Renters often have to work with small kitchen spaces. Luckily, you don’t have to be stuck with the cramped layout you get when you move into an apartment. You can always reorganize the space to improve its utility and aesthetics. Here are six tips to help you with your reorganization:

Do an Inventory of Your Items

Before you start moving things around, it’s important to have an inventory of your kitchen gear. What are you working with? Pull out every fry pan, skillet, casserole dish, and pot rack you can find in your kitchen cupboards — see which ones are rusty, worn out, and have the non-stick coating chipping off. If a tool isn’t usable, throw it out! 

To separate the items that you should salvage versus the ones you should toss, ask yourself three important questions: 

  • Does it work?
  • Is it necessary? 
  • Does it have sentimental value? 

If an item gets a “yes” on at least two out of the three questions, you may want to keep it.

Do an Extensive Cleaning of Your Kitchen

Since your items are out of the cupboards and drawers, now might be a good time to wipe down these often-neglected nooks and crannies. You’d be surprised how much dirt, dust, and food particles you’ll find whilst cleaning these spaces. A quick wipe-down also gives you a chance to scan these dark corners of the kitchen for any mold growth or pest infestation.

Categorize Items

As a general rule of thumb, you should group items that are similar in purpose.This makes it easier to find and grab whatever item you need when fixing yourself some food.

It’s easier to group similar items in your fridge, but most items that are stored outside of the fridge eventually end up scattered around the kitchen. Sort and store all of your baking items together, then do the same for poultry, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and herbs and spices. Breakfast items, such as cereal and pancake mixes, should be stored in the same cupboard. 

Aside from food, you should also try to group similar cooking utensils and equipment. 

Utilize All Available Spaces

According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, the average size of kitchens in the U.S. is 151 square feet for bungalow-type homes while multi-floored homes have an average of 174 square feet. Renters in cities — including San Francisco — may have even smaller kitchen areas. In an apartment that is less than 1,500 square feet in size, the average kitchen size is 103 square feet. 

You’ll want to use every inch of that space available, starting with vertical spaces. Install hooks underneath drawers and cupboards, so you can hang mugs, pots, tongs, and other tools. If you’re a wine aficionado, install a stemware rack. Any space you can use to hang items on should be used to save flat space inside your cupboard.

Install Drawer Dividers

If you own a significant number of cooking utensils, consider investing in a divider to organize your drawers. Dividers help maintain order and uniformity in your kitchen drawers. They are also nifty for drawers that are full of miscellaneous items, such as screws and bolts from previously owned and assembled kitchen appliances, batteries, delivery flyers, etc.

Create an Efficient Waste Removal System

Not having any trash bins or special waste receptacles for recyclables can train you to just leave empty food containers and wrappers lying around the kitchen counter. Over time, this can create health and hygiene issues as leftover food containers attract pests and creates bad odors around your kitchen space. Have at least two trash bins — one for food waste and another one for recyclables.

Kitchen reorganizing should be done at least once a year. A regular assessment and subsequent reorganization is essential to keep the space running smoothly.