We can’t keep living like disorganized college students. I wish more than anything I could work with The Container Store. They have everything I need to get my you-know-what-together.
And I just PUT it out there into the Universe–and what email did I receive in February?
An email from THE CONTAINER STORE.
They asked if they could help me reorganize my kitchen for an upcoming blog post, in celebration of their HUGEEE kitchen sale happening during the month of March. (Right now, so much of what you’ll see here in this post, along with hundreds of other kitchen and pantry items are on sale now through April 1st!)
And so I said…um, YES!
So–that is how operation kitchen re-org kicked off!
My second step was to immediately enlist the help of Karla, a professional organizer I first hired last year to help me with my bathroom–she quickly became a friend and someone I now turn to when I need some help pulling my house together. There is nothing this woman cannot do.
If there is one thing I’ve learned in my late twenties, it’s to accept what you aren’t good at, and outsource what you don’t have time for, and if you’re someone like me, who has the patience of a 4 year old boy and can barely put together a jigsaw puzzle, much less organize a crowded cabinet–you happily call in the experts. It’s an investment you’ll never regret.
You can book a free consultation with Karla here. She truly has a gift for what she does and I can’t recommend her enough!
Anyway, a couple days later, Karla came over and we began the process:
Step #1: Take it ALLL out
We took out EVERYTHING from all the kitchen cabinets at once, tossing duplicates, or anything old and expired. (You’ll be surprised at how much you can get rid of!)
We then took inventory, and walked through my daily routine as it relates to the kitchen, what I use on a daily basis, and what I liked and didn’t like about my current setup. Assess the weakest spots and how to correct them. For example, my spice cabinet was the source of so much frustration.
My spices were often described by Neal as “the worst stack job known to man,” 😂 piled on top of each other very haphazardly in a super narrow cabinet (too narrow to fit a spice rack, believe me, I tried, and then gave up). I could never find what I needed and every time I opened the cabinet door, spices would fly out because I would hurriedly just throw them on top of one another. NOT GOOD.
We decided to switch a lot of things in the kitchen around, and I was truthfully shocked at how much MORE storage we had than I originally thought–it’s amazing how much more space you can find when everything is organized correctly!
Step #2: Assign a place for everything
A huge part of being organized and staying organized is to have an established flow. (This step is very important, don’t skip it!)
Assign a “home” for every single item, so you know exactly where it is, every time. Seriously, be specific–as specific as, “the crackers go in this bin on right-hand side of the first shelf.” Most importantly, the flow should make sense based on your routine and what items you use most often.
For example, spices should be at arms length from the stove and you should be able to see ALL of them at once. (You should never have to move anything to see something behind it!) The knives should be easy to identify and grab near your food prep area. You shouldn’t have to sift around for the mixing bowls you use every day in the lazy Susan, they should be within arms reach.
Once you’ve established your flow, and assigned places for everyone, it’s time to…
Step #3: Measure and shop!
Once you’ve identified what your biggest pain points are, and decided where everything goes, now it’s time for the fun part–shopping! The Container Store has SO MANY solutions for any organizational issue you have (and even better, so much of what you see here is on sale!) Here is what I bought, and some more fun (scary?) before and afters.
Kitchen organization makeover: Before & Afters:
Before: cluttered cabinet
After: clean spice drawer
My mother has always been an advocate for spice drawers. Cabinets are just too hard to reach and see everything. Finally, I listen to her. (Why does this always happen?) We purchased these little glass spice jars for less than $1.50 each! (Which we labeled individually with a label maker–but if you don’t have one, you could also use washi-tape to label by hand!) and this expandable spice drawer organizer (now less than $14!) and I can’t tell you how much happier I am when I cook now that I have every spice I ever need at my fingertips. It is LIFE CHANGING.
You’ll notice that things like cooking oils, vinegars, breadcrumbs, etc were also were located in this messy spice cabinet, so we purchased these really cute white bins (different sizes depending on what we needed them for) with handles and grouped those together on the top portion of the lazy Susan. Containing them all in one place makes it super easy for me to see exactly where they are, I can remove the whole bin if I want to, and it also keeps them from tipping over when rotated.
The “pantry” cupboard:
Our kitchen truthfully does have a lot of storage, but one thing it lacks is a pantry. (Sadly, a pantry is a luxury most city residences do not have.) So, we chose the largest cupboard to function as our pantry, which holds most of our dry and canned goods. The before is not a pretty sight. 😂
Before: the dry-good depths of hell
(You can tell the last time I organized this was right after reading “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, in which I thought I was so clever re-using shoe boxes to hold my pantry goods. FAIL.)
After: Heaven in cabinet
I had been hearing Kelly and Mitch rave about their OXO pop-top containers for over a year now, so I knew these are what I wanted in this cabinet. We got their 10 piece set and their 3-piece set and they have truly transformed the cabinets.
These aren’t just pretty–they’re incredibly functional. They also keep food fresh for longer, too! They’re perfect for everything from pastas to nuts to chips and crackers and everything in between. I also use them to store dry vegetables like onions, garlic, and potatoes, which previously would be thrown into the cookbook basket simply because there was no room for them elsewhere.
Additionally, we got a couple sets of these white stackable bins that work great for smaller packaged items, like bars, mini snack bags, etc. Their lids also function as catch-alls or trays as well, so you can use them in so many different ways!
Finally, to organize the cans, sauces, and jars, we got this can rack, which is also nice because the dividers are removable, so you can adjust them to fit different sized cans!
We also moved soup and broth cartons as well as teas to the lazy Susan with the cooking oils and vinegars so they wouldn’t take up so much room in the cabinet. One of my favorite things we got was this tea organizer! Tea boxes take up SO much room, but this little organizer now fits neatly in the lazy Susan! (I actually stand it up on its side, so it virtually takes up zero space!)
In terms of how we arranged the cabinet–the items I use most are within reach (snacks like crackers, nuts, tortilla chips, and canned goods like tomatoes or my favorite TJ’s sauces that I use frequently when making dinner) whereas pastas, which I only use maybe once a week, are fine to store up top.
This pretty tea organizer is LIFE, you guys.
As for the previously dreaded spice cabinet, it now has holds things for baking, like flour, sugar, baking powder, and oats in OXO pop containers and the bottom shelf is reserved for my beloved tea kettle that I use daily.
Above the fridge storage:
Before–the worst use of space ever in history
Above the fridge…the ideal spot for, a mini Corona cooler, a package of twinkle lights you’ve never used, painters tape, a box of lightbulbs, and an empty beer growler, right?!
Luckily, we finally made good use of that space using three of these large sized white bins with handles (the handles make them super easy to grab and pull down!) to store grocery bags (which were a previously tangled rats nest thrown on top of the cleaning supplies under the sink) disposable goods like paper plates and plastic forks for when we have parties, cookware and servingware we don’t use on a daily basis. Using this space enabled us to majorly de-clutter our other everyday drawers–see below!
Before–organized by 4 year olds–or Satan? You decide.
Normal people store trail mix and granola bars in their silverware drawer, yeah?
After: age appropriate, grown-up storage
We have some really oddly shaped drawers (they’re very wide and shallow) so it was previously a struggle to find dividers/organizers that fit them correctly, so when Karla suggested these custom fitting drawer organizers, I got SO excited. They’re very easy to customize–you just measure, score, and snap to fit the length you need, and slide them into the self-adhesive mounts to fit any drawer.
They make such a difference and everything stays so neatly in place. The best part is that she created a custom spot just for our bulky automatic wine opener, which would ALWAYS get jammed in the drawer before 😂 (it finally has the VIP status it deserves, being such a hard worker and all) as well as a custom tiny spot for bottle opener (so nobody ever opens the drawer at a party again and says, “I can’t find the bottle opener!!”) Also, now things like chopsticks, wooden skewers, and straws don’t float around and get messy–they have their own dedicated spot.
Tupperware, paper plates, cooking wrap, etc hell drawers:
Before: (I can already feel you judging me a little. Which you should.)
Again, it’s these little white storage bins to the rescue! We used them for dish towel storage as well as to store aprons and oven mits. Another amazing thing that has made SO much of a difference is this Tupperware lid organizer (on sale for $11.24!! You MUST get this. Don’t tell me your Tupperware drawer doesn’t need it!) Now the lids don’t get messy and fly everywhere in the drawer!
Previously, I had been shoving plastic cups/tumblers/water bottles in with the Tupperware, but we took them out of this drawer and put them all in another white bin and put them in the other lazy Susan. Now everything has a place and its so much easier to find what I’m looking for!
We also moved the paper plates and plastic utensils, cocktail napkins, etc into the bin I referred to above–which now goes up above the fridge–we really only need them for parties so it didn’t make sense that they were taking up so much room in an everyday drawer!
Other favorite items:
Under the sink storage:
Paper towel rack: I feel like we have so many gadgets on our counter already (which need to stay there because, we use them everyday!) so moving the paper towels off the counter and under the sink has been a great use of space!
Command stick-on clear caddies: One thing that bothers me about our sink is that there isn’t a pop-out sponge holder. (Do you know what I’m describing? It’s not like a drawer, but a little place that pops out below your sink that holds your sponges and dish brushes? 😂) These took the place of them so now I don’t have to store the sponge on the counter, and being able to store cleaning supplies on the cabinet door frees up more room under the sink.
Pot and lid racks for lazy Susan:
So I couldn’t get a photo of these cookware organizer racks in their natural habitat because the lazy Susan proves for some pretty tough photography conditions, but I pulled one out and set it on the counter so you could see what it looks like!
I got two of them, one for lids, one for pans. Let me tell you, before, aside from my spice cabinet horrors, storing pots, pans, and lids was the bane of my existence. Every time I wanted to cook something, I had to drag out a whole pile of pans, shuffle them around, when I would put the lids back, they would fall EVERY time I turned the lazy Susan, one of them inevitably jamming the corner so I would have to crawl INTO the Susan to remove it. This, ALL before I could make my damn breakfast.
These racks have been HEAVEN SENT. You can actually use them horizontally or vertically. The trick though, if you want to use it vertically for heavy pans, it’s best to put the heaviest pan on the bottom (I have a cast-iron grill pan that anchors it down so it doesn’t wobble.) Just a little trickeroo.
Can you believe it!? I’m a new woman!!! Aren’t you proud? Does this inspire you to take action and get some more organization in your own life, too? I hope so!
Remember, so much of what you see here along with hundreds of other kitchen and pantry items are on sale now through April 1st at The Container Store! Make sure to take full advantage before the sale is gone! Thanks to my friends at the Container store for providing the product for my blog post!
Do you have any organizing tips for the kitchen or elsewhere in your house? (Bless my heart, you know I need to hear them!) Share them below!
Photos by Hannah Schweiss photography