Day 8: In the Zone

31 Days to a Clean and Organized Kitchen, October 2013 :


Welcome to day 8 of 31 Days to a Clean and Organized Kitchen.  If you’re just joining us, you can get all up on the previous posts by going to the 31 Days tab at the top of this page, each of the photos there will take you to the posts.  Are you ready to get started?  I know I am, because this is the next step to taming the beast, otherwise know as the kitchen.  Today we’re talking about zones.


Day 8 of the 31 Days to a Clean and Organized Kitchen series from


Back before September 2006, before I started on this crazy journey to unleash my inner organizing freak I never gave much thought to how my kitchen was organized.  I sort of organized it as close as I could get it to how my Mom organized hers. I figured that was the way it was done, everywhere!  Then I read the book “Home Works” by Cynthia Townley Ewer from Organized Home,  and was introduced to the concept of ‘kitchen activity centers’ also known as kitchen zones.  After that, it seemed like every organizing book or website I was one was talking about kitchen zones.

 What is a kitchen zone?  The way I see it, creating zones in your kitchen is kind of like following the time-honored mantra shared by organizing gurus since the beginning of time (okay maybe not for that long, but it seem like it):

Keep like with like.


The idea behind zone organizing is to organize your kitchen in a way that maximizes efficiency.  You know how the working triangle between sink, stove, and fridge is sort of the foundation of an efficient kitchen design?  Well, your zones are the foundation for a fabulously organized, functional space.

To do define what zones are think about what you do in your kitchen.  You store your food here right?  Well, there’s a zone.  You probably do some cooking; that’s another zone.  Then there is the clean up that comes along with using a kitchen, so cleaning is another zone. Some of the more popular zones are: cooking, baking, food prep, food storage, cleaning, and baking.   There is no right or wrong here, you can have a few broad zones or many smaller, more defined zones.

After you have idea of what zones you want in your kitchen, it’s time to think about what goes in them.  For right this moment, forget what your kitchen looks like, forget about cabinet space, just jot down what items you need or want in each of your zones, we’ll worry about logistics later.  To help you with planning your zones, I whipped up a handy-dandy notebook printable to help.


A printable for brain storming ideas about what kitchen zones you want/have and what to store in them. from
Kitchen Zone Planner


If you’re not sure what should go into your zones, or what zones you need check out this fabulous post by Angie, from Echoes of Laughter, titled “Organizing a Kitchen into Zones”  where she shares how she, well, organized her kitchen into zones.  Isn’t her kitchen amazingly organized?   Another great post to check out was written earlier this month by Ginny from Organizing Home Life, titled “How to Strategically Organize Your Kitchen.”  It’s from her 31 Days to Organize Your Kitchen Frugally series, which is a fantastic series so far.  I love, love, love seeing functional kitchens.  As the heart of the home, the kitchen is one hardworking room, it needs all the function it can get.

So, now that you have an idea of what zones you want or need in your kitchen, and have taken time jot them down and what you need in them, it’s time for the next step.  Head on into your kitchen and spend some time figuring out where those zones will be located.  Some are quite obvious like cooking zones.  Obviously those will be where the stove or cook top is, and will use the cupboards or shelves near there.  Other zones might take a little thinking about, like a baking zone.  Maybe it’s not practical to have your baking zone near the stove or oven, perhaps you prefer to have it where you have the most counter space?  This is why it’s good to sort of look at your kitchen and think it through before pulling everything out and rearranging it.

Which brings me to my final thoughts on this matter:  Why zone organizing doesn’t always work.  Sometimes, no matter how much we may wish otherwise, it just isn’t possible to organize our kitchen by zone alone.  Our old tiny kitchen made it almost impossible to keep things where I needed them to be for the function they served.  I had to choose and prioritize my zones based on space available, and what I needed most often.  Even in our current kitchen I can’t have everything for a zone in the zone space, at least not to my liking.  So, while zones can be a great starting point, please don’t feel like you’re stuck with them, and always, always remember that when it comes to organizing anything, you need to find the way that works best for you, and since we’re talking about a communal space, what works for your family too!

For now, dear friends, I’m off to go write down the ideas for my kitchen and figure out how to polish up our zones.  I hope you’ll come back tomorrow to check out the first zone I’m organizing – our baking zone!  With Thanksgiving coming up this weekend, it’s time for me to kick the organizing into high gear.  As with all our printables, please click on the picture to get your own copy!

Don’t forget to fill out the form for your free, personalized cover page.  (find the form at the end of Day 1)  And don’t forget to chime in on the comments from yesterday’s post where I’m taking suggestions for the section titles for a recipe binder, or recipes section of the kitchen binder.

Do you organize you kitchen by zones or centres, or do you just put stuff where it fits?



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  1. Erica Croall says:

    hi Alli,

    I need your help. I am about to remodel my kitchen with new cabinets, small pantry. I need help knowing what babinest , shelving for the kitchen Zones. Stove zone, cleaning zone, fridge zone, coffee station zone, pet zone and paper/mail/desk zone so I can purchase the right cabinets to save money and max functionality. If you can make some suggestions and I can place an order or some tips? ( I am having little to no upper cabinets.)

    I really appreciate you

    1. ScatteredSquirrel says:

      Hi Erica, Congrats on remodelling your kitchen. I’m happy to try to help. Kitchen design isn’t my forte, but here are some suggestions. Take stock of what you have already and what you need or want to keep in each zone. Then write down how you would prefer to store them, such as in a cabinet or a drawer or on open shelving. Knowing how much you have and how you prefer to store them will help you figure out what kind of cabinets you need. I would also look at what options the cabinets have, like slides outs which are great for deeper lower cabinets. If possible, plan for keeping only your most-used cooking spices and oils and whatnot outside the pantry. Personally, I love drawers in the kitchen for many things, especially cooking utensils and spices. I find them easier to organize than cabinets. Without being there in person, it’s hard to make more personalized suggestions. I’m not a designer, but this is how I would approach remodelling my kitchen. The other thing I would do is add cabinets where it makes sense to, even if I didn’t have a purpose for them right away. Some breathing room is always a good thing. I wish you all the best of luck on your remodel. I hope you have fun with it.

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