A Functional Kitchen

This morning in our delcutter small group, we got to talking about counter tops. My kitchen counter tops were actually one of the first places in my home that I tackled when I began to live life less cluttered.

I truly believe that if you love to cook or not, the kitchen may be one of the most used rooms in the house. You hear it on those house flipping shows, “The kitchen sells the house.” There’s good reason why the farmhouse Gather signs aren’t hanging in the bedrooms. The kitchen is a great place to start the declutter journey.

Typically there are several items that aren’t super sentimental in the kitchen, meaning you can make decisions about them easily without hesitation from personal attachment. It’s also a place where progress can happen quickly because your kitchen is full of small spaces to tackle in quick sessions. One clean drawer, then another, then a cabinet. You really don’t have to dedicate a lot of time to declutter the kitchen, but if you aren’t purging with an objective, it’s easy to get off course.

First and formost, the objective of a kitchen declutter is to create a kitchen that is functional. Functional is more important than organized in the kitchen. You can have a perfectly organized spice shelf, but if it’s not within quick reach while you’re cooking, is it really functional?

For me, functional means having clear countertops to function on when I need to do some functioning in the kitchen. I didn’t struggle with random clutter piles in our kitchen. I never kept piles of paper or old food on my counter tops and I’m pretty good to keep the sink empty. I struggled with small appliances on the counters, or at least that’s what I thought, but really my struggle was inside my cabinets. My cabinets were too full.

I grew up in the 80s, early 90s, when everyone had a counter top microwave, and then we had a counter top toaster oven, and a coffee pot, an electric can opener, blender, and a toaster all on the counter tops. Small appliances just lived on the counter tops and that was completely expected. Perhaps you were raised the same. However, most small appliances are short enough to fit inside a cabinet. Consider this with the ones you don’t use daily – like maybe the can opener or blender.

In my kitchen, I realized I had entirely too many plates, bowls, and mugs. We almost never use mugs. When I was able to reduce down to an appropriate amount of dinnerware for my family, I cleared out over two full cabinets of valuable space. Now, my toaster, smoothie maker, waffle maker and blender stay in my cabinets above a plug in the wall. When we need them, we take them down, plug them in, use, clean and then put them back into the cabinet above. It’s wonderful.

I also forced myself to come to terms with appliances that I really never used, like the crockpot (and I didn’t replace it with an instant pot). The electric can opener was another one that I donated because a manual was so much smaller and we didn’t eat enough canned foods to warrant having it. Anything that is used daily like the coffee pot and my teapot stays on the countertops and they live in places that make sense. The teapot lives between the stove and the sink.

My favorite tidy trick in the kitchen is command hooks behind the cabinet doors. Tiny hooks allow you to hang things, like kitchen scissors, measuring cups, and a pizza cutter within reach. Any utensil with a hole in the handle can be hung and readily available with you need a laddle to mix soup or scissors to open a bag. Hanging these items can save precious minutes you may have spent digging through drawers to find things when you need to get dinner on the table in a pinch.

Another intentional decision I made to increase the functionality of of my kitchen was getting rid of the island. I know this seems counterintuitive. After all, wouldn’t an island be more counter top space? Technically yes, but we are a family of four and our kitchen is fairly large already. The kitchen island became unused space that was a magnet for clutter. Eventhough I didn’t struggle with piles of paper in the kitchen at our old house, when we moved into the new house the island became our catch all for, well, everything. I also didn’t like the restrain of walking around it to get to my sink or the narrow pathway it created to get to the stove. Now that it’s gone, the floor is open and the catch-all is no longer there, forcing us to manage our things better.

To check out a few more of my super functional kitchen tricks, check out Practical DIY No. 1 to put bread ties to better use and Practical DIY No. 4 for a cheap way to charge your phone in the kitchen safely off the countertops.

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