The kitchen is often the heart of most people’s homes. It can be a gathering place for family and friends. When you think of other homes you visit, what is the room you picture first? Most likely the kitchen. And in our house, it is the place where I spend A LOT of my day – making meals, doing dishes, talking on the phone, supervising homework and reading mail. As a focal point of our house, one of my goals this Spring, is to declutter my kitchen. Henry David Thoreau said, “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say let your affairs be as two or three and not a half of hundred or a thousand.” It is my hope to make our kitchen more functional, organized and simple. Want to do the same? Consider the following ideas. (I have been recently inspired by Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living by Tsh Oxenreider – an amazing book!)
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Commit Yourself to the Task • Once you have decided to declutter your kitchen, set a date on the calendar to do it. It probably is best to get the most you can done in one or two days, so pick a pair that are relatively free. Then wake up that day with a good attitude, ready to WORK. It will be two busy days, but will feel good once you are done!
Visualize Your Goal • Before you start, picture your kitchen. What do you love about it? What do you wish you could change? How can you make those things a reality? Do you want more counter space? Easier to reach pots? A place for incoming mail? What are your main purposes of your kitchen? Family hang-out? Food prep? Paper organizer? Artwork and photo display? Let this goal guide how you declutter and organize the kitchen.
Calculate the Value of Each Item With 2 Questions • In the Organized Simplicity book, Tsh uses a quote by William Morris, “Let nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. • As you look at each item in your kitchen calculate its value with two questions… • IS THIS USEFUL TO ME (US) ? • IS THIS BEAUTIFUL TO ME (US) ? • If the answer is “no” to both questions, put it in a box (see next item) • If the answer is “yes”, then by all means keep it and enjoy it! • NOTE OF WARNING: Remember that you are not the only one in your family. Consider your family when you ask these questions as well. A shed snakeskin might not be useful or beautiful to me, but is a prized possession to my 6 year old son!
Label a “SELL” Box, a “GIVE” Box and a “MAYBE” Box • These are the boxes for the things that you have decided are not useful or beautiful to you. However, what is cluttering up your kitchen could be very beautiful and useful to another family. • The “SELL” box is for all those things that you are going to sell at your yard sale. If you are not planning on having one in the near future, change this to a “DONATE” box. • The “GIVE” box is one I really like. You know that hot pink plate from Aunt Gertrude that you have never used because you hate the color? Put it in the “GIVE” box to pass on to your friend Hannah because you know she loves the color hot pink. For me, it feels good to give away those things I want to keep for the wrong reasons. I like knowing they are going to a good home. • Put things in the “MAYBE” box when you are really torn what to do with them. Label the box with a date three months from now. Store it in the basement or garage. If after the allotted time, you have not dug through the box looking to use one of the items, sell the items or give them away. They are just cluttering up your life!
Try the Sticker Test • Not sure if one of your many kitchen gadgets is REALLY useful? Organized Simplicity recommends that you put a sticker with today’s date on it somewhere on the appliance. Look at that sticker the next time you use it. If it is more than three months, it is not something that you use regularly. It is cluttering up your kitchen- get rid of it!
Clean • Begin to declutter by emptying the dishwasher and cleaning and putting away all dirty dishes in the sink. Really scrub the countertops and sink. Polish up your stovetop and clean your oven. Wipe down your cabinet doors. Sweep and wash your floor. Wipe down all your small appliances. Your kitchen should be shining! YEAH!
Declutter Your CounterTops • Remove everything from your countertops. And I mean everything. Put them all aside in a different room. • Value the worth of each item with the ideas from above. • Move all “valuable” items back into your kitchen. Store everything you do not use on a daily basis in a cabinet or out of sight. • You will have more counterspace now and less visual clutter!
Tackle Your Refrigerator • First of all, strip down everything off the front and sides of your refrigerator and put them aside. • Only put back up the most useful and beautiful. Do you really call the pizza place on a regular basis or could you toss out their advertising magnet? I tuck all my “informational magnets” (like pediatrician’s office, poison control, power company, etc) on the side of my fridge facing my cabinets. You cannot really see them unless you look for them and my husband, babysitter and I know where they are if they need them. • Now take everything out of the refrigerator. • Toss away anything you can recognize or that isn’t sealed well. • While everything is out, clean the interior with baking soda and warm water (remove shelves and clean with soapy water if possible). • Reshelve good food, organizing it as you go. • Do the same with the freezer. As you put things back in the freezer, make an inventory (find ListPlanIt‘s Refrigerator and Freezer Inventories in Home Management) of what is in there and hang it or store it somewhere nearby for future menu planning.
Inspect Your Pantry • Remove everything and sort in a separate location. Canned vegetables, baking goods, spices, etc. • Discard anything that is expired or open and not properly sealed. • Wipe down pantry shelves and add liner if you don’t have one already. • Restock your pantry considering what you use on a regular basis. Consider all members of you family. I just changed where we keep cereal to a lower shelf so my 7 year old can get it out in the morning and pour breakfast for herself and her siblings. • If you have a lot of multiples, make an inventory and post it inside the door (find ListPlanIt‘s Pantry Inventory in Home Management). Then you will know what you have already.
Explore Your Cabinets and Reaquaint Yourself With Every Drawer • Empty all cupboards and cabinets and put in one spot. • Clean out all drawers and shelves. • Calculate the VALUE of each and every pot, pan, utensil and dish. Do you really need 5 salad bowls? Find lids for every container that has one or get rid of it. • Put everything back in logical places, again considering how often you use each thing. I know I use the impossibly high cabinet above our refrigerator to house my seasonal kitchenware…lobster crackers, St. Patrick’s Day plates, 4th of July glasses and valentine molds.
Celebrate! • Take time to celebrate your enormous feat! WOW! What an accomplishment!
In what ways have you decluttered your kitchen this spring? Or what are your kitchen decluttering plans?