I’ve always been a tidy person but, with kids and a busy family life, it’s not always easy to keep our kitchen organized and free of clutter. Our kitchen island always seems to be covered with mail, left over snacks and, my personal pet peeve, the reusable water bottles my kids invariably leave by the sink after camp/school (in the belief a house keeping elf lives with us who will take care of it for them, perhaps?).
Whatever your circumstances, there are things you can do when it comes to both kitchen design/layout and everyday habits that can help keep you on track and stay organized.
Yes, I’m starting with the one you’ve put off the longest. I have yet to meet a real person who gleefully looks forward to opening cabinets and spending a few hours getting rid of stuff. Sadly, it’s a necessary evil. Those mismatched mugs? The dinner service you got as a wedding or house warming gift that you don’t use? That thing you saw on a Facebook ad you never knew you needed (and still don’t because you’ve used it once)? Donate, donate, donate.
There are lots of great non-profits who will gladly take your items and put them to good use. Some will even come and pick items up for you! Check out GreenDrop for more information. No more excuses!
2. Organize your cabinets
Now you’ve decluttered, get organized. A general rule of thumb is to keep items you need near the appliances or area you need them. It becomes habit forming when it’s easier to put things away where they need to go.
There are plenty of design hacks for inexpensive under sink storage, or even a simple wire rack for stacking plates goes a LONG way in maximizing your kitchen cabinet space. If budget allows, it’s also worth investing in drawer organizers (who doesn’t like organized spices?) or a pot and pan organizer like the one below. This makes excellent use of space and makes organizing – and staying organized – easier.
If you are planning a complete kitchen remodel, talk to your home remodeler about how you use your kitchen and what’s important to you from an organizational perspective. At Synergy, we have a specific conversation with all of our clients about what will go where in their new kitchen and provide a cabinetry plan that incorporates their personal needs. From tall thin spice cabinets to baking sheet storage to where you are going to put your coffee maker, it’s all part of the custom home remodeling experience we like to provide to help homeowners renovate happy!
3. Appliance Garages
This is a bigger change that not everyone can achieve in an existing kitchen, but it’s one that goes a long way in helping to keep your kitchen organized. An appliance garage is simply a cabinet (usually at counter height) where you can store small appliances out of sight. From crock pots to toasters to juicers, they are a great way to not only stay organized, they keep your kitchen countertop from looking overly cluttered. Now you’ve decluttered your kitchen, you might actually have space to repurpose a cabinet and turn it into an appliance garage!
We have designed kitchens for bakers and home chefs that center around appliance garages and even have easy-lift options for things like heavy cake mixers. If you are thinking of a kitchen remodel, put an appliance garage on your list of upgrades. Read why we think appliance garages are a kitchen “must-have” here.
4. Clear Your Surfaces
Urgh. This is the one I personally struggle with the most. Why do countertops attract mail, school projects and paperwork? There are also usually at least two or three random library books on our kitchen island, too. My kids’ favorite perch is on a kitchen stool, with a snack and a good book.
But what to do about it? We have other space in our home where these items can go but the island is like a magnet. As soon as I clear the surface more stuff appears on the counter or another hoodie is left hanging on the back of a chair. In our house, we have a rule. If it sits on the countertop for more than 24 hours, it’s not needed and it gets put in the trash/recycling or it gets put on the stairs to be taken upstairs to be put away. I don’t spend hours tidying my house, but I rarely go up or downstairs without something in my hand that needs to be put away. It really helps me to keep on top of keeping a tidy home so cleaning up doesn’t become so overwhelming. It is also a habit I am trying to reinforce with my kids. Does it work? Sometimes. But, I plan to stick with it and, one day, that cast off hoodie might even make it’s way up the stairs without me running interference!
The joy of a clutter-free countertop is it gives the optical illusion of a bigger space. And, just because you have a small kitchen, it doesn’t mean you can’t be organized and clear your countertops! This condo remodel in Reston Town Center shows you how it’s done.
Don’t leave dishes in the sink!
This is another one nearly everyone can relate to! The dishwasher is right there. I mean, RIGHT THERE. Why do dishes not make their way into it? Or, back to the water bottles, why are they just left by – or in – the sink? I can’t help you with getting into a good routine, but I’m here to tell you that you need to get into a good routine. Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink!
One of the things clients sometimes ask about is creating a drying area for dishes that is hidden off the countertop. I did this in my own home. I bought one of those inexpensive quick drying mats and a simple dish rack and use one of my under-sink cabinets as a drying area for things like plasticware and kids lunch boxes. It’s an easy hack that helps me keep my sanity, even if just a little!
Looking for more tips and design inspiration? Read Dream Kitchen Design Tips.