How to Create a Joyful, Clutter-Free Kitchen

From quick weekday breakfasts grabbed on the way out the door to special-occasion dinners planned and prepared with care, the kitchen is nearly always a hub of household activity — which also means it’s a common place for clutter to accumulate. In this series, we’re approaching each room in the house from the perspective of identifying what sparks joy. Here we look at ways of clearing the clutter and creating a beautiful, useful space in the kitchen.
Studio McGee
Create Calm, Clear Surfaces

Kitchen counters can quickly become cluttered with mail, shopping bags, small appliances, and kitchen tools and gadgets. Once these surfaces are full, preparing meals becomes much more challenging. Plus, just the sight of a cluttered counter can add to your daily stress. Reclaim clean, clear space on your kitchen surfaces to make room for cooking.

Libby Winberg Interiors
Take action: Start by completely clearing off and cleaning your kitchen counters, one at a time. Before putting anything back, consider what you honestly need to access on a daily basis. These are the items worthy of prime counter space — for example, your coffeepot, a jar of wooden spoons and a favorite cutting board or fruit bowl. Aim to find a different home for everything else, inside a cupboard or on a shelf.

If your kitchen also happens to function as your home’s entry, dedicate a specific spot to store keys and mail (for example, a dish for keys and a tray for mail) so that these items don’t spread over your freshly cleared counter.

Brittany Stiles Design
Choose Your Essentials

Instead of focusing on what to get rid of, choose to look at clearing clutter in a positive light, and ask yourself this: What do I love and use in my kitchen?

Focus on clearing prime space (top drawers and easy-to-reach cabinets) for the pots, pans, tools and dishes you use daily. Highly specialized cooking gadgets have their place (and if there’s one you love and use, by all means keep it!), but allowing these items to take up space front and center will only make it harder to work in your kitchen.

Joy Street Design
Take action: Without looking in your kitchen cupboards, think through a typical day of preparing meals at home, and make a list of the pots, pans, cooking tools and dishes you use to make that happen. Make sure these items are stored in the drawers, cabinets and shelves that are easiest to reach.

Look at what’s left in the other areas, and see if you can let go of some cooking tools, small appliances or excess food storage containers that you rarely (or never) use.

Alvhem Mäkleri & Interiör
Rethink Nooks and Corners

If your kitchen is compact and galley-style, this may not apply — but if you have a bit more space to play with, take a moment to consider how you are using that space. It’s clear how the main work area of the kitchen should be used (for cooking, chopping and washing up), but when it comes to the nooks and corners, it’s really up to you.

Think about what you want from this space: a nook to read, a tidy desk to pay bills, an art corner for your child? Let yourself daydream a bit, and note down what you come up with.

Lasley Brahaney Architecture + Construction
Take action: Once you’ve decided how you want to use your kitchen nook or corner, gather the items you want to have in this space. If items are collecting here that do not serve the purpose of this area, move them out.

For example, if your goal is to create a quiet corner to read while a pot of soup simmers on the stove, pull in a comfy chair and a few favorite books — and take out the unnecessary and distracting stuff, like piles of bills and old shopping bags.

Laura Gaskill

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