I avoided kitchen counter organization tools for a long time, convinced I didn't have the counter space. Instead, my strategy was to keep everything off the counter. That strategy failed. Every morning I would make my cup of joe while staring at a messy pile of coffee beans, tea, and sweeteners stuffed into a corner of my counter. Whenever I cooked I’d have to actively avoid the many miscellaneous items—a random pothos plant, a fat stack of unopened mail—that took up residence in my workspace.
As a result I am personally able to confirm that having your counters in disarray is a surefire way to sprinkle a little zest of chaos into any kitchen task.
I’ve since learned that the key to clutter-free kitchen counters is infrastructure. Shelves, baskets, and food storage containers don’t add clutter; they keep it tidy. While it can feel like a daunting task to balance your storage needs and your aesthetic sensibilities, the kitchen counter organization ideas below are a great place to start.
Stackable shelves and shelf risers
Stackable shelves can be a gateway to the wide world of kitchen counter organization. If you’ve got a heap of ingredients on your countertop that you reach for often, this is one of the best ways to wrangle your collection of nut butters and coffee syrups. It’s also a space-saving solution for small appliances that live on your counter since a stackable shelf allows you to neatly store items on top. For example, I keep my toaster under this shelf and put all of my morning coffee essentials on the shelves right above it.
Look for a sturdy set of shelves with pieces that securely lock into one another, and consider what height and width will work best for your counter. If you don’t have enough space for stackable shelves, consider a set of shelf risers, which work wonders in kitchen cabinets too.
Like wooden butter churns and manual food mills, bread boxes may sound like one of those outdated kitchen gadgets no one needs—but they do keep bread fresher longer. Plus, modern-day bread boxes are very chic. This rectangular bamboo bread box is one of my favorite kitchen organizers because it’s essentially a closed shelf with a door. You can keep your store-bought bagels and freshly baked sourdough inside, then use the top as a shelf for jars of cookie butter and Nutella—just be sure to look for a bread box with a flat top.
Baskets and Bowls
Maybe you want a dedicated vessel for storing your fruit, or you need something to keep your most-used cooking oils and spices close at hand—these are all good reasons to invest in a few countertop baskets. BA’s associate director of commerce Emily Johnson even suggests having a complete basket system for your kitchen towels if you’re trying to kick a paper towel habit. I love wire baskets for kitchen counters because they have a less-bulky look and feel. They’re also more durable and easier to clean than your standard wicker baskets. If you really want to optimize your counter space, consider a set of stackable wire baskets like these.
Lazy Susan turntables
If that collection of salt cellars and chili oils permanently displayed on your counter has gotten out of hand, it’s time to shop for a lazy Susan. These spinning turntables help maximize the real estate on your counter while keeping your favorite items easily accessible. Look for a sturdy lazy Susan made from a durable material like wood, marble, or metal. Bonus points if it can also fit your utensil crock to keep your kitchen counter looking cohesive.
Whether or not you should decant your pantry staples is up for debate, but if you tend to leave items like dry pasta, beans, and grains out in plain sight, decanting is an easy way to keep your kitchen in order. A set of food containers will not only keep your counters and shelves more organized, they’ll also help extend the shelf life of your dry goods.. Consider something small, like these colorful powder-coated tin containers from HAY, for things like coffee and tea, and larger containers for bulk ingredients like flour and rice.
This story was originally published on Bon Appetit US.