The Decluttering Project : In the Kitchen

What does your kitchen look like behind all of those cabinet doors?

Today in The Decluttering Project is all about seeing how we can spruce up the kitchen.  I’m always excited to start decluttering in the kitchen because I’m never quite sure what I will find.  Obviously I know the things that I use on a regular basis quite well.  But what about the stuff tucked behind and underneath all of that?

I spent a little time thinking about the simple plan that I take each time I decide to declutter the kitchen so that I could put together some ideas for all of you.  We’re only focusing on gadgets and utensils today.  So don’t worry about your pantry, spice racks, fridge, or anywhere that you are storing food.

The key it to break decluttering projects into little pieces to keep them simple and manageable.

There is nothing more stressful for everyone in the family than a decluttering project that is only have finished with a pile of unknowns stacked on the counter.  And trust me – it can happen!  So let’s just take things one at a time.

How far can you get with just an hour or two?

Our kitchen is super small, so we have to be extremely selective.  I really learn a lot about kitchen needs and kitchen wants.

Here’s the way I like to do it:

1.  Start with a tidy kitchen.  Unload the dishwasher, put away the clutter. When you start with a clean kitchen, there is less stress throughout the entire project. When you’re done, your kitchen is clean.  Plus you’ve got a better idea of just how much stuff is in your kitchen when its all put away.

2.  Begin with a utensils drawer.  Pull out everything. I like to start with a fresh slate so that instead of figuring out what I don’t want and don’t use, I can prepare to re-add the stuff I do use.  I wipe out the drawer.

3.  Then item by item, I put back the stuff I regularly use. I do not put back anything that is broken.  No duplicates.  Nothing that I  intend to use but just haven’t gotten around to.  Only the things that I am actively using stay.

4.  Throw away the garbage, add stuff to the recycle pile, and put everything else that didn’t make the “yes I always use this” pile into a giant box or basket. We’ll come back to it.  For now, the kitchen is still clean.  One drawer is decluttered.

5.  Go through all of your drawers like this. If you personally don’t use waxed paper at your house, put it in the clutter box.  Just because something is standard kitchen supplies doesn’t mean you need to keep it on hand.

6.  Then start going through a cupboard. By pulling everything out, you can really see what you have.  Do you need all of the dishtowels?  Can you get by without some of the gadgets?  I bet you can part with some.  You can ditch those plastic containers without lids and extra empty jars you’re storing.

At our house, we’ve found solutions for less kitchen stuff: refrigerator iced tea, a gadget-free salad spinner, popcorn on the stovetop, salt storage without those annoying boxes and bags, and attractive displays for dish soap… all of which equal fewer accessories and less clutter in the kitchen!

7.  Go to the next cupboard and the next. (We’ll get to under the sink later.)

8.  How full is your box or basket looking? Mmmmaybe you want to salvage some of those unknowns.  Martin and I will often do this part together so that we don’t end up keeping too many of the unknowns.  We make a pile of what we want to keep, and thanks to a system of checks and balance between the two of us, we don’t end up pulling everything right back out of the box.

9.  Give items to friends and family. Chances are you know of someone starting up a new kitchen about now (any graduates or newlyweds perhaps).  Can they use any of the stuff in your box?  Pull it out for them, put it in a bag, and label it right now.  Put it at the door or in the car.  The key here is that you have to see that person in a reasonable amount of time.  Like it’s completely impractical for me to hang onto something for my sister when I live in Germany.  That might sound extreme and obvious – of course I’m not going to see her tomorrow.  But when is the next time you will see the person you want to give to?

10. If you have a large number of dishes or silverware, contact a few local organizations that have fundraiser breakfasts or bake sales (they could put treats on your plates!).  Your church, the rescue mission, a nonprofit, or a summer camp program might love to have your goods.

It’s so much easier to give something away when you have the beneficiary in mind.  Thrift shops are great.  But first think of the direct donations you can make.

11.  Close the box.  Everything else is going to the thrift shop, flea market, or garage sale when we’re finished with this project.

So how do you think you can do?  I love that this project always finishes with freshly wiped shelves.  The biggest problems I find is papers and twist ties in random places.  What about you?  Any tips or thoughts as we all go tackle together?

* * * * * * * *

Oh!  And if you’re joining in this challenge, email me a photo of your box of items you’ve decluttered.  Or send a shot of a stylin’ decluttered drawer.  We’re all doing this together, and a few photos of what people are accomplishing along side one another is like the feel of finding a $20 bill in last summer’s shorts.  You know you’d love it.  So send those photos…!  (I promise I’ll share mine, too.)