Tips to get rid of kitchen clutter

Emily Farber
Emily Farber
Published on July 9, 2019

The junk drawer. Love it or hate it, most of us have one, and most of the time it’s in the kitchen. NPR’s Linton Weeks says they serve “as a Rorschachian reflection of your life.” Mine is full of pens, nails, a lonely Lego or two, batteries of unknown charge, random keys and small tools.

While the garage is the most cluttered room in the house, according to a
Moen® Consumer and Market Insights Group survey of homeowners, the kitchen comes in second, tied with the home office.

Surveyed homeowners complained of kitchen clutter such as mail cluttering the countertops and small electrical appliances hanging around, taking up space. Kitchen clutter and organization is a hot button for many because the kitchen is the heart of the home and where people spend a lot of time.

Weeks goes on to describe the kitchen junk drawer as “The drawer
of detritus. The has-been bin. That roll-out repository where you toss your
odds and ends.” And, that’s ok, until the detritus, the odds and ends and the
has-been start cluttering the kitchen counters. Keep the junk contained to the junk drawer. There is peace to be found when gazing at wide open (and clean) kitchen counter space! Let’s look at some ways to bring order to the kitchen as you cut down on your kitchen clutter.

Acceptable clutter

According to the Moen® survey, some items are considered acceptable kitchen clutter. These include dish towels, cutting boards, dish soap, scrub brushes and those small electrical appliances that we often leave out on the counter. If your house is on the market, even these things should be put away when not in use. Make it easy on yourself and get an inexpensive caddy to hold these things that can easily be tucked out of sight under the kitchen sink.

Small appliances, if not used daily, should also be put away, especially if your home is on the market. Not only does doing so make the room look less cluttered but it helps free up valuable counter space. When selling your house, one goal is to leave potential buyers with the impression that there is LOADS of space, and they will live a pristine and organized life (just like you), if they purchase the home and make it their own.

If you house is not on the market, some professional organizers say that if you use something every day, like the toaster, it deserves a spot on the counter or you’ll drive yourself batty by having to drag it out every morning. On the flip side, if you make toast every morning for breakfast, it’ll take roughly 3 minutes to toast your bread. After that, the toaster will sit unused for the next 23 hours and 57 minutes. You use it far less than you think you do, so put it away and clear the space.

Where to put everything

Of course, you’re going to need to pull everything out of every cupboard to get this project done right. Then, you’ll need to figure out the most organized manner of putting everything back (sometimes things get worse before they get better…).

Consider author and baking expert Alice Medrich’s description of how to allocate kitchen space—it’s very real estate-ish.

She divides kitchen items among three storage areas and calls them:

  • Prime real estate: which includes the
    counters, utensil crocks and cabinets that are within easy reach
  • Suburbs: a pantry or closet that is
    located close to the kitchen
  • Outlands: think of these as the rural
    areas and they include the garage, basement and those shelves or cupboards that you need a stepladder to reach.

She suggests starting with the prime real estate first so you get some instant gratification. Wherever you decide to start, you’ll be putting things away according to how often they are used. 

Seldom-used items should either be stored in another room or placed in the back of the cupboard or low cupboards you practically have to crawl into. You might want to install shelves or purchase organizers to store some of the more decorative but lightly-used items.

Those appliances you use once a month can go toward the middle of the cupboard and anything you use frequently should go in the front.

Of course, don’t be afraid to say goodbye the the things you haven’t used in over a year. Donate or sell, when possible to keep functional goods out of the landfill. 

Make your storage space work harder

A pantry in the kitchen is a major bonus and most of my home-buying clients agree! The roomier the better, but even a small pantry can be put to good use.

The broad “zones” used in the pantry might be baking items, pasta and rice, breakfast items and snacks. Organize each of these zones by placing seldom-used food items toward the back of the zone and those used daily in the front. The walls of the pantry, if it’s large enough, may also be a great place to hang bulky cleaning items like brooms or dust mops.

For additional pantry organizing tips, visit Woman’s Day, Better Homes & Gardens and HGTV online.

Skitterphoto / Pixabay
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