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Setting up Kitchen Work Zones and Why They Matter to Your Lifestyle

The kitchen is by far the most trafficked area of your home. Think about how many times a day you go into your kitchen. Whether to prep a meal, get a drink or a snack, or sit and enjoy a cup of coffee. Why is it then that the kitchen is one of the hardest rooms to organize? Because too many people organize their kitchen in a way that doesn’t suit their lifestyle. That's why you need to set up kitchen work zones for your lifestyle, not someone else's.

Zones are vital to organizing. They help store either (a) similar items together or (b) often used items together. When you dedicate zones for certain things — like office supplies — you always know where to go when you need a new pen or a paperclip.

The kitchen should be no different. But it’s important to remember that everyone lives different lifestyles. Someone’s home office might be their kitchen table while others have a separate room. Some people may sort and deal with mail in their kitchen while others do it in their bedroom.

Before you can organize your kitchen well, you must first figure out what you use your kitchen for. Other than cooking. And it also comes down to making your kitchen work zones as easy and streamlined as possible.

Here are some kitchen work zones you can try

Kitchen organization comes down to one thing: laziness. What’s the laziest way you can organize your kitchen so keeping it in order requires the least amount of steps? It sounds counterproductive to the “get your steps in” culture, but trust me, you want your kitchen work zones to be easy.

Main dishes and utensils

Where is your dishwasher located? If you don’t have a dishwasher, where is your sink located? Stand in front of it. Now look up. Do you see those cabinets? That’s where you should put your main dishes and glasses. Note that I didn’t say ALL your dishes and glasses. Just the ones you use on a daily basis.

When you have your main dishes near your dishwasher or sink, putting them away is a breeze. Your utensils should also be stored in the drawer closest to your dishwasher or sink. Preferably right next to it. Depending on the size of your kitchen you may have to keep your utensils a little further away. That’s fine. But try keeping your central dishes and glasses in the cabinets above the dishwasher or sink. Or at least near them.

Meal Prep Space and Spices

If you’re the main chef in the family chances are you have a routine you’re not aware of. When you cook long enough, you pick up your own quirks that make the experience fun and exciting. One of those is having a dedicated spot where you prep your meals.

One of the best kitchen work zones you can create is a meal prep zone. Basically, it’s the section of your counter with the most space and access to everything you need. That means in the cabinets above you want your spices, oils, and anything else you need when cooking.

The same goes for tools such as paring knives, peelers, cutting boards, and more. Get creative and see how you can store all that stuff near your main prep space. If you don’t have a lot of cabinet space, consider buying a wall unit to keep spices. Or see if you can amplify cabinet space by using shelf raisers or Lazy Susan’s.

The less you have to move when preparing meals, the faster you’ll have dinner ready for the family. It’s also a lot less stressful, knowing you have everything you need within reach.

Coffee and Tea

Do you see a pattern forming yet? Kitchen work zones are all about having what you need, where you need it. It’s not about storing items so they’re Instagram-worthy. It’s about keeping things near the items they work with. And there’s no better example of that than coffee and tea.

Whatever you use to make coffee (a Keurig, French Press, percolator) organize your cabinet so the coffee pods, bags, etc are directly above it. If you’re a tea drinker and you use an electric kettle, do the same thing. Keep all your tea (bags or loose) in the cabinet above the kettle. This is also a good place to keep sugar, honey, or anything else you might put into your drink of choice. Obviously, milk remains in the fridge.

If reorganizing means finding new homes for other things, so be it. If you have a ton of baking stuff and only bake once a month or every few months, store them in your pantry. The only things that should be kept in the kitchen are things you use on a daily basis. If space is your concern, invest in some shelf raisers to amplify space. Then store non-daily items elsewhere.


This may surprise you, but you don’t have to keep all the dinnerware together. I’ll write that again. You don’t have to keep all the dinnerware together. Especially glasses and other drinkware. Separate your daily glassware from the ones you use semi-regularly. This could include:

  • Wine glasses

  • Juice glasses

  • Champagne flutes

  • Liquor glasses

  • Beer mugs

  • Holiday or themed glassware

These can go in a cabinet all their own. If possible, store your mugs with your coffee and tea stuff. But if you can’t, keep your most used mugs in the cabinet with your daily dishware and the rest with the others.

Separating daily glassware from the rest will make getting what you need a lot easier. No more pushing glasses and mugs aside for that one wine glass. By keeping them separated, you can grab that wine glass the minute you want it.

Again, if space is your concern see if there’s a hutch or standalone cabinet you can convert into a minibar. You can store all your liquor glasses as well as the liquor itself. This way you know this cabinet is all things bar-related.

Organizing your kitchen might seem like a daunting task at first. But what it really comes down to is how you live your life. Do you separate and deal with your mail in the kitchen? Then set a basket on your kitchen counter for all mail to go into. Always leave your keys on the counter? Put a bowl or install a hook for them.

Your goal is to organize for your stuff, not your space. Don’t try and emulate someone else’s kitchen. Where they keep their mixing bowls is not where you would keep your mixing bowls. You can get inspired by what you see online, but good organization is all about making it work for you.

So give these kitchen organization tricks a try. If they don’t work, adjust them until they make sense to you and your lifestyle. Don’t force yourself to keep a system that doesn’t work.

What do your kitchen work zones look like? Do you have things stored where there’s room or do you have a system in place? Are you going to try any of these tips I shared today? Comment below with your biggest kitchen organization struggle.

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