“The kitchen is the castle. This is where we spend our happiest moments and find the joy of being family.” – Mario Batali
There is something entirely refreshing and life-giving about a clean, uncluttered kitchen counter. In fact, it is one of my favorite benefits of minimalist living. It sets the tone and culture for the home. It communicates calm and order. It promotes opportunity and possibility (who enjoys cooking in a cluttered kitchen?). It saves time and promotes cleanliness.
Yet kitchen counter organization is one of the most difficult things to get started with. There are, of course, several reasons maintaining a minimalist kitchen is so hard:
- The kitchen is hard-wired as a natural gathering place for the family.
- The kitchen is physically located in a high traffic area of the home.
- The purpose of the room requires messes to be made during its use.
- The kitchen is often used as a collection area for various odds and ends (mail, etc.).
While kitchen counter organization is difficult, it is completely achievable. We have made it an important feature of our house and you can accomplish it in yours as well.
Decluttering Tips For Keeping Your Kitchen Counter Organized:
1. Remove the unnecessary.
One of the biggest causes of clutter in our homes is our tendency to put too much stuff in too little of a space. When we do, it becomes difficult to store things, find things, and access them. As a result, we dread putting things away and it becomes convenient to leave things on the counter.
Typically, the kitchen is full of this clutter. We have cupboards and shelves and drawers full of cooking utensils, gadgets, things we thought we needed, and items we purchased for one-time use.
If keeping your kitchen counters uncluttered is a problem in your home, this is the most important step you can take. Remove completely any item you no longer use. And store items used less than 3 times/year elsewhere.
2. Relocate anything that does not belong.
Kitchens are notorious for becoming collection areas for all various odds and ends. Unintentionally, they become the storing place for many of them: mail, kids’ homework, purses, keys, almost everything in your junk drawer.
Identify a new proper home for each. Then, change the culture in your home that allows them to stay there. Think of your kitchen as a Department Store Customer Service Area – items may enter there, but rarely stay. You can also extend this thinking to items you already store in your kitchen: televisions, radios, telephone books, etc.
3. Give every item a proper home.
One of the most essential steps in organizing and keeping a home clutter-free is to find a proper home for every item. Designate drawers for silverware and cookware; cupboards for plates, containers, and small appliances; and closets/shelves for food and larger, less-used appliances. After taking steps #1 and #2, you’ll find this easier than you think.
4. Store daily use appliances out of sight.
If your counters are routinely cluttered, there is a good chance you are storing many daily-use items there (toasters, coffee makers, teapots, can openers, spice racks, etc.).They are often stored on countertops for convenience’s sake.
But in reality, these items spend far more time as clutter than they do as needed instruments for food preparation. For example, 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.
Rather than allowing these appliances to take up counter space and cause distraction, find a home in an easily-accessed area. In our current home, we store the toaster, coffee-maker, and teapot in a cupboard right next to the outlet. In our previous home, they were stored in an appliance garage.
5. Change your “counter is convenient” mentality.
The fallacy of convenience is a big reason our kitchen counters stay cluttered. We tend to keep things in plain sight because we believe it makes our kitchen more convenient. As a result, our counters fill up with baking ingredients, knife racks, cutting boards, and coffee mugs.
And while it may be more convenient to readily grab those items when needed, we rarely notice the other conveniences we are sacrificing by storing them there. We move them every time we wipe the counters. We sacrifice precious prep space when we cook. And they subtly fight for our attention whenever we enter the room.
6. Finish unfinished jobs completely.
When a counter is clear and tidy, it becomes a motivation to put things away. But a cluttered counter attracts clutter… and unfinished jobs are a clutter.
Granted, some projects take more time than others, but many kitchen jobs (washing the dishes, wiping the counters, returning used items, etc.) can be completed right away before ever leaving the kitchen in the first place. For best results, if a job can be finished in less than 2 minutes, do it. Finishing tasks will do wonders for your attitude the next time you walk in.
7. Reset each evening.
If you are lucky, your kitchen gets used every day. And any room that gets used daily will need to be reset daily. That’s why it has been on my evening checklist for a number of years.
We live our lives and often get too used to them. As a result, we get used to our cluttered kitchen counters and don’t realize how freeing it can be to keep them clear. We may be reminded when we walk into a friend’s house or see a photo of a simple kitchen, but we’ve become so accustomed to the current state of ours we forget we can change.
You don’t need to live with a cluttered kitchen countertop. The solution to your kitchen’s countertop organization is indeed simpler than you think.
Image: Yasu’s Photo
Roshesh Virani says
Thanks a lot for these tips. I used the productivity tips for my office desk and it helped me increased my productivity. But was not sure about how to do the same for Kitchen counter. Loved your tips. Will definitely try to follow these tips.
Anna Salvador says
Being in culinary arts, I spend my days in the kitchen. My weakness is to wait until I get everything cooked and done before I clean up. Doing it all at once. That’s contrary to the rule in cooking. This makes me rethink of my way of doing rather than completing the task until finished. btw my boss is always so helpful and showing grace when telling me this too)
Maria Pinto says
A cleaner more organized kitchen to me also equals less or no frustration when I go in there to cook something, especially if it involves cutting up a bunch of veggies for a soup or stir fry. I want a clean countertop to place my cutting board & ample room for bowls so when I start to cook I can easily add things as needed.
Then I rarely go to bed with a sink full of dirty dishes. In my apartment I have a dishwasher but living alone I don’t need it, in fact I actually enjoy doing dishes by hand. I’ve been doing so all my life & the motion of washing & having my hands in water is very therapeutic.
JOSHUA BECKER great ideas to clean the kitchen great work keep it up
Maria Pinto says
Good comments here. Having to move things around to make space so you can easily prepare and cook food is no fun.
Joe dillon says
Can’t get wife to give this a chance. Suggestion
Try doing the organizing some time when she isn’t home. She might like the way it looks.
If she’s like me, she might be overwhelmed by the state of the kitchen and doesn’t know how to start. When I get stressed out, my executive functions diminish and I am literally unable to make a decision of what to do next, so I just…. don’t. And because I feel like a failure as a result, I cope by putting on a bit of a defiant attitude, saying I LIKE it this way, etc. Your wife may feel guilty that she can’t *get it together*, and feels like she’s letting you down. Because women are culturally conditioned to view the kitchen as their responsibility (and often sole responsibility depending on subculture or family), they may feel like they can’t ask for help. My suggestion would be for YOU to take the first step. Clean and organize the kitchen for her so she a) feels like she can breathe without a monumental task before her and b) sees what it would be like with a clear (yet functional) kitchen. If you also feel overwhelmed by the task, invest in a professional organizer who can help make the kitchen more efficient and functional for both of you.
Excellent point made about helping her. :)
Ummm, why don’t you do it then???
Ummm, maybe you could do it then???
Jessica McDonald says
“Would you be willing to let me try this out for x amount of time. I will do the initial work it would take. Are there some things you are unwilling to trial, but would be willing to trial the rest? If we don’t both like it after x time, we can return to the way it was or maybe a middle ground”
Armina Stone says
Great ideas to to keep the kitchen clean! Thanks for sharing!
Christina Garcia says
I enjoyed reading this. It makes good sense, when you look at things from a different perspective. Like the toaster scenario…3 minutes to make toast, then it’s unused for 23 hours and 57 min…lol.. very true.
I have another issue, though. My daughter has celiac disease. How do I deal with 2 toasters, and 2 waffle irons, etc. Any ideas or suggestions?
We bought a four section toaster hubby bread is used in the back 2 and me and kids never use it before that you can buy toat pockets reusable. Last about 4 months and you can make taost and toasties in it suspect you will have to keen the waffle iron though .we also have a gluten free cupboard and top shelf of freezer section for him too . suppose the toaster and waffle iron could be stored in the designated cupboard . Hope this helps .Its my junk drawers that need sorted out
Judy Johnson says
Look around the kitchen to see if you can find some items that you really don’t need and pass them off. Or find some rarely used items and give them a new home. Then you will have some room to store the extra appliances
James Kniskern says
One way to deal with your daughter’s toaster and waffle iron is to just adobt her way of eating… Then it is yours too. And then you don’t need both her items and yours. This works while you are at home, and when you eat out at restaurants and such, you can eat whatever you want.
I myself am on a low-salt, no oil, and no added sugar, plant based diet. Health reasons, genetic hypertension and high cholesterol. Family and guests eat what I cook at home, and they eat whatever they want when they go out. It works for us. My wife is thankful that she doesn’t have to do the cooking and gets to eat yummy food.
Sandra Beddow says
My daughter is also celiac so we have made our home completely gluten free. It’s not hard to do and a lot of the crackers, breads, bagels and other items can be found on shelves or in the freezer section of the grocery store. I bake with a good gluten free flour and my family can’t tell the difference. It also keeps my daughter healthier by not risking cross-contamination.
John E. says
Thank you for this value info – Time to get into shape!
Jennine Wilson says
I switched out my big coffee maker with a french press. While I do leave the french press out, it is easy to put away. My coffee tastes better and I no longer have the coffee maker taking up counter space.
Sandra Kickbusch says
Let’s go back to the purpose of a kitchen counter. I think the real problem is when “stuff” gets “dumped” on the “kitchen work space”. The problem is not the toaster or ? but the non related kitchen work space stuff. Our homes are to be functional not just a show place. Let the people that want their toasters out be out. They live there as well. I care more about keeping the dirty dishes cleaned up on a regular basis. Issues like dirty dishes are more important.
I agree. I know that clutter and flat surfaces are magnets for additional clutter, and I have fallen victim to adding extra decor that was unnecessary for a comfy home. I’ve eliminated all that, but I like having my electric kettle and my coffeemaker out. It’s convenient with my chronic pain, I have no extra cupboard space in my small kitchen, and I like the way it looks too. As you said, I live there and my home needs to work for me, not the other way around.
Catherine Black says
I must laugh along with the comments here. When I read the article, my first thought was oh, no, we have Toaster Wars at our kitchen. My husband has one, maybe two, pieces of toast every morning. No one else in the family eats toast. He refuses to put the toaster away although there is plenty of room in the cabinet below. He got into a big argument about toasters with my very sweet daughter-in-law when we visited them. She puts them away, too. He would go behind her back and put it back out. This was in her house! I see that many others have Toaster Wars from the comments. Minimalism and house maintenance are emotional issues, too. We need more posts on how to change our spouses’ minds.
When we had new granite counters put in, I decided I was finished with having a messy kitchen. What is the point of having beautiful new counter tops if they are perpetually covered by stuff left out? I put the principles in this article to work, and they were life changing for me. My kitchen counters only have two things on them: the microwave and coffee pot. Everything else – including that toaster! – gets put away when we are done. (It only takes me 10 seconds to get it out or put it away, and that 10 seconds is well worth the clear expanse of counter I get in return.) Every time I walk into the kitchen now, I feel so happy because I love what I see. Implementing these rules wasn’t hard but it has made a big difference.
Shanna Martin says
Thank you Joshuya, to giving the wonderful guide. I thought I apply it on my kitchen get to clutter free- kitchen counter.
Safinaz Jahan says
I want to say thanks from my heart for this informative articles. It’s a fact that kitchen is the heart of home. We, the foodies spend lots of time in the kitchen. So it should be more comfortable and resourceful. In this article we find some basic ideas that how we get Clutter-Free Kitchen Counter. I think we should take away the unnecessary appliances from the counter as soon as finish our task.
Thanks, nice advice. I love to read your tips kitchen. I also have article about minimalist kitchen
Mary Meyer says
Love your tips. Love a clutter free counter.
My problem is is my hubby leaves hand marks on cupboards finding things.