Over the weekend, Roger and I had my step-daughter, Amanda, and her boyfriend Shaun, over for dinner and a movie. Both these kids are over at our house on a pretty regular basis, so Amanda was understandably taken aback when she walked into our kitchen.
“Wow! It’s so clean!”
“Amanda!” Shaun was a little shocked at Amanda’s comment.
Amanda backpedaled just a bit, “No, I know it’s always clean,” (which, by the way, God bless her for thinking that…) “But it’s more, I don’t know, clear?”
I knew exactly what she meant. I’d spent the first part of our weekend taking a critical eye to the kitchen and why I didn’t like it anymore. And now, she was seeing the results.
I love a clear counter and an uncluttered kitchen. I’ve written about how to do just that in The Get Yourself Organized Project book. But over the past several months, our lives, and our kitchen, have taken a dramatic turn, and the cluttered counters were showing the results.
- We added a juicer. As I’ve recently had gastric sleeve surgery, I have to be careful to get as many vitamins into me as possible in as little food as possible. One of the things we’ve purchased is a Breville Juicer (like the one in the movie, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead). Now we are juicing away and Roger has become a real mix master making great combinations. But let’s be clear – that puppy takes up a fair amount of space on the kitchen counter.
- We’ve upgraded our blender. Roger and I spent a lot of time deciding between a Vitamix and Ninja blender. In our case, the Ninja won. (We have a trusted friend who swears by his, but I’ve heard equally great things about the Vitamix.) Since my whole goal in life seems to be getting enough protein, I now blend up fruit smoothies and add loads of protein powder to get what I need each day.
- We updated our rice cooker. Our last cooker was a wedding gift – from my first marriage. (20 years ago.) While it still cooked white rice like a champ, Roger and I now eat only brown rice and it would fail each time. Our new Aroma rice cooker rocks the brown rice every single time.
All of these appliances, along with our standing mixer, toaster oven, slow cooker, bread machine, knife block and coffee maker were cluttering up our counters and making it impossible to function in our kitchen. I got to the point where I started to dread cooking, and wanted to avoid the kitchen all together. I knew I needed to get ruthless in my kitchen declutter. Here are the things I did to get the “stuff” under control.
- Remember that your kitchen counter is your most valuable square footage in your home. No other area is used as much, and ever item on there needs to earn the right to stay.
- Under-mount whenever possible. Our microwave is mounded under our cabinets, and so are the CD player and paper towel rack. All of these save valuable inches of counter space.
- If you have a small kitchen, only keep what you use daily on the counters. The old wisdom is to keep what you use weekly, but if you want to have an easier time cooking and cleaning up, and space is at a premium, get ruthless. Now the only things on our counter are the coffee maker, coffee flavorings, the knife block, spices, and the toaster oven. Everything else is stored under the butcher block in the kitchen.
- Pitch what you don’t use. My friend Cheri has a few of these Presto Pizza Ovens. Cheri is a teacher at a sleep away school and she and her husband love to have the students over to make their own pizza nights. I was tempted to buy one because the seem so cool, but it would be another thing for me to store, move, and clean. Makes perfect sense for Cheri – not so for me. Get rid of all those appliances you used one and never saw the light of day again. The meat slicer, the George Foreman, the chocolate fountain. If you are going to keep your fondue pot for your annual New Year’s Eve “Fun-do” celebration, and space is valuable, store it outside of the kitchen with your turkey platter and Christmas dishes.
- Use what you have. I love my Keurig Coffee Maker that my kids all went together and got me for Mother’s Day a few years ago. As soon as I got it, I went out and got the accessories that went with it – including the holder for all the little coffee pods. While it was convenient to have all the pods sticking out where I could see them, I didn’t like how it looked in my kitchen. When I started to clear away my extras in the kitchen, I realized I had three beautiful canisters that I wasn’t using because they would have just taken up more space on the counter. I put all of my pods into the biggest canister, and got rid of the holder I didn’t like. Now when I walk into my kitchen, I only see things that I love. (Well, except that half of my appliances are stainless steel, and half are white – we’re in transition.)
Now that my kitchen is clutter-free, I actually don’t resist going in there to prep a meal or wipe down the counters. Since I have less stuff to move, I actually ENJOY cooking again. That is worth getting rid of every unused pasta maker on the planet.
I would love to hear in the comments below how you’ve simplified your kitchen – what have you gotten rid of, what have you simplified? What appliance have you learned to live without?
She and her husband Roger are the parents of four young adults in San Jose, CA. When she’s not dating her husband or hanging out with her puggle Jake, Kathi is speaking at retreats, conferences and women’s events across the US.