Cleaning and organizing your refrigerator is easy. Unpleasant perhaps, but simple nonetheless. If something’s expired, you should pitch it. If there’s something you don’t want to eat or drink, it’s a no-brainer that you should trash it as well.
Unfortunately, decluttering your entire kitchen — drawers, counters, cabinets and pantry included — isn’t as simple. Maybe you’re reluctant to trash items you don’t use, because you’re afraid they “might come in handy someday.” Perhaps, you’ve run out of space to store items where they truly belong.
The following tips will help you determine which steps to take in your path to a more structured, clutter-free kitchen.
Put items where you’re most likely to use them
Allan Young, a professional organizer and the CEO and co-founder of ShelfGenie, suggests dividing your kitchen into sections or zones. “Food preparation tools — cutting boards, measuring cups and mixing bowls — should be located near the largest available workspace. Store cooking needs — pots, pans, bake ware and potholders — near the stove, and serving supplies — dishes, glassware, flatware and napkins — near the dining room. Tupperware, plastic wrap, foil and other storage items work well near the refrigerator, and the dishwasher or sink area is a great place for dish towels, sponges, trash bags and all-purpose cleaners,” he explains.
To cut back on clutter, Young encourages you to identify and remove any items that do not belong in their zone. You can redirect these items to a more appropriate place or, if you never use them, get rid of them altogether.
Use the space between cabinets and the ceiling
According to Bill Kissock, an interior designer at The Living Space in Fort Collins, Colorado, “A lot of space is wasted between the tops of cabinets and the ceiling. If you have the opportunity to put in cabinets, make sure they go all the way to the ceiling and take advantage of all that additional storage. If new cabinets aren’t in your budget, look for interesting storage options — baskets or color-coordinated boxes — that can be tucked on top to maximize that often unused space. Hide items you don’t use frequently up there.”
Hang items on the back of cabinet and pantry doors
Kristi Meyer, a Certified Professional Organizer, says one of her favorite tips for decluttering kitchens is to use clear hanging shoe organizers for storage. “I have one attached to the inside of my pantry door that contains many items, including chip clips, recipe cards, toothpicks, sandwich bags and straws,” says Meyer. She explains that if the organizer is too wide or tall for your target door, you can trim it down to a more desirable size. She adds that you can use cup-holder screws, narrow-ended command hooks or strong Velcro tape to hang the organizer so that its hooks don’t show over the top of the door.
Move more on-the-counter items into storage
Scan your counters. Are they packed with jars, appliances, cookbooks, spices and decorations? If too many of these items are on display, you lose significant counter space and risk having a cluttered-looking kitchen.
Organizing expert April Welch says, “The rule of thumb for small appliances is ‘If it doesn’t get used more than once a week, store it.’ ” Obviously, a coffee pot and toaster could fall within this range, but what else? And more important, what is on the counters taking up space that hasn’t been used in a while? If you don’t have the space to store the item, maybe it’s time to consider whether it’s used often enough to keep at all. “So often things are where they are because they’ve always been that way,” says Welch. “Assuring an item serves a purpose is a great way start to decluttering.”
Reassess the flow of your kitchen
If you feel as though you, your spouse and your children are constantly bumping into one another, you may feel as though your kitchen is too small. The problem may actually be that the flow of your kitchen needs tweaking. Welch explains, “A family I once worked with had five children, plus the adults all trying to get out the door in the morning and their kitchen was the dreaded space. The problem? Everyone was tripping over one another. The solution? We moved ‘lunch making supplies’ to one corner and ‘breakfast stuff’ to another. This opened up the traffic flow and gave everyone plenty of elbow room while getting things done.”