Since our kitchen is so small, we don’t have room for a table to be able to eat in the actual kitchen area.  So, we eat all our meals at the dining room table.  Unless we are incredibly lazy and eat dinner over the kitchen sink, with the kids eating in the Learning Tower on the counter.  But that only happens a couple of times a week, so no big deal!!

Now, this has been the arrangement since we moved into our house almost four years ago.  And it has been a fine arrangement, but there is always room for improvement!  We have a buffet in the dining room that was just housing everything that didn’t fit into the kitchen, along with other junk that ended up in the cabinets or drawers.  Then, I was using the top of the buffet to hold the bigger items that didn’t fit into the cabinets.

Things were fine, but I knew I could make things much more functional.  I started this whole process one day while the kids were napping.  I emptied every drawer and cabinet.  I needed to create a plan to get the buffet organized, along with utilizing more space on the top of the buffet.  And I wanted to make our table look pretty, so I needed to find some items to put on the table that would make it look more inviting.  Because, you know me, I want a space to be organized and look pretty at the same time!

Adding Functin To Dining Room

I have four drawers and two cabinets to hold our stuff.  I really needed to be thoughtful about how I was going to put the items back into the buffet.  The top drawer was currently being used to hold the dishtowels and random electronics.  The second drawer was holding platters and some tableclothes.  The third drawer was holding placemats, platters, and some cloth napkins.  The bottom drawer was holding some tableclothes, cloth napkins, platters, and napkin rings.  The cabinets were holding our paper products such as paper plates, cups, silverware, china, some cookbooks, and cutting boards.

Cabinet Before

Nothing was really making sense where it was being housed, so I needed to plan out how I was planning on using this space.  Since we eat all our meals at the dining room table, I need the buffet to hold items we use daily, like napkins.  But it was also the perfect spot to hold our paper products, such as paper plates, plastic silverware, paper cups, and plastic serving ware.  I also needed the buffet to hold our dish towels for the kitchen, along with serving trays and place mats.

Cleaning Table

I started by taking everything out of the drawers and cabinets and placing everything on the dining room table.  Then, I cleaned all the drawers and cabinets as they haven’t been cleaned since we purchased the buffet, almost three years ago!!  So you can guess it was pretty filthy.

Once everything was cleaned, I decided to start with finding a better location for the dish towels.  Back before we were married, I lived in a studio apartment in Chicago.  Since my living space was tiny, I needed to be creative with how I stored things.  Well, I stored all my dish towels in a basket and had it on my bakers rack that was located in my kitchen.  I loved this because it made finding dish towels so easy,  So, as I was starting to grab the dish towels that were all spewed around the dining room table, I decided that maybe it might be a good idea to store our dish towels in a basket, like I did when I lived in my studio apartment.  I found the exact basket I had in my apartment, and rolled all our current dish towels into that basket.  It makes the perfect location for our dish towels because I can grab the entire basket if we have a major spill, or I can pull out one towel when I need it.  I put all the dish towels in one cabinet of the buffet.

Dish Towels

That got me thinking that if I put the dish towels in a cabinet, shouldn’t I put the napkins in that same cabinet?  Well, this worked out perfectly because we buy our napkins in bulk, so I could stack the extra napkins behind the basket of dish towels.  Then, I can put our napkin holder next to the basket of dish towels so I can easily grab them while we are eating at the dining room table.

At the bottom of the towel cabinet, I have my cookbooks and cooking magazines.  I love keeping them in the buffet because I do all our meal planning at the dining room table, so to have them easily accessible in the location that I do our meal planning has really worked well for me, so I decided to keep the cookbooks in that location.

Cloth Napkins

I am loving how functional the buffet is starting to become, so I decided that it would be a great idea to put our cloth napkins in a basket, just like I did with the dish towels.  I didn’t have another basket, but I did have some galvanized tubs that I was holding on to.  The galvanized tubs made the perfect place to put the cloth napkins.  I put the galvanized tub of cloth napkins in the other cabinet of the buffet.

Since I had two galvanized tubs, I thought that putting my extra plastic silverware in the other tub would be incredibly helpful in removing that ugly box they came in.  Plus, I have a ton of silverware from birthday parties and other events that didn’t really have a home.  So I put the extra silverware in a plastic baggie and stored them in the galvanized tub, along with the extra plastic silverware that was in the giant box.  This would go in the same cabinet as the cloth napkins.

Paper Products Cabinet

I always like to keep some plastic silverware in the silverware tray, so if we have guests over, I can pull that tray out quickly and not have to worry about stocking it with silverware.  After each party, I make sure to restock the forks, knives, and spoons, along with the napkins.  It has helped me tremendously when I am trying to get ready to have guests over, because I just have to pull out the tray and I am all set for serving utensils.  So the silverware tray would go in the cabinet with the cloth napkins and extra plastic silverware.

Then, I put the paper plates, bowls, and cups in that same cabinet.  Now, all our paper goods are in one cabinet, making it easy to grab and use as we need.  But there was still a lot of stuff left on the table and I was down to only having to organize the four remaining drawers.

Place Mats

We have a ton of place mats, so I sorted the place mats into two categories: circles and rectangles.  I put the circle place mats, and our iPads, and chargers in the top drawer of the buffet.  Our rectangle place mats, and extra table runners would go in the second drawer of the buffet.  My thinking was to keep the two types of place mats separate so I could easily find them and pull them out when I needed to.  I also like keeping the iPads in the buffet so I can use them when I need to without the kids being able to grab them and use them whenever they want.

Platters

The bottom two drawers would hold the platters and bowls that I had left.  I try to use protective covers to hold the platters, but sometimes I can’t find the right sizes.  When this happens, I try to stack the platters and trays on top of platters that fit into a cover.  But some of the odd shaped platters and trays are hard to find covers for.

Buffet

On top of the buffet, I added a case with some branches to give height.  Then, I shopped the house to find a candle stick and some tea light candles.  I have a round cutting board, which we got for our wedding, that I have out on top of the buffet as well.  Then, I have a basket for fruit.  Since we eat almost all our meals in the dining room, I needed something for fruit that we could use.  I added a tray, candles, and flowers to the table on top of a table runner to add some interest to the dining room table.

Dining Room

I am so happy that this entire space is organized and functional.  I love being able to grab the dish towels quickly, and not have them clutter up a drawer because it was too full to open.  I love using baskets to hold items in the cabinets because I can take the entire basket out to get exactly what I need.  I love keeping all the paper products together so I can find them easily.  And I love adding some decorative touches to the space to make it look pretty!

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About The Organized Mama

My name is Jessica and I am the founder and creative director of The Organized Mama, a professional organizing firm and blog. I was born and raised in Minnesota and currently live in Illinois. I graduated Indiana University with a degree in elementary education. My passion is teaching others how to live an organized life. I am a certified professional organizer with the National Association of Productivity and Organizational Professionals (NAPO).

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