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Room-by-Room Organizing

Smart Ideas for Organizing Your Kitchen

Simple and smart clutter-clearing strategies for straightening out your pantry, cabinets, spice rack, and more. 

Chip Cordelli in a kitchen
Jonny Valiant

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Kitchen Clutter Q & A

The wizard behind so many Real Simple home stories, Chip Cordelli is an experienced organizer with insight and attitude. Here’s some starter wisdom from the smarty-pants who’s launched a thousand makeovers.

Q. What bad habits do you see when it comes to kitchen organization?
A. People keep things they don’t use, with a “maybe someday” mind-set: the bread maker, the pasta machine, the fish steamer. You don’t have to throw them out, but for goodness’ sake, don’t let them take up valuable real estate. And some folks just don’t think through the room. They’ll say things like “If only I were left-handed” rather than moving the coffeemaker to the other side of the counter.

Q. Can you debunk some kitchen myths?
A. The big crock is a crock. We shove all these utensils in there, and it becomes a vertical junk drawer. Instead, use a small one that holds only the four or five tools you use all the time. And the idea that you need a lot of cookbooks—I see people with 75 cookbooks in their kitchen. But when I ask how many they really use, it’s always one or two.

Q. Got a tip that can change our lives?
A. Tweak organization according to the season. This time of year, keep your Dutch oven on the stove and a basket of soup ingredients at the ready in the pantry. In the summer, when you’re always reaching for your blender and water pitchers, move them front and center.