Cassie D. Tilton
6 Steps I Took to Minimize Our Kitchen
“The kitchen is the heart of the home.” ~ Unknown
After stumbling upon the beginning of our minimalistic journey, starting with our children’s toys, the next plan I made to simplify our home was to move from one room to the next, starting with the kitchen. You know that feeling of panic that overcomes you when you are seeing everything that needs to be done to complete a goal, but realistically it’s just not possible to be able to do it all in one shebang? That’s the place I would find myself often; overwhelmed and put-off with just how much work was to be done in order to get our home in the state we wanted it. So, in an effort to living more simply, I also had to declutter my thoughts to approach it with a fresh outlook and an excited openness. Simplifying the monstrous project ahead of me by creating baby-steps for myself to make slow, but steady, progress is what helped me the most. Remember, progress is still progressing no matter how fast or slow you move along on your journey. It’s not always easy, but it is doable. Here are six steps I took to create a minimalistic kitchen:
1. Purge the pantry.
Sardonically, to stroke my own ego and to stay optimistic, I started with purging items out of the pantry. This was the easiest place for me to start to feel a little bit of instant gratification and accomplishment sooner rather than later. We actually use the pantry space more for storage of non-food items. Cooking fresh is my go-to for any meal we have so we really don’t have much in the pantry as far as “food” is concerned. (Funny side-note: Growing up, my father always reminded me that, “There’s no food in that food,” pertaining to any processed food I was munching on. All these years later, I am sharing the same truth with our kids using the same inflections haha.) There are many things in the pantry that get hidden, buried and forgotten about so I took everything out, literally everything, and chucked the expired “foods” and donated stuff that was stored there if we hadn’t touched it in the prior six months to a year. It was quick and painless, without emotions involved or big decisions to make. So simple, and so gratifying!
2. Clean out any junk/trash drawer.
This is another easy task to complete to help you feel the progress snowballing. Most kitchens have that one drawer, maybe more, that is a “catch-all” to stash random little things, such as papers, toys, keys, mail, nail files, cords, etc. However, it starts to get overly stuffed with those things that you more than likely won’t ever need. We regularly stash random “stuff” in that drawer, so this is a regular visit for me (weekly) to keep it clear. Same as the pantry, I initially pulled everything out of it and then got busy getting rid of things by trashing them, finding a proper “home” within our home for anything we would truly use, or donated them. When it was completely cleared out, I only kept items in it that we will actually use. For us, we home scissors, school notes, tea, and a charging cord in it at all times. Even with giving it a good clean-out, for some reason it still seems to collect random tiny toys that we come across, or pencils, pens, candy, etc. so that’s why I revisit it weekly, or every other week, to clear out what we don’t need or won't use. So, pull open that drawer and enjoy throwing out what you know is trash, finding a new “home” in your home for it, or donating what you can.
3. Purge any duplicate kitchen items.
This was another manageable step, going through one drawer or cabinet at a time, to purge any items that we had multiples of so that we only kept what we truly wanted and would honestly use. Yes, there were some items that we had several of and never used them all and that, in my opinion, is just plain excessive. If there were three soup serving spoons, I donated two and kept one. If there were eighteen wine glasses of various sizes, I donated fourteen and kept two sets of two matching wine glasses for a total of four. If there were six different serving bowls of the same size, I kept one of my favorites and donated the rest. This continued until I made it through the entire kitchen. That felt sooo good to actually get rid of some things that were taking up space and not being used. There was no reason for us to have two lemon squeezers or eight serving trays. They were taking up space and collecting dust, so it was nice to give away the ones we didn’t ever use and bless someone that would really use them. This might be a step that takes a week, or several weeks, so don’t get hung up on how quick or slow you’re moving along. If you’re taking your time and really putting thought to it, then its quality time spent on the one drawer you tackle that day, or even week! There is no timer set. Just keep chipping away at it and you’ll eventually get through it all.
4. Get rid of mismatched dishware and cutlery.
Next, I started to go through all our dishes, glasses, mugs, silverware, knives, etc. Donating the mismatched items and buying complete sets helped me to organize and utilize our space better. Knowing not everyone can do that, it will help you to go through what you do have and try to put together as many matching items that you can to organize them better. This helps to streamline your kitchen cabinets and drawers and creates more space to breathe with good organization. The items that you know you won’t use, sell or donate. No one needs five sets of eight of five different types of drinking glasses, or four chef’s knives, but someone out there does need at least one set of eight drinking glasses or one chef’s knife that they might not be able to afford to purchase at full price on their own. So instead of storing all these items and letting them sit and take up space, sell or give them to someone who will actually get some use of it.
5. Get rid of small and large kitchen appliances that you never use.
This step is especially helpful for those that like to buy fancy kitchen gadgets, but never end up actually using them. Or, maybe you have been gifted some nice kitchen gadgets, but they may not fit your lifestyle. They are very pretty and I’m sure the sentiment was solid when they were purchased or gifted to you, but at the end of the line, was it really worth it to spend the money on them just to have them sitting in your cabinets, or maybe even on your countertop, without ever using them? Or, is it worth hanging onto them only because they were a gift, but they just weren’t useful for you so now they sit and take up space? We had a crock pot that we would use regularly that we were gifted when we got married. Fast forward several years, we were gifted an Instant Pot that also served as a crock pot. However, we hung onto the original, simple crock pot because it was a gift. When I began this process of minimizing and started to approach our gadgets, I realized it was time to part with the simple crock pot and keep the Instant Pot since it fulfilled two of our needs. Don’t worry, the guilt won’t last long once you start to see the logical sense in getting rid of what is only taking up space and not being used. Have a good look at each of the small and larger kitchen appliances/gadgets that you own and see what you haven’t touched in years. Maybe sell them or consider donating them.
6. Clear the countertops and other surfaces.
Whew, this is my favorite and is the most freeing one! We used to have all kinds of stuff: pictures, knick-knacks, our kids’ creations, and décor items on our countertops in the kitchen. Also, we’d keep certain spices, oils, utensils, etc. on the countertop excusing it as the “perfect spot” for easy access (rolling my eyes now at myself for this one). There is nothing more freeing than walking into a kitchen that is free of clutter. AND, the biggest perk is how much easier it is to clean up the entire kitchen without all that “stuff” all over the counters! Such a huge time saver and much more sanitary. After going through all the drawers and cabinets and purging items we didn’t need, or simply didn’t want anymore, I was able to utilize those spaces to store everything that was on the counters within them. There were many things from the countertops that we got rid of instead of storing them. Getting rid of some items and then rehoming what we decided to keep, nicely and cleanly, so they each have a “home” to go back to once we were done with them helped simplify our kitchen and enhanced our time in it while cooking or entertaining. We now have a silverware drawer, a cooking utensil drawer, a spice drawer, a baking drawer, knives drawer, serving dish cabinet, dishware cabinet, kitchen gadget cabinet, etc. In this vein, also take time to clear off any other surfaces within the kitchen. If you have a kitchenette table, clear it off. If you have a refrigerator covered in old photos, drawings, and reminder notes, clear it off. If you have a cork board, or other hanging wall surface, covered with old notes, letters, and such, clear that off too. If you have an overabundance of wall décor in your kitchen, clear the walls, then patch the holes, and only hang and display what makes your heart happy and feel lighter.
"When I declutter my home, I lighten my soul." ~Erica Layne
After cleaning out the pantry, cleaning out the “catch-all” drawer, purging any kitchen items we had multiples of, streamlining our dishware and cutlery, donating kitchen gadgets and appliances we didn’t use, and clearing off all the surfaces, I have to admit it helped boost my mood and my confidence on this journey to minimalism. I was on fire and excited to continue on. The extra space made me feel lighter and happier! This is how I kept it easy and manageable so I wouldn’t lose my mind by being overwhelmed with everything that needed to be done. Remember, the items that don’t serve you anymore can bless someone that really needs them and being able to bless others makes your heart happy too!
Keep in mind, every persons journey is different so some of these steps may not apply to you, or they may take you much longer than anticipated, either is a-okay so long as you are doing what you can, when you can. It will only get better and better! I'd love to hear your outlook on simplifying your home and how you are approaching it in the comments below. Also, feel free to ask any questions you'd like to; I would love to connect!
Sending each of you loads of Love and Light,
P.S. Sharing these again, because these are great places to begin to get you inspired on your journey and to help you learn how to keep life simple: