A couple of weekends ago, I embarked on one of the most daunting tasks that my marriage has ever been through – my husband and I decided to clean and organize our kitchen from top to bottom. Even though organization is really something I am working on, my husband has long suffered through my cursing at pots falling out of cabinets or whining about my short stature when trying to reach everyday things nestled on the top shelves so he was all aboard the kitchen organization express.
We started by taking everything out of every cabinet in the kitchen. Yes, you read that correctly, and yes, I am serious. We took out every single glass, spice jar, small appliance and box of cookies from their current home. This allowed us to both clean out the cabinets (wipe them all down with cleaner) and see all the stuff that we would either need to throw away, donate or reposition back into the kitchen.
Friends, this is when you will see your significant other’s true colors come out. Whereas I could clearly state and articulate the value of having miniature sized ketchup bottles and jam containers (Ketchup: For an adorable decoration for the side of plates during a dinner party I’m going to throw making homemade French Fries, of course! Jams: When I have guests staying in the guest room they will able to toast up their own breakfasts in the comfort of their room with tiny adorable jams! Or for a tea and scones party! The possibilities are endless) he was steadfast in his decree that he would allow me to purchase miniature ketchups and jam jars should any of those items be required for a party in the future if I got rid of the hoard of things I had been keeping for years. I agreed and thus was cleaned out an entire shelf to house more useful things like water bottles I grab when running to the gym that previously lived above the refrigerator and required an aerobic exercise in and of itself to acquire thanks for elaborate jumping or hauling of stool routines.
The first step in rehoming all your kitchen goodies is to find the things you use most often and place them where is most convenient for the activity they are used for. As an example, we used to keep glasses in a cabinet next to the plates and bowls on the opposite side of the kitchen from the refrigerator which has a water dispenser. The glasses and mugs made far more sense to in the cabinet next to the refrigerator which is also now next to my Tassimo machine and tea kettle.
Here are my 5 takeaways from this experience:
- You cannot go one cabinet at a time if you are truly looking to best organize things. Take everything out and place things back in logical spots to where you would use them (ie. Plates near the stove to allow convenient plating, or glasses next to the refrigerator) and then fill in the empty spots with the lesser used goods.
- Spices, teas and other perishables do just that… Perish. In my experience, things kept at the back of cabinets were often forgotten about until they were no longer good and had to be thrown away. Not only is it a huge waste of money, but it’s also a waste of space and could even be harmful if eaten.
- The most horrific waste of space occurred in the mug section of our closet. Mugs with logos from companies we no longer worked for, conferences long since attended and feeble attempts at personal humour should have no space in a refined kitchen. I kept only the set that matched my dishes and my beloved Anthropologie initial mug.
- If it’s broken or chipped but still useable– donate it. If it’s broken beyond repair – toss it. Make exceptions for one thing only: If we’re talking about your grandmother’s antique serving platter that has a chip from years of loving use. (But make –and keep- resolution to investigate having the piece restored by Easter) There is absolutely zero reason why you should be serving anything on broken or chipped pieces with an abundance of classy, affordable options out there.
- If you’ve not used something before, even if it was expensive, donate it. I found an Italian pasta maker that had been purchased to make homemade lobster ravioli and then forgotten, which will surely delight an amateur chef who can pick it up for a song at a thrift shop after I drop it off. I also finally decided it was time to give up the fancy pants Coffee/Espresso machine taking up valuable real estate on my countertop that had been used only a handful of times over its 5 year residency at my house.
I am happy to report that my kitchen is clean and clutter-free two weeks later, and I remain happily married – my husband even volunteered to empty the dishwasher the other day since he now knows where everything goes. Or, perhaps more accurately, I now know he knows where everything goes!