I used to believe that those immaculate, clutter-free kitchens were unattainable for most of us real people who actually use our kitchens. After all with young kids and several meals to prepare each day, it felt almost impossible to have a tidy kitchen. That is until I cleared out my kitchen and made an effort to keep it as tidy as possible.
In an ideal world, re-doing your kitchen from scratch would be amazing, right? But we all know that isn’t always possible so the next best thing is making the most of the room you already have.
So if you dream of a tidier, more minimal, clutter-free kitchen, it’s entirely possible without a revamp. And by clutter-free, I don’t mean a soul-less kitchen which looks like it’s never been used. I mean a kitchen which is functional, tidy and free of excess clutter and junk. A kitchen that becomes a pleasure to cook in rather than a chore.
Here are 10 tips to declutter your kitchen and keep it that way:
If you’re up for a little test, try this: Take a look at your countertops and kitchen table as they are and take a picture. Now take everything away just for now. Really take everything away and pile it up somewhere out of sight. Maybe give the counters a quick wipe. Now look at your kitchen again and take another picture. What a huge difference, right?
Clearing counter and table tops makes such a massive difference to your kitchen. Which is exactly why kitchens featured in magazines or interior blogs always have clutter free countertops. It’s only in recent months that I’ve made it a habit to keep my counters clear and my kitchen feels like a different space. Of course my kitchen doesn’t look like the above two pictures all the time because I do cook in there everyday and I have a kid and I have stuff, but I do make an effort to clear the countertops at the end of each day so that I wake up to a tidy kitchen.
The best advice I can give you is keep as little as possible on your countertops. Think about moving your washing up stuff to the cupboard under the sink, only keep appliances that are used daily and no more than two. Can oils and seasonings be moved to a drawer near the cooker? Pare it down to as little as possible and resist the urge to leave all kinds of stuff like mail, keys, bags, permission slips, appointment letters, magazines, dirty dishes… and everything else.
If you nothing else from this list, just do this. With messy cupboards at least you can close the door but having tidy and clutter free countertops will change the look of your kitchen.
Depending on the storage you have, you will most likely need to keep some stuff on your counters so create clusters instead of clutter. By simply keeping things together in clusters, you can reduce the appearance of clutter. Using a tray to keep salt, pepper, oil etc can reduce the appearance of clutter. Use brown bottles to decant your stuff in to so you don’t have different coloured liquids on show. Lean a bunch of chopping boards together against a wall or pile up plates in a vertical plate holder. The counter space in the picture above is small and even though there is quite a lot of stuff on it, it doesn’t look messy simply because they have created clusters of stuff.
3. Get rid of unused or excess appliances/gadgets/dishes
Got a pasta maker that you’ve used once? A never used bread maker that Martha Stewart convinced you you can’t live without? Six garlic presses? We all do. Whether it’s an appliance, a gadget or a dish, if it’s rarely used, give it away. Or if you have several of the same, pick the most used and donate the rest. My rule is that if it’s not used at least four times a year, it has to go. The exception is that there will be things that you only use at specific times of the year, say at Christmas for example. For things like this I limit it to no more than two appliances or gadgets that are used seasonally.
Sometimes it can be hard to get rid of something that was expensive or a gift from a loved one. Your brain will resist and come up with a hundred reasons why you need to keep it. But ask yourself honestly if you are ever really going to use it and if the answer is no then sell it or give it to someone who will appreciate it. Don’t overthink, just do it.
4. Get or make a noticeboard
This may seem a little unusual as with de-cluttering you should be removing stuff, not adding. But my noticeboard has been a game changer for bits of paper like medical appointments, coupons, recipe cards etc. Before I would leave them on the kitchen table and soon there would be a mound of paper. Not only did this look awful but I often struggled to find important papers and then I’d spend 30 minutes searching frantically.
I clip loads of stuff on to this noticeboard/shelf I got from Ikea (I removed some of the papers before I took a picture for privacy reasons as there were personal appointments and letters from my daughters school) but this noticeboard has helped get the paper off the countertops. I also keep any catalogues I like, recipe cards and other bits and pieces that would otherwise end up on my kitchen table.
5. Clean out the fridge/ pantry/ spice drawer
You already know what to do here. The only thing I’ll add is that once you do a proper clear out, do it regularly. It takes under 3 minutes to clear out a shelf/drawer/fridge that is regularly cleared and tidied as opposed to one that is left for months.
6. Maximise existing storage
De-cluttering can often mean that you have to find a home for stuff that was lying around before. And it’s usually not easy to create extra storage space. Instead think about how you can better use the space you already have – add hooks to the insides of cupboard doors to hang stuff like kitchen towel rolls, pan lids, foil, dustpan etc. Or use the end of a kitchen island/counter for similar. Maybe you can attach a rail under your top kitchen cabinets. Get or make drawer dividers which will help make stuff more accessible and can make better use of the space. And not all appliances need to be kept in the kitchen – things that are used less frequently can be put in to a storage cupboard elsewhere and brought out when needed. I have a little pantry in my basement and I keep less frequently used appliances there.
7. Get rid of chipped and broken stuff
This goes without saying – anything chipped or broken, even if it has sentimental value, needs to go. But what if it was a wedding gift from a favourite relative? Take a picture of it and then let it go. But if it has no sentimental value – just bin! The rule I follow is that the second it gets chipped or broken, it goes in the bin. That saves me putting off the decision and also stops the build up of clutter.
I’m constantly pinning kitchens with beautifully arranged open shelves, often from floor to ceiling. You know the type where the colour tones of everything match, where everything is in perfect order, where it all looks so stunning and you start thinking that maybe you too can go for this look. Except the reality is very different. Unless you are extremely disciplined, don’t go for lots of open shelving as it can soon end up looking like a huge mess and open shelves are so tempting to dump stuff on. If you love the open look, consider having one shelf as a feature to keep a few favourite things on or better yet go for rails to hang utensils and/or pots and pans. Rails are far easier to keep tidy and are really practical and space saving too.
10. Buy less and buy with consideration
The next time you want to buy something for your kitchen, think about if you really need and want it or will it be more clutter. Also does it go with the rest of your stuff? I rarely buy anything for my kitchen now and when I do, it has to be something I love and will want to use for years to come.
9. Small consistent steps is the secret
This is the one tip that has been has helped me the most. The kitchen for most of us is the room we practically live in. I know my family spend more time in our kitchen than any other room in the house. Which means we are always in the kitchen so if you spend just a few minutes a day maintaining your newly decluttered kitchen, you’ll never need to do another big clear out.
The secret is small consistent steps – every time you look in the fridge, have a quick glance to see if anything needs to be binned. Before you got to bed, check if anything needs to be removed from the countertops. If something gets chipped, bin it immediately. This takes seconds but is such an easy way to make sure that the clutter doesn’t build up again.