How To Organize Your Awkward Kitchen: Secrets From A Pro

If you don't have easy access to tools and ingredients in the kitchen, there's a slim chance you'll muster the motivation to whip up even the simplest bowl of quinoa. Every whisk, funnel, and can opener ought to have its own place. But, that's easier said than done in weird city apartments where cabinets are often not wide enough to house pans and counter space is scarce.
So, we called upon organization and design expert Jeffrey Phillip (he's fixed Katie Couric and Gayle King's closet conundrums) to take a look at R29er Natalie Fine's Williamsburg kitchen which was yearning for some organizing TLC. Natalie's always loved to cook, but being unable to fit a sauce pan in her top cabinets and having zero room to cut up vegetables deterred her from stocking up on dry goods. There were a host of small-space dilemmas that Jeffrey immediately spotted. But, there were also solutions to maximize the space and store smarter. Ahead, all his genius tips and product picks to make you actually want to seize that spatula and live up to your hostess potential — even if you're just pulling dish ware for takeout. Because there's nights for that, too.
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Photographed by Erica Gannett.
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"From the start, I envisioned creating a space that worked with Natalie, and not against her," says Jeffrey. "I wanted space for her to prep, space to store food and cooking tools, and a room that was more efficient, more stylish — and, of course more organized."
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Photographed by Liz Clayman.
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"I wanted to modernize the space for Natalie, but didn’t want to fight the colors that were already there — the blonde wood cabinets, the tan and mauve tile, and the brown tones in the floor. Mixing the navy, stainless steel, and wood tones was the perfect way to give the space some modern drama, as well as make it feel warm and inviting."
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Photographed by Erica Gannett.
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"Whether we're talking about a big kitchen or a small kitchen, people routinely struggle with how to make their kitchen work efficiently. In Natalie’s case, she was limited to the kitchen that came with her rental apartment. We used open shelving, added a pegboard and mirror, and created a charming space that now flows well with how Natalie uses her kitchen."
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Photographed by Liz Clayman.
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"I chose to put the mirror on the open wall that previously held a small pot rack to create a primary focal point when you walk through the doorway.  As luck had it, the wall was the perfect size.  Using this space for storage wasn’t the best direction to go. I wanted something there that would be clean, captivating, that would reflect the light from the nearby window and give the illusion that the space is a little larger than it is."
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Photographed by Liz Clayman.
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By making a pegboard Jeffrey was able to move all her cookware and utensils to easy access on the wall. No more struggling to pull a pan out of the cupboard now.

"The pegboard became the ideal solution to store all of the oversized and highly used items. In this project it was the keystone to making the kitchen more organized and efficient for daily use.
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Photographed by Liz Clayman.
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"I wanted to create more work space and storage space for Natalie, but I also wanted to make sure a cart didn’t overwhelm the room and make her feel claustrophobic. Since the kitchen wasn’t very wide, I needed something less than 14” deep. This particular metro shelving unit (from the Container Store) provides that perfect combination by supplying a great work surface and adjustable storage space, all in a petite frame. It's just the right size and has an open, airy aesthetic to let light and air move through the space."
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Photographed by Liz Clayman.
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All her blades stay clean and sharp hung on this wood knife rack.
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Photographed by Erica Gannett.
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Natalie had placed the Vitamix and Keurig on the utility cart since it was the closest to the outlet on the other side of the stove. By moving it to the opposite wall she was able to keep it plugged in all the time.
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Photographed by Liz Clayman.
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Now the utility cart can store colorful fruit and veggies. Jeffrey used wire baskets to keep with the free-flowing theme of the space.
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Photographed by Liz Clayman.
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A pop of red throughout brings out the warmth of the space.
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Photographed by Liz Clayman.
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"Glass oil jars bring a sense of stylish uniformity to the kitchen. Seeing too many bottles of varying sizes, shapes and colors creates visual clutter. Since these bottles were left on the counter for storage and accessibility reasons, I wanted to make sure they effortlessly tied into the space and kept things looking neat."
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Photographed by Erica Gannett.
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All those unused shelves at the top? Jeffrey brought in a step stool so that Natalie can now reach them (and use them) effectively.
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Photographed by Liz Clayman.
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He used lazy susan trays to easily display spices above and cleaning products below. "They are by far one of my most favorite solutions to use to keep things orderly and accessible. They work fabulously in a kitchen to help keep spices and oils organized and easy to grab while in the midst of baking and cooking. Lazy susans prevent items from getting shoved and lost in the back of the cabinet. Now Natalie will always know what she has so she doesn’t double purchase at the grocery store. "
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Glass jars with sleek handwritten black labels store all her white-colored dry goods and make things easy to spot.
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Photographed by Liz Clayman.
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A new bamboo dish rack fits the color scheme and makes the sink area more seamless. Where did the trash go? Jeffrey cleverly hid it underneath the sink. "While we installed a simplehuman pull-out trash can, you can easily place a freestanding trash can under the sink as well."
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Photographed by Liz Clayman.
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Bamboo stacking shelves lets her double up on the number of jars that will fit inside each cabinet.
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Photographed by Liz Clayman.
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Bringing in fresh succulents does wonders for any windowsill.
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Photographed by Erica Gannett.
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Natalie has a chic jacket collection, but it was difficult to find them on this crowded coat tree.
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Photographed by Liz Clayman.
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"By adding several hooks to the wall adjacent to the front door, we were able to provide a more efficient storage solution.  Plus, we were able to create a welcoming area when you walk in the main door. That same area also serves now as both a place to store two extra dining chairs and a place to put on your shoes before heading outside."
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