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Kitchen Organizing Tips

Kitchen Organizing

Help your kitchen live up to its full potential with the right organization tricks. Our area-specific ideas will get your most essential room in the house organized—and rid yourself of “clutter anxiety” for good.

1) Sort:

Tips before you start to sort “Like with like” is the key. As you review items in your kitchen, edit out anything that is:

  • broken/chipped
  • outdated
  • stained/torn
  • duplicated too many times
  • starting to take up space instead of being useful

2) Do:

Shelf lining: This will help preserve the condition of your shelves and drawers from accidental spills and rubbing from metal and/or plastic. This is especially helpful whether you’re a new home owner or renting. Assess current lining; if you’re reusing, clean and reinstall. This is a good time to switch out shelf lining if you don’t love your current product. We recommend lining under sinks throughout home as well as any high “traffic” area (e.g. mudroom cubbies, pantry shelves, laundry room detergent shelves, etc.). No liner is needed for glass shelves.

Liner Products We Love:

  • TAP Plastics has store locations in the Bay Area and sells our favorite product, polypropylene (“PPP”) sheets. They are fairly clear and usually “disappear” on shelves and in drawers. These should be taped down on shelves. It’s okay to line just the two bottom shelves in upper cabinets.
  • Ribbed Plast-o-Mat is sold at the Container Store and Bed Bath & Beyond. It’s easier to cut than PPP sheets, and generally less expensive. It should be taped down on shelves and drawers.
  • “Easy Liner” (foam) is good for top kitchen drawers as it is non-skid especially if no inserts are being used. It’s also good in jewelry drawers in closets if no inserts are being used.

4) Containing Your Things!

Plastic Bins:

  • aid in keeping similar items together (ie vitamins, cookie cutters, napkin rings, etc.)
  • the lid keeps items clean and from getting misplaced
  • the bins are stackable, thus gaining more space

5) Drawer Inserts:

Available in Lucite, plastic or wood (and the wood comes in different types of finishes) and they

  • keep alike items together
  • aid in keeping the whole drawer organized
  • can be found at Bed Bath & Beyond, The Container Store, Target and online

6) Sort dishes, glassware, flatware and utensils:

  • Review dish and glasses sets for frequency of use. Assess what you use for everyday and special occasions. Edit out any items with chips, cracks or partial sets.
  • Sort water bottles, plastic cups and commemorative glasses (winery glasses, birthday, etc.) – discard any that have lost their appeal.
  • Move everyday plates, glassware and flatware near the dishwasher for easy access to put away when cleaned.
  • Group salad bowls, service plates and everyday bowls together.
  • If adult beverages are a frequent libation, store cocktail and wine glassware near your everyday glassware.
  • Place specialty plates, bowls and platters in low priority areas as they are used less frequently.
  • Store special occasion or secondary sets of dishes (like holiday) in china storage bags in a low priority area. These rigid cases allow them to be stacked easily and safely.
  • Keep placemats and cloth napkins in a drawer near the table.

7) Pantry Tips:

  • Group like with like foods together for easy locating or in bins. If you have pull out pantry drawers, use spring-loaded dividers to keep items “in their own lanes”.
  • Turn labels forward for easy viewing.
  • Sort and discard items that:
    • are opened that should have been refrigerated, are outdated, and check for bugs
    • are discolored and/or have an “off” smell
    • you won’t use in the future, and can therefore donate
    • swelling cans that are old or have passed their SELL BY or BEST BY dates

Note: if you’re moving, try to “eat through” your pantry. There is no need to have someone pack and move your food, and your mover may refuse to move open food containers.

Grouping By Categories:

  • Store grains, rice & pasta along with canned/jarred goods at mid-level as they are frequently used and need to be easy to see.
  • Store your least frequently used items or back up supplies higher up.
  • Group items in the same category with labels facing forward and newer dates in the back. It’s a good idea to label bins/areas with a label maker if you have one!

8) Baking Supplies:

  • Use vertical “file type” storage for cutting boards, baking sheets, and even baking pans and large platters.
  • Decorating Supplies: Bin them together and place on a lower priority shelf. This includes cookie cutters (if many; bin together separately), sprinkles, food coloring, rolling pin, baking/decorating spatulas, piping bags, piping tips, toppers, cupcake liners, etc.

9) Spices:

Review them to insure freshness by checking dates (spices are usually good for about one year after opening/sell by date).   Discard any that are:

  • expired
  • do not have a strong, fresh aroma (this means it’s stale)
  • have a “dull” appearance/lack of color/faded (this means it’s stale)
  • not likely to be consumed in the future

Store spices near the stove/cooktop in a cabinet or in a drawer. A double-tiered turntable is handy for the cabinet and there are foam or plastic inserts for inside drawers. Place spices alphabetically for easy locating. One exception: group various salts (e.g. truffle, Lava, pink, table salt, etc.), peppers (e.g. white, cayenne, green peppercorns, etc.) and spice mixes (e.g. “cajun”, Mrs. Dash, seafood, etc.) together within each type. Salt and pepper can be on the counter in a neat container.

Frequently used oils can also be on the counter or on a turntable in the cabinet for easy access.

10) Food Prep and Kitchen Essentials:

Review cooking and baking tools, editing out broken, rarely used and duplicate items. Keep measuring spoons and cups (both liquid and dry) together. Cooking utensils (like spatulas, tongs, wooden spoons, whisks, etc.) can be placed in a container on the counter or in a drawer near the stove/cooktop. Drawer inserts are helpful to separate each type.

Group food preparation items together (e.g. colanders, casserole dishes, graters, mandolin, etc.).

Knives can be on the counter in a holder or in a drawer with proper slotted inserts. Keep the sharpening steel handy.

Oven mitts should be in a drawer close to the oven. Trivets, kitchen towels and aprons can be in the same drawer or nearby.

Group service spoons/forks, and salad tongs together. Carving sets should go in a low-priority or special occasion area.

Keep plastic wrap, waxed paper, parchment paper, foil, and Ziploc bags in a drawer. Food storage containers should naturally be nearby, like Tupperware or “Gladware”. Keep only ones that have matching tops and bottoms.

11) Appliances:

Review appliances considering most frequently used ones: everyday appliances like juicers, blender/Vitamix, Soda Stream, electric kettle, rice cooker, Instant Pot, can be kept on the counter. Place less frequently used ones in a cabinet. Donate rarely used or outdated appliances. The one exception is the large stand mixer “Kitchenaid” – it can tuck in a corner or end of the counter as it is very heavy to move out to use. The toaster/toaster oven can be placed to where breakfast is being prepped unless you have an appliance garage.

If you drink coffee, keep your coffeemaker in a logical place on the counter and have mugs and coffee accessories nearby.

12) Pots and Pans:

Take out pots and pans, and line these drawers or clean liners as needed if reusing existing lining. Match all pots and pans with their lids. Donate any pieces that are missing a mate (note: not all pots and pans have lids). Review any duplicate sizes of cookware. Place larger/heavier pots on the lower drawer. Pans can be stacked. Put a separator between anything that is non-stick to protect the finish. Turn the handles in the same direction for a more finished look.

Less frequently used pans like roasting pans, stock pot, fondue pot, paella, etc. can be placed in the back of cabinets, the upper cabinet shelf or even in the garage if needed.

13) Paper Plates, cups + Picnic + Catering:

  • Create an area/bin for paper plates, cups, paper napkins and plastic utensils. Birthday candles can go here too.
  • Specialty items like oyster knives, seafood crackers, pasta cutter, etc.) can be placed in a lower priority area.
  • If you have young children, create a baby / toddler areas that’s set up for all of baby’s needs like bottles, sippy cups, bibs, etc. As the children get older, you may want to create a low, accessible area that stores their plates, cups and utensils so they can help themselves.
  • If you have pets, designate an area for their food, treats, medications and bowls as well as a place for them to eat.

14) Refrigerator & Freezer:

  • Wipe down shelves and drawers.
  • Discard items that have:
    • a lapsed sell by/expired date
    • discolored or smell “off”
    • mold (exception if on a hard or semi-hard cheese; can be cut off safely)
  • When in doubt, throw it out. This would also include things that you have not used in the past nor will be using in the future.
  • Group together as room allows, ideally on their own shelf:
    • Beverages: water, milk, juice, wine, beer, etc.
    • Dairy, yogurt, sour cream, etc.
    • Condiments
    • Eggs – keep in original container (not the plastic tray provided by refrigerator company)
    • In the coldest drawer keep meat, cold cuts and cheeses but keep seafood on ice
    • If possible, use your high humidity drawer for fruits and vegetables that are sensitive to moisture loss & ethylene gas
  • Periodically wipe out your freezer
  • Discard items that have freezer burn or ice crystals. Ideal freezer time is approximately 3 months (check with the FDA)
  • Group items together: oldest towards front or top. Remember “First in, first out” from each category

15) Catering Supplies

Keep party and catering supplies in an overflow area. This includes large pots, décor, sternos, chafing dishes and beverage containers. If you don’t have room in the main house, consider the garage, basement or even attic.

Are You Ready
To Get Organized?
Let’s get your project moving today

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The Changing Places Survival Guide to Sheltering in Place

Sheltering in place


Now, more than ever, the Changing Places mission to create order, peace of mind, and beauty, rings true. These jarring times bring uncertainty, anxiety and disorder.

We feel passionately that offering the resources we cultivated over the last two weeks is a gift we can give you: our clients, partners and friends.

How are you and your loved ones doing? Send us a quick note to let us know what your new “normal” looks like.

We’re all in this together.

Breathe. Connect. Stay positive.

With gratitude,
Margaret Walsh, Katie Carr & The Changing Places Team

Changing Places is here for you:


Order begins with clarity.

  • We’ve been amazed how many of us don’t fully understand what COVID-19 is. This enlightening video explains it calmly, clearly and scientifically.
  • Are you struggling to keep your kids engaged and homeschooling even when their schoolwork is done for the day? Khan Academy is an amazing resource, with its library of trusted, standards-aligned practice and. And even better: it’s all free!
  • Have you found yourself clearing out your closet/garage/spare room? Read these tips on what to do with your extra stuff while you’re stuck at home.

We don’t know about you, but our Changing Places staff is amazed by the ingenuity and creativity that’s arising out of our bored, sheltered and stir-crazy communities!

Meditate. Start a gratitude journal. Exercise.

  • ValTate.com

    Here are 60 indoor joy activities thanks to San Francisco psychotherapist Valerie Tate.

  • Marin-based meditation center Spirit Rock has opened its renowned programs free online through April 15, 2020.
  • There are more free workouts online than ever before! Even sportswear giant Nike is offering free access to its incredible line-up of online workout programs while gyms across the country remain closed indefinitely. Another is Freeletics, an exercise app available to Apple devices.

We’re stuck at home. We’re all in this together.

Photo: Clea Shearer
Photo: Clea Shearer/People Magazine
  • Changing Places has curated a collection of fabulous home projects and tips that will help you tackle that spring cleaning agenda while social distancing.
  • We all have to visit the grocery store at least once a week, right? Here’s a great guide to disinfecting your car properly. Find some peace of mind knowing how to maintain a clean environment while you drive.
  • There’s no better time – or reason – to refresh your emergency kits. Here’s a fabulous six month preparedness calendar to get you kick- started.
  • Changing Places is in the final stages of creating our virtual platform offering move management, consignment and organizing services online, through Zoom.com. Look for an email next week with more information.
  • We’ll also share a newsletter or blog post weekly with helpful, calming tips that will help you find your order, peace of mind, and beauty in these challenging times.


    As a small business whose business is creating peace of mind, order and beauty inside our clients’ homes, Changing Places is facing new challenges during COVID-19 pandemic.

    Like so many of you, we must take full advantage of the resources out there to keep our business alive–and thriving–once the stay-at-home order subsides and America is once again open for business.

    EDD set some guidelines to help Employees understand their rights and benefits during Gavin Newsom’s State of Emergency order. Here’s more information on filing a new claim if you’ve been affected by the business closures or work furlough.

    The IRS has established a special section focused on steps to help taxpayers affected by the coronavirus. Income tax payment deadlines for individual returns are being automatically extended until July 15, 2020, for up to $1 million of their 2019 tax due.

    Facebook has announced a program of cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries affected by COVID-19 pandemic.

    Call and let us know how we can help: (415) 465-6257

Are You Ready
To Get Organized?
Let’s get your project moving today

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Unpacking & Organizing Strategies for a Fresh Start in Your New Home

You’ve probably heard the thoroughly researched data that moving is one of the most stressful of life events, ahead of divorce or a break up. Finding the best moving company, coordinating packing, and then dealing with a dysfunctional home for weeks after moving day are huge contributors to this stress.

Fortunately we’re here to help get your home organized as fast as possible. If you’re looking for some practical, easy-to-understand tips for stress-free unpacking, take a look at this unpacking article from lifestyle website thespruce.com. Some highlights:

  • Get the essentials unpacked first, then take your time with the rest of the house.
  • Plan each room before you unpack too many boxes.
  • Anticipate future needs. Rather than putting off work—such as lining cabinet shelves or installing closet organizers—do it now, when it is most efficient.
  • Let each member of the family unpack their own bedroom, as applicable. This allows kids to participate in the event.

Are You Ready
To Get Organized?
Let’s get your project moving today

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Spring Home Organizing Tips

Spring has sprung! Are you organized?

Start by studying how you and your family move about your house. Recognize how you utilize each room, and how often you’re there–this will help prioritize your organizing. We’re offering some basic and clever tips for overall home calm: 

Spring Home Organizing

Most of us walk into our house with purses, groceries, keys, and more. An intuitive “drop zone” off your main entryway creates a home for essential items. It may include a key rack, an inbox for kids’ artwork or bills, or an attractive container for everyday items.
Bonus: Find space in your entryway for a custom–or makeshift–mudroom area.

Even if your home office shares space with a bedroom, create a dedicated work area that inspires you.

    • Love where you work–even if you don’t have a window, hang a pretty picture above your desk and personalize a small corner of your desk with framed photos, a living plant or kids’ artwork.
    • Buy a beautiful basket to tame your inbox piles on your desk’s surface, and use vertical file boxes for everyday papers.
    • Invest in an attractive, comfortable and ergonomic chair.

What good is that custom closet when your most needed items are inaccessible (or in a pile)? Make sure essentials are within arm’s reach and contained well.

    • Use garment boxes and sweater bins, which can also house handbags.
    • Slim, velvet hangers work well to maximize space–you can squeeze in 20-25% more than traditional wooden hangers.
    • See through acrylic shoeboxes stack well–and protect your (Jimmy) Choos!

Arrange your kitchenware by frequency of use, with everyday dishes on an easy-to-reach lower shelf and special-occasion pieces up above. Create a cooking zone around the stove, storing pots and pans as close to the range as possible. Make it a snap for kids to grab snacks on the go with see-through wire baskets or airtight clear canisters. Lastly, declutter kitchen counters by mounting basics like your calendar, phone, to-do lists and receipts–on a wall-mounted bulletin board.

You’re welcome!

Download These Easy Home Organizing Tips

Sources: Changing Places’ team of expert organizers and a few extra tips from Real Simple magazine.

Are You Ready
To Get Organized?
Let’s get your project moving today

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Changing Places Won Best Home Organizer For 2019!!

We’re thrilled to announce our 10th consecutive win
in the prestigious Pacific Sun Poll!!

Thank you for all of your support!

Why We Won Best Home Organizer:

  • 26 years of experience
  • One stop shop for relocation
  • Save clients money
  • There’s a team behind the team
  • Most comprehensive insurance coverage in the industry
  • Most extensive network of resources and partners
  • Proven local, national and international moves
  • Designers, architects, and stagers on our team
  • Accuracy, attention to detail and record keeping
  • Compassionate, devoted and loyal team
  • Satisfaction and peace of mind delivered

What Our Clients Are Saying

“Katie and her team at Changing Places are true miracle workers. They not only have the process of organizing, clearing, packing, moving, storing, and unpacking your home down to a science, they do it all with such acumen, that their clients feel completely confident and at ease.”

– Steven Mavromihalis, Compass Real Estate

Contact us to learn more about or organization services:

Tel: (415) 461-6257



Voting is EASY:
  • Click HERE to vote
  • Simply enter your name & email
  • Vote for at least 20 categories
  • Don’t forget to include Changing Places as  BEST HOME ORGANIZER under the HOME IMPROVEMENT category
  • Print our handy voting guide. Click HERE

In its 26 years in business, Changing Places:

  • Relocated hundreds of clients out-of-state moves
  • Moved clients to or from 18 countries
  • Donated tons of household items to various charities
  • Diverted tons of items from going to landfill
  • Worked with hundreds of clients who hired us more than once
  • Brought order and peace of mind to almost 1,500 homes around the world

Margaret and her team graciously thank their clients, crew, realtors, vendors, friends & all those who have supported Changing Places’ incredible journey since 1993. As Margaret says, what we do is create miracles every day.

De-cluttering, organizing and clearing a home to go on the market

  • We take on details of preparing a home to show and sell, so you can quickly get the property on the market
  • We are the only organization and relocation company of our size in Northern California with workers’ compensation, liability and bonding insurance
  • We help to increase the market value of a home
  • De-cluttering, organizing and clearing the house
  • We are fully insured, which means that hiring us offers peace of mind
  • Staging and design assistance which boost home sale price

“Wow! You worked miracles over 3 days. The house looks spectacular. Night and day makeover. No wonder you keep winning awards. Thank you so much. Excellent to work with you once again!”

– Jackie Safier | Prometheus Real Estate Group, Inc.

Before and Afters

We Won Best Home Organizer for 2018

We are proud and honored to announce our award as BEST HOME ORGANIZER 2018!! best home organizer, best home organizer marin, best home organizer marin county, best home organizer San Francisco, best home organizer Bay Area

Changing Places is thrilled to announce our 9th consecutive win as Best Home Organizer in the prestigious Pacific Sun poll. Thank you to our amazing team for making this possible!

Only 4.2% of all woman-owned firms earn revenues of
$1 million or more.  Special thanks to our fantastic
clients for your support throughout all these years.
We are bigger and better because of you!


Changing Places is a team of professional organizers orchestrating seamless moves whether simple or complicated. Our expert team of designers, architects and organizers implement personalized systems to help you run your home or office more efficiently – and most importantly,  keep it that way.

What we do:

  • Manage and coordinate every aspect of your move process
  • Skillfully organize any room in the house including offices, closets, attics, garages or basement areas
  • Create at least 25% more storage in even the smallest rooms
  • Increase your productivity with new office systems including shelving and furniture
  • Eliminate clutter permanently and give you the tools to maintain a stress free and orderly environment
  • Fluff and style, designer finishes, picture hanging, and shelf papering
Contact us to learn more about how we can help you!
Call 415-461-6257 or email info@changing-places.com today.
Best Home Organizer, Changing Places, Best Home Organizer Marin County, Best Home Organizer San Francisco, Best Home Organizer Bay Area
Dream Team

Decluttering Transformation

After nine years of living with clutter, this client found us in the Pacific Sun Best of List. We transformed this bachelor pad into a beautiful home in three days! See the proof that we earned our award below.

Project Description:

  • A young single man inherited a house in Corte Madera.
  • Over the years clutter accumulated throughout his home.
  • The rooms in the home were discombobulated with beds in the garage and the dining room in his study.
  • Our team removed 9 years worth of clutter in 3 days.
  • We created a floor plan using his preexisting furniture to create functional rooms which included moving his dining room out of his office.
  • We organized his personal belongings and gave him tools to maintain order.

Before                                                                             After

Before                                                                            After

Senior Downsizing Project in San Francisco

Changing Places makes magic happen!

Project Description:

  • Changing Places moved an older gentleman from a 2,800 Sq Ft home into a 600 Sq Ft apartment in the San Francisco Towers.
  • Our team was able to sell some of our client’s antiques at auction to help eliminate clutter while helping him downsize.
  • The funds made from selling the antiques at auction paid for our client’s entire move plus our services!
  • Our team mapped a floor plan before the move and helped to design our client’s new apartment.
  • Changing Places provided our client with the opportunity to come out and be creative with a little space that he has chosen to spend the next chapter of his life.

Our client’s previous home.  Our team was able to sell some of our client’s antiques at auction while we were helping him downsize.  The funds from the sale of the antiques netted more than double the cost of our services and the moving expenses!


Our client’s new apartment in the San Francisco Towers.  An old life replaced by a very fun new one! A fresh start with vibrant colors.

“Changing Places exceeded my expectations. They customized their services to meet my needs. Outstanding is not sufficient praise for what they accomplished.

The move entailed a major downsizing and owner Margaret Walsh made sure that the items I would not be taking were sold in an appropriate venue. Among other things, Margaret Walsh said that the proceeds from the items I sold would pay for Changing Places’ services and the cost of the move. Thus far I have netted more than double the cost of their services and the moving expenses. Moving is stressful—and moving from my home of 35 years was a staggering event. Changing Places made it smooth and successful. Their work reduced my stress enormously.”

Gustavo Serina, San Francisco, CA