Experts share how they organize kitchen drawers

Practical tips on how to organize kitchen drawers for a total declutter that will last

overhead of open kitchen drawers
(Image credit: Tom Howley)

Sure, things look calm and collected on the surface, but we daren’t open the kitchen drawers for fear of excess condiments, cutlery and the likes jumping out in rebellious force.

We can’t put organizing kitchen drawers off any longer – order must be restored – especially if you're planning to organize a kitchen properly from top to bottom.

Mission accepted, and we called on some experts to share their very best tips and ideas to organize kitchen drawers for all the zen appeal. Find beauty on the inside with tips to tidy away mess and clutter so that everything has a rightful place, and can be easily accessed at all times

How to better organize kitchen drawers

As the hustle-bustle heart of the home, the kitchen is filled with an abundance of ingredients, tupperware and cooking essentials. With so much going on, your space requires organizational ninja skills to keep it fighting fit and ready to churn out anything from nifty brunches to Noah’s Ark feasts. With one million Pinterest searches per month regarding space saving storage, learning how to declutter and organize kitchen countertops is a modern-living priority. But don't stop on the outside – you need to tackle the hidden bits too!

Do you even know what’s lurking at the back of that overstuffed deep kitchen drawer? It’s amazing just how much unnecessary ‘stuff’ we accrue and stash in drawers over time. Out of sight out of mind might work in some scenarios, but absolutely not in the kitchen. Making the most of your space with savvy kitchen storage ideas for the bits that you want to keep hidden away is a start, but there are more clever methods to try too for a total transformation.

Professional organizer, Jessica Litman, The Organized Mama (opens in new tab), notes how decluttering is just as important as correctly storing and organizing items in your kitchen drawers. 'I am not your typical organizer because I don't think you need that many products to keep drawers organized.'

1. Decide what to keep on show and what to hide away

Firstly, have a proper rifle through the drawers and prioritize what you want to keep, what you want to keep hidden away, and what you want to have on display. 

Think about task zone efficiency, for instance, cooking utensils and knives should be kept in the main preparation space, within easy access. In a nutshell, make your drawers work for you based on how you use your space (everyone has a different method in madness system).

Indigo kitchen with burnished metal drawer pulls

(Image credit: Olive & Barr)

2. Group like with like

Litman continues, 'What I suggest is to start by decluttering your items first. Then group them together.' 

And, professional organizer, Sarah Dunn, Get it Dunn (opens in new tab), advises: '‘The two rules for organizing anything are to group ‘like with like,’ and to assign one home for each item. So in the kitchen, for example, you'll want to group all measuring cups together, all wooden spoons together, all bar tools together... Then assign one home for each of those things and stick to it.’

Open kitchen drawers with pegged drawer organizer

(Image credit: Rational)

3. Invest in quality kitchen storage that fits

Litman continues, 'If you find that drawer dividers would help keep your drawer organized, then measure and find things that fit your products. I love using bamboo organizers for kitchens (opens in new tab) because they last much longer.' 

Paul Jenkinson, Founder and Managing Director of British kitchen brand LochAnna Kitchens (opens in new tab), also comments: ‘Gone are the days where the only focus in a kitchen design was the outside aesthetic; innovation in drawers and storage design has led to better quality and alternative materials being more readily available. As we move into 2022, we are expecting to see homeowners upgrade the ‘hidden’ elements of the kitchens as well as the exterior. Oak dovetail drawers have been growing in the more traditional kitchen setting, but we see these also becoming popular in modern styles as homeowners look towards quality and creating a sense of individuality in their kitchen.’

It's about longevity – because who wants to replace these items every year or two? – and style, but also about catering to the needs of your kitchen items.

4. Dedicate drawers to specific uses

Litman continues, 'At my house, we have a drawer dedicated to specific products or uses such as a spice drawer, a pots and pans drawer, a plates and bowls drawer and so on.' This way there is less confusion when you come to tidying the space and simply putting things away on a daily basis.

'For a spice drawer, I recommend using an expandable drawer organizer (opens in new tab) since those products can be moved around so much.' 

'If you store pots and pans in a drawer, stack them and use a lid holder to keep the lids together.'

Cutlery drawer with drawer organizer

(Image credit: Rational)

5. Opt for bespoke inlays and dividers for small items

Simplify daily living by organizing kitchen utensils and giving them a space of their own. Howley comments: ‘How many minutes are lost every week looking for essentials in drawers or cupboards? Bespoke inlays provide a beautiful space to neatly store the things you use most often like cutlery and cooking utensils. When everything is in its own area you can reach for it instantly. Since you can see everything at a glance, you’ll know when you’re running out of an item. Choose a contrasting wood to your cupboard exteriors adding a real style statement.’

Open cutlery drawer with built-in inlay

(Image credit: Tom Howley)

Ben Burbidge, Kitchen Makers (opens in new tab), Managing Director comments: ‘To elevate your cutlery drawer consider integrated wooden dividers; opting to combine painted and wood finishes creates a contemporary feel that will remain on trend for years to come,’ he advises.

Dunn adds 'My recommendation for best organizing kitchen drawers is to invest in drawer dividers. My favorites are bamboo because they're beautiful and sustainable... but plastic ones work too!’

The Umbra Peggy drawer organizer (opens in new tab) from Lakeland, features two base trays and 16 pegs that can be positioned, removed and repositioned whenever and wherever you want, to keep  everything neatly anchored. Storage trays and dividers and organizers don’t work for everything in your kitchen cupboards – there’s always the odd (or odd-shaped) item that resists any attempt to corral it. The beauty of Peggy is that it doesn’t matter what shape or size things are – you can adjust the pegboards to suit them, rather than trying to force them into a space where they just don’t fit.

6. Consider the size of kitchen drawers at design stage

If you should be so lucky to be remodeling your kitchen from scratch, make sure you factor in the best size for kitchen drawers in different areas around the kitchen, that way when you come to organizing them in the future, it will be more clear what should be stored where and therefore, easier to organize. Howley says: ‘The inclusion of deep drawers means all of your everyday pots, pans and trays can be stored neatly out of sight. For maximum efficiency place these next to cooking areas or within your island for easy reach.’

7. Make hard to reach areas functional with pull-out drawers

Rustling around for that particular pan at the back of the cupboard shouldn’t turn into a kitchen yoga mission! Instead, utilize every nook and organize your pantry with pull-out drawers that do the hard work for you.

Teal kitchen pantry with built-in pull-out drawers

(Image credit: Burbidge Kitchen Makers)

Burbidge adds: ‘Incorporating pull out drawers can maximise the potential of cabinets and larders, allowing you to utilise the full depth of the space. This is particularly useful in kitchen corners and behind doors which may otherwise be hard to reach or forgotten about areas.’

8. Choose a subdivided drawer to maximize efficiency

A drawer within a drawer - genius! Engineer your kitchen around you. Chris Spink, founder, Hush Kitchens (opens in new tab) comments: ‘With a Hush Kitchen, the oak inserts are bespoke, so the layout can be tailored to the customer’s specifications. Here, the pull-out drawer has been subdivided with a cutlery drawer above and storage for plates below, making efficient use of the available space.’

Kitchen drawer with subdivided cutlery drawer

(Image credit: Hush Kitchens)

9. Variety is the spice of (drawer) life

Tired of rooting around in the cupboard for that ever-elusive spice? Get the tastebud sensations in marching order with some easy peasy spice rack ideas. Dedicate a drawer for spice jars and invest in a readymade, expandable tiered tray (Amazon has a huge variety of tiered trays for kitchen drawers (opens in new tab) ) to transform your everyday cooking! If you're feeling creative, why not try making a DIY spice jar organizer yourself?

Spice jar drawer with tiered tray

(Image credit: Tom Howley)

10. Dedicate one drawer to linens for grab and go ease

Neatly fold kitchen tea towels and keep them alongside napkins and tablecloths in a dedicated linen drawer. These needn't be mixed with any other kitchen drawer items. Woven basket drawers add rustic texture in a country-loving scheme, whilst softening a mass of hard cabinetry. For an industrial nod, wire basket drawers have the same effect, adding contrast and interest. 

Modern country kitchen with compact butcher's block and basket storage drawers

(Image credit: Dunelm)

How do I organize my kitchen drawers once and for all?

Isabelle Emond, real estate broker and owner, RE/MAX Ocean Surf and Sun (opens in new tab) advises: 'Separate drawers into zones. Washing, prepping, cooking, and baking are common tasks in the kitchen. There are various tools required to execute each activity - group all of the items you use for each of those separate tasks together for efficiency and time saving. It would be best to organize separate drawers for baking, preparation, cleaning, and cooking in zones where the respective activity is performed.'

'When arranging pantry drawers, this entails categorizing food types, such as cooking, baking, and snacks. Sort necessities. Remove everything from each drawer and lay everything on your countertop. Determine which items are required and which are not. Sort products you haven't used in the last six months and those you won't need in the future. You might find yourself with a lot of useless objects clogging up your drawers. Take these items and think about selling them or donating them to charity.'

'Long utensils such as spatulas and serving spoons should be stored diagonally to make better use of drawer space. Storing long objects diagonally guarantees that they fit into the drawer and reduces the need for you to dig out what you need every time.'

What should go in kitchen drawers?

Kitchen cupboards and drawers are the biggest resource for essential storage – small and large depending on drawer depth. Break the cycle of chucking anything and everything into them in haphazard fashion, and organize kitchen cabinets into wholesome retreats for on-hand ingredients or kitchenalia. 

Al Bruce, founder, Olive & Barr (opens in new tab) advises: ‘It’s far too easy to fill your drawers with odds and ends until they become unofficial junk drawers. But your kitchen drawers can be turned into organized storage solutions. So instead of designating one to be a holding pen for your odds and ends, make better use of this vital kitchen real estate by transforming it into something functional, such as a spice rack. Not only will this free up some extra cabinet space, but it will keep your spices organized and easier to access when you’re cooking.’ 

Kelly Dorval, digital marketing manager of property management group, CLV Group (opens in new tab), comments: ‘Kitchen drawers can easily become messy if it is not organized well, as an average household tends to have various kitchen tools. First, be sure to have some drawer organizers ready. One drawer should be dedicated to organizing eating utensils using utensil organizers. Another drawer should organize various kitchen tools like peelers, scissors, and knives. Be sure to store knives in a knife holder and kitchen utensils in organizers to prevent any injuries from sharp edges. Another drawer can be used to store other kitchen needs like cutting boards, collapsable strainers, trivets, etc. Finally, in the bottom drawer, you can store ZipLock bags, aluminum foil, parchment paper, cling wrap, etc.’  

Content Editor

Holly is a Content Editor at Real Homes, and has previously worked at Future Homes brands including Country Homes & Interiors and Livingetc. She has a background in interior and event styling spanning a decade, which previously took her from coast to city and beyond to Australia. 

Holly loves working with creative minds and discovering fresh, indie brands, and is a firm believer that no home can have too many cushions, unruly blooms or decorative details of happy