How to organize kitchen countertops according to experts

Organize kitchen countertops once and for all in 4 easy steps from the experts

kitchen countertop blue shaker kitchen with open wooden shelving
(Image credit: Olive & Barr)

Knowing how to organize kitchen countertops properly is key for a functional cooking space. After all, your counters work hard on a daily basis, and no matter how beautiful your cabinetry, or how stylish your countertop is, if your appliances, food, cutlery and pans are all in the wrong place, your kitchen simply isn't going to do its job and your stress levels are going to remain high.

So we've spoken to a handful of the best industry experts, from interior designers to kitchen storage creators, to get the lowdown on how they organize their counters successfully. Copy these nifty tips and take your kitchen organization to the next level. 

1. Consider how you use your kitchen, then organize accordingly

For a streamlined kitchen that works well, understand first where you tend to stand when doing certain tasks, and position your countertop items accordingly. This means you wont have to walk to the other side of the kitchen to put a tea bag in your mug, or to put spices in your pan.

'For the most efficient use of space, keep tools and cooking utensils towards your stove. Be aware of how you operate and what you actually use in your kitchen. A spice rack may be convenient and nice to look at but if you aren't using it, it's taking up unnecessary space and may need to be removed or made smaller to allow for the few spices you do regularly use,' says interior designer, Callum at DS Home Direct.

'Make sure you keep your mugs close to the coffee maker and your spices close to your stove. If you have a knife block, make sure it's by your cutting boards. Having everything in one area makes sure that you don't have to run around from one end of the kitchen to the other constantly,' says Marco, interior designer and consultant at HouseGrail.

Pegboard shelf in kitchen by Wearth London

(Image credit: Wearth London)

2. Think vertically to free up more countertop space

If you're finding that you've barely got enough countertop space to cook, then a good reshuffle will work wonders to max out on kitchen storage. Thinking vertically is a great way to clear some countertop space, be it with hanging rails or shelves to the wall, or simply making more efficient use of your cupboards.

'You need to firstly work out what items you want to showcase and what you want to hide,' says Giovanni Scippo, Director at 3D Lines. Once you know what you want to hide behind a cupboard and what you want to leave out on display, you can plan accordingly.

'The best solution to claiming back your worktop space is to go "up". Wall mount everything, tools hung on rods, under cabinetry and even tiered spice racks,' says Jenny at X-NRG Life.

'Turn any extra space in your kitchen into a storage area. Install cupboards in the area above your refrigerator. It's a great place to store items that you don't use frequently but will use often enough to keep them close.' says Marco, interior designer and consultant at HouseGrail.

You can even wall mount your knives.  'Magnetic knife racks are a stylish and convenient solution to remove the need for a knife rack on your worktop,' says interior designer, Callum at DS Home Direct.

'I always suggest utilizing the under sides of the upper cabinets to hang paper towels, or a screen holder for your tablet or TV or cookbook while being used,' says Brenda professional organizer at Tidy My Space

'To keep your appliances out of sight, retractable shelves are creative and practical,' says Giovanni Scippo, Director at 3D Lines.

kitchen with wall-hung utensil and chopping board storage

(Image credit: X-nrg)

3. Invest in good-looking trays, baskets and jars 

There are always going to be some items that you do want to keep on your countertop, and for that, there are many stylish ways to transform them from clutter, into a design feature in their own right. 

'Using wooden trays on your countertop is a great way to keep it clean and stylish and neat. You can store things you frequently use such as kitchen utensils, salt and pepper shakers, butter dish and anything you find yourself reaching for whenever you're in the kitchen,' says Marco, interior designer and consultant at HouseGrail.

'Use various storage containers and organizers, such as wire baskets,  caddies and dividers, to help you make the most of your kitchen worktop,' says interior designer Kate at Swanky Den.

Reusable jars, such as Kilner jars are a great way to store dried foods – and they look great when disiplayed on your coutertop or shelf. Stackable storage, such as the below from The Container Store, is also an effective use of saving space while keeping items close to hand.

containers of dried food piled on on a worktop in a white kitchen

(Image credit: The Container Store)

4. Keep only what you need on the surface

A lovely large kitchen island may be the dream, but the bigger the countertop, the more space there is to gather clutter. 

'My biggest tip for kitchen countertop organization is to declutter as much as possible. Keep only what you need on your work surface. Store little-used appliances in cupboards, keep utensils in drawers, hang pots, pans and mugs underneath wall-mounted cupboards,' says Gude, Brand Manager at Synsera Homes Limited.

'Don't allow your kitchen counter to become a second desk - always keep paperwork in it's proper place (or better still, deal with it immediately, or go paper-free),' Gude continues.

A kitchen with black wooden kitchen island with concrete countertop, cane barstools and Berber carpet

(Image credit: Caesarstone)

What should you display on countertops?

Unlike other rooms in the home, your kitchen consists mostly of cabinets, so when it comes to deciding what to display on your countertop, you should choose things that are both practical and handy to have out, and also that show off your personality. Kilner jars of flour and caster sugar are great for the keen baker, while ample herbs are perfect for the budding chef. If you are never without a hot drink, keep tea and coffee on your contertop, but display them in attractive jars. Fruit bowls always bring some vibrant color to a kitchen also. Dish drainers are also essential for most homes.

How do I organize my kitchen with a small counter space?

If you've a small kitchen space, you really do want to have your countertop as clear as possible. Choose slimline appliances to take up minimal room. Use your walls as much as possible. Take cabinets and open kitchen shelving right up to your ceiling, so you can maximize storage elsewhere and keep your countertops free. You can also use your backsplash to hang racks for utensils, making the most of every inch of space, so you can save your countertop for cooking.

Amelia Smith
Content Editor

After joining Real Homes as content producer in 2016, Amelia has taken on several different roles and is now content editor. She specializes in style and decorating features and loves nothing more than finding the most beautiful new furniture, fabrics and accessories and sharing them with our readers. As a newbie London renter, Amelia’s loving exploring the big city and mooching around vintage markets to kit out her new home.