How To Take Control of Your Kitchen Part 1: Countertops

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Today I will be sharing how I have started to take control of our kitchen.

The control of the kitchen has been a long time coming, and it is not 100% done. But I now feel that I am in a place where I know how to get the kitchen in shape relatively quickly at any given time. And it feels amazing!

Cleared Countertops Make Me Smile

It is pretty standard to have “stuff” all over the kitchen countertops: toaster ovens, blenders, mail, sticky notes, keys, random papers, random tubes of chapstick, medicines…need I go on?

I wouldn’t diagnose myself as having OCD, just a love for clutter-free spaces for both spiritual and very practical reasons. A clutter-free area feels so zen to me. Like the feeling you get when you walk into a beautiful hotel suite. I want to feel like I am in a gorgeous, clutter-free hotel when I’m at home. Excepting a few drawers and closets that still need some work, I do!

On the practical side, it is so nice to be able to pull out all the ingredients for a recipe and be able to spread everything out on a countertop without having to do battle with the junk mail or some keys that no one knows what they go to. It also makes cleanup so much easier. Who wants to have to dust crummies off the junk mail after making dinner? No thank you!

With the exception of my new, beautiful Kitchen Aid mixer that was a Christmas gift this year, which is practically decoration as well as practical, all our small kitchen appliances and gadgets are stored in the cabinets. I will admit that this wasn’t originally my idea and at first I resisted, but now would have it no other way. Yes, I pull the Nutri-Bullet down from the cabinet a few times a day, but it doesn’t weigh much, and the rest of the time I have that space on the counter cleared for food prep.

Other than that, we have one decorative centerpiece on the island, and on the counters that we don’t use for food prep on one side of the kitchen, a picnic basket (for storage and decoration), a wine rack, a small container for wine-related tools and accessories, and a small plant.

Stuff, Clutter, & Emotions

I believe that there is an emotional component to clutter, or even just having things out. I think bare surfaces bring an initial level of discomfort that can prevent us from keeping a space free of clutter. It can at first feel uncomfortable, empty, and almost sterile to not have stuff everywhere. I know, because those were the feelings I experienced when I initially considered the prospect of not having a toaster or a blender out on the counter at all times.

As a person who grew up with a toaster and a blender and plenty of other stuff on the countertops at all times, and carried on the tradition in my own apartments, I can say that I LOVE having cleared countertops, and wouldn’t go back. Completely (almost) cleared countertops might not be your thing, and that is totally fine. But I think it is something worth considering if you find yourself shuffling things without a home around countertops day after day and have ever wondered if there is a better way.

There is.

Secrets to Cleared Countertops

If you are interested in the concept, below I share my tips for getting to a place of cleared countertops.

1. De-Clutter Cabinets and Drawers

If you have things all over the counters, that is probably an indication that the cabinets and drawers are packed, if not overflowing. This step will not be easy. It is never easy to get rid of things, especially considering all the emotions we assign to physical objects. When you are trying to decide whether to get rid of or keep the 20th mug, consider what would make you feel better: having that mug, or having more space in your life?

2. Designate Cabinets and Drawers for Specific Purposes (& stick to them)

Most people have specific places for specific things in their kitchens and keep them consistent. Now that you have created space in those cabinets and drawers, you can start considering which things that are currently out on the countertops can be put away for good, only to see the light of day when they are actually in use. It might at first feel painful, but remember how great it will feel to be able to have a whole cleared surface when it comes time to make lasagna!

3. Develop a Storage & Processing System for the Clutter

Junk mail, keys, random papers. Do they really need to be out on the counters and table 24/7? One of my favorite organization tricks in our new kitchen is that my fiancé and I both have our own drawer and cabinet dedicated to our “stuff.” We have a huge kitchen, so I realize this might not be an option for everyone, but the concept can be applied in any space.

Although I try to get through the mail as soon as I get it, sometimes that isn’t possible. For anything that comes into our lives that we don’t have time to deal with right now, or projects that we are currently working on that might get left out on the table, we can both put each other’s stuff in the other person’s cabinet or drawers, and we know where our stuff is.

Of course, no one wants to create more junk drawers, and developing a system to go through that queue of stuff is another topic for another day. But it is so nice to have a system to put the stuff away, and keep the counters and the kitchen sparkling!

Taking Control of the Rest of the Kitchen

Having already had the countertops cleared, my main battle in recent times has been figuring out how to keep the process of dishwashing flowing, as well as regularly cleaning out and organizing the refrigerator.

Next week I will go through my new system for processing the dishes and keeping the refrigerator clean and organized, which also makes me so happy! I still have to do the freezer and the pantry, and will share my results once those areas get under control.

As I said at the beginning of the week, I am really starting to tune in to what I can be doing to make my life function more smoothly. There is so much to enjoy in a day in a clean, organized home that I don’t want to miss. Having a clean, clutter-free home all the time, not just when guests arrive, has been a goal of mine for quite some time. While I have managed to take control of the clutter for the most part, I am starting to see spaces where I can make my life even more functional and peaceful.

I have thought for a long time that once an area of life gets under control, it is almost effortless to maintain it that way. It is figuring out how to get to the maintenance phase that can seem overwhelming. But it is totally possible!

What are your tricks for keeping the kitchen organized? Please share your thoughts!


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