4/26/10

How I beat kitchen clutter once and for all


In the words of Louis Parrish,

"If you can organize your kitchen,

you can organize your life."

It seems that people struggle with organizing their kitchens more than any other room in the house. Perhaps it's those cute little gadgets that seem to call your name when you walk into Bed Bath & Beyond or maybe, in the sake of saving money, we talk ourselves into buying 4 gallon jars of tomato sauce and a case of creamed corn at Costco. Regardless of the reason, you can turn your kitchen into the organized, clutter-free space that you've probably been dreaming about for years (well, if you're like me and dream about decor and cleaning).

Here is my small but perfectly organized kitchen-

Here is how I got there-

1. De-clutter. Everything. That means every single drawer, cabinet, pantry shelf etc.
Throw out old, expired food and spices. Condense your four bags of flour into one large, sealed container. Set aside your avocado peeler (unless your a guacamole fanatic), extra sets of measuring cups, broken or chipped plates, mismatched pieces of silverware etc and take them to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army.

Helpful Hint- If you have several mismatched plates and serving pieces, you could create a plate wall, similar to the one I just did in our dining room-
                           

Helpful Hint- Use an extra saucer as a soap holder in a bath or by the kitchen sink-

real simple


2.  Put everything in it's proper place. What's the proper place, you ask? It's what makes the most sense to the function of the kitchen. Cups should be placed closest to the sink or fridge. Baking dishes, pots/pans are put closest to the oven. Serving pieces or utensils that are not used on a regular basis can be in high cabinets or low shelves that aren't as easily accessible. Plates should be stacked by size and type. All salad plates together, dinner plates together etc. This makes finding things and putting them away much easier.


We use our salad plates and bowls most frequently, so those are put on the easiest to reach bottom shelf. Dinner plates are above them, and our less frequently used pasta bowls and cups & saucers are on the highest shelf.


3. Utilize every square inch. Our new construction neighborhood has six models to choose from, we went with the floor plan that was the cheapest worked best for us. However, it also has the smallest kitchen. To compensate, I've made good use of every nook and cranny. One area that is often over-looked is under the sink.
I purchased 2 organizers from Walmart.com to install on the inside of either cabinet door. The ones I bought aren't available anymore but you can purchase similar ones HERE for just $4.99.

This roll-out bin from BB&B holds trash bags, detergent and extra dish soap.

Helpful Hint- Put rubber, shelf-liner below your kitchen sink to protect the wood if your kitchen sink ever leaks.

Our cookbooks and boardgames are kept in the cabinet of our attached island.


Our silverware is placed in the drawer closest to the dishwasher.
We have a silverware sorter similar to the one above, courtesy of Organize.com.

Helpful Hint- When loading the dishwasher, put all forks in one section, spoons in the other etc. When you go to unload, you can grab each section and put it away without having to sort them.


4. Bare down to the essentials. People survived for many generations without quesadilla makers, smores makers, hot dog cookers, separate brownie pans etc. You can survive without them too. Justin and I are able to cook wonderful meals with just a toaster, microwave, oven and stove. We just recently purchased an electric can opener (yep, we have our moments of living large). Oh and a great wine opener or two IS an essential.

This is our gadget drawer, everything we need fits in here.


5. Limit what is left out on your counters. The less knick-knacks, canisters, boxes and baskets you have on your counter, the easier it is to keep clean and the larger your counter space will appear. I have enough room in our drawers to store our serving utensils. However for those of you that don't have this space, a utensil holder set next to the stove is a great idea.
This keeps your utensils together and organized without taking up precious counter space. Found HERE.

Helpful Hint-DIY Magnetic Spice Cabinet Door Holder. We received 3 over sized spice holders as wedding gifts and to be honest, they all went back. They took up too much space on our counter top and didn't fit in our pantry. I'm in the process of completing a magnetic spice rack on the back of one of our cabinet doors, similar to Dusty's at AllThingsG&;D

This containers can also be used on the side of the fridge as well.


6. Attack your pantry with abandon. Pantries, even small ones, are an excellent asset to any kitchen. After you have decluttered, you should be left with food and baking supplies that are fresh and that you will actually use. Now, sort according to your lifestyle. For those with children who can help themselves to snacks, place snacks on the bottom shelf where it is easier to reach. Remember to keep cleaning supplies or chemicals out of their reach. For dieters, place your 'cheat' foods on the top shelf or dispose of entirely.

Our pantry is organized as such-
1st Shelf (bottom)-Holds barbecue tools, dog treats
2nd Shelf-Baking supplies, breakfast foods
3rd Shelf- Snacks, canned goods
4th Shelf-Cleaning supplies, paper goods
Top shelf- Tablecloths, extra serving pieces, formal china


Helpful Hint- Use a label maker to label each shelf inside your pantry (ex: breakfast, snacks, canned food etc) This makes it clear to any family member where everything goes and you can easily spot items that are not in their proper place.

You can double your pantry space with something like this-

for just $24. Found HERE.

Other good options for maximizing pantry or cabinet space are-

Plastic bag holder, found HERE.

We have one in our pantry and it helps keep all those plastic bags confined. We try to remember to bring our own reusable bags to the store but sometimes we forget:( This helps us reuse the plastic bags that we do bring home.


Bakeware/Lid Holder

I recently purchased something similar to the one above and no longer have to scrounge around trying to find my muffin pan or what lid goes to what pot. Keeps my cabinets organized and my sanity intact (for the most part). Found HERE.

Another great option for the back of a pantry door is this-

This mop and broom holder keeps the items off the floor and out of the way. Found HERE for just $9.99.

Helpful Hint-Avoid buying many things in bulk, if you don't have the space to store it all. It isn't saving yourself any money if you have to toss items you don't use or cram items into your pantry where they sit for months forgotten.


7. Clean out the fridge and pantry the day before your trash day. Every Monday night, I go through our fridge and throw out any to-go containers that didn't get eaten or any produce that's less than fresh. I also double check our pantry for bags of chips with only crumbs remaining. I then recycle/throw in the garbage can for Tuesday's morning's trash pick-up day.

8. Don't let mail/coupons/menus sit out on the kitchen counter. When we first moved into our house, I'd grab our mail, come inside and set it on our counter. It would inevitably sit there for days. In order to be more green and rid ourselves of all the extra paper piling up around us, we now have paperless billing for ALL of our bills. It was free to do this, easy and I'm still able to view, track bills online. This has cut down tremendously on the amount of mail we get. I also stop by our recycling bin on the way into the house and dump any advertisements/flyers that we don't want. This way no mail gets into our house that we don't need. I place cards/invites on the side of our fridge, write important dates on our chalkboard wall and don't have to worry about a mess on our counters.


9. Don't forget to have some fun. Cleaning may not be the most thrilling activity in the world but it doesn't have to be horrible either. The thing about organization is that if you do it right the first time, you won't have to do again. Let your kids help sort cookie tins or Tupperware. Play some music and have your spouse help too.
A few personal touches like this cute little chalkboard stand can serve a valuable purpose (such as displaying shopping lists or menu), while adding a sense of fun.

Write tonight's dinner recipe down or your grocery list. (This would be very easy to DIY and much cheaper too!)

Helpful Hint-Place this suction ring holder by the kitchen sink to hold your wedding ring while washing dishes or cleaning. No more worrying about your ring falling down the disposal.

Just $2.99 for piece of mind. Found HERE.

I'll leave you with my new favorite piece of art, that would be perfect in any cute, clean, cutter-free kitchen-


I hope these steps help some of you get organized! Do you have any helpful suggestions for keeping kitchen clutter at bay?

-S

8 comments:

  1. Great Post Suzanne!

    I'm an OCD clutter-free freak, but you gave some great ideas that I still haven't yet tried, like the magnetic spice rack on the backside of the door.

    Also you mentioned putting down rubber under the kitchen sink, we actually used some leftover linoleum from one of our bathrooms under there - its so easy to clean and like you said protects the wood. (and it was free!)

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  2. Great post today! Good wisdom!
    I think your kitchen is HUGE! Mine is literally the size of a small walk-in closet.... : )

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  3. Great post and great tips! I'm pretty OCD when it comes to organization but I LOVE your tips! Our kitchen is literally laid out EXACTLY like yours, save the pantry wall. Our pantry is basically a large cupboard... would love to have a larger one!! *sigh* At the next house... =)

    I also LOVED the spice rack idea. I have a spice rack that sits on my counter now but I'm not sure about it... takes up space and collects lots of dust though I do use it quite often. =) I'm not contemplating a magnetic option! =)

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  4. @E Hayes-Genius idea with the linoleum! I've got some spare pieces from our last house that I think I'll use for under our sink in the guest bathroom. Thanks:)

    @Jenny-I think our kitchen looks bigger in photos than in real life:) I hear ya on the tiny kitchen space though. I've lived in plenty of places with closet-sized kitchens. Just means a bigger challenge!

    @The Youngs-Let me know if you complete the magnetic spice rack. I'm excited to get it all in place and to get rid of our big, clumsy spice rack we have now.

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  5. Thanks for all the tips! I have a very clean kitchen but it is also very small so you had lots of great ideas to help with that!

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  6. great post! you give me incentive to clean out my junk drawers:)

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  7. The day had begun with Joe and I spending some time with the groomsmen and my fathers and brother at the mall for tux try-ons. We met at 11 am but didn’t walk out of the store until 12:45, just in time to grab sit-down lunch at a restaurant in the mall. Afterward we visited Victoria’s Secret because I just HAD to check out the new St. Louis Cardinals clothing line introduced at VS where naturally I took my time shopping and trying things on. Then we headed over to the Archiver’s scrapbook store to tackle the task of choosing our wedding stationery. I’d been waiting for months to visit that one specific store that carries a unique line of wedding paper and I’d always forewarned Joe that it would take a long time to finalize our selections so I was a little irritated that he wanted to leave the store so quickly. “Can we just pick out this paper tomorrow?” he pleaded (which really should have served as clue number one that he was rushing me for a reason). “No, this is what we came here to do and we’re not going to put it off!” I answered sternly. Besides, it was only 2:30 pm and in my mind, we had plenty of time to make it back to the house to change into something nice before the get-together at my grandparents’ house. Feeling a little frustrated that the store didn’t have everything we were looking for, I finally let Joe convince me to just purchase a few sample packages and then head straight to my grandparent’s house since my dad kept calling and saying they were all waiting for our arrival before starting the BBQ pit. The fact that the whole party would be waiting on Joe and I should have been clue number two for me, but I was oblivious.

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  8. The presence of any spice rack in kitchen helps in organizing various spices that are needed for cooking. this also makes the are looks better and cleaner.

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Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Comments from my sweet readers make my day! You can always email me at scsa25@gmail.com if you prefer as well. love, S