Ask the Experts

Q: My Small House Is Exploding — from the Kitchen Out

Kitchen organization is challenging no matter the circumstances. But in a small house filled with ADHD it is especially daunting. Here, our family coach offers genius hacks and gadgets to keep everything in its place.

Q: “Leslie, help!… we recently downsized and I’m running out of space, especially in the kitchen. What can we do to maximize space especially with all the extras we have to keep on hand for our little guy (he’s 6)?” – CrammedInCalifornia


Hi CrammedInCalifornia:

When we live in small spaces — particularly ones that are shared and must be multi-functional — it’s not easy to keep clutter at bay. Here are some tried-and-true tips taken from my time in the trenches!

Sort & Save Space

  • You need to consistently edit and weed out stuff when you live in small spaces. Change of season is a great time to sort through clothes, books, toys, etc. and pare down what’s not needed or used. In the process, take a hard look at what’s living in each space. Can out-of-season clothing go into storage? Can some books or toys live in the den? Then set up designated storage spaces in your rooms.
  • Use clearly labeled bins and baskets to create natural and separate zones for different categories.

Think Air Space

  • Wall-hung storage helps maximize space (especially in a kitchen). Hang pots and pans from the ceiling and mount spice racks or knife holders under cabinets. Try hanging pegboards on the walls. They come in fun colors, are easily hung, and provide space for little baskets filled with hard-to-organize stuff.
  • Clear shoe bags are another easy and fun way to maximize your space. Hang them in closets or behind doors. Store small toys, electronic gadgets, socks and underwear, and my all-time favorite – treats and snacks – for instant grab and go! Extra bonus? Less clutter on counters!

[Get This Free Download: 22 Clutter-Busting Strategies for Adults with ADHD]

Make Storage Multi-Purpose

A good rule of thumb: Most of your furniture should have more than one purpose. Multi-purpose pieces will instantly maximize your storage space. So, instead of a living room coffee table:

  • Purchase storage ottomans
  • Swap out a regular bed for a platform one with drawers underneath.
  • Replace your kitchen chairs with a storage bench.

Install Rollout Storage

  • Slide-out shelf organizers, available at home-improvement stores and online, make frequently used equipment and supplies easy to grab. They also boost access to hard-to-reach shelves, which will instantly maximize your space.
  • If your cabinets or closets can’t accommodate sliders, tiered stackers, clear containers and open baskets will allow you to see what you have at a glance and maximize your space.

[Click to Download: 10 Ways to Get Organized This Weekend]

Now onto the kitchen…

Categorize Food

Organize your pantry and refrigerator as you would a library — meaning, grouped by category. For example, baking supplies, spices, canned goods; even juices and drinks should be grouped together and then assigned to designated spaces. Grouping like with like allows you to easily see what you have and cuts down on grocery spending because you won’t buy what you already have.

Stack It Up

  • Place wire shelf expanders on kitchen cabinet shelves to double storage capacity.
  • Use graduated risers (like mini-steps or stairs) in pantries to hold spices and canned goods.
  • Hang door-mounted racks on the inside of pantry closets or cabinet doors to maximize storage space. This is a great technique for freeing up counter space.
  • Install sliding baskets under the sink or on a deep shelf to store those hard to reach items. This makes those back-of-cabinet items instantly accessible!
  • Using plastic turntables in deep or corner cabinets lets you maximize those hardly-ever-used cabinet corners.

If you are looking for more ideas like these, please head to our website at orderoochaos.com. Our Parenting Hub is stocked with them!

[Get This Free Guide: Organize Your Home By Working With Your ADHD Brain]


ADHD Family Coach Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

Submit your questions to the ADHD Family Coach here!

Updated on February 5, 2020

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