“The kitchen is the heart of the home.“–ever heard that? In most families the kitchen is not only the heart of the home it’s the command center. For a lot of families it’s the most used room in the house–tummies are filled, memories are made, discussions ensue…it’s the place where stuff happens. If your kitchen is cluttered it makes it more difficult to not only create meals and family time, it actually can be a place of stress. In my 24 years as a representative for a large kitchen tool company, I probably visited close to 1500 kitchens. I learned what works, and what doesn’t. Here’s some thoughts and tips to make your kitchen easier to navigate:
Step 1: Clear the counters. Take EVERYTHING off the counters. Put them on a dining room table or a portable table you bring in just for this task. Wipe the counters down, then step back and take a look at your kitchen. Ask yourself: what worked? What didn’t? Why did I have THAT item THERE? Does it make sense? How often do I use it–does it HAVE to be on the counter? I think small appliances, food storage containers, etc here–if you don’t have toast every day does your toaster need to be on the counter? How about that Kitchenaid mixer–do you use it all the time? How about the coffee canister? Is it something you use every day? Don’t think about where to put items you don’t use all the time, just think about if they need to be there or not.
Step 2: Be honest with yourself and your family. Are the counters always cluttered? Small storage items for things like sponges, soap, etc. help with the smaller things. Tools that you use to cook with are fine (near the stove of course), but do you need 2 garlic presses and 4 spatulas? If you do, great, if not, can you weed them down? Take a look at all the things you cleared off–can you use them elsewhere, can they be placed in another part of the kitchen but not on your counters? Food storage containers can be relocated to a pantry, extra tools can be off loaded or put in a drawer. Which brings me to my next thought…
Step 3: Drawers. Every kitchen has a junk drawer, but not every drawer needs to be one. Clean those drawers out, get drawer dividers, put like tools with like. Safety alert: NO OPEN SHARP TOOLS! Knives need to have sleeves. Scissors need to stay closed in the drawer. You need 2 or 3 kinds of spatulas, 2 or 3 wooden spoons, 1 ladle, etc. Extras? Invite them to leave. Do you have drawers full of plastic spoons and forks? Why? Extra specialty items like apple wedgers, graters, etc. should fit neatly in a drawer. Keep categories of tools together: stirring, cutting, mixing. Baking tools should be with the baking tools, not in the same place as the turkey baster.
Step 4: Finally: Cabinets. Take an objective look at what’s inside. When you look at your dishes and serving ware, can you get of ones you don’t use, or at least put them up on a higher shelf where you don’t have to access them so often? Mismatched items: you have my permission to get rid of them. Dishes and glasses need to be where you use them the most. I am pretty big on putting dishes near the sink and close to the dishwasher if you have one to make it easy to grab and also put away. It goes without saying that sacked or chipped ones need to be discarded. See comment above about mismatched and ones you don’t use that often–free up the space. Pots and Pans: the ones you need to use the most need to be at the front of the cabinet. Skillets and sauté pans need to be stacked inside each other and honestly, unless you are feeding an army, one or two of each size is plenty. If you have a pot rack one of each type of pan or pot is all you need to hang, extras an be stored elsewhere, to keep your kitchen looking neat and tidy.
Remember the goal of organizing is NOT neat and tidy. Neat and tidy is the RESULT of organizing. The goal of organizing is retrieval–being able to know where things go and retrieve them, and put them back.