Home & Garden

Keep tight control over clutter in busy kitchens

Most kitchens today are overachievers, serving as libraries, offices and craft rooms while keeping their traditional role on the front burner.

All that activity can come with bushels of clutter. Soon you’re spending more time to find things you need, and one of the home’s busiest rooms is functioning about as well as clogged arteries.

You’ll be better off if you sift through the mess and commit to making kitchen organization a priority. Here are simple solutions for adding style and smart storage.

↑ Elbows and cellphones off the table

There’s a simple reason why most kitchens attract clutter. “Kitchens are used as a hub of the house, especially if you have children,” said Dena Hurst, an interior designer with So Nice and Neat Organizing Service, a Charlotte-based home organization firm.

As a first step toward taking control, create a permanent landing zone for everything you carry inside. Keys, wallets, cellphones, the day’s mail and even a jacket or two have a way of settling on the kitchen table or countertops if you don’t have a designated space for them. Smart Furniture’s Cubby Organizer Wall Shelf has two long cubbies for gadgets and keys, plus two flip-down hooks for a coat or purse. $30 in espresso or white at smartfurniture.com.

↑ Near and dear to the heart

Use wall space to keep items close to the area where you’ll need them. “It makes it easier to grab them if they’re right next to your work zone, so you don’t have to go searching in a drawer for them,” said Hurst, who recommends hanging large utensils for cooking within an arm’s reach of the range. The Grundtal Kitchen Series from Ikea can be used to customize your kitchen so it works for your needs. Stainless steel rails come in three sizes, from 15 to 31 1/2 inches long. Add caddies, hooks and wine racks for more storage. Rails start at $9.99, with attachments for $2.99 and up at Ikea.com.

↑ Organize the troops

Make homework at the kitchen table less of a hassle by assigning each student a place to store their materials. No matter what grade they’re in, children can help you keep order if they know where to stash books and folders. That’s easier to accomplish with numbered baskets, as with PBteen’s Basket Wall Organizer. Handmade baskets are attached to a numbered iron frame. $149 at PBteen.com.

Designating one place for markers, pens and pencils will also save time and help you stay on top of restocking. Pottery Barn’s Coffee Pod Ferris Wheel can be used to keep those supplies at the ready. $71 at potterybarn.com.

↑ Like a homing pigeon

Clever wall shelves can double the function in smaller kitchens without a lot of space. Plow & Hearth’s Green Bird Wall Shelf has five compartments and can be a convenient place for salt and pepper shakers, sugar bowls or toothpicks. Use them and then return them to the nest. Made of metal with a vintage-style wallpaper background. $149.95 at plowhearth.com.

← Hidden away

Not everything needs to be out in the open, even if it’s needed every day. Send sponges and other small items for scrubbing dishes behind the wall with Rev-A-Shelf’s Tip-Out Tray. Each kit comes with the hardware, including hinges, to turn the faux drawer in front of the kitchen sink into a working pullout compartment. Available in 10 sizes, from 10 to 31 inches in length. Starting at $31.75 at rev-a-shelf.com.