My previous blog post talked about how to simplify your home by saying goodbye to some sentimental items, so check out that post if you haven't yet. This post will begin delving into the every items you are holding onto.
Here are the takeaways from Part One:
The purpose of simplifying is to make our lives better by utilizing the things we keep in a more meaningful way.
Feel more calm and less stressed with less stuff in your home and in your life
Categorize the things you are holding onto and provide a simple, concrete solution to deal with each
Part Two. Here we go!
Let's start in the kitchen. Since this is a space we spend so much of our time, it's not uncommon to have WAY TOO MUCH stuff. Even if you don't have a a ton of storage space, I bet you have more than you actually need, which makes it much harder to find the items you need when it comes time to use them.
Just because you have the space, doesn't mean you need to fill the space.
Having a large kitchen with tons of cabinets and drawers is great, especially if you love to cook or entertain often, BUT keep in mind that just because you have the space, doesn't mean you need to fill the space. Repeat after me: my home is not a storage unit.
So, where to begin? Let's take the kitchen in sections:
The silverware drawer typically isn't as cluttered as the large utensil drawer [more on that in a sec], as long as you have the proper organization. Do yourself a favor and get these two items:
An expandable bamboo utensil organizer
and adjustable bamboo drawer dividers
If you don't have a set of MATCHING silverware, consider purchasing a new set at HomeGoods or Target, unless your intention is to have an eclectic mix of silverware styles, which is perfectly fine. BUT if you like to match and you have more than one style of silverware, it can be stressful to dig through your drawer to find matching utensils, so having a matching set will help.
For the large utensil drawer [think: spatulas and serving spoons], this is where things can get a little messy. So here's where the bamboo dividers will come in handy. If this drawer is a mess for you, take the following steps:
Take everything out of the drawer and put it all on your counter
Clean the drawer
Categorize the items: spatulas, serving spoons, whisks, etc.
COUNT how many you have of each
Give yourself a number to keep for each category. My number is THREE (even though my drawer is large, I don't like to have it stuffed and disorganized, so that's my number)
Keep only that number of EACH ITEM and make a pile of excess to donate
Side Note: SHARP KNIVES
I keep my sharp knives in the large utensil drawer, but I got tired of the points making marks on the top of my drawer, so now I keep the pointy knives in a separate little bin within the drawer.
Try these or these for knife storage, and just be sure to measure your longest knife before you purchase the bins.
POTS & PANS
How you organize your pots & pans is going to largely depend on the size and setup of your cabinets and drawers, so I'll try to address each possibility below. But regardless of the amount of storage space you have, you will still want to simplify the number of pots & pans you have.
Scenario One: Your pots & pans are all thrown into one cabinet. If this is you, then your best bet for organization is to use an adjustable rack like the one below to organize your pans and lids. These racks are great and can also be used for cutting boards, baking sheets, muffin pans, etc.
You could also try a more vertical organizer like this one below, but just be sure to measure the height of your cabinet first.
With either of these options, you will still need to deal with your larger pots, but I have found the best solution to be nesting the pots inside of each other and storing them next to the pans & lids. BUT FIRST, take an inventory of all your pots & pans and make sure you have only the ones you need and use on a regular basis.
Scenario Two: You have extra large, deep drawers. This is the setup I have in my kitchen, and while I appreciate all the space, these drawers do tend to get messy and can easily get overloaded if you don't simplify your stuff.
So again, my magic number is THREE, so I try not to have any more than three of one type of thing.
To the right is the bottom drawer under my cooktop. I have two smaller saucepans, two large stainless pans and one large enamel pan, and three cast iron pans.
Side Note: my absolute favorite pan of all time is this Calphalon saute pan that was recommended when I took a series of cooking classes last year. This pan is an Allstar - nothing ever sticks to it, I use it just about every day, and it is oven safe.
In the middle drawer below my cooktop is where I keep my lids and pots. I only have two larger pots that I use regularly, and each lid actually matches up with a pot or pan.
As you can see, there is a lot of extra space in these drawers, but I have found that the more packed these drawers are, the more difficult it is to get the items out when I need them. So I keep them limited to ONLY what I use on a regular basis. I do have a large pantry where I keep a few oversized pots that I use rarely, but other than that, I like to keep my cookware pretty minimal.
Always take an inventory of your items before you begin organizing and really think about what you need and what you use on a regular basis
Scenario Three: You have a REALLY small kitchen with very little storage space. If this is you, you are going to have to do your absolute best to keep things minimal.
When I had an apartment in New York City, my kitchen was the size of my current pantry. But believe it or not, I actually loved it, and had no trouble keeping it organized. The name of the game when you have a small space is SIMPLIFY. Chances are, you probably don't cook for large groups of people if you have a tiny kitchen, so your needs should be minimal.
Here's my suggestion based on what I had in my NYC apartment:
One large pot and one small pot
One large pan and one small pan
One or two cutting boards, small and medium
One or two baking sheets, different sizes
As for where to store these items, try a hanging pot rack like the one below.
Or this one, with a shelf:
BOTTOM LINE: No matter your setup or the amount of space you have, the name of the game is, as always, SIMPLIFY. There is no reason, unless you are a chef or a caterer, that you need more than one or two of each type of pot and pan. Always take an inventory of your items before you begin organizing and really think about what you need and what you use on a regular basis. Keep only those items, and remember, JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE SPACE, DOESN'T MEAN YOU NEED TO FILL THE SPACE.
How many everyday dishes you need is obviously going to depend on the size of your family and how often you entertain. I would start with this question: What is the maximum number of guests you could have for dinner at any time? If that number is ten, for example, then I would say that you need no more than 10 sets of dishes: 10 large plates, 10 small plates, and 10 bowls.
Glasses or mugs would be in a different category. You definitely want to make sure you have enough for the largest group you would entertain, but aside from that, how many people live in your home, and how often do you run your dishwasher? If you have four people living in your home and you run your dishwasher every other day, then theoretically you should only need about 8 glasses. But let's be real; most of us use more than one glass per day, so I would take that number (8 in my example above) and double it, and make that the maximum number of glasses and mugs you should have.
Rather than buying a "set" of dishes, I tend to buy items separately based on what I use the most. These are my absolute favorite and so versatile, sort of a plate/bowl combination:
Some of my other favorite dishes I've gotten at HomeGoods or Target, as I like to hand pick certain items. I have a weird "thing" where I don't like my dishes to be too heavy, so it's helpful to be able to see and touch things in person. Opalhouse at Target has tons of great kitchen items and is definitely a favorite of mine.
THE JUNK DRAWER
We have have one; the question is, what does it look like? Mine goes through stages. Right now, it's very neat and cleared out, but a few weeks ago it was a mess. I like to address this junk drawer once every few months, because while I call it junk, it really just contains a bunch of random stuff that either I use frequently, or need to have on hand.
The two main tricks to keeping your junk drawer neat and minimal are:
1) Use small bins, and
2) Clean out often
I like the size of these acrylic bins best because they are not too small. I find that for my drawer, I need the large and medium size most.
But the real trick to keeping this drawer minimal is to clean it out often. Sometimes I will throw receipts in here in case I need to return something, but after a few weeks I will go in and throw them away. I also find that family members often place things in this drawer that don't belong, so when I notice, I'll either place the item where it belongs or toss it. I HATE paper, so what I've started doing is taking a picture on my phone if there is something on paper that I need, such as a business card or a menu from a restaurant, and I will save the picture in a categorized folder on my phone.
WELL, that was a long one! I hope you got some ideas for organizing and simplifying your kitchen storage spaces. There's lots more to come, so stay tuned!