I tackled my kitchen with the same ferociousness I did my clothing. I am sitting here trying to come up with a 3 point plan or a 10 point plan on how to declutter your kitchen. The thing is, you just have to want it.
By the time I started in on my kitchen I had seen the benefits of owning less in our bedrooms. I passionately wanted that in every room of my house. With that thought in mind I just started in, cabinet by cabinet. I removed everything that I didn’t use, even if I could come up with a reason why I may need it one day. If it didn’t serve a REAL purpose NOW or in the next 365 days it was gone.
It doesn’t matter if you have an open floor plan or an isolated kitchen you can temporarily hide from, kitchen clutter will catch up with you. Our counters used to be constantly littered with everything from appliances to vitamins to a mound of fruit and bread. Our old definition of a clean kitchen was when everything was “neatly” stacked along the walls. I had come to terms with the fact that this was as good as it was going to get in our home.
We were on the verge of adding extra cabinets or even moving. No matter how hard we tried we couldn’t keep stuff from accumulating on the counters. When we entertained we would simply pack everything up off of the counters and move it to the laundry room so it would be out of site. For those few hours it was like I was on vacation from my chaos. Within 24 hours we were back to the same old, same old.
Things are different now!
I did not revolutionize our kitchen with a new organization system or by simply decluttering. We had to go big. We had to own less. I am now able to live every day with a clutter free kitchen and room to spare.
Here are some of the strategies that directed my steps as I tackled my kitchen. I hope they can help you stay focused and motivated as you journey with me toward a more simplified but abundant life.
Really, if you only do one thing, do this. As I started looking through my drawers, I realized how many items I had with the sole purpose of cutting things. I have a block set with multiple sizes of knives. I started to think about why I also had an apple slicer, cheese slicer, avocado slicer, Star Wars shaped sandwich cutter and a pizza slicer? They all had a purpose, but wouldn’t a knife accomplish the same job. In the spirit of simplifying the process of cutting food, I had inadvertently made life more complicated. I got rid of most of those items…though the pizza slicer stays! That thing can cut kids food in record time.
Muuuuuggggssss….Do I need to say more? Oh my word did I have a lot of mugs. With our place settings came matching mugs that were too small to drink a solid cup of coffee out of. Paul used one a day for espresso, but that’s it! I got rid of all but three. (For the record Paul made me keep three. I thought one was sufficient). I kept just a handful of mugs for entertaining, but only the ones that were my absolute favorites.
I had enough platters to serve 5 turkeys at the same time. I only kept what I knew I would use in one big Thanksgiving meal and donated the rest. I found there was no real reason to keep extra platters. They just took up an awkward amount of space and made it difficult to find what I really needed. Consider what servingware you really use and get rid of what you don’t.
Be honest & realistic about what you really use
We had chopsticks. Though they take up very little space it was just one more thing creating clutter in my silverware drawer. We never used them and there was no need to try and start now.
I had a set of 12 dessert plates that were just adorable. However, when I hosted, I either forgot about them, chose to use my more accessible everyday plates, or we whipped out the paper plates (I usually ended going with Option C). I have had those plates since we got married 13 years ago, but I have probably used them 5 times. They were hard to part with initially out of principle, but I truly don’t miss them at all.
What do you have that you just don’t use? China or multiple sets of plates that you never use? Do you have pie pans, but have never made a pie? Do you own a fondue set that is simply collecting dust? Do you have a juicer and hate all things juice? Be honest! It’s ok to let it go. Sell it or donate it and then borrow it from a friend if you one day need it.
Just before minimalism became my mantra, I was looking at purchasing a springform pan. My friend has the BEST raspberry coffee cake recipe that calls for a springform pan. This pan really isn’t very expensive, but the odds of me making this cake more than 1 time a year is slim.
Before, I would have just purchased the pan and almost never used it. I would have added it to my collection of cake pans, cursing it as I had to dig around it to get to the pans I use regularly. Eventually, I would have moved it to a spot in the basement to wait until I one day needed to make another raspberry coffee cake.
I now intend to call my friend to borrow her pan when I want to make this cake. I will gladly return the favor with items I own. Why are we not doing more pan sharing? We won’t starve if we don’t have every type of pan and appliance accessible at all times.
Take a deeper look at every cabinet…spices, cookbooks, gadgets, towels, Gladware. What are you keeping just because you may one day need it? The joy I have found in a minimalist kitchen far outweighs the illusion of peace of mind that came from holding on to everything. There is no real security in accumulation.
Create a space for the seasonal & large items if needed
We make Christmas cookies every Christmas. I love baking and decorating cakes and cupcakes for birthdays. My instant pot is huge and will not physically fit in any of my cabinets. Large items and items we don’t use regularly can be moved out of the kitchen.
Careful now! This is not an excuse to hold on to stuff. Remember to continue being honest about what you need. Keep in mind that your kitchen may be large enough to hold all that you need.
I simply have one half empty shelf at the bottom of my basement stairs where I now store my cake decorating gun, my round cake pans, my Instant Pot, and my Christmas cookie cutters. I use this strategy to create space in my kitchen to easily find the stuff I need regularly.
I did not buy a new shelf for this, but relocated it from the back of my basement. There it sat for 13 years covered in items we NEVER used. I thought I was being responsible by keeping it all. It was good stuff. Some of it was even unopened wedding gifts. Getting rid of it all seemed so ungrateful before.
With those items off to find new homes, I was able to use this shelf in a practical way. Every time I go downstairs to get an item from the shelf or return one, I look it over to make sure everything on that shelf truly needs to be there. Honesty and intention are necessary to thwart future accumulation.
Wash dishes or run the dishwasher daily
We load and run our dishwasher before bed and unload it every morning. This keeps us from needing more than we actually need. It’s as simple as that.
I now know where everything is and can grab it quickly. I am specific and intentional about what I keep out on my counter. Sure, it regularly looks like chaos while I’m cooking or after my kids eat cereal at the counter. My littlest still opens all of the cupboards and pulls stuff out all over the floor. That is simply part of living life, but it no longer defines us.
Owning less in my kitchen has revolutionized the way I live out my daily life. Our kitchen is the heart of our home. It is where we do life together. If the kitchen is cluttered, stress is unavoidable. It seems to ripple out into every other room of our home. I find it’s the same thing with peace. When peace is at the center of your home it makes its way into everything that occupies it.