Colorado Springs, Colorado (NAPSI) - Kitchens are becoming more than just a place to cook: According to the Research Institute for Cooking and Kitchen Intelligence, most families spend an average of 175 hours in the kitchen every month cooking, entertaining, working and spending time together.

Organizing your kitchen to meet your specific needs can make the time you spend there more enjoyable.

Start by writing down how you use your kitchen and make a list of any inconveniences you notice. For example: a pile of shoes under the breakfast bar, stacks of mail on the kitchen table or no room for cookbooks. Once you have a better understanding of your needs, you can design a system that solves your organization and storage problems.

Tackle your list one item at a time. For example: Keep shoes out of the kitchen by placing a shoe organizer near the most commonly used entrance. Minimize mail clutter by creating a kitchen command center or keeping a mail organizer on the counter. Display cookbooks on shelves with decorative bookends.

If you have an open floor plan or frequently entertain, you know people tend to congregate in the kitchen. Make family members and guests comfortable by providing plenty of seating. A built-in banquette maximizes seating around a kitchen table and provides a comfy place for guests to socialize while you cook. Even if you have a small kitchen, a rolling island can be a helpful addition. Use it during dinner parties as a buffet or as a bar with an ice bucket, glasses and an assortment of cocktails.

Keep cooking from turning into a chore by organizing your pantry and cabinets. For example, store pot holders, spatulas, measuring cups and spices near the stove. Cups should be kept in the cabinet closest to your refrigerator and plates and bowls near the dishwasher. If you have a pantry, invest in a storage system that maximizes space. A system such as ClosetMaid® ShelfTrack® has adjustable shelving, making room for items of various sizes. The system can also be customized with wire drawers, excellent for storing extra dishtowels or bulky produce. A good rule of thumb is to store frequently used items between shoulder and knee height.

As the role of the kitchen expands, it is becoming more important to maximize storage space to accommodate the needs of family and friends. A well-thought-out organization system can save valuable time preparing meals and make it easier to keep your kitchen clean and clutter free.

For more information on how to solve storage and organization dilemmas, visit or call (800) 874-0008.