5 things everyone gets wrong when arranging a cutlery drawer

How does your cutlery drawer compare?
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Who knew that something as humdrum as organising a cutlery drawer could cause such a stir? But that’s exactly what happened when a New Zealand user posed an innocent question about how to arrange a cutlery drawer on discussion website, Reddit.

Hundreds of comments ensued, although the majority agreed the cutlery drawer should be arranged as follows (left to right): large knives, knives, forks, spoons and teaspoons at the bottom. Organisational preferences aside, a beautifully organised cutlery drawer can make a kitchen more efficient.

Elain Maytom, Senior Showroom Designer at Freedom Kitchens tells us what we’re doing wrong but more importantly, how to get it right.

Woman setting a table
(Credit: Photography: Dave Wheeler | Styling: Lisa Burden)

1. They don’t use drawer dividers

“Divide and conquer!” says Elain. “Dividers like those designed into cutlery drawer trays are the best way to keep items separated into logical groupings, making everything easy to spot at a glance.”

“Use inserts with variable dividers which are stylish and affordable, and won’t slip and slide around inside the drawer.” Depending on the style of your cabinetry, choose colours and finishes to match and a combination of individual trays to make up the best solution for your needs.

2. They have too many utensils

“We often inherit bits and pieces or accumulate them when we lose something and replace it, only to find the old item later,” says Elain, who suggests culling the contents of your cutlery drawer before you rearrange it to see exactly what you’re working with.

“Sort cutlery and utensils into two piles,” she suggests. “Those you like and use regularly (or can see yourself using in the future), and those which you never anticipate using, or don’t like the look of because it doesn’t match anything else.”

“Be brutal when it comes to the old ‘junk drawer’,” says Elain. “The kitchen isn’t the place for it – reserve your kitchen drawers for kitchen items only.”

“It makes no sense having three different types of potato peelers or bottle openers – only choose to keep the tools that work best and look good,” says Elain.

Festive table setting with gold cutlery
(Credit: Photography: Nicki Dobrzynski | Styling: Kerrie-Ann Jones)

3. The layout is confusing

Knives, forks, spoons left-to-right, or right-to-left? Handles in first or facing out? These are questions that can baffle even the most determined de-clutterer!

“There are no hard and fast rules here, and it also depends on the compartments of your cutlery tray,” says Elain. “However, most people intuitively work from left to right. If you prefer to lay everything out the way you would a table setting, then go for it – forks on the left, followed by knives with blades facing inwards (or to the left), followed by spoons.”

“It always makes sense to have the handles facing out and nearest to you, so that’s what you grab hold of when taking them out.”

4. They throw everything in together

“The utensil drawer can quickly get overly cluttered and messy with all of the odd shapes like egg whisks and wooden spoons, so it’s very handy to have dividers here,” suggests Elain.

“Again have all handles facing out to you, and group like items together – i.e. group baking utensils separately from the everyday cooking utensils. Sharp chef’s knives are best stored in a knife block to avoid any accidents, or making the blades blunt.”

Kitchen with drawers in foreground
(Credit: Photography: Louise Roche | Styling: Kylie Jackes)

5. Large items take up all the space

“Try to group like items together where it makes sense,” says Elain.

“For example, your BBQ brush and scraper. Tea towels should have their own dedicated drawer, and it’s also nice to have a separate drawer for your foil, cling wrap, and baking paper.”

3 steps to a perfect cutlery drawer

  1. Assess: Assess all your existing cutlery, utensils and any other odds and ends you currently store in your kitchen drawers by taking them all out, one drawer at a time.
  2. Sort: Sort into groupings of like items. Give away or sell anything you don’t really need – if you don’t use it now or intend to in the future, then it’s just wasting space.
  3. Organise: Place your items back into the drawer trays with dividers, keeping the groupings together as much as possible. You can make an exception where it makes sense according to the size of the compartments.

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