Last Sunday night I set a challenge for all my lovely readers to get rid of their kitchen counter clutter for good.
First we took everything off our kitchen counters and put it into a washing basket. Throughout the week anything that ended up on the counter was added to our washing basket.
I had everyone let me know what was in their basket and boy oh boy did you deliver. Now it is time to find a home for all that stuff.
Over the next week I want you to work at setting up some systems to continue having clutter free kitchen counters. Below I have my storage solutions which hopefully will work for you as well.
Mail – I am going to start with this one because I think it is a killer for most people. I bring mail in from outside but don’t have time to read it so I toss it on the kitchen counter. My plan is to read and file it later, however later never seems to come and the pile just keeps getting bigger. Sound familiar? This little basket now holds my mail that either needs to be read or sorted. It sits on top of my mini office so it is really easy to toss my unread mail in there. Then when I get a chance, I read it and either toss it or file it in my mail caddy. The key is to read and sort regularly, don’t let this one sit too long or it will just end up being another pile. My other tip is to buy a small basket, the smaller the basket the quicker it fills up, and the quicker you have to sort through it.
Receipts – Our receipts go straight into the back section of our mail caddy to be filed. This way they don’t get lost and we know exactly where to find them if we need to. You could also use a little basket or container to keep them in until you have a chance to file them away.
Junk Mail, Catalogues & Newspapers – I use the same mail system for my junk mail, catalogues and newspapers. When I bring it inside I have a quick look through and toss anything I know I won’t want to read. Then I pop it into my mail basket until I get a chance to read it. After I have read them, they go straight into the recycling. If there is something in a catalogue that I want to remember, I take a quick photo with my phone for future reference.
Magazines – Next up is magazines. I used to buy them and they would sit on the counter until I had a chance to read them. I now use these file boxes to keep them tidy. I have one for each interest area that I like to read about and they are kept in the bottom section of my mini office. I used to have a small (okay, huge!) problem with hoarding magazines. I am talking hundreds and they dated back to when I was about 16 years old! One day I had a realisation that I was never going to look at those magazines again, they had been in a box in our garage for years. Besides if I did ever want to find something, chances are I would be able to find it online (Hello Pinterest!). So, I tossed them. I now have 3 file boxes for my magazines and that is it. I also have a binder that I keep cutouts from home magazines in. If I bring home a magazine and it doesn’t fit in my file box, an old one has to go. If you don’t have room for file boxes, you could have your magazines on display somewhere. Maybe on your coffee table, bedside table or in a basket somewhere. Just make sure they don’t build up too much.
Loose Change – We keep our loose change in this jumbo soup mug which sits inside our mini office. I started tossing coins in there one day and it kind of stuck. You could use pretty much anything for your spare change, a piggy bank, a coffee mug, a jar or a tupperware container. Keep this somewhere nearby, maybe on your fridge, microwave, buffet or entryway table.
Cookbooks – I keep cookbooks that I use regularly in a cupboard within easy reach. If it is really easy to put something where it goes, I am much more likely to do so. If you have a whole spare cupboard that is great but even just a little section of a cupboard will do to keep those few favourites out of the way.
Pens – The caddy I use to keep my mail in has 3 pen holders at the front that I use for pens found lying around. Something as simple as a coffee mug or a plastic cup could be used to keep them contained. You could also pop a drawer divider in one of your kitchen drawers to hold your pens.
Wallets, Sunnies & Keys – We have a little hall table in our entryway that this box sits on. It keeps our sunglasses, keys, wallets and glasses contained and within easy reach. You could also use a box, dish, basket or fruit bowl but make sure it is easily accessible or it won’t get used. The entryway is the perfect place if you have room. Keep an eye on this one because it can easily get filled with all kinds of bits and pieces.
Medication and Vitamins – It can be a pain getting medications and vitamins that you use on a daily bases in and out of your medicine cabinet everyday. So they tend to hang around on the kitchen bench. I found this little tray at Kmart, it is plastic and has a non-slip bit on the inside. Our daily vitamins and any medication that gets used often goes in this tray. We keep it on top of our fridge so it is out of reach for little fingers but also somewhere that we can see it and don’t forget to take them. You could also keep the tray in a cupboard or inside your pantry.
Jewellery & Hair Stuff – I used to leave bobby pins, hairbands and earrings lying around everywhere. It would drive me crazy but I didn’t have any where to put them short of walking back and forward to the bedroom (which obviously wasn’t happening). I had this little dish at home so I popped it on top of my mini office and started putting all my hair and jewellery bits and pieces in it. You could keep a little dish on your fridge, microwave or buffet as well.
Kids Artwork – For all little H’s amazing art work we have a big pink file box which we keep on a shelf in her playroom. Everything gets put into the box then when it is full we go through and pick out her most special ones to keep. It is also handy having them all nearby so we can add one to a letter for her grandparents or to wrap a present with.
Library Books – We have a bench near our front door with a returns basket on it. This is where we put anything that needs to leave the house with us like library books, items to be posted, store returns or a friends tupperware container. Grab a basket or box and put it near your front door to help contain all these items.
Kids Homework – We aren’t at the homework stage with Hazel yet, however I have done a bit of research and this is what I have come up with. These document pockets are in the Martha Stewart range from Officeworks, they come with some removable adhesive patches or you can hang them with hooks or push pins on a cork board. They are a perfect size to fit homework books and any loose paper. Put one up for each of your kids in the kitchen, entryway or where they do their homework. You could also make some labels with your kids name using my super simple tutorial.
School Papers – Next to your document pocket for homework you also could put up a clipboard for notes to be taken back to school. If they are hanging in plain sight, you should remember to sign and return them. Put any school notes that don’t need to be returned in your mail caddy or filing system. I also found these 3M spring clips on a recent trip to Bunnings and I think they are fantastic. You could put one up and clip all your school notes together.
Toys – At the end of our kitchen bench I keep this basket. Throughout the day any toys or books that end up on the kitchen bench or floor I throw into the basket. At the end of the day, Hazel takes the basket and puts all her toys away. We have made it part of her bedtime routine so she knows what she needs to do every night. If you have more than one child, they could work together to put the toys away or they could take it in turns each night.
Hats – Try hanging some hooks or a coat rail near your front door for hats, coats, scarves and bags. It might take a bit of encouraging to get everyone to use them but it won’t take too long and you won’t know what you did without them.
Dummies – Hazel’s dummies go in a little pink tin bucket on her dressing table. We have a dummy-in-bed-only rule so generally they aren’t scatted throughout the house. However if you have a little one who has theirs during the day you could use the same storage idea but keep it on the fridge or microwave, in a drawer or a cupboard.
Drink Bottles – If I find drink bottles on the kitchen bench I fill them up and put them straight back into the fridge. We also have a big tub in our pantry for drink bottles that aren’t being used (you could do the same with kids lunch bags). Our only exception is Hazel’s water bottle, she is not quite ready for a cup so her bottle gets used continuously throughout the day. I usually keep it sitting on the sink or on her high chair tray.
Man Stuff – If your man empties his pockets on the kitchen bench maybe consider making him a man box on the counter or by the front door. Try keep it to items he uses daily and not lots of bits and pieces. If you can get a box with a lid, even better, at least then you won’t be able to see the clutter.
Remember, if clutter starts to build up on your kitchen counter again either it doesn’t have a home or it’s home just isn’t working. If it doesn’t have a home, try and find one for it. If it’s home isn’t working, it is time to rethink. It is okay to review and change organising systems, don’t think it has to stay that way forever. Our lives are continuously changing and so to should our organisation.
If you get stuck and need a helping hand, feel free to email me at email@example.com. I am always happy to assist when it comes to organising and de-cluttering.
I hope this helps you to achieve a clutter free kitchen counter. And if all else fails, make a junk drawer 😉