Skip to main content



Amanda Lauren


Carrie Evans

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home. And as “heart” implies in another sense, we love our kitchens for the gathering and entertaining spaces they have become over the years. However, whether you live in a condo with a small kitchen or a larger home with a generous open-concept design, keeping this room neat and organized is a challenge. Fortunately, Arizona-based professional organizer Ashley Stewart, founder of OCD (Organize. Create. Design.), has solutions to many of the kitchen-organization conundrums that frustrate us the most.

A naturally gifted organizer, Stewart fell into this profession in a unique way. Prior to her current career, she ran a wedding and event planning company in Scottsdale, Arizona. Like many in the industry, she began to experience burnout and wanted a change, but she didn't quite know how to make it. One day, while organizing a friend’s closet as a favor, she discovered her new passion.

The Living Kitchen recently spoke with Stewart about her best tips, tricks, and ideas for organizing the most important areas of the kitchen.

Sub-Zero Refrigerators adjustable shelves and crisper drawers help organize your food items and keep them fresher, longer.

Sub-Zero's adjustable shelves and crisper drawers help organize your food items and keep them fresher, longer.

How to Organize a Refrigerator

Keeping the refrigerator in order is essential to an organized kitchen. Not only does it make cooking easier and less stressful, but it also helps prevent food waste. Compared to cabinets, pantries, and drawers, refrigerators are more likely to be messy and contain expired food.

Stewart’s approach is to start by letting the refrigerator’s design guide you. While this might seem obvious, we’ve all had a bag of carrots or a package of sliced turkey somehow end up on the top shelf adjacent to the orange juice.

Ashley Stewart
“A naturally gifted organizer, Ashley Stewart strives to create systems that work for each client's lifestyle.”

Put the veggies and fruit in crisper drawers and the cheese and meat in their designated spaces for easy access. This will also help food stay fresher, and your meals taste better. The unique Split Climate™ system in Sub-Zero refrigerators is ideal for achieving this high level of freshness and preservation.

From there, Stewart suggests establishing where specific items should go. Not sure where to start? Stewart keeps all of her kids’ food on one side of a shelf and leftovers and prepared foods on the other side. This facilitates a faster grab-and-go process, saving everyone time.

With Sub-Zero’s adjustable shelves, it’s simple to design the interior of your refrigerator to meet your family’s specific needs and make your favorite food items easy to find and convenient to access.

The unique Split Climate system in Sub-Zero refrigerators is ideal for achieving this high level of freshness and preservation.

Say "Yes" to Decanting (When It Makes Sense)

Once you’ve established “a place for everything, and everything in its place” it’s time to choose the proper containers, or, to “decant.” Decanting improves your refrigerator’s aesthetic, and it also helps you stay organized since there’s already a designated spot for an item when it’s time to replace or refill it. “There's not just things thrown on the shelf,” Stewart explains. “That way, when you have groceries to put away, everything has a place to be unloaded.”

One type of container she strongly suggests for every home is an egg organizer. “It’s life-changing,” she says. ”You can pull out the drawer of eggs and take as many as you need instead of removing the whole container from the fridge. And it's stackable, so you can even put things on top of it.”

You can also decant items such as snacks and dry foods, like pasta, on shelves and in pantries. This not only gives your kitchen a stylish and professional-looking edge, but Stewart also likes doing this because it gives you a good picture of your food inventory. “You can see what you need and when you need it,” she says. “It also prevents over-buying and allows you to fit more on a shelf than the bulky containers that food items generally come in.”

You don’t need to decant absolutely everything, however. For example, while decanting liquids like milk into an attractive container or pitcher looks beautiful, Stewart does not do this in her own home. Her family drinks so much milk that it would be impractical.

Cabinet Arranging Tips

Organizing deep cabinets is a challenge because it’s hard to see what’s behind all those boxes of rice, vitamins, and extra condiments. But leave it to Stewart to have the perfect solution: “When we organize cabinets, we like to put the most frequently used items on the bottom shelves and work our way up,” she says. Visually, it looks better to organize small to large, left to right. Using turntables, especially in upper cabinets for spices, oils, and vinegars, is the best way to see what you have while maximizing your vertical space.”

Overall, while it takes some planning and effort, the time spent on organizing your kitchen will make your experience there—prepping, cooking, and eating—a pleasure. With the right systems in place, you can create an efficient culinary environment that matches your very own unique lifestyle.

Similar stories

Setting the Scene

Setting the Space

Mim Design creates an award-winning kitchen in Australia that is as robust as it is remarkable.

Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes

With utilitarian elements tucked away, brass and marble combine for a kitchen with elegance.

Star Quality

Star Quality

A California-based, award-winning designer adds elegance to every home project, including his own. 

; ; ;