There are few places in the home that collect more clutter than the kitchen.
Junk mail, groceries, backpacks, and contents from emptied pockets routinely add to the everyday collection of dirty plates, coffee mugs, and cooking supplies. Keeping a kitchen clutterfree requires action and resolve.
But there is something entirely refreshing about a clean, uncluttered kitchen. It is inviting. It brightens the day. And it offers endless possibilities that any number of meals or conversations can take place in it.
You’re probably a busy person. It seems most people are these days. But let me try to convince you of a project that will bring beauty and possibility to your home and family: Minimizing your kitchen.
Consider these seven reasons to declutter your kitchen this weekend:
1. You will eat healthier (and less). Did you know that a cluttered kitchen can be a cause of overeating? Brian Wansink of Cornell University and his colleagues recently conducted a study to better understand how cluttered, chaotic environments—such as messy kitchens—influence snacking behavior. Among their subjects, those in the messy kitchen were more likely to overeat and tended to consume twice as many calories from junk food as those in the tidy kitchen.
2. It sets culture for the entire home. The kitchen serves as your home’s control center—all action seems to run through it. As a result, the kitchen sets tone and culture. A clutterfree kitchen communicates calm and order, promotes opportunity and possibility, saves time, and promotes cleanliness. A tidy kitchen serves as an example to everyone else in the home.
3. Cluttered counters contribute to physical stress. Researchers at UCLA discovered a link between high stress hormone levels and a high density of household objects. Clutter increases stress levels as physical objects compete for our visual attention. And the more physical distractions in our environment, the more stress we feel.
4. It’s more enjoyable to cook. The kitchen serves a number of purposes in most homes: gathering place for conversations, quiet place for homework, or an ideal location for art projects. But the primary purpose will always be food preparation—meals, snacks, nourishment for our bodies. A minimized kitchen, with room to move and chop and bake and boil, is always a more enjoyable space to work in than any cluttered environment.
5. Clutter attracts clutter. When a space in our home becomes a collection site for “stuff,” more and more “things” begin to make their way to it. Think: junk drawers, basements, closets. Countertops too often serve the same purpose. When we allow them to become cluttered with items that don’t belong, more and more odds and ends collect. The only way to stop this accumulation is to remove as much as possible.
6. You home will be healthier. There is another point that needs to be made here. A messy kitchen attracts germs, dirt, and impurities on surfaces or objects. I realize there is a difference between cluttered and messy, but one usually leads to the other.
7. A tidy kitchen allows you to take every advantage of tomorrow. Mornings can be tough—especially if you wake up and still have to wrestle with yesterday’s mess. That’s no way to start your day and it certainly doesn’t allow you to make the most of it. A tidy, decluttered, minimized kitchen in the morning serves to remind you that the day ahead serves you, not the other way around.
If you want to create an environment that encourages cleanliness, health, focus, and calm, here are four steps to get you started:
1. Remove duplicates. Look inside drawers, cabinets, and closets for duplicates. Most homes contain an overabundance of cooking items: spatulas, measuring cups, bowls, coffee mugs. Removing duplicates is an easy way to free up space without needing to question any item’s usefulness.
2. Relocate large or rarely used items. If there are items taking up space in your kitchen that are rarely used (twice/year or less) look for a new spot in the home to store them—the basement or back of the pantry, for example. Particularly look at large items. Moving items you use only once/year to a new place in your home will free up more valuable space that you use every single day.
3. Challenge your assumptions about how many kitchen tools you actually need. Mark Bittman at the New York Times once argued that you can equip any kitchen to prepare almost any meal for $200. Here’s his list of kitchen essentials. Consider this list when deciding which tools in your kitchen are truly essential and which are not.
4. Clear your countertops. After completing steps 1-3, you’ll be surprised at how much out-of-sight storage space becomes available in cabinets and drawers. Use that newfound space to free up countertops. Trust me, you’ll love the new clean, uncluttered look and you’ll find it easier to clean as well
There are any number of household chores you can tackle this weekend. I just happen to think minimizing your kitchen is one of the most beneficial.