I want to set fire to my kitchen utensils
June 19, 2012 9:36 AM   Subscribe

Kitchen Organization 101: Is there any obvious and efficient way to organize the drawer in my kitchen that holds all my big/weirdly shaped utensils (ie. mixing spoons, measuring cups, spatulas, pastry cutter, salad server, tongs, etc) that DOESN'T involve having them in a holder on the countertop? We don't have the counterspace to spare.

I've tried "organizing" it about 37 times and that works for about three hours at which point someone empties the dishwasher or closes the drawer a little too hard and then everything gets all mixed up again. I've tried getting little bins for different sized things but everything is so all over the place size wise and so many of them jutt off at different angles that nothing really seems to work. We always seem to have everything just thrown in there, tangling up, everything is impossible to find, and the drawer continues to be a total pain in the ass. Back in the day, in a different kitchen, I kept most of those big weirdly shaped things in a utensil vase of sorts on the counter, but our kitchen is small and our counter space is very limited so that is out. Having the knife block is already more space than we are happy about having taken up. Plus, it would look cluttered.

FWIW The silverware (in a different drawer) is organized and stays relatively tidy thanks to one of those "forks go here, spoons go here, knives go here" plastic organizers.
posted by gwenlister to Home & Garden (26 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Are many of them metal? Do you have any wall space for a magnetic knife holder?
posted by Grither at 9:38 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

Velcro them to the wall, magnet them to the fridge, hang them on stick-on hooks-- store them vertically in any way you can.

(My apartment kitchen is a TINY galley-style, so even my beautiful, expensive kitchen scale is velcroed to the wall.)
posted by WidgetAlley at 9:40 AM on June 19, 2012

Could you do something like this? Hanging items from the inside of cabinet doors.
posted by shesbookish at 9:42 AM on June 19, 2012

Got pictures?

Got a second drawer?

I have the room, so I've got one for serving/cooking spoons, one for spatula/flats, one for cutters.

Short of putting hooks up along the walls, what about hooks inside the cabinet doors? Most of those utensils have a hole, right? The small hook 3M things should do.

Alternatively, find an ultimate Tetris grouping of items. Make raised walls and custom insert boxes, each colored a different color, then tie a small ribbon to each item (or use a http://www.amazon.com/TEKTON-6235-Assorted-Cable-200-Piece/dp/B000NQ16NG/) so each item goes back in it's right "colored" box area.
posted by tilde at 9:43 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

THIS. this is why all those cooking show hosts tell you to not buy single-purpose kitchen utensils. garlic press? throw it out. pastry cutter? throw it out. mellon baller? welcome to the world of cubes...throw it out. all those things you can do with a knife.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:43 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: They are made out of all sorts of stuff, mostly wood or plastic with the exception of a few metal spatuals and whisks. Where they are all weirdly shaped and pokey-outy I think having them stick to a flat magnetic knife holder would be difficult.

Wall space is very limited too, and having them on the wall will also not help in the looking cluttered issue...

I really am looking for ways to keep them in the drawer, but organized and organized in such a way that it isn't super fussy and annoying to put them away or find things.
posted by gwenlister at 9:44 AM on June 19, 2012

Pegboard? It was good enough for Julia Child.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:44 AM on June 19, 2012

I have a big ceramic canister with various spatulas, slotted spoons, tongs, etc. -- it lives on top of my fridge instead of on my countertop. Would that work for you?

My handle-less dry measuring cups also live inside my glass two-cup measuring cup in the cabinet with my flour and sugar, that way everything's in one place when I need it.
posted by alynnk at 9:45 AM on June 19, 2012

Perhaps this will work?
posted by xicana63 at 9:46 AM on June 19, 2012 [5 favorites]

"keep them in the drawer".
Ooops. Posted at the same time as you, sorry!

posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:49 AM on June 19, 2012

We have two or three "gadget drawers," with things vaguely classified in terms of the kind of cooking done with each (baking stuff in one drawer, more cooking stuff in another drawer).

As for the system upending when someone empties the dishwasher, that best may be handled with a Family Announcement that "This Drawer Right Here Is Now Reserved For Measuring Cups And Tongs And Nothing Else". They may just plain not know the system you have in mind.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:50 AM on June 19, 2012

"This Drawer Right Here Is Now Reserved For Measuring Cups And Tongs And Nothing Else"

Since my little helpers can read, I'm either going to go with zip ties (cut short to prevent dangly fires) in colors to match their "home drawers" or dymo labels.
posted by tilde at 10:02 AM on June 19, 2012

Don't bother. Really. Why waste the time? You'll spend more time organizing, reorganizing it and so on that you'll ever spend looking for the right thing you need in there. It's not worth the bother, spend your time on something more useful. Everything is Miscellaneous!
posted by Blake at 10:03 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I use lot and lots of these drawer organizers. I think our came from Target, but the edges snap together, so we pretty much made our own kind of holder like the silverware drawer.
posted by advicepig at 10:06 AM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have, in the past, used disposable loaf pans from the grocery. Little silver trays, very cheap to put some organization into my small drawers. In searching for examples, though, I found this guy which has some interesting possibilities.

But, I don't know of a magic drawer thing to keep things organized that doesn't involve a little household training as well. That cross-ways drawer divider shown by xicana above is a great way to make use of a small space. I'm very intrigued by that. But it doesn't prevent family members from disrespecting the sizes and throwing things all willy-nilly.

I'm thinking of doing a book shelf gutter in a small space in my kids room. I could see this working well for spoons, etc. Would keep things snug and tight against a wall, not taking up any counter space or looking too cluttered. Here's a tutorial. That may get your wheels turning on something similar.
posted by amanda at 10:11 AM on June 19, 2012

If this is your drawer for fairly large and/or unwieldy stuff, I would try dividers that divide it up into something like 3 sections, rather than a larger number of smaller, fiddlier compartments. Then sort things into those sections based on an easy-to-understand/remember logic (e.g., long things for cooking, long things for serving, and things that are not long at all). Something like these "dream organizers" will give you the flexibility to size the compartments as needed.

I'm in total agreement with you that putting things in a drawer (even if slightly cluttered) looks much more organized than putting things out on the counter or on the wall.
posted by drlith at 10:16 AM on June 19, 2012

Also, consider just getting rid of some of it. Or only keeping the stuff you use *every day* in the drawer; the rest of it can go in the pantry or under the bed or at the back of the cabinet.
posted by mskyle at 10:52 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I bought the Oxo Drawer Organizer on clearance at Target.

The compartments are detachable so you can put them together in a configuration that works for you. My drawer is wide, so the two I got fit perfectly.

I still have too many things and the potato masher is ALWAYS going to have to be stored in a cupboard, but it works really well for me.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:10 AM on June 19, 2012

If you have the money, you could have something custom-made like this. I got this idea from this page. A decent carpenter, could build you a custom insert without much difficulty.
posted by bove at 11:17 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

It doesn't all fit in there without a lot of maintenance, so it doesn't all really fit in there.
Anything that is not vaguely spoon shaped (i.e. measuring cups, apple slicers, etc.) should go in a shoe box in another drawer or shelf. Ladle, potato mashers and meat tenderizers should also be elsewhere as they don't nest well with other gadgets. Two or three awkward items can be hung without it looking too cluttered, but those should be often used items to justify them being on display.
posted by soelo at 11:23 AM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

I feel your pain. We have a countertop utensil holder, but of course there are still lots of things like measuring cups and such that need to go in a drawer or elsewhere. Our solution was to keep only frequently-used items in the stove-side drawer, organized in a multi-sectioned tray, then banished the less common but still useful items to the pantry where they hang from hooks on a grid panel.
posted by DrGail at 1:22 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

One small thing I do that may help you is close the tongs (if they’re the springy kind) using rubber bands. I keep a bunch of rubber bands in that drawer, and every time I put tongs inside, I close them up first. It definitely makes a difference!
posted by yawper at 1:31 PM on June 19, 2012

Having the knife block is already more space than we are happy about having taken up

What if you used a magnetic knife strip for the knives, got rid of the block, and put a crock on the counter to hold the weirdest utensils?

The thing is, adding organizational pieces to an overfull drawer just takes up more space in the drawer. It doesn't fix anything. If it's a mess, you've probably got too much stuff in there. So yeah, consider what you use daily to weekly, and keep it in that drawer. Stuff that gets used a couple times a month can go in a decorative box or bin on top of the fridge or in the pantry. If you're really short on space for a box, maybe you could add a high shelf over the sink. Stuff that hardly ever gets used should go in a boring, cheap box in the basement.

The approach really has to be personalized for which tools you actually use, not what you think you should be using, or what other people use. I make biscuits almost every weekend, so my pastry cutter gets it's own cubby in the utensil drawer. The pretty stainless-steel serving spoons that match my kitchen decor get ignored in favor of the ugly red plastic one that came in a gift box of Betty Crocker stuff many years ago, so the red spoon is the one I keep most handy (although I do hide it in a drawer, given how ugly it is).
posted by vytae at 1:49 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have a plastic drawer organizer (that cost too much for what it is) for knives, because they are dangerous. It goes in the middle of the drawer and acts as a separator. I use a plastic frozen dinner dish for small stuff that wants to get lost. Things in multiples, like kabob skewers, could have a rubber band or hair elastic keeping them together(mine are in the crock on the counter). The rest is loose. I put stuff in the front of the drawer when I put it away, so the bottle opener tends to stay handy. The drawer is shallow, so anything with depth, like measuring cups, goes in the cupboard with baking stuff. I get rid of tools that don't work hard enough; that varies for everybody, but if you have 2 potato mashers, keep the better one, ditch the other one.
posted by theora55 at 3:56 PM on June 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

My wife found this kit (Drawer Decor) through one of the blogs she reads. It's also sold through Amazon. We've been using it for a few months and really love how it's transformed our kitchen utensils drawer. It can be completely customized; you cut the mat to fit your drawer, and the inserts "cling" to the mat and can be repositioned. It has also encouraged us to cut back on how many utensils we have and only keep the ones we really need.
posted by adamwolf at 5:32 PM on June 19, 2012 [2 favorites]

This insert that lets you store utensils in a drawer on the diagonal seems pretty genius.
posted by mgar at 4:41 AM on June 29, 2012

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