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Thursday 30 November 2023 Dublin: 3°C
get organised

Kitchen wrecking your head? How to organise it and have an easier life

We asked an expert for some simple tips.

shutterstock_251214403 Shutterstock / Alliance Shutterstock / Alliance / Alliance

YOUR KITCHEN CAN one of the most-used rooms in your house – but it can be also be a clutter blackspot.

It’s not unusual to have piles of unused items on countertops, gifts that have only been used once, and cupboards that you’re afraid to open lest an avalanche of cups fall on your head.

So, what to do if you want to get your kitchen under control? Ask an expert.

We put the most common kitchen organisation questions to food stylist, cookbook author, and owner of an impeccably organised kitchen, Sharon Hearne-Smith. Here is her advice on how to stop your kitchen giving you a headache.

Taste of Dublin 2017 Photocall Ireland Sharon Hearne Smith (far left) with Taste of Dublin managing director Avril Bannerton and Aoife Noonan in June. Photocall Ireland

I want to re-organise my kitchen. What’s the first thing I should do?

I would get absolutely everything out (and give the cupboards a good clean out!).

Sift out anything that you definitely don’t want, like or use any more and cast off to charity, friends or family.

Then have fun reacquainting yourself with long lost appliances and tools while you re-organise (or is it just me who loves doing this sort of thing?!).

What should I store in the cupboards closest to the cooker? What should I store in the cupboards closest to the fridge? Are there any rules to live by in this area?

I think a lot depends on your kitchen layout and how much storage you actually have and where.

In mine, I absolutely keep saucepans, frying pans, lids and roasting trays etc next to the cooker.

Saying that, I actually keep my baking trays in the cooker – I’m lucky to have a double oven, one less used, but it’s a great tip for a kitchen short on storage. I like pans hanging on hooks either over an island unit or along a plain wall or splashback.

Utensils work really well like this too and both are great for clever use of space. I like to keep my crockery close to the dishwasher for ease of unloading.

When it comes to food and plates/cutlery, which is best to store in high or low cupboards?

Again, it depends on your kitchen layout and amount of storage available – but I would also consider things like if it’s easier for you to lift a stack of plates out of a lower cupboard than a higher one.

If it frustrates you to find food items on higher shelves where items may be a few deep, then you could always section items up into baskets or plastic containers which can easily be taken down and rifled through.

I would section into things like rice, pasta, grains and condiments for example. I use a lot of spices and so have dedicated a whole drawer to them. I lie them down with labels facing up so it’s really easy to put my hand on what I need.

Any tips on how to keep a fridge organised?

I like to use plastic containers in my fridge, particularly for jars of sauces and condiments. It means I can pull a container out and rifle through to find what I’m looking for quickly. If the container gets too full, I know it’s time for a clear out, so no nasty finds years later.

Are there any cheap storage solutions you’d recommend?

I like to keep cans with interesting labels (like nice Italian tomatoes) which once cleaned out make great utensil and cutlery holders.


Food items that won’t fit in a cupboard can add interest to kitchen countertops or shelves once decanted into jars.

You can save on spending on fancy kilner type jars by reusing food jars – why not spray the lids with spray paint in a colour to match your kitchen?

What are the three ingredients you always have at hand to liven up meals?

I always have a pot of fresh basil in the kitchen. Besides adding a nice pop of greenery to the surrounds, when picked the leaves liven up lots of different dishes.

Dried chili flakes are a favourite in our house, giving an instant kick of spice to many dishes.

I stock a wide variety of nuts and seeds but a mix of pumpkin and sunflower seeds are great to have to hand to sprinkle over porridge, salads, roasting vegetables or just to nibble on.

Sharon Hearne-Smith is the author of No-Bake Baking and The No-Cook Cookbook, available in all good bookstores and online at Easons and Amazon. You can find her on Twitter @sharonhearnesmith

What are your top kitchen organisation tips? Tell us in the comments.

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