I cannot stand to have cluttered counters. Bathroom counters, kitchen counters, and basically any flat surface in a busy home just seem to magnetically attract things. It is one of the continual battles we fight in this house. If I lived alone I wouldn’t have to worry about such a silly little thing. But since that’s clearly not the case, I have to formulate my attack strategy.
As I write this, I can hear my mother’s voice echo in my mind: “Don’t put it down…put it away.” Putting things away where they go is a very important rule for any household. If you find that something doesn’t have a home, either give it one or get rid of it if it’s not worth a designated spot.
Beyond just putting things away when you’re done, try to permanently clear off as many flat surfaces as you can in your home. You’ll love how it feels to see that much clean open space and it will motivate you to clear things off after they get used. Messes aren’t as likely to be addressed if they just blend in with the regular clutter.
Admittedly, this is a HUGE challenge in our house. A kitchen that has 10 people continuously using it is hard to keep picked up. I’ve been working hard to minimize the kitchen counter clutter. Here’s a list of tips I’ve found useful for clearing kitchen clutter. I’d love to hear your tips as well.
Keeping Counter Clutter Under Control:
- Don’t leave a mess in the sink or on the counter. By leaving a mess behind you’re just putting off the inevitable or you’re making your mess someone else’s problem. Neither one is a good choice.
- Put containers out of sight. Are those decorative containers for flour, sugar, and even cotton balls in the bathroom really necessary? Try hiding them in a cabinet and see if you like the look of a clean counter better.
- Hide knives and other utensils. We got rid of two huge wooden knife blocks because they were eating up so much counter space. A simple drawer organizer can keep them organized in half the amount of space. I’ve also seen chefs use magnetized strips to attach knives and other metal utensils to kitchen walls. We actually tried this, but it didn’t work well with our kitchen layout. You’ll have to decide if having the visual mess is distracting or if gaining drawer and counter space is a good compromise.
- Store the small appliances. Many people prefer to put away their toaster, mixer, and even the coffee pot when not in use to keep the counters clear. In our house the coffee pot is used so frequently it will never get put away.
- Mount it off the counter. If you don’t have the option of putting everything out of sight, consider mounting as many things off the counter as you can. Our kitchen is actually fairly small and the counter space is limited. By mounting things off the counter your eye still feels like things are less cluttered with them up and out of the way.
- Look at things with fresh eyes. This is a trick I picked up when our house was for sale. Pretend your house is for sale and look at the rooms of your house as a prospective buyer would. When you leave a room and then walk back in, what things jump out at you? Try to clear out as many things as possible that are visually unappealing.
Much of the struggle of dealing with counter clutter is simply breaking bad habits. If you keep working on it and don’t leave a mess on a counter overnight, eventually it will start to be your new normal way of life.
Article originally published on 10/22/2010