Around the House: Streamline Your Kitchen Counters for Good
By Yehudit Garmaise
Are you sick of looking at items in your kitchen, like your crock pot, coffee maker, and fruits and vegetables piled in a heap?
First, set your goals high: aim to end up with clean countertops that not only provide elbow room, but space and visual rest.
To clear out some storage space, first start from the inside out. Go through your kitchen cabinets and drawers: one at a time, so the process is not overwhelming.
Start with one kitchen drawer or cabinet you use daily, and take everything out of it.
Evaluate and discard: This step takes the longest, so you can do it a little bit every day. You have 87 days until Pesach, so this step will only drastically simplify your Pesach cleaning.
Scrub out that cabinet or drawer, and carefully consider every item you have removed. When was the last time you actually used things like a garlic press or a lemon juicer?
Any item you have never used, just put it in a bag to give away. If you use the item every once in awhile, start to stash it in a different space that is less “high-traffic.”
Then neatly put back the items that you use every day: like wooden mixing spoons, measuring spoons and cups, and spatulas.
Make your way around your whole kitchen: one cabinet or drawer at a time.
Once you have taken everything out, evaluated, discarded, and restocked only what you use in every drawer and cabinet in your kitchen, you should now have cleared out some extra storage space. Plus, your shelves and drawer will look scrubbed clean, tidy, and minimalistic.
Now, with fresh eyes: look carefully at everything you store on your countertop. Your objective is to keep everything “out of sight” so your countertops are clean and clear of clutter.
Consider what you might keep on your counters that doesn’t belong there: mail, kids’ homework, magazines, art supplies, or products, and find new, appropriate homes elsewhere in your home for them. If you don’t like them: give them away.
Now: Zero in on what you use most to cook and bake. Use your newfound storage space to hide it in convenient and easy-to-reach locations.
Stash things that you only use every once in awhile in places that are harder to reach, such as in cabinets over the oven or refrigerator.
Label what goes where: Use a label maker, stickers and a Sharpie marker, or create signs to label what goes where so that items don’t get jumbled again. Kids can create cute signs for fun cabinets, such as those that store your coffee maker, coffee, tea, and hot chocolate, and baking shelves with all your supplies.
Hang hooks, racks, and over-the-door shelves on the insides of cabinet doors: to store out-of-sight: measuring cups and spoons, spice racks, paper towel holders, dish towels, oven mitts, and even lightweight cutting boards.
Climb the walls: Install wall-mounted magazine racks, free floating shelves, or bookshelves to store frequently used cookbooks, or to get magazines and mail off the counters. You can hang wire and metal baskets on the wall or even from the ceiling to store fruit and vegetables that do not require refrigeration.
Use counter space vertically: like NYC real estate: If have a tiny space on your counter, use a small, tiered stand to store frequently used produce you want to grab easily.
Make sure all house residents know to wash or put in the dishwasher everything they use as soon as they are done. Also, gently remind household members to put away any kitchen tools as soon as they are no longer in use.
Everyone can work together to keep counters clean, spare, and clutter-free.