Interview with Jeffrey Phillip – Tips for an Organized Kitchen

Jeffrey Philiip, Professional Organizer
Photo credit: Adam Wasserman

Renowned designer and organizer Jeffrey Phillip is a frequent guest on Good Morning America, Oprah, and the Katie Show. He brings a mix of design flair with organization practicality that we absolutely love.

We had the pleasure of interviewing Jeffrey about how to best get organized in the kitchen.

Check it out:

1. You help clients with every room of the home.­ How often is the kitchen an area of focus in your work?
The kitchen is a prime area of focus with almost every client. It is a space that nearly all of my clients struggle with, whether it is an apartment­-sized kitchen in the city or a chef’s kitchen in the ‘burbs. I think this makes sense, too, as the kitchen is typically the epicenter of our home and is one of the few rooms every person in the home uses.

2. What are the most common mistakes you find yourself correcting when you help people organize a kitchen?
It’s a mixed bag, really. Mostly, I’m readjusting where kitchen tools, utensils, appliances, storage containers and pantry items live within the kitchen. I tend to find that people put things away without thinking about grouping like items or tools together, or placing them in efficient locations that will keep them easily accessible if they’re used frequently.

3. We can all get enticed by all the kitchen gadgets for sale out there… What are the ones that you consistently find no one uses and they just create kitchen clutter?
Milk frothers, juicing machines, greens strippers, strawberry hullers, garlic peelers, avocado slicers and containers, egg separators, waffle makers and sandwich machines… I definitely find myself giving a little side-­eye when I find items like these.

4. What are some tips for how to organize kitchen drawers and what products would you recommend for organizing drawers?
First and foremost, group the items together based on the purpose they serve in the kitchen. Next, think about where in the kitchen makes the most sense for them to live based on how often they’re used and where they are used. […]For example, if there is a set of drawers next to the oven and another set of drawers next to the dishwasher, I wouldn’t place the silverware in the drawer next to the oven. Or the potholders in the drawer closer to the dishwasher. You want to think about having your tools placed strategically to keep things operating as efficient as possible when working in the kitchen. I find that a combination of expandable drawer dividers and modular drawer dividers are a fantastic way to keep things neat and separated by how they function. Spatulas have a section, wooden spoons have a section, measuring devices have a section, graters and peelers have a section and so on.

Jeffrey Phillip - Kitchen Wall
Photo credit: Jeffrey Phillip

5. Best places for pots and pans? Hanging from ceiling? In drawers? On shelves?
In the perfect kitchen, I think it’s ideal to hang pots and frying pans on a wall that is out of sight (think Julia Child) – there would be no nesting, no stacking and everything would be easy to access and see. However, not many kitchens allow for a hidden “culinary utility wall” as I like to call it. In those instances, I opt to place pots and frying pans in deep drawers or on pullout shelves.

Jeffrey Phillip - Kitchen Cabinet
Photo credit: Jeffrey Phillip

6. What’s your point of view on the best kitchen cabinet functionality: pull out shelves, drawers, immovable shelves? Does it depend on if you’re storing food or dishes or pots and pans?
The perfect kitchen has a combination of these elements. Location of the cabinet and items being stored are two of the biggest considerations when deciding what is needed. However, with that said, there are a couple fundamental constants… 1) A plain shelf should always be adjustable. 2) Lower cabinets should almost always have pull­out shelves and, if not, there should be longer items stored there that fill the depth of the cabinet (after all, you don’t want to lose your mini chopper to the back of a cabinet). I would also suggest to consider putting drawers in the lower cabinet areas. Big drawers are great for storage containers, dishes and plates, pots and pans, large prep tools and bowls.

7. What’s the most shocking thing you’ve discovered in reorganizing a kitchen?
Believe it or not, I haven’t come across anything I would consider shocking. No one has had shoes stored in their oven or a cabinet turned into dog house. However, the most unusual thing I’ve come across are kitchen cabinets filled with children’s art supplies and toys… then again, that was in Manhattan and the family didn’t cook a lot.

8. If I was going to throw everything out and start over, how few “things” could I get away with and what would they be?
I love to cook and while I do love efficient gadgets, I will also admit that there is a lot that you can make do without since many items in the kitchen are multifunctional. I will also admit that living in New York City keeps my kitchen in check and keeps me operating with close to the bare minimum to cook even the most complicated meals. After a quick glance around my kitchen, I think I could get down to just over 20 items, which would include….

  1. Dishes
  2. Flatware
  3. Drinking glasses and mugs
  4. A good set of knives
  5. A box grater
  6. Pot
  7. Sauce pan
  8. Skillet
  9. Roasting dish/cake pan
  10. Pie plate
  11. Baking sheet
  12. Spatula/Turner
  13. Cooking spoon (x2)
  14. Whisk
  15. Strainer/colander
  16. Measuring cups and spoons
  17. Can opener
  18. Peeler
  19. Crockpot
  20. Blender/chopper/Cuisinart
  21. Coffee maker/French Press

9. How do you recommend balancing the need to accommodate guests (extra chairs, silverware, larger table, etc.) with maximizing efficiency day to day?
It’s important to think about keeping the options simple, flexible and maybe even a little unconventional. For example, when it comes to silverware, many times we can fit a decent amount of settings in the silverware drawer, so choose a style that can be great for everyday, but also work on a dressed up table. This will allow you to keep all the silverware stored together and prevent you from having a second storage location. When thinking about extra seating, you want to use items from around your home. Pull chairs from guest rooms, ottomans from the living room, etc. I don’t believe in making your year round living situation more difficult or the space more full because you entertain guests a couple times a year. Plan to entertain in ways that work with your home. Maybe that means you serve more appetizers than sit down meals, maybe its buffet style, etc.

Jeffrey Phillip - Kitchen Drawer
Photo credit: Jeffrey Phillip

10. How can you set up your kitchen to make cooking as fast as possible when you’re in it?
[…]The most important thing you can do is like I mentioned above, think about where things live in relation to how often and where they’re utilized in the kitchen. Then, always make sure things are put back where they belong so that you can easily find them when you are cooking. A simple way to remind yourself (and everyone else in your home) of where things live, is to add labels to your drawers and shelves that callout specific categories or items. I also highly recommend keeping an organized and stocked pantry so that you don’t run out of items while you are cooking and so that you can always find what you need.

11. You’re both an organizer and a designer… What are some design elements that make for the most inviting kitchens where you want to spend time?
The makeup of an inviting space is different for everyone. I personally feel most comfortable in spaces that are more traditional or transitional in style. However, having the right mix of wood, stone and metal elements in any style kitchen can help create a natural warmth to the space that will make almost anyone feel welcome and warm.

Get more from Jeffrey…

Jeffrey Phillip, Organizer + Designer
Twitter: ​@JeffreyPhillip
Facebook: ​@JeffreyPhillipJP
Instagram: ​@Jeffrey_Phillip
Pinterest: ​@JeffreyPhillip
Houzz: ​@JeffreyPhillip

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