Creative Ways to Declutter Countertops

Household operations run most smoothly when countertops are clutter-free and open for business. Here is a look at storage-savvy solutions that hold tools, materials, toiletries, and tech gear off work surfaces but within easy reach so you can efficiently handle every task.

Corner Capacity

Hang shelves near work surfaces to lift canisters, cookbooks, and attractive serving pieces off countertops. A trio of stacked shelves makes the most of an awkward space between the end cabinet and window and the dropped ceiling and backsplash in this contemporary kitchen. Other ways to stretch a kitchen's storage capacity? Mount a vintage corner cabinet in a forgotten corner and add shallow shelves behind the sink and range.

Behind Closed Doors

Medicine cabinets provide conveniently located caches for storing potions, lotions, and getting-ready trappings that often clutter vanity tops. This stylish beauty, replete with mirrored door, holds myriad toiletries and acts as an eye-height divider between his-and-her preparation stations.

Colorful Corrals

When there's no other place to put relevant things, make the most of available countertop space by using baskets and pretty canvas bins to fence in small stuff that tends to sprawl across surfaces. This clever containment system holds guest supplies in a bathroom, but would work equally well as a handsome holder for cooking tools or office supplies.

Cutting Edge Idea

Some storage units are meant for expansive countertops with enough room to accommodate everything from cookbook racks to knife blocks. But, when space is tight, it makes sense to move what you can into suitably situated cabinets and drawers. Look for drawer inserts that help you organize chef's knives, spice jars, and cooking gadgets in an area near where they'll be accessed most often.

Power Up

Turn any drawer into a charging station and keep electronic gear under wraps and off countertops. Outfit a nightstand, desk, or cabinet drawer with a power strip that allows you to charge cellphones, tablets, and e-readers in a secure location. Generally, this setup works best when a hole for the cord is drilled in the back or side of a furniture piece nearest an electrical outlet. Beyond your tech capacities? Call an electrician for assistance.

Capture Space

Keep your countertops uncluttered by equipping the cabinet below your kitchen or bathroom sink with baskets to hold cleaners, toiletries, and paper goods. In this vanity cabinet, pairs of small and large wire baskets are configured to amplify storage on either side of the main plumbing pipe. The open baskets allow the homeowners to visually inventory supplies and restock what's needed in a jiffy.

Rack It Up

Over-the-cabinet-door organizers allow cabinets to live up to their potential and let you keep countertops clean of bulky gear. Head to the hardware store storage aisles and storage retailers to find hairdryer holders, paper-towel holders, under-the-sink caddies, and versatile wire baskets that you can hook over a cabinet door.

These mini-but-mighty bath storage ideas will help you trick a slim setup into handling everything from accessories to oversize purchases.

Commodious Commode Wall

In most bathrooms, there's one wall that's open to numerous possibilities. The toilet wall easily accommodates all sorts of storage units. From medicine cabinets and wall shelves to freestanding etageres designed to fit a toilet's contours, there's a system to suit nearly every lavatory. In addition to supplying general bathroom storage, these handsome built-ins hold cosmetics and grooming supplies in orderly fashion near (but not on!) the vanity countertop.

Wall Pockets

Look to walls adjacent to work surfaces and countertops for real estate prime for the tapping. Mount pocket organizers or shelves equipped with desk organizers to take care of paperwork that is likely to pile up on countertops; label pockets for incoming mail, outgoing permission slips, and bills in need of attention.

Period Panache

Store things you use every day on vintage racks, organizers, or hooks mounted to an underused wall. This wire rack, which handily and attractively holds coffee mugs and kitchen towels, not only keeps countertops shipshape, but it frees up cabinet space for storing other kitchen essentials.

Finely Furnish

Bathroom vanity tops are a magnet for clutter. They are put to use during the most hurried (or sleepiest!) hours, when there isn't any extra time or energy for tidying up. A secretary-style desk solves this problem by storing essentials close to a vanity, in an accessible, appealing form that closes up when beauty regimens are complete.

Storage Garages

Appliance garages house small appliances when they're not needed. They allow you to park things like coffeemakers, blenders, and food processors within reach but out-of-sight behind drop-down doors, which in turn leaves adjacent countertops open for food-prep tasks.

Extra Enhancements

Built-ins and add-ons amplify a room's holding power in a fashionable manner. Cabinets, cubbies, and drawers wrap a kitchen desk with menu-planning utility that makes it easy to see, retrieve, and return cooking references; corkboards provide spots for displaying calendars and posting shopping lists without taking up valuable desk space.

Spicy Solution

Insert specialty holders into base cabinet drawers to boost their usefulness. Spice-jar racks keep seasonings visible, organized, and within a chef's reach but off counters and stove tops. Use cutlery trays, bamboo dividers, and compartmentalized acrylic trays to customize a system that stores and sorts the smaller things that are likely to bring chaos to countertops.

Tools of the Trade

Freestanding kitchen tool holders conveniently place tools in plain view and close to work areas, but they take up countertop space, which is at a premium in small kitchens. A creative way to keep tools within reach? Hang a towel bar or two on an open wall; use S hooks to suspend the cooking implements you're likely to grab on a daily basis.

Cocktails, Anyone?

Bar areas work better when there's a clear surface for cutting fruit, placing ice buckets, and lining up liquor and wine bottles. A chic shelving unit mounted on this tiled wall handles glassware and cocktail-party serving pieces; the unit converts the kitchen countertop and tiled wall into a full-service entertainment station that's always stocked and ready for pop-up parties.

Freestanding Organizers Flag

Streamline countertops by containing like-minded items in bins, baskets, and jars that don't take up more than their fair share of space. Opt for holders, like this colorful knife block, that can be pushed beneath upper cabinets as needed to liberate work space on the outer countertop.

Tailored to Fit

Customize a kitchen cabinet's interior by adding a boxlike framework of shelves and cubbies that you can use to handle your household's organizational needs. Look for ready-made inserts and pullouts that fit the interior space, or create your own construction that holds cookbooks and gives the home phone, a charging station, and note-writing supplies a place out-of-the-way of work surfaces.

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