31 Genius Tips for Organized Kitchen Counters

updated Mar 26, 2024
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We all dream of ending our weeknight meals with a clean kitchen, but is that even possible? Our countertops are often the worst offenders, already full of books and baubles before we even begin cooking a meal.

Minimizing clutter translates to less cleaning time because counters can be sanitized more easily, and a bit of editing can make a world of difference in keeping your kitchen in ship-shape. 

Don’t worry maximalists, an organized countertop doesn’t have to be a bare one. We also love a lived-in look that reflects one’s design (and cooking) personality or that is made more functional by placing everyday use items in convenient places. Read on to discover brilliant organized kitchen counter ideas that will suit your design preferences and cookspace habits. 

Credit: Erin Derby

1. Corral your cookbooks.

One way to maintain organized kitchen counters is to have designated places for everything — including your collection of cookbooks. Even if you need to keep them on the counter for easy access, tidy things up by corralling them with a pair of bookends, like in this Brooklyn loft.

2. Maximize storage with a kitchen island.

To keep their kitchen counters organized, the owner of this historic Lyon apartment added a cute kitchen island with room to store things like dishes and kitchen utensils. The island also comes with a spot for a chair and a sturdy wooden top, which makes it the perfect place to do homework, prep food, and more.

Credit: Marc Mauldin

3. Get creative with your wall space.

The key to achieving organized kitchen counters is eliminating clutter — or, cutting down on the number of things you need to keep on your counter. In small kitchens, it’s near impossible to get rid of your kitchen essentials in an effort to keep clean counters, especially if you’re an avid cook. But by taking advantage of wall space, you can keep things looking tidy at all times. The wall hooks holding kitchen towels and the wall-mounted magnetic knife rack in this Atlanta home are prime examples.

4. Install open-shelving on an open wall.

If you can’t imagine parting with anything in your kitchen, make room! We love how an under-utilized kitchen corner in this Savannah home is a beautiful place to house favorite entertaining pieces and serveware, thanks to the simple addition of a few wooden shelves.

Credit: Champagne

5. Use trays to keep your daily essentials looking pretty.

There’s no need to get rid of everything on your kitchen counters, especially if some of those items are things you use daily — or more. Here, this kitchen counter of this Hollywood home features a vintage-inspired tray that functions as a coffee bar to ensure that stumbling to the French press each morning is a bit easier. 

6. Upgrade (or buy new) the kitchen island to become a storage workhorse.

This U.K. farmhouse is full of brilliant touches, but the kitchen island may be the best yet. The gorgeous piece is not only a great place to pull up to and finish homework or catch up on emails, but it has ample storage space below, plus it stores the family’s wine collection for easy sipping.

Credit: Jiyan Zandi

7. Make the most of your kitchen’s architectural quirks.

Maximalists, this one’s for you. Instead of tossing out some pieces you love, create room where few other items would fit. Here, in this San Diego loft, adding a hanging shelf from the bottom of the “second floor” makes room for more color and more of the renter’s entertaining essentials. 

Credit: Spiro Georgi

8. Outsource a nearby wall.

Those who love having lots of things but want to keep the kitchen clean may want to utilize an adjacent wall in a hallway or nearby room. This way, your kitchen can remain sparking and serene without having to compromise on which pieces stay and go. This New England farmhouse executes this idea brilliantly and makes it quite the photo-worthy moment.

9. Store as little as possible on the counter.

It seems obvious, but this is the foundation of your whole clean-counter mission. Store as much as you can in organized cabinets and drawers, saving countertop space for the absolute essentials. Much like the always-clean-sink principle in which you do your best to not even leave one dirty dish in there to avoid attracting more, a cleared-off counter is much more likely to stay that way.

10. Declutter your kitchen.

The best way to create more space anywhere in your kitchen is to get rid of anything you don’t really need. Some common categories of things you can probably get rid of include: duplicate kitchen tools, cookbooks you don’t ever (or rarely) use, and almost all those coupons and other paper scraps.

11. Hang knives from a magnetic knife rack.

Rather than taking up counter space with a bulky knife block, hang knives from a magnetic strip instead. They will still be just as accessible but won’t take up any valuable counter space, making for organized kitchen counters.

Credit: Lana Kenney

12. Streamline your decoration.

If you like a lived-in look, try giving your countertops a more cohesive design so it appears more organized. This Scandinavian-meets-boho home has a number of things on the countertops, but they are all in the same colors and match the aesthetic of the room itself.

13. Group items together.

Placing items that live on your counters together in eye-pleasing vignettes gives a far more orderly appearance than items spread out across the whole space. Groupings look meaningful and artistic instead of like stuff that has no other home.

Credit: Cambria Bold

14. Get cookbooks off the counter.

Unless you’re truly referring to each of them each day, your cookbooks are likely better off on a shelf up high, or even somewhere outside of the kitchen, rather than taking up counter space.

15. Keep attractive, large cookware on the stove top.

A beautiful (albeit large) Dutch oven can live on the top of your stove. This frees up valuable real estate inside your cabinets, so you can use that space to store smaller things that you may otherwise be tempted to keep on top of your counter.

Credit: Olivia Muenter

16. Or, use the top of the fridge.

Same concept here: freeing up cabinet space and therefore kitchen counter space. While we may not store something utilitarian on top of the fridge for fear of it looking out of place, the Dutch oven must be left out for viewing pleasure, and its placement near a plant suggests the deliberateness of the move.

Credit: Naomi Vacaro

17. Distract the eye.

These counters are delightfully bare already, but the use of eye-catching stools ensures that any viewer’s gaze is pulled to the blue color rather than anything sitting on the counters.

18. Don’t allow certain items to stay out on display.

It’s unrealistic (and maybe undesirable) to have a kitchen counter that’s completely empty. It’s a good idea to create your own rules for keeping countertops clear of items like appliances, pantry staples, mail, or olive oil — it’s better to store these in a cool, dark place.

Credit: Rikki Snyder

19. Add hooks to your backsplash.

Instead of keeping sink-side essentials (like a dish scrubber and tea towel) taking up space on the counter, add a few removable adhesive hooks to your backsplash above or right next to the sink.

Credit: Alexis Buryk

20. Use the sides of your cabinets for storage.

A hook-and-rail system is perfect for storing small kitchen tools. By freeing up the space they take in your drawers, you could clear your whole utensil urn off the countertop.

21. Install a pegboard for ample wall storage.

A pegboard opens up so many storage possibilities, making room for organized kitchen counters. This pegboard stores several types of items that are often stored on top of the counters, including oil and vinegar bottles, a pepper mill, wooden spoons, canisters, and a cutting board.

Credit: Alexis Buryk

22. Add a shelving unit for a more efficient cooking zone.

Adding a shelving unit to your kitchen can make your counters the workspaces they’re intended to be. The wire shelving unit above stores several typical “counter items,” including a stand mixer, fruit bowl, and knife block.

Credit: Anna Spaller

23. Hang your fruit.

We get that leaving your produce out helps ensure that it gets eaten before it’s past its prime. But traditional fruit baskets take up valuable counter space. A hanging fruit basket  makes excellent use of vertical space and frees up usable square footage on your countertop.

Credit: Lana Kenney

24. Use a ceiling rack for more than just pots and pans.

S-hooks allow you to hang just about anything from a ceiling rack that’s traditionally used for pots and pans. Hanging cooking utensils like spatulas and tongs that are often stored in containers frees up your countertop yet keeps them perpetually within reach.

25. Bring in a moveable island.

Even a tiny rolling island can free up counter space. Use it to house something that’s been kept on your actual counter, like a butcher block. One with a shelf or two underneath opens up even more storage possibilities.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

26. Store things (like cutting boards and tools) on the inside of a cabinet door.

Rather than leaning them against your backsplash or putting them in a jar, hang adhesive hooks on the inside of a cabinet door to store your cutting boards and kitchen tools.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

27. Use cake stands as “trays.”

Even if the items you set on your cake stands aren’t completely off your counter, simply elevating them above the counter with a cake stand gives the same contained look that a tray accomplishes and makes it particularly easy to clean around. Set oil and vinegar, salt and pepper, or even your dish soap and sponge on them. Plus, it creates a nice layered look with the different levels.

28. Lazy Susans also make good trays.

Countertop items can also be contained on lazy Susans. What’s nice about these is that you can store a bit more on them and still have access to the items. This can lend an overall cleaner look because the items you have out are less spread apart.

29. Store your extra scrubbers and sponges on the inside of cabinet doors.

Shelves that stick to the inside of your cabinet doors are the perfect out-of-sight place to store items that you may otherwise leave on the counters adjacent to the sink.

30. Store cutting boards upright.

If you must keep your cutting boards out, consider storing them upright rather than setting them horizontally on the counter. You’ll take up far less counter space and still have your boards at arms-length.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

31. Hang a storage rod on the wall.

Adding a rod with hooks to a kitchen wall frees up drawer and cabinet space in order to ultimately free up counter space.