In partnership with Life in Jeneral.
I LOVE to organize. This probably has a lot to do with my OCD, but I’m truly happy to spend all day (typically Sundays), cleaning up and organizing whatever the week brought in. In quarantine, it doesn’t even have to be a Sunday—it could be any day of the week! I was scrolling through Instagram and came across Life in Jeneral which is the next level of organization—seriously, you have to see it for yourselves. I immediately reached out because I was almost finished with renovating my kitchen and thought it’d be a great way to celebrate this new space with a brand-new system in place. The Life in Jeneral team helped me streamline my routine and I’m so excited to show you what they did to my kitchen! Jen Robin, founder of Life in Jeneral, has some tips on the best way to set up any kitchen that can get you the organized kitchen of your dreams. Ahead, are some of the biggest takeaways from working with her on this project.
Zone off areas surrounding your kitchen
The key to a great kitchen setup is placing things where they logically make the most sense. For instance, you wouldn’t want to place your pots and pans near your kitchen sink or across the room from the stove, since these are items you use almost exclusively on the stove. The same goes for cleaning. Placing soaps, detergents, and other cleaning supplies under or nearby the sink and dishwasher makes the clean-up process a little bit less painful. These are the more obvious examples of zoning, and after you place these items, you might be wondering where to place everything else. This is where your prep, consumable, and non-consumable zones come into play. Giving items you frequently use, such as knives and cutting boards their “own home” in the kitchen is the best for preparation (pro-tip: try to choose a section with a long stretch of countertop). The non-consumable zone is the place where your everyday dishes and silverware should go. To make an efficient space, the Life in Jeneral team gave these their own zone, near my open shelving, and independent from the cooking zone.
Group appliance together, then shelve them by frequency
Appliances tend to be big and bulky, but that’s no surprise. To best utilize my kitchen space, Life in Jeneral chose an area near my pantry, but you can also go near your non-consumable zone to store most of your large appliances. Grouping them all together avoids confusion and chaos in the kitchen, so even though you may want to group certain appliances in areas with certain items, keeping them together ultimately takes up the least amount of space (and it always makes finding an appliance easy!) When placing them, they shelved by frequency. This meant placing my less-frequented appliances towards the top and the more regularly used ones towards the middle and bottom so that I can always access those easily.
Create individual coffee and tea stations
Having a designated area for your morning wake-up is ideal if you have the space. It’s great to have this section away from the cooking zone since the two are rarely ever mixed. The team created my coffee station near my sink and away from the oven and stove so that it could have its own separate area. Building out a drawer underneath the coffee machine with your everyday coffee supplies, like pods, frothers, stirrers, etc. makes it a one-stop-shop in your own kitchen.
Decant and destress
Decanting means taking foods out of their boxes and placing them in airtight jars. The Container Store was the perfect place to get a variety of storage for a clean organized pantry. The ones we chose for my kitchen matched my kitchen’s aesthetic, which is something the team says they always try to do with jars and bins. Good pantry items to decant include nuts, snacks, pastas, grains, baking goods—really, any loose things like this are great for decanting. Decanting is for more than just looks, though. Using airtight jars also increases the shelf life of most foods too! It’s a win-win.
If you got it, flaunt it—style your open shelving
One of my favorite elements of the kitchen is the open shelving. Open shelving is a great place to introduce personality, color, and style into any space. The key to styling open shelving in a kitchen is to place items most frequented on the most accessible shelves and less frequented items on higher shelves. When it comes to styling open shelves, it’s important to balance tall and short items on each shelf with design elements sprinkled throughout. Whatever that may be in your space—a decorative pot or pitcher, a cookbook, or even a small piece of art—these are all nice elements to keep exposed.
A note from the Life in Jeneral team: “We are so obsessed with Ashley’s kitchen transformation! Our goal was to set up her kitchen in the most efficient way possible for her lifestyle. When we organize any space, but especially kitchens, we make sure to make it as functional as possible for the client’s personal needs. When setting up your kitchen, keep this in mind. Use the tips I provided to create a foundation, then tailor the rest to what works best for you. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it makes your day to day at home!”