17 Ways to Fake an Organized Kitchen

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If you feel like clutter seems to reappear in your kitchen immediately after you’ve cleaned every cabinet and drawer, you’re not alone. Luckily, there are ways to fake a streamlined, hyper-organized look—even if you never actually make it.

To prevent a pileup of stuff, it helps to have systems in place that will help keep the chaos contained (or at least concealed).

MORE: 26 Cooking Tricks to Steal from Top Chefs

These 17 kitchens do a beautiful job of using storage space smartly and stylishly to keep the room looking pristine—even if inside those drawers or cabinets it’s a total jumble.

Originally published August 2016. Updated September 2017.

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Color-code items that must be stored in visible places—that way, it looks more intentional than just stacking stuff randomly. Also, wine bottles in a cylindrical holder are easily within reach but don’t look cluttered.

Elizabeth Roberts Architecture & Design

Install a hanging shelf above your kitchen island, if you have one. Shelves don’t need to be limited to those along your walls.

Architectural Digest

Place liquor bottles and other miscellany on a pretty tray on your countertop. Now they’re all contained in one place, and it almost looks like a makeshift bar in your kitchen.

Eric Piasecki

An industrial shelving unit like these steel pipes adds an edgy look and, when filled with books like these, vibrant color to a toned-down kitchen. You can emulate this look even with a much smaller shelf.

Elizabeth Roberts Architecture & Design

Instead of stashing pretty pottery in a cabinet for safekeeping, allow it to live on high shelves, where they’re out of the way and less prone to break but are on display.

Annie Schlechter

If drawers are your main mode of kitchen storage, try color-coding yours. It’s a quick visual hint for which one to reach for when you’re rushing—and it looks cool.


Devote a shelf to cookbooks and other objects you’d like to keep close when you’re cooking. It’s pretty and practical. Also, place frequently used bottles or dishes (e.g. a water carafe) on a shelf or windowsill near where people actually dine.

Eric Piasecki

If you’re a dish, glassware, or pottery junkie and you have the space, devote an entire open shelving unit or cabinet to displaying your collection.

Eric Piasecki

Put shelves in random nooks and crannies, like an unused corner over a sink or stove, and place miscellaneous books or items that need a home.

The Design Files

Hang calendars or other reminders in a single, designated space so they don’t take over and make your kitchen look busy. If you have a single column of vertical shelves, allocate each one to a different category of object (books, bottles, magazines), which looks more intentional.

Elizabeth Roberts Architecture & Design

Placing decorative items at the top of a stack of shelves draws the eye upward, leading it away from any clutter elsewhere, and also creating an illusion of a larger space, if your kitchen is small.

Elizabeth Roberts Architecture & Design

See every unused space as a place to keep things—even seemingly unusable ones like a fireplace or tiny sliver of space between a wall and cabinet.

Git Gustavsson/Oliver Yaphe

A single shelf running along the wall behind a counter looks sleek and minimal, even when it’s piled with plates, mugs, and bowls.

Elizabeth Roberts Architecture & Design

A rolling cart can double as a place to prep food, mix drinks, store liquor bottles, silverware, cutting boards, and more. (And you can move it elsewhere if you’re having people over and pressed for space.)

Elle Decoration

For a rustic-chic way to organize pots and pans, hang them above your stove or island, where they become kitchen-themed decorating accents, rather than just items that you couldn’t fit in a cabinet.

Jessica Helgerson

Pile items all the way up to the ceiling so not an inch of shelving is wasted.

Elizabeth Roberts Architecture & Design

Balance cutting boards or large, flat dishes or baskets vertically against a wall—they’re out of the way there, but still easy to grab when you need them.

Joanna Henderson

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