Hello homemakers! While I should be excited about sharing another Monday Makeover with you this morning, I will tell you that this one is a challenge for me… kitchen countertops.
What? It’s a countertop. There’s nothing to do but keep it cleared off and clean, right? Yes… and no. Here is where you need to refer back to your answers from the Kitchen Evaluation. All of the activities that take place in your kitchen happen on your countertop. Think about it… meal preparation, cooking, lunch packing, dirty dishes stacking area, dish washing drying area, grocery purchase drop location, homework, art projects, mail sorting area, etc.
It doesn’t take much for my kitchen island to look like this. This is my problem area. Yes, yes, I know… I wrote the piece Get It Clean, Keep It Clean. But I’m human and realistically, we all have these areas.
So how can you organize/make your counter space more efficient?
- Identify the activities that take place in your kitchen. Evaluate which of those activities are obvious kitchen tasks and which tasks could be moved to another part of the house.
We use the kitchen island as our craft area. However, we have a 6’ section of cabinets and countertop that we moved to the basement when we re-did our kitchen and stripped out the kitchen cabinets. While the cabinets have been used for storage, the countertop has never had a real purpose. I realized that by consolidating and reorganizing the cabinet space, that I could have space to store all of our crafting items. By having this designated crafting area, I could also take back control of my kitchen island and we would have a new independent play/crafting area for the boys to use whenever they wanted to get creative! That doesn’t mean we won’t ever do crafts in the kitchen (in fact, we will always do painting in the kitchen since our basement is carpeted and its much easier to clean paint off a hardwood floor). However, it does mean that when we want to do a craft, that our supplies are now organized and we can grab the needed supplies for that activity (so less countertop clutter) and they have an easy-to-put-away spot in the basement (so no lingering supplies hanging around the kitchen).
- Define your most used areas. By defining areas of activity, you can determine what (if any) items should be housed on the countertop in that space.
By this I mean, consider what you do on the counter space next to your kitchen sink. Mine is for stacking dirty dishes, drying dishes, and meal prep. I have a small kitchen and need to maximize my work space. We had a nice blender that used to sit to the right of the sink next to the paper towel holder. It wasn’t too bulky and didn’t take up too much room on the counter. However, by putting away the blender (which rarely gets used), I not only decluttered the counters, but also made more room to work.
- Evaluate the items that make a permanent home on your countertop. How do these items support kitchen functionality? Determine if its purpose is handiness, decorative, or because of lack of cabinet space.
The kitchen in our previous home was very small (very small). However, we had received a cappuccino maker for our wedding. I just had to have it countertop because of how much it would get used (although I am the only one in our house that would drink cappuccino). So, for seven years that cappuccino maker found permanent residency on the countertop sandwiched in between our refrigerator and stove. During those seven years, it was used once. And during those seven years in that home, I always complained of not having enough counter space.
Sometimes we are so attached to an item or have that mentality “if it’s in front of me, I’ll use it” that we are blinded to how little use that item actually gets and how much more efficient our homes could be if that item were not taking up valuable space.
In our current home, we have a deep corner that is not feasible space for much of anything except storage. So, rather than taking up precious cabinet space with my big Kitchen Aid mixer, it rests back in that corner. Likewise, as I was trying to make more room in my pantry, I made the decision to move my flour, sugar, and brown sugar into simple frosted-glass canisters. These sit just inches away from the mixer and play a dual role for “decorating” the kitchen and also for ease-of-use when baking. I will rarely suggest adding objects to your countertop, but this was actually a wise choice.
- Make a plan! What items should stay on your countertop? What items are you going to shelf in a cabinet? And what items are you going to purge?
How often do you use your toaster or your blender? Do they have to sit on the countertop?
For our wedding, we also received a spinning spice rack. It was lovely. Only problem was, we rarely used it. The jars were pre-named and primarily with spices we don’t use. And to make matters worse, the spice jars on the rack were not the same size as the spice containers purchased at the grocery. So I now had to store spices in two locations. This spice rack sat next to our stove in both our previous house and our current one. The only good spot for it in our current home is to the left of the stove, which unfortunately is the only neutral location on the main level of our home that has electrical outlets and a place to sit the baby monitors. The monitors, their cords, and the spice rack really cluttered up the counter. So I made the decision to purge the spice rack and replace it with a black leather organizer. I can tuck the cords inside it, hang the monitors on it, store my grocery list/coupon holder in it, and it has several smaller compartments for storage as well. And honestly, I don’t miss the spice rack at all.
- Clean! Now that you have evaluated your counter space and have considered how it would be most functional, take everything off the countertop. (Sit it on the floor if you have to… just get it off the counter.) Wash the entire counter. Say goodbye to those pesky little crumbs that sneak under and in between everything and enjoy getting a fresh, clean start to your newly decluttered and organized countertop!
- Thoughtfully enhance your countertop with just the necessary items. Don’t put everything back that you just removed. Stick to your plan. If you don’t need it on your counter, don’t put it there!
If you want to adorn your countertop with color and want to decorate… it’s okay. Just choose your items wisely. Pick items that would be cumbersome in the cabinet and that would at some ‘zest’ to the kitchen. Think platters that could be displayed in a plate holder or a beautiful bowl that could hold fruit or fresh produce. I have a glass beverage dispenser that only fits on the Lazy Susan in our corner cabinet and takes up quite a bit of space. I have chosen to use this piece as my decoration. It is tucked into the corner by our refrigerator and filled with ornamental lemons and limes (purchased at Hobby Lobby).
- Share with your family your new plan for keeping the countertops clear. And make sure they know the new location for items moved off the counter.
- Relax and admire your decluttered countertop!
Congratulations! Phase 4 of mission Kitchen Organization is finished! Enjoy all the extra workspace and the clean, spacious appearance of your counters! Just some simple simplifying can give you a whole new kitchen experience! You’ll love it!
Now get rested up… next week I’ll be serving up some cabinet organization ideas!