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Every at-home chef needs a killer spice section in their cabinets. Start by purchasing a riser so you can maximize your cabinet space. (Image: Ashley Hafstead)

6 organizational steps to create a functional and beautiful kitchen

My kitchen organization used to be the butt of all my friends' jokes. One time a friend came over and was so disgusted with the way my fridge was organized, she took it upon herself to clean it for me! Maybe it's because I am getting older, or maybe a switch just flipped, but I’ve finally discovered that kitchen organization can be both functional and beautiful. By taking my six steps below to heart you too can have your kitchen organization dreams come true.

1. Declutter

Start by going through your whole kitchen -- drawers, cabinets, fridge. If you haven’t used a certain kitchen gadget in the last six months to a year, chances are you really don’t need it. Paring down the clutter will allow you to find the things you do use easily.

2. Take inventory of your pantry and fridge

Get a pen and paper and go through your whole pantry, and tally how many/what size containers you will need for flour, sugar, snacks, cookie cutters, etc. Also tally smaller items such as condiments -- you may want to use baskets to keep them under control. Baskets are also great if you cook a certain type of food a lot such as Spanish, Italian or Thai, to organize items needed for those cuisines. If you love to bake, put multiple items of that genre into a single basket to make it easier while cooking to just pull out one basket and have everything you need at your fingertips.

3. Label

Once you have your containers full, it’s important to affix labels so you know what is what. Use a chalk board pen so you can easily change the label if you need to. On the bottom of the container, write the date of expiration to keep track of when an item's shelf life is up.

4. Spices

Every at-home chef needs a killer spice section in their cabinets. Start by purchasing a riser so you can maximize your cabinet space. Then find clear spice containers, so you can see your spices and know when you are getting low; it's visually appealing, as well. If you like to buy certain spices in bulk, try using mason jars for those. You can also find labels that affix to the top or bottom of your spice holders so you can tell which spice is which.

5. The countertop

This takes us back to the decluttering step. Only keep the essentials (whatever you reach for most) such as a coffee maker or fruit bowl out on the counter. Everything else can be stored in the cabinets. Pro tip: take a champagne bucket and stick all your wooden spoons in it, and place it by your stove for beauty and function! If you want to treat yourself, have a designated area where you display fresh flowers.

6. The fridge

Start by taking everything out and giving it a good scrub down. Then, label your canisters and fill them up. Don’t be afraid to use wooden or ceramic bowls to help keep your food under control. Remember, if it looks pretty you will more than likely want to keep it looking that way. Plus, using clear containers helps you to know when it's time to add something to the grocery list.

You can read more of Ashley's organization tips here!