5 Easy Tips for Organizing Cabinets (for Good!)

Do you have cabinets that are packed full of china and tableware but are completely disorganized? I did too! Today I’m sharing five easy tips for organizing cabinets for good!

I’m sure we all have cabinets and closets in our homes that are disorganized, and I am definitely no exception. My large built-ins in my family room have been in pretty bad shape for awhile now, and one of my resolutions for the New Year was to start organizing the cabinets again. Last summer I shared the re-styling of the shelves with you, but now it was time to tackle the inside!

 The cabinets I’m sharing today are really my work-horses. They hold almost all of my tableware, serveware, chargers, cake stands, and more. Everything that I use for the tablescapes that I share on the blog and for entertaining – it’s all in there! They are so packed, in fact, that two of the doors weren’t even closing, haha! 

One of the reasons they were so packed is that they are actually the only storage I have in the house. One thing I really struggle with in my home is not having enough storage. It’s an older home, built in the 1970s, and aside from one coat closet and a small linen closet, there is no extra storage anywhere. We don’t really have a pantry, and since my kitchen is small, it’s already full with the everyday dishes and cookware.

In fact, we built these when we moved in so that I’d have space for all my dishes and tableware. But I have a lot, and, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve really tackled the space.

So my goal was to get them organized, pared down, and to be able to shut the doors and find what I need, when I need it. I’m going to share with you today what I did, as well as some tips and tricks that worked for me!

And, not only am I sharing the details of how I organized my cabinets, but I’m also including a video of my process! (make sure to scroll down to see the full video)


tips for organizing cabinets white built ins shelf styling

Let’s take a look inside these shall we?


cabinets dishes clutter messy before

Overstuffed and disorganized!


messy cabinets with dishes before shot

Things were thrown in willy-nilly, and decor was mixed in with dishes.


organizing cabinets before shot of messy dishes and platters

Clearly they needed some work!


Tips for Organizing Cabinets


Tip 1: Take everything out and take stock. Purge what you don’t want or need by donating or selling it.

The first thing I do when organizing cabinets is to take everything out. I know this is a pain, and many people simply don’t want to do it. But I believe it’s key to getting your spaces to be as neat as they can be. If you don’t take everything out, it’s hard to know how much you actually have, and you can miss things stored in the back. By taking everything out and actually looking at it, it forces you to make some hard decisions.



tips for organizing cabinets messy before clutter


tips for organizing cabinets dishes tableware storage


Tip 2: Apply my 3 rules to every item: only keep it if it’s Useful, Beautiful, or Sentimental.

Which brings me to my next tip. Purge, purge, purge! We tend to hold onto things that we no longer use, or because we feel guilty.

My best tip for deciding what to keep or get rid of is to apply my three criteria. Each item you put back in your shelves must be either beautiful (meaning you absolutely love it), useful (meaning you do actually use it), or sentimental (it’s something that is a very special something to you). And be honest with yourself! Don’t keep the three tea cups you’ve had put away for years simply because they were from your grandma.

If you love them, absolutely keep them. But then use them! But if the fact that there are only three keeps you from using them, either donate them or try to get more so that you can use them! (Etsy and Ebay are great sources for any discontinued china).



 messy before shot of dishes tableware cabinet



tips for organizing cabinets neat after shot of dishes tableware storage cabinet


Tip 3: When putting everything back, store “like with like.”

Originally these cabinets were relatively organized but over the years, I had really let them go. I had decor items in the cabinets even though most of my decor is stored in another cabinet in the garage!

By removing the items that didn’t belong, I made room for the things that I want to stay. Now all of my serving platters are in one cabinet, rather than two. Same with my cake stands. And all my plates are grouped together as well. This makes it so much easier to find what I need!



messy before shot dishes pitchers platters cabinets storage



tips for organizing cabinets storage for cake stands and cloches


Tip 4: Use techniques for saving space such as stacking or nesting items, when possible.

Another tip is to stack and nest items when you can. Previously, my cake stands were scattered simply because I didn’t have room for them all in one cabinet – at least that’s what I thought. However, by paring down and then stacking them differently, I find they all fit in one cabinet just fine now!

My new method is to turn the cake stand upside down and store the cloche or glass dome on top. It’s much more efficient this way. Likewise, I’ve stacked my platters neatly (and grouped them by season). I even added a thin piece of bubble wrap between each platter to protect them. Before I had them crammed in various cupboards, or they were wrapped in newspaper and I never really knew what I had. The bubble wrap protects them but I can still easily see what I need.



messy before shot of white dishes baskets and cutting boards



tips for organizing cabinets storage ideas white dishes and platters stacked neatly


Tip 5: To keep it neat in the long run, make sure you put things back right away. 

And of course, everyone’s question: how do I keep it neat going forward? Well, there’s no easy way to say this – you must put it back in it’s proper place right away! I’m definitely guilty of this. However, now that my cabinets are so neat and I can see everything, my desire to keep them neat is stronger and I find that I’m putting things in their proper place right after using them.

Another tip? Make sure to go through your cabinets again periodically just to make sure you haven’t accumulated more than you need, or to purge some things you may not be using at a later point in time. Once a year at least, but more often if you feel like it’s getting out of control again.



built ins messy tableware storage cabinets



organizing cabinets neater storage ideas tableware and serveware



Watch the full video below!

YouTube video


I hope these tips for organizing cabinets have been helpful for you. And I’d love to know any tips that you have – especially for smaller and/or older homes like mine that don’t have a lot of storage! 


tips for organizing cabinets white built ins family room french country style


Here’s to the start of a more organized year!



Now be sure to visit my friends below who are also sharing their organizing tips and tricks!

Organizing and decluttering

Designthusiasm | The Complete Guide to Kitchen Organization

StoneGable | Organizing Spices In Your Kitchen

Shabbyfufu | How To Organize The Kitchen Junk Drawer – For Good!


Organizing and decluttering

In My Own Style | Home Organizing Tips and Ideas

Maison de Cinq | 5 Tips for Organizing China Cabinets


Tips for Organizing Cabinets graphic Maison de Cinq


If you enjoyed this post, you might want to check out these organizing and cleaning posts below:

My Five Favorite Organizing Tips (and they’re Easy!)

Five Easy Cleaning Tips for Keeping Your Home Clean – Everyday!


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  1. Lynda Marie McDuff says:

    Excellent post!

  2. Gail Hawkins says:

    I love all your ideas and am inspired to organize my cabinets I also have limited storage and to much stuff, thank you for your wonderful blog. I LOVE the cream colored pillow with the blue flowers do you know where you got it if so please share I am using that blue color in my neutral monochromatic living/great room as an accent color it is a difficult color to find i have looked at a thousand pillows.
    My husband needs color 🙂

    1. Hi and thanks Gail!! I appreciate your kind words and so glad you’re finding inspiration here! The pillows are actually sage green, and they are Bennison fabric and were custom made a few years ago. Sorry, I know that doesn’t help you much!


  3. So great to see this post, the real before and after photos, and all the great tips. Great idea to get a matching cup and saucer (for instance) to fill in for an odd number and then Use Them! Coffee filters, paper plates, and styrofoam plates are great to use for stacking bowls and plates and don’t take up as much room as bubble wrap, though bubble wrap might be needed for larger trays/platters.

    1. Oh I love your ideas of paper plates – I’m going to try that!! And I’m so glad you enjoyed the post – thanks Elle!


  4. Michele M. says:

    Great post and I couldn’t agree more. I am also very happy to say I have a ton of storage here and feel blessed. There is no reason in the world I should be disorganized, but I am.

    A thought for you to consider – please keep an open mind – but if I were you at the VERY least the first thing I’d do is put cabinet doors at least in the section above your tv. Then you wouldn’t have to “waste” space by styling it and it would be an additional two sections to pack for seasonal or seldom used items.

    The second thing I’d consider is putting doors on the middle sections on either side and just have open shelving on the tops. You’d still get the fun open shelving for styling – but let those shelves work smarter for you if you are short on storage! Open shelving only works if there’s enough storage in my opinion. AND there really CAN be such thing as “too open.”

    Last – and this is bad timing, so maybe do it for next time. I have so much china you’d probably freak out. I cannot even, right? So – my suggestion to keep from scratches and helps with buffering some protection – open up a napkin or use cheap paper plates (small/ large) to place between stacked plates and such. It also helps keep the noise down when one is walking around stacked china. I can imagine it isn’t a problem with a solidly build-in cabinet, but for furniture buffets and low boys there’s always some rattle for me unless I buffer them. I use thin foam pieces but napkins and paper plates work great too.

    1. Thanks for your great input Michele! And I agree I’d love to have doors above the TV, but unfortunately, the routing “trim” would be covered so it wouldn’t really work unless I had much of the builtins re-built and not sure my hubby would go for that!

      And I’m loving the idea of paper plates (someone else said that too!)


  5. Some people may have tall enough space in shelves to stack platters and/or trays on their sides in one of those folder desk organizers. I have done that with trays in my pantry and it has helped make so much more space.

  6. I like your tip about stacking platters more efficiently. That makes sense considering it could consolidate space. I’ll have to consider your tips so that my cabinets can be more organized.

  7. Kathy Menold says:

    I have been in a closet and drawer organizing binge for the past few months. Actually enjoy doing and the after is so satisfying. Trying to teach my husband to put like with like but it is an up hill battle. I guess after 50 yrs together I am not going to change him and he is wonderful in so many other ways. Thanks for your tips and ideas. My one tip is you can never have too many hooks to hang things on or baskets to store items in.

    1. Thanks so much for your tip Kathy – could not agree more!! Baskets are the best! And good luck training your hubby, haha! I’ve had to do some of that too – we’re still working on it 😉