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Keeping Kitchen Counters Clutter-free

November 30 2010

Today’s kitchens are filled with all kinds of gastronomical gadgets, from coffee bean grinders to indoor rotisseries. You have everything you need to prepare five star cuisine, yet kitchen trends are leaning toward minimalism. That means you can show off your white marble countertops, commercial range and custom backsplash, if you put away the other appliances and tools you need, even if you use them daily.

So, where do you store your food processor, blender, toaster, chop-pow and other essentials?

If you’re like most of us, it’s easier to just leave them out, but too many appliances and devices can clutter a kitchen, making it harder to keep clean, reducing your workspace, and wrestling with your peace of mind.

Here are a few ideas to help you keep your kitchen attractive yet functional.

Remove junk and clutter

As the social center of the house, kitchens are catch-alls for school books, correspondence, and other items that have nothing to do with cooking. If there’s a place in your mudroom for kids to dump their coats, and backpacks, that will keep your food preparation areas a little cleaner and neater. 

Eliminate rarely used equipment

Which appliances do you use the most? Chances are it’s not the ice cream maker, breadmaker or heavy mixer. Pare down what you tend to use least, and store those appliances somewhere else, such as a hall closet, butler’s pantry or pantry. 

Of course, you have to make room to store big countertop appliances. While it’s great to have a turkey platter, you only use it in November or December, so it doesn’t need to take valuable space in a working kitchen.

If an appliance is too heavy to bring out and put away on a constant basis, maybe you need to leave it in reach. Some appliances, like the colorful KitchenAid commercial-quality mixers can provide a fun cobalt or orange accent to your kitchen décor.

Build an appliance garage 

One way to hide infrequently used appliances is an appliance garage or caddy.  Many cabinet makers offer an appliance garage or bread box that can be closed when not in use. Appliances can be put on a furniture moving pad or trolley to pull it out and to easily push it back in place. You can also customize an appliance garage to extend beyond the bread box size to the length of the counter.

Consolidate your beverage area

The at-home coffee bar is a great way to get coffee, tea, and other beverages and their bean grinders and kettles away from the food preparation areas.  A coffee maker can be built-in or it can be left out, without creating an issue for the preparation area.  All of the accompanying materials such as sugar, creamer, and lemons can be stored nearby, ideally within a small beverage or wine cooler refrigerator.

Buy ripening containers

Who doesn’t love fresh fruit, but food left to ripen on a counter-top can get soft and mushy.  Banana ripening caddies turn bananas into cheerful offerings, and they can also be used for stemmed tomatoes.  Use a decorative bowl to house a dozen oranges or apples and use it for a centerpiece on a breakfast table.  Buy hanging mesh baskets to hold fruits and vegetables, taking care to hang them out of the way of traffic. 

Create a message center

If you don’t already store your shopping lists on your cellphone, create a place in your kitchen to hang messages and notes away from traffic areas. Bits of paper, mail, and receipts look messy in the kitchen, so keep them under control with a bill organizer or a family in box. Move correspondence to the home office or create a special meal-planning desk to pay bills, research recipes, and make your calls. 

Hide the cleaners

It’s tempting to keep out the antibacterial cleaners, glass cleaners and other cleaners we use several times a day, but they aren’t attractive.  Create an easily accessible place under the sink for such items.  If bending down for the items is difficult, install a roll out tray or place your cleaners within easier reach with a basket on the inside of cabinet door. 

Update your equipment

The best way to reduce clutter is to consolidate, such as getting a new microwave that also serves as a convection oven. New wall ovens can be purchased that offer many options that eliminate small appliances from the counter-top. 

Mount what you can

Under cabinet mounting is easy to do and frees up counter-tops near the sink.  Paper towel racks, electric can openers, and task lighting can all be mounted under the cabinets to free up space.  Dishrags, sponges and other odor attractions should be housed in caddies attached to the door under the sink for easy access.  

Invest in organizers

Deep cabinets are difficult to find items all the way in the back, but a rolling tray makes them accessible. Corners also can be better utilized with swing out organizers.  Most carpenters, handymen, or do-it-yourselfers can easily install after-market organizers such as spice racks from Lowe’s, the Container Store and other places. 

Keeping your countertops clutter-free doesn’t have to be all work and no play. Let the kitchen’s function inspire your décor.  Hanging containers of vegetables, mounted pot racks, and bowls of fruit certainly cut down on clutter, but they also provide a lot of color and function.