Kitchen Organization
September 12, 2004 12:07 PM   Subscribe

I've got too much junk in my drawers. How can I make it easier to get to? [MI]

Like every other kitchen I've been in, we've got one or two "utensil drawers", which are just filled with a jumble of mixing spoons, measuring cups, ice cream scoopers, can openers, ladles, spatulas, basters, brushes, thermometers, skewers, beaters, graters, slicers, corkscrews, and who knows what else. We've mitigated this mess somewhat by installing a big pegboard on one wall to hang the larger utensils, but there's still a good number of randomly shaped and sized doodads rattling around in the drawer, making them difficult to find and use. Does anyone have any suggestions for the organization of arbitrary kitchen utensils like this?
posted by majcher to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you tried maternity wear?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 12:24 PM on September 12, 2004

Open your zipper and let it dangle?

But seriously.

In addition to the pegboard, some high-end cooking outlets sell organizer racks that affix to the ceiling. You can put lots of pots and pans up there, but also there are a lot of hooks for hanging miscellaneous tools to keep them out of the way.
posted by dhoyt at 12:24 PM on September 12, 2004

Well, considering that the junk probably isn't easily sortable, the best you can do is to get some of those compartmentalized silverware holder dealies--you know, with differently sized little spots to hold various utensils--and sort stuff by size.

If you then keep things in the same compartment all the time, your brain will eventually remember 'OK, the ice cream scoop is HERE, and the spatulas are all HERE', etc. That's worked fine in my family's household for years, and with two parents who both love cooking, we had at least 1-2 metric buttloads of utensils. We managed to figure out where everything was :)
posted by cyrusdogstar at 12:25 PM on September 12, 2004

I put long handled things in one place, and shorter, more gadety things in a nother. This creates fewer tangles and the objects align with each other better.

If you're out of drawers, consider putting the long handled stuff in a ceramic "vase," or some other coffee-can sized cylinder, upright, with handles down. Those big rubbery grip handles can be a bitch for this, but it can save a lot of space. You can place that somewhere on the counter and only take up a few square inches. It even looks kinda cool, like a bouquet of kitchen implements.

You should also consider putting everything in a box in the garage. Over the next month, see which things you've gone in there to get, and consider anything you haven't touched to be a waste of space. Put it in deep storage or get rid of it.
posted by scarabic at 12:25 PM on September 12, 2004

Correction--the junk probably isn't easily sortable by use, like your average spoons/forks/knives setup.
posted by cyrusdogstar at 12:26 PM on September 12, 2004

Do you have counter space? I've found that taking some of the stuff OUT of the drawers and putting it in large countertop coffee-can style holders helps a lot. These containers can slide out of the way easily, you can have tall and short ones for different sized things and you can see what's in them as a glance. For other things, we use a variety of plastic trays that are usually used for silverware [google "silverware trays" for more - not the one with the spoon-shaped slots, the ones that are either a bunch of rectangles or, best option four or five different little plastic trays] and just use them for other stuff, loosely grouping by what you might use the stuff for. So, you can lump the baster with the meat thermometer with the little things you put on the ends of the turkey legs, presto!
posted by jessamyn at 12:31 PM on September 12, 2004

Answer - get rid of some of the junk !

Or, buy/construct/scavenge more storage space/storage units for your kitchen tibits.

Find an interior wall in your kitchen - interior walls tend to be made excessively thick. So : knock out the wallboard facing the kitchen and you build very narrow shelves!

[ on general junk : Me, I'm a firm believer in industrial grade steel shelving. Buy this, and then use big plastic bins for the smaller tidbits and chunks of junk. ]


If - by "drawers" - you were referring to your underwear,
that would be an altogether different question.
posted by troutfishing at 1:17 PM on September 12, 2004

I used to keep my large utensils on my counter in big glass jars, until I got a basket from Pier One that is made sort of like this, except with larger and deeper compartments (spatula- and wooden spoon-sized instead of silverware-sized, and only four, not six). There's a big handle across the top and I can sort them all by size or use or what have you, and the handle keeps the longer stuff from getting tangled at the ends across compartments. An alternate shape of basket that would work too might be something like this (the one on the left with the solid wooden handle in the middle, almost like a tool caddy).

The glass jars worked fine, or ceramic jars or metal cans as people have mentioned above. Or, I have a friend that did this - deep baskets with a flat back that hang on the wall right next to the stove or whatever, if you lack counter space.
posted by Melinika at 3:34 PM on September 12, 2004

I have a minor system that keeps me out of drawer-based trouble: One and only one drawer is designated for the purpose of "junk." By tradition, it also gets to hold scissors, tape, rubber bands, glue, the fridge magnets that are a little too racy for display, and miscellaneous strange or unidentifiable parts.

All other drawers must serve a purpose. One holds tableware. Another holds only food wrappings. A third contains kitchen rags and hot pads. One more contains Infrequently Used Gadgetry, like the pizza wheel and the potato masher.

Of all drawers, only the tableware drawer has some sort of organizer insert. All others contain a small handful of loose items and are not to be filled to the point where rummaging is necessary.

Frequently used items, such as stirring devices, poking devices, flipping devices, or tonging devices sit in little countertop buckets.

In the course of moving recently, I made a vicious assault on the kitchen: All objects that served only one useful purpose were discarded in favor of things that have multiple uses. All redundant gadgetry was removed. Excess crap like the adjustable measuring spoon was canned. Anything that was harder to clean than to use was ditched. The end result is that I have a kitchen with exactly what I need, only the tools I love, and everything is within reach and easily found.

Pare down to the things you'll actually use, divest yourself of cool but fundamentally useless gizmos, and never own something that's only good for one thing.
posted by majick at 7:46 PM on September 12, 2004 [1 favorite]

I bow slavishly to the above comment.
posted by troutfishing at 8:37 PM on September 12, 2004

I've got a surfeit of drawer space (in my kitchen, mind you), but I still try to keept things efficient.

All long-handled implements (ladles, spoons, spatulas) are either upended in a cylinder on the counter (I recently bought this stainless-steel storage cylinder thing with a weighted bottom at Target--until then, I'd been using mason jars) or hanging from hooks on the side of the fridge (attached with magnets). I've got one junk drawer for weird stuff like the wine-bottle vacuum widget, the lemon zester, the garlic press (If I could find a multifunctional zester/vacuum/garlic press, then I'd get that and be up to majick's rigorous standards). This drawer has snap-together gadget holders; it's a little disorganized but not too bad.
posted by adamrice at 7:27 AM on September 13, 2004

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