A Little TLC for Your Kitchen--and My Guilty Secret...

I love food. I love cooking it, eating it, and sharing it. It naturally follows that I love my kitchen too. Even though it’s not quite the dream kitchen I would design if I found $50,000 lying around on the counter, it’s my comfort zone. That’s why every January, I give it the love it deserves by organizing it from--literally--soup to nuts.

I start by emptying out all the drawers and cleaning them. In my experience, cleanliness brings renewed energy into a space. Next, I group all the like items on the counter and look them over with a fresh eye. Is anything repeated? Are there utensils I never use? If so, I give them away or recycle them. Editing gadgets is a great stress reducer when you open your utensil drawer and don’t have to paw through it for five minutes looking for what you need.

I then reassemble my drawers with the clear Linus organizers from The Container Store, which I've also cleaned. There are shallow and deep ones, which I mix and match depending on need, but I always maintain the same depth in each individual drawer.  Organizational tools and supplies don’t have to be expensive or fancy--what’s important is to choose something you’re comfortable with and will use. I like the clear organizing trays because I can really see what’s in them.

LinusSystem

A junk drawer is essential to any kitchen, and it’s a great place to store those things you want at your fingertips but that never seem to have an obvious home--matches, pens, pencils, scissors, string, Post-it notes, etc. When I empty mine out and purge it in January I never know what I’m going to find in there--but I always know it will be interesting!  When I put it all back in, using the same see-through Linus organizers, I organize the contents in a different way to make sure I notice what’s in there.

Next, I do the same thing with the cupboards--a thorough clean and purge. It’s amazing how obvious the lesser used items become when everything’s out and similar things are grouped together. Why do I have so many mixing bowls? What about that grill pan I never seem to take out? And when the cupboards are empty, I think about how my current layout is working and how I can improve it when I put things back. Of course, I’m always repeating my mantra to myself: “Do I use it? Do I love it? Do I appreciate it?” This helps me make decisions without sentimentality getting in my way.

Once all that’s clean and reassembled, I move on to the food cupboards and the under the sink zone. Food items get edited with a ruthless eye, especially the classic “this looks cool, I bet I’ll use it!” that’s still sitting there a year later. Then I wipe down the shelves and only put back the items I know I will use, grouped by type. Ergonomics are key to organizing any space and I always order in a way that makes sense for my needs—healthy and most-used items at eye level, baking items all together, pet food on the bottom, etc. In my pantry, I use containers with labels to group smaller items together and especially love frosted totes in this zone. I create a typewritten label in all caps using a label maker for a clean and organized look.  

Pantry

I leave under the sink till last and am always stunned by how satisfying a thorough cleaning and edit of that generally neglected space is.

Okay. I know I've encouraged you not to double or triple up on gadgets (a client I worked with once had four blenders and wasn't willing to give any up), but I have a confession to make: I have three ice cream makers. My guilty secret is out! But here’s the thing: I love homemade ice cream, and I like to have more than one flavor at once. What’s a girl to do?

Happy Organizing!

Sheryl