Dishes, pans, silverware, etc. – our kitchens are riddled with clutter. Although it may not be the most cluttered room in your home, many times the kitchen is at the top of our lists. Let’s take back these spaces so we can use them as intended: creating beautiful meals, entertaining guests, and spending time with loved ones.
The kitchen is one of the melting pots of our home. It’s a multi-use room that tends to be taken just a bit too far on uses. While our kitchen serves many uses (such as cooking, entertaining, late-night snacking, and hanging out) our kitchen is not meant to be used as a storage locker. We pile our books, bags, electronics, keys, and other miscellaneous items onto the counters in our kitchen, and then complain there’s not enough room for prep work or to set the food down on the table. But how can one take back a space that has become overrun with clutter?
Removing the unnecessary:
First we must reclaim the space, and then we can work to downsize it. Before you do anything else, you must first clean. Remove any item from the kitchen that is not kitchen related, including the junk drawer. Remember your kitchen is not your bedroom, office, or bathroom – try to keep items better suited for these spaces out of your kitchen.
Slimming down to the basics:
Once everything is out of the kitchen (that is not somewhat kitchen related), start paring down what you keep. Consider the following as you’re paring down:
- How many members are in your household?
In my home, there are only two of us, so realistically I did not need a place setting for 10 people. For this reason I pared down to only 4 complete place settings, allowing some wiggle room for guests and dirty dishes.
- How often do you entertain guests?
While I don’t host dinner parties or get together too often, I do have the occasional friend or two over on a fairly regular basis. Keeping this in mind while decluttering my kitchen I kept two extra cups, plates, etc. to have on hand for guests.
- What items do you use the least in your kitchen?
For the longest time I had a sandwich press, two blenders, and a crockpot in my kitchen – and none of it ever got used. I held onto them for the very rare occasions in which I did use them, although truthfully it was maybe once a year. As I decluttered, I finally made the decision to toss these items. Another item that I tossed were cook books – with everything being online now, I didn’t feel the need to hold onto several cook books. If I found a recipe I really enjoyed in a book, I added it to a virtual cookbook on my laptop. Now the recipe is easily accessible, without the weight of the book.
- What items are seasonal only items?
Candy dishes, fine china, big decorative platters – these are all items only used once a year, and truthfully I often did not feel like going through the trouble of taking these out for the holidays. Instead, I donated these items so another family that could find use in them.
- Do you have items that are chipped, broken, or beyond repair?
My favorite dish set was a ceramic green swirl on brown background – I managed to snag these off clearance for $20 when it retailed originally for close to $150. I used these dishes until every single one had at least a chip in them. Both unsanitary and unsafe, I decided it was time I tossed this set.
- Do I have duplicates of items?
Another thing to consider is how many duplicates of items you have. Before decluttering, I held onto 3 sauce pans, 4 skillets, 2 large pots, and a few other trays and containers. I had an entire cabinet overfull with pots and pans. Did I need them all? No.
The end result of our decluttered kitchen was 4 place settings, a microwave, hand mixer, a few knives and kitchen utensils, 5 pots/pans, 4 storage containers, and few oven mitts. The kitchen now fits in one box for moving, not including the microwave.
Implement an organization system:
I am very organized when it comes to paperwork and work, but when it comes to my home I haven’t been the most organized person in the past. Once my kitchen was decluttered I noticed that without an organization system in place, the kitchen began to accumulate items once more. The cabinets still looked cluttered, my pantry was a mess, and with these two items out of place the rest began to follow. I did not implement some over the top amazing system, only a few small things were put into play – but that was all I needed to help me stay on track:
- Keep pantries and cabinets clutter free by keeping them organized. Plates should be stacked together, cups should be neatly beside one another, and bowls should have a place to call their own. The same can be said for our pantries. Try storing similar items together, such as pasta or cereal. You don’t need to go to an extreme by labeling everything, unless that works best for you.
- Mom always said “If you’re done with an item, put it away.” Take this to heart in your kitchen as well. When you’re done with an item, put it away and keep it off of counters, surfaces, etc.
- Keep cleaning products out of sight. Designate a cabinet or shelf for these items and keep them off your counters.
- If you dirty a dish, wash it. Don’t let it sit in the sink for too long. The longer dirty dishes sit in the sink, the more likely you are to clutter the rest of the space. The same can be said for clean dishes – wash, dry, and put away to help keep clutter to a minimum. Remember: Once one thing falls short, the rest shortly follows.
- Eliminate the junk drawer – if you have one in your kitchen. When the temptation is there, whether it’s a junk drawer or cabinet, we take advantage of it. Eliminate the temptation to store unnecessary items by eliminating the junk drawer.
Keeping counters clean:
With fewer items in the space, the amount of items on your counters will also decline. Now the big task it to keep the counters clean. There are four tips to keeping these clutter free:
- Designate a bin on the counter for miscellaneous. It may be hard to stop yourself all together from throwing your keys, wallet, or purse onto the counters when first coming home. Instead, designate a small bin on the counter where you can place these items. Do not let these items spill out of this bin.
- Keep Lysol wipes handy, or some cleaning cloths (my favorite: Unpaper Towels!). Every day wipe down your counters. It only takes a minute to quickly wipe down the surface, but a clean surface will help you keep it that way. We’re less likely to pile items onto a surface that has recently been cleaned.
- If a new item must be added to the counter, an old one must be taken away. Anytime something is added to the space, whether it’s a new tool or decoration, take something else away.
- Don’t let dirty dishes or clean dishes pile up – as mentioned above.
For tips on how to begin your decluttering journey, you can Start Here, or snag a copy of the 30 Day Challenge (our Minimalism and Decluttering eBook).