March Challenge: The Kitchen
It’s March! The sun is shining here in Germany, the first bulbs are popping though the ground in my garden and I’m getting the first whiff that spring is in the air.
I’m not ready to go full-on spring cleaning yet, but I am feeling motivated to tackle the kitchen for a much needed refresh after the long winter months. This month’s A Year of Details challenge is the kitchen!
The kitchen must first and foremost be organized. As one of the most important spaces in our homes, it truly must work for our family and our lifestyle. An organized kitchen sets the tone for a harmonious home.
Here are six steps to get your kitchen in order.
Your organizational system. The first question to ask yourself is if your current organisational system is working for you. I often dream of having a bigger kitchen and sometimes feel like that’s the only way to have a more organized space. If I could just have more storage, more work space, etc. my problems would be solved. But about a month ago I had a little epiphany and was inspired to re-arrange my cabinets. Like most people, when we moved into this house, I put everything into my cupboards and drawers in the “logical” spaces. The dishes and glasses went in the upper cabinets. The food went into a tall narrow cupboard that is like a mini pantry. The pots and pans and baking dishes went into the two bottom revolving cabinets near the stove. Some of this was working just fine but the weak link was the food in the tall cabinet. The shelves are deep and despite my best efforts the shelves were always messy and chaotic. Too many things were disappearing to the back of the shelves. The thought struck me one day that the food would be so much more organized in one of the bottom revolving cupboards. I decided to try it (so important to be open to trying new things!) and I am so pleased with the new system! I swapped out the baking dishes, slow cooker and small appliances and they now reside in the tall cabinet, which looks and feels very organized. If something isn’t working for you, really use your imagination to consider how you could do it differently.
Declutter. The kitchen is a magnet for clutter, but I think a lot of you will agree that if you can keep your kitchen under control, you feel in control. The kitchen is one area of your home that you can count on needing to declutter a few times a year, especially when it comes to your refrigerator and food storage. But this is also necessary at least once a year when it comes to your drawers (hello junk drawer and utensils drawer!). Do one area or cupboard at a time, don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to do the whole kitchen at once. Pull everything out of one space and group like with like. Donate, trash or recycle anything that no longer serves you or you have multiples of. Be realistic. How many whisks do you really need? That package of food that has been lurking in the back of the cupboard for over a year…will you ever eat it?
Organizational Tools. AFTER you have decluttered, consider if you could use some organizational tools like baskets and my personal favorite: lazy susans. Do not make the mistake of buying these things before you really know what you need! Lazy susans are, in my opinions, the best thing since sliced bread to keep your cabinets and even your refrigerator organized. In my upper cabinet I have one for broths, one for jams and honey and one for different types of salt. I also have a stacking shelf for tomato products. I have a lazy Susan in my refrigerator for sauces that are kept on the top shelf (notorious space for things disappearing). I even have lazy susans in my cleaning closet. Amazon is an easy place to find great kitchen organizational items. Just search for lazy susan (here is an example). mDesign and iDesign are two brands sold on Amazon with loads of great home organizationa products (like this shelf to add extra space in the cuboard).
What’s on your countertops? Visual clutter can be a real problem in the kitchen so take a hard look at what you are storing on your countertops. Make sure everything is pleasing to look at. Everything else should have a home inside a drawer or cupboard.
Assess your everyday items. This is your chance to go through the things you use every day like dishes, mugs, glasses. Get rid of anything that is chipped or ugly (I’m talking to you free gift logo mug!). For some people a well-curated eclectic mix of dishes can work, but streamlining your basics is a great way to reduce visual clutter. Uniform and cohesive pieces, like stacks of all white dishes, is calming and clutter-free. Something I will be going though and getting rid of this month is plastic cups. My kids are way past the age of needing kiddie cups rather than glass. Habit has kept them in my kitchen, but it’s time to transition. A trip to Ikea is in order for a new set of small water glasses.
What is missing or needs to be replaced? We are so busy with other things in our lives that sometimes we don’t take the time to buy useful items or replace things that are broken. I have two good examples from my own kitchen. The first is that our salad-spinner broke about 9 months ago and I just never managed to replace it. The second example is that for the past 15 years I have been using a tiny, plastic kitchen scale that has not been meeting my needs. Neither of these items is prohibitively expensive, so I don’t have a logical reason why I didn’t buy/replace them. Sometimes we just put things off. Well I finally bought both of these things, both of which are used often, and I am so happy I did! What have you just not gotten around to buying/replacing that is completely within your budget? Do it this month.
I hope this gives you some motivation to declutter and refresh your kitchen! After you get started with the practical stuff, I will be back in the middle of March to talk about making the space pretty too.