Organizing @ Home the Kitchen Drawers & Counters
• Dish Towels
• Tackling the Junk Drawer
– How Long Will It Take?
Last stop on our tour of the kitchen are the drawers and countertops. Maybe the most stressful areas in the whole kitchen; but you are ready! Just like all other areas we have worked on, drawers and countertops follow the same process. You need to take a look at everything you have. While you do, you will sort and purge and group with like items. Compartmentalizing brings organization and clarity.
Grab a box or two, put on music and say “I can do this!”Click here for a motivational moment from Maureen.
The number of drawers you have is all you’re going to have; it’s important to make the most of those spaces. To maximize any drawer, it must be compartmentalized. The most common reason for disorganized drawers is a lack of compartments. When the space isn’t divided up, things just slosh around in the drawer obscuring one another so it’s difficult to easily see anything in particular. Let’s review some of the items usually found in kitchen drawers and some tips on how to organize them.
A staple in every household that can take over an entire drawer. To make the most of your silverware drawer, chose an organizer that is not too big or bulky. Some organizers are roomier than necessary and waste space. If you are tight on drawer space, you might gain some space by switching out your silverware organizer with interlocking drawer organizers by Rubbermaid.
If you don’t store your knives on the counter in a butcher block or on a magnetic strip, then they’ll be in a drawer. Grouping large knives separately from smaller knives reduces the risk of getting cut by a large knife when reaching in for a small knife.
How many knives do you use? I’ve seen clients with a multitude of knives who really only use a few, but struggle to find their favorite. All those extra knives obsure the ones that are prefered. If this resonates with you, either cull through your knives, or compartmentalize them by grouping by size.
There are SO MANY kinds! It’s amazing! The utensils I typically see are: spatulas, tongs, stirring (oversized) spoons, whisks, scrapers, wooden cooking utensils, silicone untinsels, can openers, cheese slicers, cheese graters, bottle openers, serving utensils that match the silverware, turkey baster, lemon squeezer, lemon zester,
When space is limited, be very selective about the utensils you keep. It’s easy to end up with more than is needed especially when retailers sell utensils in multi packs. You may have bought it for that one spoon but you got 4 spoons you didn’t need; now what? Next time skip the multi-pack and just buy the one you need, or give the extra ones to your sister.
Try to avoid buying gadgets that serve only one odd purpose. Unless you are a cooking enthusiast and will use them, you will more likely overwhelm your drawers with the extra gadgets. Before purchasing, think about your drawer space – how much you have and if you really need it. Kitchen gadgets are fun, but often unnecessary and if you are limited on space, you need to choose wisely.
Everyone has one, and some people have several. Things we have found in junk drawers:
spare keys, batteries, paper clips, rubber bands, twisty ties, clips, pens, notepads, locks, stamps, labels, money, gift cards, business cards, meds, scissors, screwdrivers, hammers, nails, tape, hair accessories, glasses, cameras, paper, etc.
Anything and everything lands in a junk drawer! More on the junk drawer later.
Dish Towels & Pot Holders
How you fold your dish towel is an important factor when considering drawer space and best fit. After experimenting with different techniques, this video shows the best fold I have found and the towels fit well in most places and spaces. To make best use of the space, it’s important to be consistent in your fold. Make them all the same shape and stick to it! Even if the towel isn’t the same overall size as the rest, fold it to have the same footprint.
To make it easy, you might consider culling down to just those that are the same size or only buying those that are the same size that are easy to fold. I know it might sound ridiculous, but getting your towels to fit into its assigned drawer sometimes requires a little strategy. If you like to purchase cute towels every season, do it – just switch out what’s in your drawer and store the extras elsewhere (like in the linen closet or laundry room, in a clear lidded container labeled: special occassion dish towels).
Check out the video on how to fold a dish towel to make it fit into the drawer. Yes, it sounds a little silly, but it really makes a difference!
This necessary item often lands in the same drawer as the dishtowels, but they aren’t always the same shape as the dishtowels which makes it tricky. If you don’t have space to spare in your dishtowel drawer, you’ll need to find another place; what is one to do?
One solution is to stick them on the fridge using a command hook, or a suction cup hook like the one in the photo. They only hold a few, but how many hands do you have anyway?
Another option I’ve tried is the inside of the pantry or cabinet door? I’m not a huge fan of hanging things on doors, but a couple of pot holders passes the cabinet door test:TIP | Use a command hook to hang pot holders on the fridge. If your fridge is brushed metal, they make hooks that match your fridge.
- it’s quiet
- it’s lightweight
- fits easily (it’s small)
- it doesn’t swing around wildly thus blocking the door from closing properly
In my organized opinion there is NO REASON for paper to live in a kitchen drawer. The only exception is a notepad stored in the junk drawer, or a drawer just outside the “main” kitchen zones. (If you have a built in desk/computer nook in your kitchen that would be handled differently; more like a desk drawer.)
If you have a drawer with paper, product manuals and other clutter, get them OUT! Your manuals belong somewhere else. We often will put them in either a M or L clear box (see Lesson #3 – Organizing Supplies for details) or a scrapbook box works well too. Bottom line, do NOT dedicate a drawer to manuals. HUGE waste of space.
Whether it be silverware, knives, utensils, or the junk drawer, reflective questions will help you figure out what to do with all the stuff.
- Am I using this anymore?
- Do I like how it feels in my hand when I hold or use it? Is it comfortable? Is it sturdy enough to do the job?
- Is it still serving my needs or is there something I like better and use instead?
- Do I have too many of this item?
Sort & Purge
Compartmentalize is the word of the day. Really a picture is worth a thousand words today, so check out the photos as a guide on what compartmentalizing a drawer looks like.
Stores like Target, Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, Lowes and others have regular stock of drawer organizers, then there is of course the Container Store and Amazon. Interlocking drawer organizers are terrific, and even better if they have straight sides with no lip.
TIP | Short on drawers organizers? Arrange them to create a pocket of space. You don’t always have to fill the entire drawer with organizers, but it does look nice.
Tackling the Junk Drawer
Since it is a source of anxiety for so many, let’s focus our attention there.
The steps are the same regardless of the space. The main obstacle in getting the junk drawer organized is your attitude about it. We’ve spoken before about detaching yourself from any negative feelings you might be experiencing. It’s time to do that again.
This includes fussing about it in your head. Ignore that fussy voice, take a deep breath and say out loud “I can do this!!” several times to drown out the fussy voice!
(Yes, I really do want you to say it out loud.)
– Clear the counter, you will need some space to spread out.
– Because everything looks like trash, just pick something and start collecting. You could search for batteries, pens, paper clips, paper – it doesn’t matter just focus on one thing first. Soon piles of like items will appear like magic.
– Now that you have piles, weed out what doesn’t belong in the drawer and put every else back in. Either purchase a drawer organizer for junk drawers (those are actually pretty good) or use individual containers and build your own.
Need extra help? Ask your higher power for some help. Seriously! There’s no limit on what your higher power can help you with. The junk drawer is small potatoes.
Can’t use the counter to work on the junk drawer because of all the clutter?
– Start with the counters first, then do the junk drawer OR pull the drawer out and work on it elsewhere. Most homes in our area (SE Texas) have drawers that come out. See our video on how to remove a drawer.
“Lay junk here!”says every horizontal surface.
You want to have clear counters, but what happens? Countertops can be like one giant junk drawer. Without a functioning system in place to manage all your stuff, it quickly gets out of control.
If what’s typically on your counter actually belongs in an upper or lower cabinet, you should have addressed that in the previous days. If you overlooked that step, today’s your day.
Paper is the biggest problem on the kitchen counter, followed by things that come out of husbands pockets, kids backpacks, recent purchases from the store (still in the bag), items taken out of the cabinet and never returned, and purses – just to name a few.
Decluttering the Countertop
– Gather up all paper and stack in criss-cross piles to keep things separated.
– Place important time sensitive paper on top OR move to a safe place.
– As you address each items on the counter, ask yourself these Reflective Questions: TIP | When you get home, always take items out of the bags immediately no matter what the purchase. More items have been “lost” in the bag they came in, than you can imagine.
- Where does this belong?
- Who does it belong to?
- Is it still needed / relevant / necessary?
- Do I need a tray, basket, or jar here to catch some of these things?
Walk yourself through the same steps as we’ve been doing. Sort, purge, group like items, dump, donate, distribute. Ask more reflective questions to help you along. Check our eBook on Paper Management to help with the paper.
How Long Will It Take?
If you work exclusively on the drawers and countertops and you stay totally focused by not allowing yourself to get sidetracked, it will take about 4 hours. If your countertops are piled high with stuff, it will take longer.
This is the kitchen island, and the counters looked like this, too. The counters alone would take 4 hours to sort and purge. As a point of reference for you, this is an excessive amount of countertop clutter.
This kitchen was average sized, and had quite a bit of clutter on the counters and kitchen table. It took about 5 hours to clear the counters and organize the drawers.
Start with the hardest thing first, but the most satisfying in the end (I bet it’s the junk drawer). If you can get through that, it’s all downhill from there! OR if you are pressed for time, skip the junk drawer for now – but go back to it when you can. Honestly, it’ll be worth it and you will wonder why you didn’t just do it sooner.
Remember to think positive. No cussing and fussing in your head about the condition of your drawers or counters. Talk to yourself like you would someone you love. Keep a positive mental attitude about it all and it will just be easier. I promise.
If you have any questions, comments or thoughts, reach out on Facebook or join us on our bi-weekly ZOOM video conference calls! Join the Clutter to Clarity Club here!
Until next time…