Welcome to day 12 in our Clutter-Free Challenge. Today we get to talk about my favorite room in the house – the kitchen. And it’s actually a room I spend most of my time in now that I purchased a laptop computer and started working at my kitchen table. I get to stare out the window and rest my brain periodically. Here’s my view:
Actually, this isn’t what it looks at all right now. We had a frost in Phoenix a few weeks ago and everything is brown … including the lovely ficus trees (and everyone else’s in my neighborhood). But I know God is in the business of bringing life to what seems dead. So I don’t despair.
Back to my kitchen, I’ve discovered many of life’s blessings happen here. This room unites the values I hold dear: home, family and community. This is why keeping it organized and clutter-free is a top priority for me. It’s not so I can boast of my alphabetized spices or labeled storage containers. An organized kitchen helps keep me focused on what’s important, instead of mentally drained by a mess.
My kitchen also needs the most work to stay organized. Right now six of us live in this house, plus my husband and I both work here. My front door should be a big hotel revolving door with the flow of people in and out all day. As my loved ones move through the house, personal property gets set down in the most convenient spot … convenient to them, that is. This normally means a kitchen counter. Can you relate?
Here’s the problem with a disorganized kitchen as I see it. When there’s no room to work, I’m discouraged from starting anything. Instead of making an affordable and healthy dinner, I am tempted to pick something up. Instead of being creative in the kitchen, I choose something simple. It just takes too much mental energy for me to overcome clutter.
Not only does clutter drain energy from me, but there is no room for anything beautiful. It’s hard to appreciate a bouquet of roses from my garden if it’s set on bills, report cards and dirty dishes.
So, in order to bring in more beauty, peace and order, I have declared a war on clutter. If that appeals to you, here are some suggestions for how to de-cluttering the kitchen. First, gather some boxes to store items that will be removed, whether to sell or give away. Next …
1) Sort through and remove all clutter from on top of your counters.
Put away, recycle, toss and file those items you know what to do with. If you don’t know where to start, pick a spot and work your way clockwise. If you need to make decisions on other items, put those in a large box for later decision making. Wash and put away dishes. Clean your counters and sink. Now stand back and survey your accomplishment with joy! (clap, clap, clap … that’s from me).
2) Move many of your kitchen appliances out of sight (toaster, bread maker, waffle iron, etc). Clear counters will refresh you, and give you a clean palate for creativity. You might need to work on step 3 at the same time so you have room to store these items. I know this is optimistic, but use it as a goal.
3) Eliminate extra, unwanted, broken, chipped and incomplete items.
This will take time, but start with one cabinet or shelf at a time. Completely remove every item from that shelf or cabinet. If you don’t use it, make a decision on what to do with it and put it in the giveaway, sell or garbage can. Be honest and ruthless. I know this will be hard, because many of us are well intentioned. I really intended to make fondue for my family … someday. But I had to be honest with myself.
Clean the shelves with warm soapy water and return the items you want to keep, including those items that were previously stored on your counter.
4) Store seldom-used appliances elsewhere.
Can you store larger items outside your kitchen? If you are holding out hope that you will start to use your waffle iron, then consider a shelf in an outside storage cabinet, extra bedroom or linen closet. I have a shelf in my garage for larger items I don’t often use. Another option is to purchase extra kitchen storage, like a free-standing cottage-style pantry or rolling island. Consider buying something with doors to reduce visual clutter.
Here are a few of my favorite random kitchen de-cluttering tips:
1) A bread box. I have a charming bread box that does not hold bread. Instead, it holds vitamins and medication. If you’ve got lots of little bottles in view consider repurposing a bread box. We store bread in the refrigerator.
2) Message center. Most of us have phones in our kitchen. Make sure you’ve got a pretty holder for notepads and pens. It can also be a temporary holding place for invitations, directions, etc.
3) Bulletin board. I put a bulletin board in my laundry room to keep coupons for restaurants or activities. I put them here instead of on my refrigerator.
Here’s a picture I took awhile back of my kitchen.
Once you’ve got your kitchen de-cluttered, put together some charming displays. Do you love coffee or tea? Create a hostess station with pretty mugs, tea bags, and a cream and sugar bowl. Are you a flower gal? Splurge and buy yourself some flowers from the grocery store, or better yet, plant some and harvest your own blooms.
There are lots of other organization tips I could share for the kitchen, but I want to stay focused on de-cluttering. Once you have trimmed and slimmed down your kitchen, research great ideas for organizing your cabinets, drawers and pantry. I hope you’ll be inspired to keep going.
And I also hope this sparks your creativity for cooking and enjoying more meals together with friends or family. If your schedule is crazy, try aiming for one night a week to reclaim as your own.
Tomorrow we will address bedrooms and baths. Then day 14 we’ll tackle our closets. And on Friday I’ll wrap up this challenge with general tips on managing clutter and some encouraging words.
Grace & Peace,
Heavenly Father, thank You for making fuel for our bodies such a pleasurable part of life. But it’s so much more than that. You designed food to be something that unites us, and it also is a time to remember You. Help me to be a good steward of my kitchen in a way that nourishes my family physically and spiritually. In Jesus Name, Amen.