Kitchens are the command center of a home. Kids congregate, family and friends are entertained, creativity is inspired, and it’s where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. With so many moving parts, the upkeep can get chaotic. Most people remember the day they move into a new kitchen — so clean and tidy, a fresh canvas for possibilities! Not long after, the chaos of life takes over.
Fortunately, there are people out there who have a knack for organizing your home and taming the chaos. We call them professional organizers, and we love them. They can help you mindfully settle into a brand new kitchen, or declutter a space that has gotten a little out of hand.
We sat down with professional organizer, Hanna Banks, founder of Denver Organize, to give you some insight on where to start if you’re overwhelmed and how to keep your spaces tidy. An expert in efficiency, she helps clients evaluate what will work best for their needs and leaves them with strategies for keeping their kitchens, bathrooms and closets in pristine working order.
Coming from a large Italian family, Hanna tells us, “the kitchen has always been the heart and soul of our home. It is a place where we share belly laughs, have important conversations and foster creativity. In order to allow these types of experiences, it’s important that the physical space is calm and supporting - ie. It’s organized.”
Hanna loves going into a Kd. kitchen because, “well, let’s be honest, they’re beautiful, but also thoughtfully made” she says. Here, Hanna shares her tips and tricks to set your space up for success and use all of its potential.
How did you get into the business of organizing?
Organizing has always been my passion. Being a mother of two small boys, and a large furry child, organizing has really optimized our life at home and created more time for family, and less time finding places for “things” to fit. We move a lot because my better half, Stephen, owns a building company and we are usually remodeling, building or moving in between the two. We save our sanity by quickly unpacking and setting up a system to stay organized. Friends started asking her to help with their moves, unpacking, reorganizing and all things in between—and I loved it! Friends telling me how, months later, their spaces were staying organized and it was actually changing the dynamic in their homes. That alone was enough to push me into starting my business.
Why are kitchens so quick to get disorganized?
The social aspect of a kitchen mixed with the function of actually cooking, assumes a lot of personalities, and all of the things, together in one space. It can be overwhelming to get organized and think of keeping it up. So I think we all just do the best we can. But without a system in place, we tend to lose ground quickly.
What are the main issues clients face when trying to stay organized? And how can they overcome these?
Systems, Systems, Systems! - One common downfall is the system doesn’t make sense for the family using it. I think most of us could guess that a system would be handy to stay organized but it must be realistic to keep up and has to match the flow of its tenants. Think; young children, give them access to their snacks but hide the clutter with baskets, or, avid entertainers, show off those crystal glasses and serve ware. Just remember, the goal is to make your life easier! If you won’t be able to stay on top of it, create a simpler system.
The 2-Minute Rule - Staying organized does require some effort! Inevitably, things will start to go awry- it happens to all of us. That busy week at work or with the kids and we tend to just put things where they fit and close the cabinet so it’s not shaming us in the face. This is when I remind clients of The 2-minute rule: if it takes less than 2 minutes to accomplish, do it now! It takes less than 2 minutes to put your groceries away where they go, or stick that food processor in the cabinet where it belongs - and it’s so worth it! You’ll save time, and sanity, in the end when you aren’t searching high and low for the part of the food processor that got thrown into a random drawer.
Labels are a handy cheat sheet! - My team can come in and organize every inch of your home but if you can’t remember where everything goes — well, things get messy. We overcome this with labels. Most families prefer permanent labels (they’re pretty, we promise), but for those who don’t want labels, we recommend using sticky notes to remind you of what goes where until it’s a habit to put things back in their designated spaces. Labels are our all-star player in keeping your kitchen system chugging along.
What are your favorite kitchen organizing products that you use in almost every kitchen?
Airtight containers: Here's a fan favorite— OXO containers. These contain everything from baking good to dog biscuits to dishwashing pods, and beyond.
Labels, again. I have to say it again because I love labels. The MVP of efficiency and the upkeep champion. There are many different kinds, but these white bin clip labels are simple ones that I use often.
Two words: Can risers. It’s stadium seating for cans, so you can see what you have. You can finally stop re-buying diced tomatoes. These also exist for spices and they’re great!
Bins and baskets: We almost always use mDesign Storage Bins (in many different sizes) to contain “like” things together in kitchens, laundry rooms, closets, bathrooms, etc. These Water Hyacinth Storage Bins are also great for kitchens, pantries specifically.
Not-your-mama’s-lazy-Susan: Lazy Susans got a bad rap for being lazy, but, we’re back! Super high cabinet or shelf? Stick a lazy Susan in so you can happily turn until you find your product. No step ladder needed. We also love them for bathrooms!
Can you share any kitchen hacks?
Hack #1: Don’t be afraid to adjust your shelving. Most kitchen shelves are adjustable. If it doesn't fit, move the shelf. Also, consider using your vertical space more efficiently by bringing your shelf down, or using stacking baskets or bins. Avoid big gaps of unused space.
Hack #2: Take things out of bulky packaging (i.e., granola bars, boxed cereal) and put them in an airtight container or bin. If you have kids, you won’t end up with 20 empty boxes in your pantry and a bonus—it makes things look nice.
Hack #3: Declutter, consolidate. It’s important to toss anything that is expired or isn’t likely to be used. Chances are, you’re going to buy it again anyway if it’s stuffed in the back of a cabinet and you can’t see it. I’ve never had a client come back to me wishing they had done less decluttering.
Spring cleaning is right around the corner. Where does one even start to spruce up their kitchen if they’re starting from scratch?
I would recommend starting with one area, maybe a spice cabinet or under the sink. A full pantry will probably take more than a day so start small.
Think about how you’d like it to look and function.
Make a plan. Do you need bins? Containers? Labels?
Pull everything out — everything!
Clean it like you mean it. And Check expiration dates (yes, spices and oils expire!)
Mindfully and carefully put everything back in. Don’t forget to leave yourself some room for when you buy more X, Y, Z.
Label it; either with labels or sticky notes, so you can put things back where they belong and be successful with organizing.
Take the time to keep it up- you’ve got this!
If you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed by organizing, reach out to me at [email protected].