Maximizing Your Kitchen Space: Dealing with Counter Clutter

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source: Brian Sawyer

source: Brian Sawyer

In the comments left on the recent kitchen product giveaway, one of the most frequent problems people shared was dealing with clutter on their counters.

My biggest kitchen challenge is having enough counter space, since the kitchen often serves and the first (and last) rest stop for many odd items (junk mail, missing toy/puzzle pieces/artwork from preschool, etc). I don’t have a lot of counter space to begin with, and need to learn to make better use of the ‘bar’ area. ~RLR, Mom’s Magic

My biggest challenge is balancing how much is out on the counter vs how much gets put away. We try to keep essentials out, but it still seems cluttered and too busy. ~Paula, Welcoming Spirit

My biggest kitchen organization problem is I never seem to have enough counter space and where to put all the stuff I use everyday. Help. ~Kathy

And more…

I think this is common issue for a lot of people and not one that can be eliminated as much as handled. What I mean is that the kitchen is naturally the hub of most homes, and there will always be things that need to be set on the counter for one reason or another. The key is to minimize that clutter and have a plan for what you do with it at the end of the day.

Here are a few methods we use to deal with counter clutter:

1. Follow the “only touch it once” rule.

For me, a lot of the things that contribute to the clutter on my counters are things I’ve set there because they need to be taken somewhere else to be put away – ponytail holders, crayons, change, etc. Although I don’t follow this rule perfectly, I do try to put as much away the first time I touch it as I can.

2. Open, sort and trash mail as soon as it comes in.

Along this same vein, rather than setting your mail on the counter to be dealt with later, take 2 minutes to sort and deal with it as soon as it comes in. Have a place in your kitchen or office for things that need to be dealt with later, but don’t just leave them sitting in the middle of the counter.

3. Clean up the counters at the end of every day.

Chances are you will never be able to eliminate the clutter on your counters completely. However, I’ve found it’s great for my sanity to find a home for everything at the end of each day so that I can wake up to clear, uncluttered counters every morning. Occasionally I’ll leave a project out that I’m working on, but I try not to leave something out just because I don’t know where to put it. Eventually you’re going to have to find a space for it, so decide to do that now rather than putting it off for later.

4. Use a bowl or basket for miscellaneous essentials.

If there are small things you want to keep out but you’re looking for a way to minimize the clutter, try a basket, bowl or even a cookie jar on your counter to contain smaller items.

What other tips do you have for minimizing kitchen counter clutter? What things are on your counter right now?

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About the Author

Mandi Ehman

Hi. My name is Mandi and I’m an organizing junkie. I’m also a wife, and Momma to four little girls (5, 3.5, 2 and a new baby!). I've worked at home since our oldest was a baby, and like a lot of other moms, my life is a constant balancing act of caring for my family and my home, meeting my obligations and finding time for hobbies in there somewhere. Oh, yeah, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m somewhat of a kitchen dunce and I only like to pretend that I’m crafty. Read more here!

8 Responses to “ Maximizing Your Kitchen Space: Dealing with Counter Clutter ”

  1. Mandi,

    We have a cabinet with four drawers and space underneath. We also have four children. Each child had their own drawer. If I found something that belonged to them, I would put it in their drawer (keys, mail, ponytail holders, etc.) They also had the space underneath for things like CD’s, notebooks, etc. that didn’t fit in the drawer. When I packed lunches, I would leave their lunch money, notes for school, lunches, etc. on top of the counter above their drawer space. Their schoolbags, shoes, etc. would always be on the floor in front of their drawer space so that they could grab their thing and go in the morning without having to hunt for things.

    Our kids are now grown and gone out of the house but I still use their drawers just for their “stuff” like mail, or anything important. Our oldest son has a child now and I just cleaned out his drawer last week and made a “grandson” drawer, filled with cars, baby spoons, and other small toys that I can give to him when he comes to visit. I’ll eventually do that for all of our grandchildren. Works for us!

    P.S. We also have a “white board” that sits on the counter so that we can leave notes for each other when we come and go.

    Laurie’s last blog post…Another Friend Goes Bilateral!


  2. I liked your “touch it once” rule, but when I’m tidying somewhere, I can get veery easily distracted if I start to run around to different rooms. So I guess it can be a bad rule for people like me.. but for everyday use I guess it keeps stuff away that shouldn’t be there..

    Veronica’s last blog post…Like foreign candy descriptions?


  3. Oh my! I’m so excited that you tackled this topic :) since I was one of those folks who said it was an issue…

    A couple of things I did:
    1. Removed the “hot spot” that seemed to pop up on the corner of the counter that faces the front door. Then I put a plant there to remind me not to put more clutter in that spot. The plant is also much better looking than the pile of mail.

    2. Bought a small wooden mail sorter and placed that in a different corner in the kitchen, away from the original hot spot.

    3. Made a promise to myself to go through that weekly so we can get rid of junk mail and get to bills in a timely fashion.

    4. Some of the appliances have been put away in the cupboards – once that aren’t used often.

    5. Purchased some cork boards (with adhesive) from Target and mounted those inside one of the cupboards. Receipts that need to be held on to, notes, doctor reminders, etc all go in there. If it’s no longer needed, we throw it out. I kept the surface area small so we can’t just keep adding stuff endlessly.


  4. Hi,

    I am passing on the “One Lovely Blog” award to you! to accept just list 15 other bloggers you will pass it too.


    I’ll be posting my list tomorrow.

    Caroline B.’s last blog post…Backyard Entertaining


  5. [...] More:  Organizing Your Way | Maximizing Your Kitchen Space: Dealing with … [...]

  6. Oh, Mandy, your girls are gorgeous in your most recent post. I think if I’d been having two of the same, I’d dress them the same too :)

    Anyway, on my counter now, I have kettle, toaster and kitchen scale. I don’t like clutter (!).

    Here are my counter-clearing tips:

    Marcia Francois from Organising Queen’s last blog post…Two-minute organising project – decluttering your make-up bag


  7. [...] how do you go about decluttering your kitchen? We’re not going to talk about clearing the counters today, but we are going to look at what’s hiding in your kitchen cabinets and [...]

  8. I have a pretty big kitchen but all my counter clutter sits in area. A good portion of things I use on a daily basis I use the spare cabinets for. I even have all my meds, vitamins, and other health products in an entire cabinet. But the mail and newspapers, magazines and other small items always find their way to the counter tops. It’s just become convenient to leave them out as opposed to always putting things away. I just think most people are just so used to it that many don’t find it to be such an issue to take care of everyday.


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