Marie Kondo’s book and new TV show has had a positive influence and has helped many people ramp up their organization game. However, for others her method of dumping everything out is overwhelming. It’s daunting to see everything you own in a heap on the floor, counters, bed, table, etc.
Kitchens, for instance, are the one room of the average home that historically is crammed to within an inch of its space. Removing everything at once from drawers and cabinets isn't feasible in the average home...let off a pint-sized one. Who has enough counter and tabletop space for that? I certainly don't. Even when packing to move, you generally empty and pack cabinet-by-cabinet and drawer-by-drawer. So, for those of you who are overwhelmed by the “KonMari” method, here are some tips to help you attain your organized dream kitchen.
In preparation for your decluttering and organizing adventure, purchase some drawer and cabinet organizers and containers in advance. I find that it’s prudent to buy more than you think you need with several options (e.g., trays and dividers), since you can always return anything you don’t use. Also, try to visualize emptying any utensils from counters and walls, such as knives. Knife blades need protection as much as you need protection from their sharp edges, so measure your knife blades and buy sheaths for them. They can be hard to find, but rather than running all over town looking for them or paying a hefty price at a specialty kitchen shop, consider ordering online. You’ll also need boxes/bags for: (1) donation/selling, (2) trash/recycling, (3) bulk storage. For pantry items you may want glass or plastic containers for some pantry items such as bulk spices, cereals, dried fruits, etc.
1) Kitchen items are not likely to "spark joy" so my categories for elimination are:
a. do I use this (or was it an impulse purchase)?
b. do I really need this…how often have I used it (if ever)?
c. am I keeping this for someone else?
2) Begin with the counters. Counter workspace is coveted real estate for food preparation so try to avoid giving space to unnecessary items such as appliances, knife blocks, canisters, etc. It looks chaotic and reduces valuable workspace. If you have a pantry, consider reconfiguring it with a couple of base cabinets, so you’ll have space for appliance storage. If not, this process should help free up storage space in the cabinets.
3) Next, go to drawers since they contain the smallest items. A huge pile is overwhelming so take them one or two at the time. Dump the contents onto the counter and organize by category/use (knives, spatulas, wooden spoons, towels, etc.)
4) Begin by reducing multiples of an item (do you really need two vegetable peelers?). We are all guilty of multiples beyond requirements.
5) Clean the drawer and place trays or dividers, then replace the contents of the drawer according to category/use. You’ll most likely have “leftovers” as you proceed through this process. That’s why it’s called “organizing.” Put those aside and return to them as you go through each drawer. If there are leftovers at the end of this process, re-evaluate and adjust accordingly.
6) Cabinets have much larger items in them, so you may need to go shelf-by-shelf. Proceed in the same manner that you did with the drawers, eliminating items you don’t use that are taking up valuable space. Consider pull-out shelves for lower cabinets to provide full use of the spaces with easy access. These are especially helpful for storing small appliances. If you can, delegate the area under the sink for the waste can and recycling bin. If possible, relegate cleaning supplies except dish/dishwasher soap to the utility/laundry room or garage. Most cleaning solutions can be made from your pantry so while you’re at it, remove toxic cleaning solutions and check online for non-toxic recipes. Vinegar and baking soda will clean almost everything!
7) Food storage areas can be daunting. It’s surprising how much packaged food items get shoved in the back and never seen again. These are areas where I do recommend removal of ALL items if possible. Primarily because as you remove the items you can check its viability. If it’s past the expiration date, consider donating it to a food bank if it has not been unsealed. Expiration is a recommended “sell by” date, not an indication that it’s not edible and there are too many at-risk people in the world to add food items to the waste stream.
8) Once you’ve gone through your pantry or fridge items, you’re ready to transfer dry goods to clean glass or plastic storage containers and begin the process of rearranging everything according to categories (condiments/spices, dry goods, canned goods, etc.). To me, this is one of the most satisfying aspects of kitchen organizing.
You’ll be collecting boxes and bags of items you no longer need or want in three categories:
if an item is functional, donate it
if an item is in poor condition, delegate it to the trash or recycling
if you’re saving it for someone who wants it, arrange to give it to them
if you don’t have bulk storage, consider selling or donating…or use the most unreachable shelves as long-term storage for family heirlooms
Should you have more items to transport to donation than will fit in your car in one trip, consider calling thrift stores like AmVets or Goodwill to arrange a pick-up. To sell your items, consider using your local community social media bulletin boards.
Please leave your comment on how this article helped you with your kitchen decluttering and organization.
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