My house probably appears pretty “put together” everything has a place; bins of organized toys, children’s clothes hung up by size and there is generally no visible mess in sight. However, there are also plenty of hidden crevices in my house that have doors, and sometimes those doors do hide extremely unorganized messes. The biggest culprit in our house….the kitchen pantry.
Typically I cook from scratch, so I’m constantly heading to the pantry to pull things out or put them back in. When I come home from the grocery store, I have exactly 5 minutes to put away my food before someone needs to go potty or a diaper needs to be changed. Snack time means opening the door and blindly grasping for whatever I can before two toddler hands start grabbing items themselves and making a huge mess.
What I’m getting at, my pantry has become an inefficient nightmare of randomly scattered condiments, snacks, and cooking essentials, piled up and blindly thrown amongst the wired shelfs. There is no rhyme or reason to where things go and even worse it’s a complete waste of good space. Basically, no pantry organization was happening over here.
After opening my pantry one too many times with chips flying at my head, I decided to seek the help of a professional organizer.
Calling In Help
What’s a professional organizer? Their job is to work with clients to enhance their lives by developing organizing systems and also teaching their clients effective organizational skills. Although Pinterest is great for tips and tricks, I needed someone who would be able to help me declutter my pantry and set up realistic and practical solutions to KEEP me organized. So for this home organization project, I contacted Sarah Brent, owner of Practical Harmony Professional Organizers
I’m not going to lie, I felt very vulnerable allowing a stranger into my pantry and letting them see what lurks beyond the pantry doors. We had a quick consultation about the pantry organization project and went over the goals. My main objective was to make the pantry organized and less likely to become re-cluttered.
Getting Started Organizing
The first step to ANY organizational project as Sarah told me, is to remove EVERYTHING. While you are removing items, it’s important to throw away what has expired, what you won’t ever use (hello sardines) and what doesn’t belong (we found a sock haha).
“Less is more, get rid of what you don’t need and you’ll have less to organize,” as Sarah put it.
As she pulled things OUT she was organizing and grouping them around my countertops. We had a pile for breakfast items, one for snacks, pastas, chips, crackers, etc. We also started a small pile of things that didn’t necessarily have a place.
She was asking me lots of GREAT questions, such as what I pulled out frequently, my process during cooking and how other members of the family use the pantry. This was extremely important for determining how things went back in.Once that was done she started working her magic as if each item were a tetris piece ready to fit in their perfect place. We started grouping chips that weren’t open together. They were placed up top and out of the way, and ones that were open were placed on the bottom in an easily accessible area. She provided a great tip, to keep a small container of chip clips near the opened chips to prevent them from going bad (why hadn’t I ever thought of that?).
We placed heavier items on the highest pantry shelving so we wouldn’t risk my toddler pulling them out herself. Things that weren’t used often were placed in the back crevices of the pantry, and appliances were placed on the bottom of the closet. Easy to reach snacks were grouped together in cute easily accessible baskets (that I already had).
Sarah faced all of the products for easy identification. This small step has really helped. Before I wouldn’t know what I was grabbing and would pull it out and then put it back in if it wasn’t what I needed, which created extra clutter. The bulk items were also organized from the front to back of the shelf instead of side by side, which saved a lot of space in the pantry.
Buy Your Pantry Organization Vessels Last
How many times have you scoured Pinterest looking at beautiful pins of pantries, shiny canisters of perfectly labeled flour, sugar and salt and color coordinated plastic bins full of chips and crackers? Over the years I’ve tried implementing these visions by buying mismatching things, then never really using them.
Remember how I said I have exactly 5 minutes to unload my groceries? That means I probably don’t have time to dump sugar and flour into those perfectly labeled containers. Pantry organization is more about grouping items how and where you need them vs. the kitchen storage containers you probably won’t use.
My professional organizer Sarah had a great analogy, “It’s like buying a dress you can’t fit into and you will probably never wear. It’s better to buy organizational items and containers AFTER you have organized your space to see what you actually need,” this makes so much sense.
What I Used To Organize My Pantry
The best part on my kitchen pantry transformation? I didn’t need to buy much to turn this space around.
Repurposing bins and containers I already had around the house saved lots of money. I bought two bins from the dollar spot at Target a few months back (shocking I had no purpose for them) but I was now able to use those as containers to put easily accessible snacks in like applesauce, Larabars, pretzels bags, granola bars, etc.
There was an old wicker basket laying around in the garage, that is now the official holder of potatoes and another for onions. We also repurposed a Tupperware container (that was missing in a lid) and is now the official chip clip container.
Sarah recommended an adorable three tiered spice cabinet organizer, as well as a hanging basket for tortillas which were great amazon pantry finds and helped save space. I already had the two containers below and now fill them with our families two most used snacks: pretzels and crackers.
The Finished Product
It took about three hours to organize, clean and repurpose all of the items in the pantry. At the end I could not have been happier with how things turned out. Sarah explained:
“No matter what project you reorganize in your home, it’s so important to make sure you are teaching your family members where things now belong, so the space doesn’t become unorganized again,” cough cough *husband.
It’s been over a month since Sarah has been in our home, and I can say that our pantry has continued to stay clean and organized which is a huge win in this house. No more flying bags of chips at my head!
Having someone look at your space with a fresh perspective and the right organizational tools makes all of the difference. Never in a million years would I have placed things the way she did, however, her expertise helped me look at organization in a whole new way.
Getting Your Space Organized
No Matter what kind of project you would like to organize, Sarah has a few tips:
- Less is more. The less stuff you have, the less stuff you have to organize
- Keep up with decluttering
- When new stuff comes into the home, think about what you can get rid of
- Focus on ONE area at a time, rather than the bigger picture (We did the pantry not the WHOLE kitchen)
- Teach EVERYONE in the family how to “use” your newly organized space and explain in detail where things go
Why You Might Need a Professional Organizer
Professional organizers can be used for so many different projects around your home. Having a garage sale? Don’t know how to store and manage all of your holiday decorations? Has someone in your family recently transitioned into a wheel chair and you need to reorganize items to be more accessible? New mom not sure how to organize your nursery? Tired mom, not able to keep up with the toys? Professional organizers can help with all these things and more.
*Professional Harmony dedicated their time in exchange for this blog post. All opinions are my own.