2016 Home Organization 101: Week 1 The Kitchen

January 9, 2016

Home Organization Challenge

The kitchen is the heart of the home. Generally speaking, it boasts the highest traffic area in the house. The cabinets and refrigerator are opened and closed a hundred times per day and meals are cooked (on average) from 30-90 times per month. It’s a workhorse. With that in mind, ask yourself how your kitchen is working for you? Do you have zones set up to help you work efficiently? Or are your cabinets bursting open with mismatched lids and containers, expired food mixed in with pots and pans, and things of unknown origins lurking around?

We all make messes and we all get overwhelmed. It’s natural and it’s okay. Sometimes we just need to hit the reset button and start over. That’s where our annual Home Organization 101 Challenge comes into play.  If your house is in need of some love and attention, you are at the right place to learn how to nurture your home back to life.

To get started, print out the complete 14 week schedule and checklists below. There are 2 sizes to choose from. Add them to your planner or hang them on the fridge.

5.5 x 8.5

8.5 x 11


Home Organization Challenge via A Bowl Full of Lemons



Today marks the beginning of the challenge. We will be spending the next 7 days in the kitchen. If you are new, look over the challenge details then begin working at your own pace.  For encouragement, join our Home Organization 101 Facebook community and share your progress or struggles. Or simply look through the photos and read how others are doing.

For the perfect companion guide to our challenge, purchase The Complete Book to Home Organization. It includes all 14 weekly challenges as well as tons of pictures and tips about the spaces we will be organizing. No need to log onto the computer for inspiration, this manual has it all!


The Complete Book of Home Organization  by A Bowl Full of Lemons



Below are a few updated photos of my kitchen. Most of my organization has remained the same, so I simply added links to in depth blog posts that I’ve shared along the way (at the end of the post). There have been a few of updates so I’ll explain more about them below.


Home Organization Challenge via A Bowl Full of Lemons


The biggest change in my kitchen is the installation of a custom island. My previous island was lacking surface area to prepare food and much needed storage space. So I designed an island that would fit our needs and hired a carpenter to build it.  After the island was installed, I measured and ordered an antique matte stainless steel counter top. Then I painted the island with Annie Sloan’s pure white chalk paint, distressed it with sand paper, and covered it with Annie Sloan’s clear wax. The island measures 80″ x 45″. I gained 50% more storage space and a ton more counter space. It now functions perfectly for me and it’s virtually maintenance free!


Home Organization Challenge via A Bowl Full of Lemons


I use wicker baskets to organize baking supplies, water bottles, and coffee/tea miscellaneous. The island also houses my Le Creuset pots & my mixing bowls.


Home Organization Challenge via A Bowl Full of Lemons


Side note:  An essential part of my kitchen is my new wellness mat. I spend hours every week, preparing food for my family. Since I got this mat, my back and legs no longer hurt. I highly recommend it. It has nothing to do with organizing but in my kitchen, it’s a must have!
Home Organization Challenge via A Bowl Full of Lemons


Home Organization Challenge via A Bowl Full of Lemons


I am a total spice junkie and have just about every spice you can imagine. I store them in a spice cabinet as well as a spice drawer. I purchased this wonderful spice organizer just last week. I absolutely love it! Organized spices are a must in a functioning kitchen.


Home Organization Challenge via A Bowl Full of Lemons


The next change I made was creating an organized utensil cabinet by the stove. I purchased 8 stainless steel utensil organizers at Ikea (for $2.99 each). The pull out drawer fit all 8 perfectly. This helped to eliminate counter top clutter (which I really try to avoid).


Home Organization Challenge via A Bowl Full of Lemons


The last update was the addition of a large basket to store my cutting, cheese, and pizza boards. Everything else has remained the same.


Home Organization Challenge via A Bowl Full of Lemons


Take a look at some in depth organizing tips from my kitchen.


Home Organization Challenge via A Bowl Full of Lemons

Week #1 Checklist

  1. Clean out and organize all cabinets.
  2. Clean out and organize all drawers.
  3. Purge everything that is not used, expired, doesnt belong, collecting dust.
  4. Clean out & organize the refrigerator & freezer.
  5. Mop, wipe down cabinet doors, clean counter tops & tables.
  6. Take everything off the refrigerator door.  It makes the kitchen look messy.
  7. Clean all appliances.

The Process

  1. Clear off the kitchen table. This is your dumping grounds.
  2. Empty out all cabinets & drawers!  Place ALL items into “categories” on the table.
  3. Wipe down the cabinet doors, shelves and drawers. Add new liners if necessary.
  4. Discard (trash) old, expired, and no longer used items & food. Check the dates.
  5. Place all items that are able to fit, into baskets.
  6. Place everything back into the cabinets & drawers (in categories).
  7. Take everything off the kitchen counters and place onto the table.
  8. Wipe down the counters & backsplash with a good natural cleaner.
  9. Wipe down ALL small appliances & large ones too!
  10. Put back items you use on a daily basis, onto the counter top.
  11. Mop the floors and wipe down the table & chairs.
  12. Empty fridge/freezer. Wipe out. Put back in an organized manner.
  13. Clean and organize under the kitchen sink.

Tip: Keep all clutter off the counters at all times. If you take it out, put it away!
The 2016 Home Organization Challenge Instagram

Take the next seven days to really concentrate on your kitchen.  Follow the process I’ve laid out for you. Also set up organized zones for better functionality.  (You can find the zones I use in my book). Try not to get side-tracked and don’t move ahead until you are completely finished.

Share your progress on Instagram using the hash tag #2016abfolchallenge, blog about the weekly challenges, and  share your before and after pictures over at my Home Organization 101 group here.  Hold yourself accountable and finish all 14 challenges! I can’t wait to see what you accomplish.  Good luck. I’ll see you back next week for the week 2 challenge. Happy Organizing!



Disclaimer: You may find Amazon affiliate links within this post. Thank you for your support to A Bowl Full of Lemons.


36 comments on “2016 Home Organization 101: Week 1 The Kitchen

  1. Nikki says:

    I am looking forward to getting started!

  2. Mandy m says:

    LOVE the new island!! Where did you get your new kitchen chairs? Just started looking for the same ones last week in the same color 🙂

  3. Sarah says:

    Refresh doesn’t work – you need to remove the links – it’s quite annoying. Would be glad to pay for material.

  4. Brittany says:

    As part of my New Year’s Resolution to get organized I’ve decided to start this challenge! While some of the spaces don’t apply to me, I can tweak it and spend more time on the areas I need to, such as my closet! Can’t wait for my tips and inspiration along the way!

    Brittany | thechicette.com

  5. Gail says:

    Hi have a favor to ask my kitchen is hoping to be redone in the spring and we are going to lay it out similar to yours . We were wondering how your kitchen is set up across from the island? Do you have a pantry and desk there? Thanks for the help

  6. Hi Toni,
    I am so excited to start this challenge.I just ordered your book.In the meantime,I am gonna get started on my frig.Does it matter where I start? Baby steps?

    Thanks for the inspiration!!!

    Before and after pics to come soon.
    Wish me luck, I am going in!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !

  7. Amy says:

    Just ordered your book! Looking forward to getting started! I love your kitchen? Did you add labels to your mixing bowls or did you find them labeled? Thanks!

  8. margaret says:

    If anyone has problems printing the schedule, try downloading it first. That’s what worked for me when I couldn’t just print it from the web. 🙂
    Excited to get started. My baby is due in March and I’m in full on nesting mode. It will be great to have a clean house and not feel like I’m always catching up on something. I’ve let too many things get behind. 😛

  9. Jenny Auslund says:

    I love ALL this Toni. Waiting on your book to arrive Monday! I think the main thing I really noticed following your system this time around, is that it gave me permission to GET RID OF STUFF that is not working and that I do not love! Even if I bought it, and it didn’t work like I thought… Even if it was a gift, and it didn’t work like I thought… IT IS OKAY to let it go and clear…. headspace, heartspace, counterspace, life space. To DO my big , busy life more freely and efficiently. So thank you for getting us going in 2016!

  10. Toni, such great tips! I love your wellness mat. I really need to get one! Thank you for sharing. Hope your New Year is starting off well. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  11. Kriss says:

    Could you please show how you utilize the baskets in your island for storage? I know you said what they store but I (and I’m sure everyone else) would love to see their actual use. Ordered your book and it’s supposed to arrive Monday 🙂 Do you have more detailed pictures in there? Hoping your new pantry will be revealed too!!

  12. Samantha says:

    Excited to get started. I’m just trying to figure out how to make it work. I don’t have a kitchen table and we homeschool at the dining room table. So I’m going to have to figure out how to tweak the process so I can do it. I have about 8 square feet of island space…maybe… hmmmm…

  13. Jeannie says:

    Just received your book. Its beautiful. I cant wait to get started.

  14. Misha says:

    Can’t wait to get started today

  15. andrea says:

    A great list and a perfect place to start. One thing I would add is to wash light fixtures. If you have pendant lighting or other fixtures, I find it makes such a difference to wipe down or wash the shades. Such an easy place to overlook!

  16. Regina Chatman says:

    Ordered my book today from Amazon. Due to arrive on the 20th of January. Yay! Want to try something different. Just remodeled my Kitchen. Next my bedroom and closet.

  17. Krista says:

    Your suggestion for storing cutting, cheese and pizza boards in a big floor basket will be a game changer for me! I’ve been trying to find a solution for those and this will be perfect. It looks so pretty too! Thank you!

  18. Danir says:

    You are amazing! I draw a lot of inspiration from your guides.

    I especially appreciate your tips on better organizing the kitchen.

    Thank you again for being such an inspiration.

  19. Maria J says:

    Hi Toni,
    I like the way you organize things in your home, I can’t wait to start now, I also want to start from my kitchen

  20. Michelle says:

    Hi Toni! Nikki informed me about you! I plan on purchasing your book and I definitely and going to get started with the Kitchen Organization this weekend ( I have a 3 day weekend so will be a great time to start). Very excited cant wait to see what I end up with. Now if we can just have some guidance on getting the rest of the family on board in keeping it organized LOL.

  21. Teri says:

    Kitchen is done and my major task was to get my spice shelf back into shape. http://teri-gonewalkabout2.blogspot.com/2016/01/get-organized-kitchen-spice-shelf.html

  22. K. says:

    Your home and organization is beautiful. However, my home looks nothing like it. I love the idea of organizing that you and a couple other bloggers do, but i must admit i lose the desire when i cant seem to apply it to my home. I do not buy from Restoration Hardware, West Elm and Pottery Barn. My go to places are more like Marshalls and TJMaxx. Please, i am not complaining, just stating that i have a difficult time creating my own pretty organized areas. They dull in comparison to bloggers. That being said, i do get a ton of inspiration and eye candy from your blog, as well as, a couple others. I am considering purchasing your new book. Thank you.

  23. Josmari says:


    Can you provide the name/brand of the white paint on your walls and crown molding?

  24. Love your kitchen! It isn’t my style, but it is so beautiful, and all of the organisation tips are fab as always.
    Just wondering if the mat is easy to clean! I often feel myself sore after a big cook up, but find mats in the kitchen impractical normally.

  25. Sue says:

    Love your kitchen and I can hardly wait to see my house organized l love the step by step instructions thank you

  26. Helen says:

    I love your kitchen and am trying to get mine organized. I’m following your plan and have your book but I’m going a little slower. I would love to know where you got the baskets you use for storage in your island. Thanks very much!

  27. Karen Campbell says:

    Is your Wellness Mat Light or Dark Antique? My guess is Dark but the link is showing up Light Antique.


  28. Sarah says:

    I have found your site through At Home with Nikki and I have purchased your book. I look forward to all your inspirations. Love it.

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