- HARRIET SCHECHTER
Conquer kitchen clutter
September 24, 2003
If you've ever watched a cooking program (and nowadays, who
hasn't?), you may have noticed the phenomenon of the "fantasy
Whatever the celebrity chef needs is always at his or her
fingertips. Counters aren't cluttered with groceries or piles of
paper. And you never see a mess after the cooking is done just a
lovely zoom-in on a perfect-looking meal.
But in many real-life kitchens, it's easier to find the
ingredients for chaos than to locate the necessary cooking
supplies. Clutter-covered counters and crammed cupboards are enough to
make even the most talented cooks lose their appetite and order
If you spend more time in your kitchen looking for things than
cooking, here are three steps to help you:
1. Evaluate and edit tools and supplies, including replenishables
such as meal ingredients and cleaning products. If your kitchen
drawers have become a jumble of strange, sharp objects that make
finding or putting away utensils a hazardous experience, it's time to
take action. Discard or donate items you never seem to use.
Feeling overwhelmed about how and where to begin? Set a ticking
timer for 10-15 minutes per drawer and start with the most accessible
one. The same process applies to clearing out cabinets and cupboards.
Don't expect to get it all done in one session; try going through one
drawer or shelf at a time.
You can even do this while talking on the phone.
2. Set up smarter storage systems. Store the most frequently used
tools and supplies where they'll be easily accessible. For example, if
you're not already storing dishes, cutlery and other regularly used
items close to the sink or dishwasher, you'd be wise to do so it
usually saves time when putting things away.
There are many excellent yet inexpensive drawer and cupboard
organizers available that can help maximize space and minimize chaos.
Some are designed to be used in specific areas, such as under the sink
or alongside the fridge. Others are multifunctional for use in a
variety of spaces. Just beware of organizing devices that are more
clever than useful, or you'll end up adding to your clutter.
3. Maintain order through periodic purging. The price of
organization is vigilance. Therefore, it's a good idea to re-evaluate
the contents of kitchen storage areas periodically. Keep your cooking
and dining supplies and tools under control by periodically purging
extras and replacing pieces that are worn out, damaged or just plain
Watch out for common clutter-causers such as rapidly multiplying
mugs (often the result of a fondness for "free gifts"),
countless quantities of bags and way too many ketchup packets from
fast-food outlets. Set limits by deciding how many of each item it's
reasonable to have on hand (for example, do you really need more than
100 grocery bags?), and choose to stay within those limits or suffer the chaos
Copyright 2003 Union-Tribune
Harriet Schechter is founder
of The Miracle Worker Organizing Service and author of three books,
including "Let Go of Clutter." Her
online advice column is at