Thank you for joining me for week one of our 52 week home organization challenge!
Organizing Kitchen Counters And Sink
This week’s challenge is all about kitchen organization, both overall and with specific emphasis on keeping your countertops and sink clear and clean.
The reason I chose this challenge as the first of the year is because keeping your kitchen organized (and functional) is so important to keeping our whole house running smoothly, and can have such a positive impact in our lives.
So, let’s start the new year off with a bang and really do something that has a big organizational impact. This will help keep us motivated to continue on with the rest of the challenges, and start seeing the positive results of our efforts right away.
Step 1: Think About The Functions Of Your Kitchen
That means we need to consider how we currently use our kitchen, either intentionally or unintentionally, and how we want to use it in the future.
Common Functions In Kitchens
There are both obvious functions of a kitchen, and the sometimes unintended functions of a kitchen, because of its central location as a hub of family life. Here are some of the most common uses and functions. See which ones you use yours for:
- Cooking (also including food preparation)
- Food storage (both cold storage and pantry)
- Recipe and cookbook storage
- Home recycling center
- Homework area
- Family and friends hang out area
- Family calendar and control central
- Home office, bill paying center, and/or home mail organizer center
- Place we drop stuff as it comes in the house, from paper clutter, such as bills, homework, school papers, etc. to keys, and whatever else we have in our hands as we walk in the door
A Key To Kitchen Organization Is Making Each Function Of Your Space Intentional
Your kitchen can have as many functions as you want, as long as there is room for all of them, and you plan to use the space in that way. However, be very careful to make all of the functions of this space intentional, since this is the real key to kitchen organization.
For example, if your kitchen is a dumping ground for keys, mail, and other stuff that comes in the door you should consider if you really have room for this, and whether this is working for you. If you want to have your space used for this function make it intentional, by adding a bowl for keys, or a file for bills and mail to respond to, and create systems for keeping up with the stuff on a regular basis.
On the other hand, perhaps you decide you should eliminate a function from the kitchen, because you don’t have room for it there anymore. Then, in that case make a space somewhere else in the house to do that task. For example, if having the kids do homework in the kitchen is causing dinner time chaos, then create a homework center somewhere else in the house so the default location is not the kitchen table.
Obviously, the functions that can only happen in the kitchen, like cooking, need to have top priority for the space, with other functions being added only if there is enough space for them too.
Step 2: Create Usable Counter Space And Clear Your Kitchen Table (Mostly)
Once you’ve decided how you want to use your kitchen you can begin taking action to meet those goals, and to take control of the space.
This week in the kitchen organization challenge we’ll focus on counter space and keeping your sink clear, and focus on other areas later in the challenge. (If you’re interested check at the bottom of the page for a sneak peek for the upcoming weeks’ challenges related to the kitchen).
Why Clear Counters Are So Important
There are two main reasons why keeping your counters (mainly) clear is so important to home organization.
The first is that you need clear counter space to do many different cooking activities. Since this is the primary function of a kitchen you need space to do these tasks.
The second is more of a mental reason. Seeing clear space, instead of cluttered space, is just much more calming and can keep you from feeling so stressed when you enter the room.
Please note, however, that I am talking about mostly clear counters, not completely clear and empty space. I am not trying to get you to live a spartan existence where it doesn’t look like anyone lives in your home. Instead, you should have a few, well chosen functional, beautiful pieces that are used frequently on your counters. It should just most likely be less stuff than you currently have there.
Declutter Or Put Away Stuff On Your Counters That Does Not Fit Your Kitchen’s Functions
Once you’ve decided what the functions of your kitchen and its counters are (and of your kitchen table), you can remove any items that don’t fit those functions.
For example, if you’ve got stacks of paper everywhere, but you’ve decided that your home office is a better place to store these things long term, or where you’ll deal with them each week, then remove them from your counters and table and place them where they should go (or your can create a home mail organizer center for incoming papers and mail). In addition, make a plan for how you’ll get those items to their true designated home from now on, on a regular basis (most likely, daily), so the same types of stuff don’t start re-accumulating.
Harder Task: Decluttering And Putting Away Items On Your Counter That Do Fit Your Kitchen’s Functions
Removing all the stuff from your counters that doesn’t belong is really the easy part of this kitchen organization challenge, or what I like to call the low hanging fruit. You know there is a better place to put that stuff in the future and you create systems to make sure it gets there, instead of back on the countertops.
On the other hand, what about all the stuff on your counters that does deal with cooking, for example, like small kitchen appliances? These can be harder to deal with because they “go” in the kitchen, but they take up so much space that they make it hard to actually use the kitchen for cooking.
These are the types of items where you need to start really thinking about how often you use them, to know if they deserve a spot on the counter or not. Definitely, if you have room, keep out appliances that you use daily, like a coffee maker or toaster (if you truly use them daily).
Depending on the size of your kitchen, you may even decide you have enough room to keep out appliances you use on a weekly basis.
However, anything you don’t use at least weekly should not be on your counter top. Instead, it should be put away somewhere else, perhaps in a cabinet in your kitchen, or in a storage area if you only use it once a year.
The rule to remember for kitchen organization, or really any organization for that matter, is that the more frequently you use something the easier it should be to get to. The converse is also true, so if you use it infrequently, don’t let it take up prime real estate in your storage areas.
Declutter The Following Types Of Gadgets And Appliances
Some kitchen gadgets and small appliances shouldn’t be stored at all, but instead should just be decluttered all together. Here’s some simple guidelines to follow, to know when to just throw it away (or donate it to charity).
- Too old
- You have duplicates
- You know you’ll just never use it again (or haven’t used it in the last year, at least)
Step 3: Consider These Kitchen Storage Solutions To Help Clear Counter Space
Sometimes it is helpful, as a part of your kitchen organization project, to have some items out of drawers or cabinets, such as frequently used pots and pans, or kitchen utensils, but you don’t want them to take up too much counter space. Here are some kitchen storage solutions and ideas to consider to keep your counters free of clutter, and still have access to frequently used items:
- Rails, racks and hooks to hang pots and pans (such as from the ceiling) or utensils (from the wall) (as shown above)
- Knife block or magnetic knife storage (also as shown above) for the wall
- Rolling kitchen cart, to hold cooking supplies or small kitchen appliances
- Decorative utensil crock or holder to hold utensils close to stove
Step 4: Create The Habit Of Keeping Your Sink Clear Of Dishes At Least Two Times Per Day
The other part of this kitchen organization challenge that goes along with clearing your countertops, is to begin or stick with the habit of keeping your sink clear of dirty dishes, at least most of the time.
I know this is more to do with cleaning up than kitchen organization per se, but hear me out about why I’m including it in the kitchen organization challenge. When you’ve got dirty dishes in the sink it is kind of like an invitation to dump junk on the counters, since the kitchen is dirty anyway.
I’ve often heard this symptom and effect called the “broken window syndrome.” The idea is that if there’s one broken window that does not get quickly fixed, then the rest of the neighborhood will quickly go to pot, since the thinking is no one cares what it looks like.
I don’t want you to have to be the dirty dishes police, always calling people out for the stray bowl in the sink. Therefore, I think a reasonable habit is to make sure the sink is cleared out twice a day, such as after breakfast and dinner (or bedtime), while you (or a loved one, or child) is doing the normal kitchen cleaning routine.
Thank you for joining me for Week One of our 52 Week Home Organization Challenge, Organizing Kitchen Counters And Sink
I can’t wait for you to join me for the challenge again next week!!!