This is the Best Way to Store Your ‘Once in a While’ Dishes, According to a Pro Organizer

published Nov 19, 2022
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I’m a professional organizer, and I’m forever fascinated by some of my clients who love to cook and bake. Whenever I organize their kitchens, I often have to ask them (or even Google) what certain gadgets and tools are used for because it’s just not my jam. Nonetheless, I love creating a flow to their things so they can meal prep and host effortlessly.

One thing that often gets in the way of creating a perfectly tidy kitchen is the number of things that they use once in a while or, sometimes, only once per year. If your kitchen is small and you feel this pain, the solution that I’ve implemented as a professional organizer is to create an overflow serveware spot elsewhere in the home, which just might help you, too. Here’s how to do it.

First, decide on a storage space

Depending on the number of things you’d like to store, you can look at a few different areas to house them. Some spaces to consider are:

  • A buffet in the dining room
  • A hutch in the hallway
  • A closet under the staircase
  • A shelving unit in the basement (or garage if temperature controlled or covered)
  • Top shelves in a walk-in pantry (if you have the extra space here)

Ideally, the spot would be close to the kitchen but if that’s not possible and you’re only reaching for items occasionally, they can go virtually anywhere. However, how you store them is just as important as where.

Next, protect fragile items

For some storage solutions, such as a buffet or a hutch, you may just want to arrange the pieces inside as-is. If you’re using open shelving, especially in a high-traffic area, you’ll want to take some extra steps to store things safely.

  • Plates and bowls. Look for sturdy quilted storage sets (with or without felt dividers) that fit the size of your plates and bowls with either a see-through window on the front or a place to label. This also works for dessert and appetizer plates, soup and ice cream bowls, and teacup saucers.
  • Platters and cheese boards. You can find larger storage sets to fit platters, but a simple fix is to use a bakeware organizer with slots for each platter.
  • Glasses and mugs. Most storage sets include a box or two for glasses and mugs with dividers to keep them from clinking and clanking. For stemmed glassware, consider sliding a rack organizer onto a high shelf to keep them secure.
  • Bakeware. Bakeware organizers work well for baking sheets and muffin pans. Larger items, like loaf, Bundt, or roasting pans are resilient enough to be stacked on their own. Use a divided lazy susan to sort cookie cutters and mixer accessories. Place liners down on the shelf to grip cake stands.
  • Accessories, like cheese knives, napkin rings, and turkey basters. While not necessarily bulky, the little things that only make an appearance on special occasions should also be tucked away in the overflow space. If you have drawers in a buffet or hutch, sort things by type into individual organizers. For shelves, invest in some accessory-size clear bins, pop your things in them by category, and be sure to label them.

Lastly, declutter seasonally

Just like everything else in your home, it’s important to go through things on somewhat of a regular basis. This prevents things from piling up as you inevitably bring more in. For things that expire like food and medicine, this process is more straightforward. But for serveware (which I would suggest going through two to four times per year), you’ll want to ask yourself these questions:

  • Did I use this at all in the past six to 12 months?
  • Will I actually use it in the near future?
  • Would a friend or relative use it more than me?
  • If I donate it, can I borrow or easily buy something similar should I need it?

We tend to hold onto things “just in case” we’ll need them one day but if you’re short on space, that mindset is not helping you live as clutter-free as you could be. For truly sentimental items, like a Santa cookie plate you had when you were a kid and now use for your own, make the space. For the things you don’t love nor really use, however, consider passing them on to someone else who will.