As a child, Erin Rollins loved to organize her dolls and rearrange her bedroom. “Organizing is still one of my favorite things!” she says. It should come as no surprise then that the kitchen in her San Diego home is a model of orderly conduct—even when her husband, Ken, and their three active children enter the picture in high gear.
Erin shares organizational tips at her blog, Sunny Side Up, along with her personal home-building story. Working closely with an architect, created her family’s dream layout that includes a mudroom and office by the kitchen (to stop clutter from entering) and a window-lined dining nook off the kitchen that’s out of the way of the home’s main traffic flow.
Today, almost every cabinet interior reveals Erin’s orderly touch. (The exception? Ken’s “mail and miscellaneous” drawer, lovingly created on request.) With its smart floor plan and well-planned storage, this family haven is packed with practical ideas. Open to the family room, the kitchen boasts two islands—one for food prep and one for the peanut gallery—so messy ingredients and homework stay separate. “A single island would’ve been too big,” Erin says.
A pivot-step from the cooktop, the prep sink is flanked by a trash pullout and a dishwasher, duplicating the arrangement at the main sink. With two sinks and two dishwashers, it’s easy to keep tidy as you work and let multiple young helpers clean up with ease.
A pullout cutting board expands the island’s work top. With a quick swipe, veggie scraps drop into the trash pullout below. Label trash bins for recyclables and food scraps. Engineered quartz counters resist stains.
Matching tall pullouts keep often-used ingredients handy. Erin uses one for oils and vinegars and the other (closer to the wall ovens) for a mix of baking supplies.
The cooking zone includes a six-burner cooktop, double wall ovens, and a microwave drawer—perfect for cooking for a crowd. Paper plates and party supplies tuck into drawers conveniently located along a wall with the ovens, microwave drawer, and built-in fridge. Above the counter, twin garages hide small appliances.
This glass-front cabinet wraps around a corner into the breakfast nook where it rests atop a pedestal of shallow drawers. A turquoise tray adds color and brings instant order to small items.
Drawers under the breakfast nook side of the glass-front cabinet hold art supplies for the kids, who often work on projects at the table. (Pool goggles and sunscreen hide here, too, as the patio door is just steps away.)
The window-wrapped family dining nook feels cozy but open. It features tall windows and a zinc-topped outdoor dining table. A clever tote makes quick work of clearing away the kids’ crafts supplies before dinner. Glass doors lead to an outdoor patio.
A built-in hutch serves as a convenient sideboard for the formal dining room off to the left and is easily accessible to the kitchen work zone. Place mats, chargers, and table linens stow out of sight below the countertop.
Labels keep my pantry in order and make it easier for little ones to put things away.
A swinging door reveals the walk-in pantry, featuring a mix of open and closed storage. Its L-shape counter is handy for unloading groceries or staging party supplies.
Erin keeps snacks in a drawer in the pantry where family members can easily grab them. Inserts divide the drawer and keep contents organized. Other drawers hold paper goods, aprons, and cookbooks. A chalkboard tracks dinner menus.
Labeled baskets make it a snap to put away groceries. A good storage plan puts everything in its place, but still requires maintenance. Use labels as your secret weapon against clutter. “Labels keep my pantry in order and make it easier for little ones to put things away,” she says. Erin even labeled cereal bowls to hold things like cough drops, first-aid cream, and bandages—and turned one kitchen cabinet into an apothecary.