Clear the Kitchen Clutter


Your kitchen is not immune to clutter. Chances are, this room is home to more unnecessary tools and gadgets than any other in your house.

For advice on how to kick the clutter, we asked Doug Durbin, owner of nuHaus Kitchen & Bath Design, and Chef Michael Kornick, owner of mk restaurant in Chicago, for their advice to reclaim your countertops.

Only stock your kitchen with things you really use 

“The first step to organizing any kitchen is to think about how you cook, what you eat and, most importantly, what you really need,” emphasizes Kornick. For example, if you are a vegetarian, chances are a rice cooker would be an invaluable tool for preparing all sorts of grains and beans. Not so important if you cook rice less than two times a month.

To help narrow it down, Kornick offers these simple rules:

  • Stock your kitchen with tools that encourage you to use the freshest, purest ingredients, including a high-quality pepper mill, cheese grater and citrus juicer.
  • When you purchase cookware, make sure it’s something that’s easy to clean and you won’t be reticent to use every single day. Most basic sets satisfy a typical family’s needs.
  • Every cook needs just two non-stick pans: frying pan and saucepan.
  • Invest in two high quality knives (paring, French) and keep them sharp!
  • Get a set of mixing bowls that you can prep, store and even serve in (for example, nesting glass prep bowls), instead of plastic for baking, stainless for mixing, etc.
  • There are four gadgets Kornick finds essential: mortar and pestle, food mill, blender and food processer (mini’s are okay if you don’t have tons of space).
  • While there are gadgets for prepping and cooking just about anything you can think of, that doesn’t mean you need them. Chances are you can skip the large counter mixer and get a handheld instead. And don’t even think about the ice-cream maker unless you have extra storage to fill.
  • Get creative with your tools. For example, use a fine mesh colander to sift your flour instead of purchasing a separate sifter. Get two flat handheld graters instead of the large four-sided one that eats up storage space.

Stick to the bare minimum

No surprise that even our kitchens have fallen prey to over-consumption. Eliminate clutter from your kitchen.


  • When you entertain, get creative and reuse what you already have.
  • Just because you need it for a party or holiday, doesn’t mean you have to buy it. There are myriads of rental places that offer specialty serving and tabletop items – and not just in white.
  • Take the time to clean out your kitchen cabinets and pantry and purge. The same rule applies to your kitchen as your closet. If you haven’t used it in a year, it’s time to give it away.
  • Do you really need two chip and dip bowls—one for inside and one outside? Who said everything you take outside has to be non-breakable?
  • Chances are if you use your dishwasher, an eight-piece dinnerware set should serve the daily needs of the average family.
  • How many plastic sports bottles and storage containers, coffee mugs and trays do you really need?

Need more inspiration? Check out “Eliminating Excess Clutter in 7 Easy Steps: Tips from an Almost Hoarder.”

Recover lost space and keep it organized

“It’s never been easier to design an efficient kitchen,” assures Durbin. “Whether you’re working with a custom, semi-custom or existing kitchen that needs more storage, there are so many options to keep much-used items at your fingertips and effectively recapture areas that were previously hard to reach.”

Even if you don’t have the need or budget to redo your kitchen cabinetry, consider tackling your pantry. Installing a closet system, either by yourself or through a closet company, allows you take advantage of every inch, whether it’s a walk-in or simple closet. Everything from pull-out drawers to vertical dividers to shelf units on the back of the door customize your pantry to your specific storage needs.

Think about how you use your kitchen and organize around those traffic patterns

Durbin finds that the work and traffic patterns in a kitchen are as diverse as the families that occupy it. While the kitchen has become more of the central living space of most homes today, the trick is to thread the living and actual kitchen work together.

“Think about where you have congestion issues,” advises Durbin.  For example, if your kids and spouse get in the way every morning while you pack lunches, designate a separate area for coffee and breakfast bowls. If entertaining is a priority and your guests like to hover, give them a place to mix their own drinks away from your hub. Even if you don’t have space for a formal butler’s pantry, set up a bar cart or outfit an antique breakfront with all the glassware, mixers and spirits they need.

Photos courtesy of nuHaus Kitchen and Bath Design.

  Who We Are       NFP Support       Magazine       Programs       Donate