At one time or another each of us has pawed through a packed kitchen utility drawer trying to find a roll of tape, or searched frantically for the right lid for a plastic container, or bought an ingredient or two only to discover you already had it at the very back of your pantry.

It comes as no surprise to anyone that kitchens are the toughest space in a home to keep clean and organized.

So how do you create an organized and functional kitchen – especially if space is tight?

  • Start with purging, say the experts. Take everything out of drawers, shelves and cupboards and see what you have. Ask yourself what is needed, what is redundant, and what you rarely use. Donate or recycle what you seldom or never use. Trash what is broken or missing a part.
  • With everything out of drawers and off counters, do a super clean. Change out drawer liners, clean cabinet and pantry corners, dust shelves and tops of cabinets. Clear out everything under the sink and do a deep clean. Make sure to check for mold and keep the door open to air this damp area out.
  • Next, organize what you have according to frequency of use. The stuff you use every day should be right up front, close at hand, and easy to get to.
  • Organize like item with like item. All storage containers together; all serving pieces; all cookware; holiday dishes, etc.
  • Keep items you use the most at eye level and the pieces that you use less tucked away lower or higher. If you can’t easily see or access something, the less likely you are to use it.
  • Pantry items also follow this rule. Most used food stuffs up front and easy to reach; canned goods together; baking needs together; items you use rarely in the back, organized by type of item.
  • Go through your cookbooks and recipe lists and purge those, too. Just keep what you actually use. Donate or give away the rest.
  • Countertops should stay clear, suggests Marie Kondo. Keep that toaster and coffee maker inside a cupboard or a drawer. Use it, then put it away. Your kitchen will stay much cleaner and look much less cluttered that way.
  • Super clean and organize your refrigerator by frequency of use and like item with like item. Dairy goods together, for instance; fresh veggies in one drawer; fresh fruits in another; bacon and sandwich meats together somewhere else. The exception to this rule, suggests Martha Stewart, is to “Move leftovers toward the middle front to assure food is seen and eaten before it spoils.”

When you are finished cleaning and organization, make sure everyone knows where everything is – and establish a hard and fast rule. “If you take something out, put it back where it goes.” If everybody in your household follows this rule, your kitchen will stay clean and clutter free once and for all.