A new year seems as good as any to start turning out those cupboards and decluttering your space. From chipped plates to out of date spices, it’s life. I know, I hopelessly hold onto things for way too long for that, ‘just in case’ moment in time.
But, seriously. Decluttering your home, and your kitchen will not only make your space feel so much better, but it will make access easier to things you actually need, and create a calm and uncluttered look.
To help you get started, we caught up with Ruth Lavender, design expert at Benchmarx Kitchens who gave us some pointers on the key areas that will clutter your kitchen, and what you can do instead.
9 Things That Will Clutter Your Kitchen – And What to Do Instead
A worktop is one of the most prone areas for clutter, no matter the size of your kitchen. Ruth added, “Whether your kitchen has abundant workspace, or you often find yourself struggling for room when cooking, organising your work surfaces should be one of the first things you tackle when decluttering your surroundings”.
“The same goes for chopping boards, cookbooks, and any other items that have become part of the scenery. Clear and clutter-free work surfaces will not only make your kitchen feel more organised, but offer precious space to prepare meals, too”.
2. Overfilling Cupboards & Open Front Shelving
Just because it has a door in front of it, the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ phrase doesn’t work too well when it comes to kitchen cupboards. Things should still be carefully stored away and easy to access. When it comes to open front shelving or glass fronted cupboards, you need to be even more careful.
Ruth said, “The key to organising areas that are within eyesight is to avoid overfilling – aim for a carefully styled, minimalist look. Be selective about the items you have visible, as you want these spaces to enhance your interior scheme and add personality, rather than become a dumping ground for bits and pieces.
“To create a new look, rotate the items on display seasonally, which will provide an immediate refresh without a total overhaul”.
3. Cupboards Without Organisation
It’s easy to start with good intentions when organising cupboards, but overtime they can become impossible to navigate. Plus, what about those corner cupboards that maximise space, yet are impossible to actually access anything in the back?
As experts in kitchen design, Ruth shared the things you can do when it comes to planning a kitchen for storage, or making use of what you already have.
“Many people underestimate the importance of well-organised cupboard space, but even with ample storage and innovative solutions, it’s essential to keep on top of items so that space continues to perform as it should. Naturally, factoring storage into your kitchen design in the planning stages will ensure your space suits your lifestyle. For example, if you’re a cooking enthusiast and a well-stocked kitchen is non-negotiable, a larder or corner pantry is a great addition.
“If you aren’t planning an entire kitchen redesign, you can instead work with your existing kitchen to enhance the space you already have. A simple tactic is to consider how you move around your kitchen, which will help you decide where to locate certain items”.
“I’d always advise zoning your storage, keeping utensils and crockery in one area, and food in another. Locating pots, pans, oven dishes and cooking utensils near the oven and hob will also ensure they’re easy to reach in the midst of meal preparation”.
4. Hoarding Items That Haven’t Been Used For Years
We’re all guilty of it. It’s no different to your wardrobe. You hopelessly hold onto a set of tableware that hasn’t been used in 2 years, waiting for that ‘just because’ occasion. But realistically, it would probably never be used again.
Ruth said, “As you reorganise your space, consider donating any electrical items or accessories you may no longer need to a charity, or gift them to a family member or friend. It’s also a good opportunity to check best before dates on food items, as well as wash any rogue tea towels and sort through the random items that may have accumulated over the years!”.
A good rule of thumb is to get rid of anything that hasn’t been used in a 6 months-1 year period, and dispose of anything that has been chipped. Chipped items can store bacteria over time, so it’s time to get rid and replace if needed.
5. Leaving Every Electrical Item On Display
In today’s world we have toasters, microwaves, kettles, air fryers and anything else to make cooking as easy as possible. But they take up precious space on our worktops and make a kitchen look incredibly cluttered.
Ruth said, “Leaving electrical appliances, utensils and other kitchen essentials lying around after use can create a busy look. By rearranging and only keeping items that are used regularly on show, you will instantly make your kitchen appear more organised. A useful rule here is to neatly pack away anything that you haven’t used in the past 48 hours – you can always bring it out when you need it!”.
It might also be a good opportunity to assess whether you need all of the appliances. Can an air fryer replace your need for a microwave, and so on.
6. Not Having An Organised Spice Rack/Storage System
Whether it’s spice jars, pastas, flour or beyond, having no system for storing any of it is a recipe for disaster.
Not only will it take longer to locate what you actually need, but it will instantly make any cupboard feel cluttered. Instead, firstly take everything out of the cupboard. Ditch anything that’s out of date or items that you won’t use in the near future.
Installing a simple spice rack will instantly give you control over your spices, and everything else. Take it one step further and decant into wooden tubs and label appropriately.
7. Conceal The Bin, No Really
We all have one, we all use one daily, but they’re just so ugly. That was the words an estate agent once said to me when taking photos of my flat, and I’ve never forgotten it.
Not only are bins ugly, but small kitchens are precious real estate, and plonking a bin in the middle takes up space and instantly makes the space feel crowded.
There are solutions. If you are in the process of redesigning a kitchen, opt for in-cupboard bins. They’re super easy to access, but they’re out of sight, out of mind.
If you don’t have the luxury of this. Look at door mount bins as shown below, they’re easy to install and don’t encroach too much into your existing cupboard space.
8. Buying New Items Without Revisiting Your Existing Collection
We all fall foul of this. You spot something you love and buy it without considering if you actually a) need it or b) if you already have something similar.
Consider the ‘one in, one out’ method. To prevent future clutter, establish a rule that whenever you bring a new kitchen item in, you must remove an old one. It can either be donated, sold or binned (if it’s no good to anyone). This will help to maintain a balanced and clutter-free kitchen on the go.
9. Not Setting Time Aside For A Deep Clean
Cleaning a kitchen daily is a part of life. But, when do you ever set aside time for a thorough deep clean? Over time kitchen cupboard doors, plinths, top of cupboards etc will develop a film of dust, food and dirt that might not be visible, but it’s definitely there.
Ruth suggested, “Deep cleaning your kitchen provides a satisfying feeling. If you are planning to get the rubber gloves out, it’s important to clean your cabinets and surfaces according to the material and finish, avoiding any long-term damage. Always check your supplier’s cleaning guidance in the first instance”.
“Washing up detergent and water is a great multi-functional solution that will keep your cabinet interiors and exteriors sparkling. A mixture of one per cent soap and 99 per cent water is best to avoid a soapy residue. Soak a soft cotton or microfibre cloth in the soapy water, and gently wipe the cabinets clean to remove any grease, dirt build-up, or stains. Doing this on a regular basis will help keep your cabinets in top shape”.
“If you’re dealing with a particularly stubborn or sticky stain, try using something a little stronger such as a pre-diluted sugar soap. This should help to lift the stain and remove any sticky residue. Once the mark has been removed, the area should be wiped over with a damp cloth to remove any excess cleaning product, then dried with a soft, clean cloth. It’s vital that it is a pre-diluted solution and doesn’t contain sugar crystals that will make the solution abrasive, posing the risk of surface scratches.”