I don't know about your home, but in mine, the kitchen is one of the places we spend the most time in. Which means it gets messy the quickest (and when I say messy, please know I actually mean downright dirty) and also needs the most upkeep to maintain. Even with a busy family of five (plus a dog), three meals a day (plus snacks!), tons of daily cooking and baking and the kitchen table sometimes doubling as my office desk, we still manage to get it back to looking good in pretty short order.
I truly believe that the only reason my kitchen bears any resemblance to an orderly and clean place is because of the systems I have put in place and the strategies I use to keep it that way. One of the most difficult areas of the kitchen to maintain can be the counters so I am going to walk you through my strategies for taming the counter clutter.
Your kitchen may have just been wiped, sprayed and bleached from here until Sunday but if you have clutter, small appliances and papers covering the surfaces it's still going to look messy. You need to be ruthless about what kinds of things have their home on your counters. This is prime real estate, people! Save it for the stuff you use daily. And I mean actually daily. Not the "I've been meaning to start using my blender to make smoothies but in reality I haven't touched it in six months" kind of "daily."
Try to store less-frequently-used appliances in your cupboards, dining room armoire, or tucked away somewhere else. You also want to evaluate what you really use and really need in your kitchen. Do you have items still in the box? Multiple small appliances that perform the same function, or even exact duplicates of the same thing?
Small kitchen appliances tend to be pretty bulky and take up a lot of room. You need to be picky about how you allocate that valuable kitchen real estate.
If you were to take a peek into my kitchen, you would find only three appliances on my counters: our coffee maker (used daily, and let's be honest, sometimes multiple times per day), my toaster (again, we use this every morning) and our microwave. Our microwave and toaster are actually tucked into a corner where they are accessible yet not really visible.
I am much happier to pull out my stand mixer or blender as needed than to stare at it sitting on my counter every day. Clear counters make me happy.
Forms, permission slips, bills, take-out menus: they all seem to find their way into the kitchen. Probably because it tends to be one of the first places we go to when we get home, either to shove food into our rumbling tummies or get dinner going for hangry kids.
I have a two-pronged attack for tackling the paper problem:
- Stop it before it gets in. Have a recycling bin handy wherever you open your mail, that way only the important stuff makes its way into your kitchen. For me it's a stair-basket right near the door. All the junk gets dumped right in and never even finds its way into my kitchen.
- Have a home for it. All items that don't require action go right into my "to file" box. Statements or other such items that don't need my immediate attention get dealt with once a month or so when I tackle the filing. Action items need to go in a spot where you will actually see them and deal with them, so go vertical! Use some wall space that is out of the way, yet still accessible to you, like a large clip magnet on the fridge labelled "action." A corkboard or a magnetic strip all work great. I personally love using damage-free velcro and a document holder on the wall!
Chargers and cords
I may or may not believe that while my family is sleeping, all of our chargers and cords get together and multiply, ending in a tangled mess by the time morning rolls around. With all of the phones and tablets in every home that constantly need charging, cords are inevitable.
I like keeping a small decorative box on the counter right near our charging outlet. It provides a defined area for all of the cords and reduces the visual counter clutter as well.
Another helpful technique is using cord ties/wraps. It can really help to keep them together and not get all tangled up, which is especially important when you need to grab a charger quickly for a charging emergency.
It can also be helpful to label your charger with your name, especially if there's a cord collector in your home — you know, that one person that always grabs a charger and brings it to another location and doesn't return it? It can be as simple as using a marker to just write everyone's initials on the base of the charger or you can whip out some pretty washi tape and a label maker to get the job done.
Pens, hair ties and batteries, oh my! It's actually amazing the kind of random stuff that ends up in a pile on your kitchen counter. For some, the solution is to sweep it into the all-encompassing junk drawer for you to rummage through at a later date. And to be honest, a junk drawer in the kitchen isn't actually the end of the world, as long as you try to limit it to one and have some sort of system in there!
The trick to keeping the mess from spreading all over your counters is to create a defined space for these items and curate it on a regular or at least semi-regular basis. Maybe it's a decorative bowl, or a pretty box, but I really like having a small trinket tray on my counter. Small enough to not be intrusive, yet large enough to hold my essentials.
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