There is no doubt that these days the hub of the home is the kitchen. It is the place we gather to spend time with family and friends. Many of us do our main entertaining in an open floor plan that has a kitchen/family-room combination. As a result, the kitchen has become the most difficult room in the house to keep clean. Our usual organizational challenges of overflowing cabinets and exploding junk drawers are compounded by mail, toys, clothes and all sorts of clutter. If your kitchen could use some help getting organized, try this recipe for organizational success.
1. Know Your Objectives
Start by creating an organizational plan. Establish stations within your kitchen just like a restaurant does: prep area, cooking, baking and cleaning. Organize your kitchen into these four quadrants by keeping related items together in the same area.
Break the job down into sections. Try to finish one section per day. Don’t let the size of the job overwhelm you. Take it one small step at a time. Before you know it you will have finished. As the saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant? You eat it one bite at a time.”
2. Inexpensive Storage Solutions
Your storage solutions don’t have to be expensive. Check the dollar stores for plastic bins, baskets and containers. Check stores that carry overstocks, closeouts and slightly dented items for great deals on storage racks and freestanding units.
Find creative ways to reuse items you already own. Try this inexpensive storage solution for spice bottles: cover the bottom half of a shoebox with the same contact paper you used on your shelves. Fill the box with your spices and set it inside your cabinet for easy “pull-out retrieval”. If you are short on cabinet space but have plenty of wall space, try using an old bureau to store canned goods, towels or extra dishes and cookware.
Don’t forget to “nest” items inside one another. For example pots of graduating sizes can sometimes be fit one inside the other.
3. Toss out the Clutter
Get rid of what is old or that you don’t use. Toss expired herbs, yeast and baking powder. If you can’t remember the last time you used some of your cooking gadgets, why not send them off to a new home where they will be appreciated. Make a vow to not bring in any more small appliances, gadgets or knick knacks. Clear off the counters and decide what really needs to be out. If an item has no use in the kitchen it needs to be put somewhere else. Bag or box the items to be dumped, donated or given to a friend.
4. Clean It
Clean out one cabinet at a time. Wipe down the shelves. Clear and wipe down countertops. If you have tile, now is a good time to clean the grout with a degreasing solution. Replace tattered dishtowels. Replace torn or worn shelf paper. Clean out the inside and outside of the refrigerator. Clean the oven. Don’t forget to clean the top of the range and the knobs. Dust the ceiling fan. Dust the top of your cabinets and refrigerator.
5. Home Sweet Home
Every item needs its own home. When items have a designated place they tend to get put away. If they don’t have a home then they tend to get lost.
Utilize bins and baskets wherever possible to keep “like things” together and at easily accessible. Go vertical. The important concept here is that any time you use vertical space it will free up horizontal space. Utilize the empty vertical wall space in a nearby closet by installing shelves that can be used to store canned goods. Install hanging broom and mop holders. Employ hooks, pegboards, and Lazy Susans. If your counter space is at a premium, see if you can mount some of your small appliances under a cabinet.
6. Efficiency in design
Organize your kitchen for maximum efficiency. Place items near each other if they will be used together. For example: if your coffee maker sits on the counter, store the coffee cups, cream and sugar in the cabinet above it.
7. Never Let Clutter Back In
Once you have spent all that time organizing your kitchen, you’ll want to make sure that the clutter stays out. Set some time aside once a month to check for clutter buildup. Also spend a few minutes each night putting away anything that doesn’t belong in the kitchen. Nip that clutter in the bud before it takes root.
If you hadn’t already noticed, the first letter of each rule spells out the word kitchen. It’s a handy little way for you to remember each rule.