Get Organized! Organizing Your Kitchen
Identify Kitchen Zones
Built-in incentives spur office organization. Job performance and financial goals are often at stake. But where is the motivation at home? Will you be fired from your job? …lose money because the dishes are in disarray?
The home is your haven from the outside world …your final destination each day …a space of your own design and making. The motivation comes from your desire to enter this space and experience calm, order and a sense of control. This is where you hope to relax and enjoy life. This is where you LIVE.
American kitchens are busy places. Today’s women spend an average of 1,092 hours a year in the kitchen, along with everyone from husbands to friends, teenagers and dinner guests. This room puts up with a lot of traffic, so organization is essential.
The kitchen often epitomizes our abundant lifestyle. We have more pots/pans than we need. We have more mugs than we can use. We have more dishes, more serving platters, more utensils then we have space to house. We are ready for anything! We think we have all that we need, but what we really need is to purge our excesses, sort our necessities, and organize our work areas into zones.
Think of a kitchen “zone” as an area of major activity or functionality. What occurs in that area occurs over and over, not just occasionally. For example, you might have a food-preparation zone, baking zone, serving zone (dishes, glasses, flatware, linens, etc.), dry-food storage zone (pantry), cleaning zone, or miscellaneous equipment zone. If you grow your own produce, you might want to designate a canning zone. If you collect cookbooks and like to capture recipe variations in writing, consider a meal-planning zone.
Invest Both Time and Thought
To begin organizing your kitchen, plan ahead. Schedule the hours needed to complete the job. Attack areas of greatest concern first, and be realistic about the amount of time you will need to complete each area. There is nothing more frustrating then getting yourself into a mess of sorting and purging, only to realize that you’ve no food in the house for dinner or it’s time to rush off to a meeting.
Consider your cooking habits, kitchen flow, and areas of convenience (zones). Do you need to have the glasses close to the sink or the refrigerator? Do you love to bake bread or preserve fruits or vegetables? Should the dishes be close to the eating area or near the dishwasher?
Sort, Then Purge
Systematically remove everything from the drawers and cabinets. Sort items into categories that make sense to you. Throw away broken or chipped items and objects that don’t have all their parts, like those plastic containers without lids. Give away duplicate utensils, excess glassware, bowls and platters that have never been used.
The biggest clutter item I see in kitchens these days are the “freebies” people collect — souvenir glasses, mugs and plastic tumblers (with straws bearing ugly lipstick stains). Save a few, and throw or give away the rest (though I hesitate to add to someone else’s clutter). If you must keep a treasure, but don’t use it, pack it away in a box and store it in the attic or basement.
The same system of purging and sorting works for your pantry and refrigerator. Sort out the food items that you know you will consume, and throw away food that is stale, old, or indecipherable. Create menus that use leftovers and canned or packaged goods that have been sitting in the pantry for decades. Get in the habit of reviewing the pantry and refrigerator at least once a week in order to determine your grocery list. (I had a client whose pantry held 10 cans of tomato soup because she could never remember if she needed soup when she was at the market.)
Assign Everything a Home
In The 15 Minute Organizer (Harvest House, 1991), author Emilie Barnes urges, “Things that work together should be stored together.” Good advice. It means pots, pans and utensils for stirring, flipping and scraping should be near the stove. Bowls, mixers, measuring cups/spoons and other baking paraphernalia should be in your baking zone. Seldom used items should go on top shelves or in awkward corners of cabinets. Appliances should find a storage space together or near the specific work area where they will be used. Put the coffeemaker near the sink, breakfast table, or entrance to the kitchen, and store sugar, creamer, filters and coffee close by.
Groceries/foods should be grouped together — cereals, snacks, canned goods, oils/vinegars, salad fixings, etc. A client of mine routinely emptied her groceries into any space that was open, resulting in chips sandwiched between jam and syrup. A sticky habit to break? Not if you focus on the incentives. Remember, you are seeking calm, order and a sense of control.
An organized kitchen will give you a place for everything, as long as you put everything back in its place, and will help you find what you need in a hurry. Assigning everything a work zone and then a home will save you time and steps. Be sure to have the family buy into your new kitchen environment. Show them the layout, and ask them to help you preserve it. Lead by example.
About the Author
Sally Allen, Professional Organizer
A Place for Everything, LLC www.sallyallenorganizer.com
"Organizing for Stress Free Living" at 303-526-5357
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