Kitchen counters are magnetic—or at least, they seem that way.
The day you move into your new space, you think about all the new room you now have in your kitchen. After time goes by, you can barely find space to make a sandwich. Here are a few tips on how to clear countertop chaos and keep kitchen space organized and clean.
It’s all the fault of those magnetic countertops. First they attract this appliance and that, a little bit of home decor, a block of knives, a few canisters, a cutting board, a stack of mail, papers from school, bills to pay, condiment packets from restaurants, reminders of errands you need to run, several pacifiers, a rain hat and one shoe.
As a professional organizer, you can bet I’ve found nearly everything on a kitchen counter, from a baseball bat to a napping cat. In general, no one wants it that way. They’d really rather it look a lot more like it did on their first day in their home. Most of all, they want to be able to really use their kitchen.
It really is possible to clear countertop clutter and keep your counters much neater. I’ve got some motivation and a few tricks you can use.
Imagine setting your dining room table with your good dishes and a beautiful centerpiece of cut flowers. It’s highly unlikely you’d next plop down the day’s mail on top of it and then throw on a book bag and handful of ketchup packets. It’s just too pretty to mess up.
That philosophy works well as a decluttering technique. Anything that is pretty and appealing to you is going to provide motivation for keeping it that way.
A mini-makeover might help you get started down a path to a clutter-free kitchen. Keep it simple. Remember, you don’t want to add more clutter. Add a pretty backsplash or a fresh coat of paint. RoomMates StickTILES make the perfect DIY backsplashes that easily stick on for a fun, fast and affordable update. Featured above are RoomMates Blue Mosaic StickTILES Peel and Stick Backsplash. Treat yourself to some windowsill pots of fresh herbs or a vase of flowers. Buy some new pretty hand towels, pot holders and good-smelling hand soap. The little touches really help.
Sometimes, the things on the countertop are there because you just don’t know what to do with them. Many of today’s homes offer an open-concept design. While having fewer walls is inviting, it also means less upper cabinets and sometimes less storage. This can lead to things sitting out on the counter.
Think about how you might add storage in the way of a moveable kitchen island, a kitchen cart or a utility table. This would allow you to move small appliances to the cart or create a work area, such as a baking center or lunch packing area, and free up your counter space.
As a rule of thumb, when deciding on items to put away and items to leave out, consider how often you use them. If it’s something you use daily, such as a coffee pot, then you should leave it out to make life easy for yourself. If you use it only a few times weeks, such as a blender or mixer, then move it off the counter to a kitchen cart or cabinet. If you use it seldom, definitely put it away.
Clearing the countertop is a great time to look at organization. If you take things off the counter, you have to have somewhere to go with them. Consider options such as moving knives out of a countertop knife block into a drawer. Move utensils to hang from a rail. Use wall space to hold a spice rack.
Other ideas include using the inside of cabinet and pantry doors and taking the time to pare out duplicates or items you simply never use at all.
When you are deciding where to put things, store items that you seldom use but need to keep, such as holiday cookie cutters, either up high or down low in the back of a cabinet. Keep easy-to-reach space for more things more frequently used.
Keep It Up
It’s one thing to declutter your space but another to keep it that way. It really is possible to do it with a few tricks and routines.
- Get a decorative basket or container to hold papers upright. Use it to collect school papers and mail so they are not all over the counter.
- Add a bowl to hold keys, wallets and sunglasses. Everyone can find their things this way.
- Make it a routine to turn the dishwasher on every morning. This way it can be emptied that night as dinner cooks and reloaded. This keeps dishes from piling up in the sink and spreading to the countertop.
- Wipe down counters nightly after doing dishes. This is a good way to keep your kitchen sanitary and you’ll keep it decluttered as you pick things up to wipe.
No matter how piled-up your counters get, all it takes is a little time and effort to get them organized. Soon you’ll have plenty of space to prepare meals for yourself and your family and enjoy your kitchen.
Lea Schneider is a “less-clutter-is-better” home organizational adviser who write tips online for the Home Depot. Lea’s goal is to help homeowners keep their kitchens and other rooms organized and in tip-top shape. A selection of kitchen carts, including styles referenced by Lea, can be researched on the Home Depot website.