Get Organized
Debbie Williams is an organizing strategist and founder of She is the author of  "Common Sense Organizing" from Champion Press.

Kitchen Organization

Question: Everytime I start cooking dinner, I realize I can't find anything in my small kitchen. Help!

Answer: Small kitchens are almost as bad as the lack of drawer space in the normal sized kitchen- contractors often don't allow enough storage space for all the items we need to feed our starving masses. The average mom only uses 20% of the total items in her kitchen 80% of the time, so consider this your permission slip to purge some of the unnecessary and unused items in your junk drawer. Here are a few tips to help you reclaim some of that precious cabinet space in your own kitchen.

Stack plastic or wicker IN baskets and go vertical to utilize that valuable counterspace. Don't spread, stack! Buy wire shelves for pantries and cabinets at your discount store. These double the space for dishes, pots, and pans. Get lid organizers and baking tray racks to store your stackable (and noisy) pots and pans.

Use over-the-door hangers or door-mounted holders for pantry items to keep them displayed. Not only can you create your own pantry, but you don't have to rummage through deep cabinets to find a small box of baking soda. Holders for seasoning envelopes, spice boxes, and plastic wraps consolidate these elusive items once and for all. You can even buy under the shelf organizers for paper plates, napkins, and coffee filters.

Some folks think it's against the laws of the great organizing guru to have a junk drawer, but perhaps they don't live with kids! Just use any type of plastic basket or cutlery organizer for your junk drawer, and clean it out the first day of each month. In fact, put those little sorters and counters in your home to work with a fun math game and let them clean out your junk drawer.

Since counter space is premium in your homes, don't display all your pretties on the countertop - hang pictures rather than resting them on the easels. Consolidate those frig photos with a magnetic mat, or just adhere a magnetic sheet to each picture for your own photo magnets. No more falling on the floor each time the refrigerator door is slammed! Store tall items in a crock or your favorite pitcher (wooden spoons, spatula, etc.). This is making double duty out of your favorite things, and saving space in those drawers that we never have enough of.

Since families spend almost as much time in the kitchen as they do in the family room, this is one area of the home that experiences constant change. Find a system of paper management and organizing that you think you'll really use, try it for 6-8 weeks, and if it doesn't work, go to Plan B. Do give it a few weeks to see if you can change your ways. And don't be afraid to try another system, rather than giving up on yourself entirely. What works in one period of your life may not work in the next one, and you have the added challenge of finding a system that works for the entire family. Be open to change, and to suggestions from other family members, even the smallest of ones have wonderfully creative ideas.

Good luck,
Debbie Williams

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