By Marie Bradby
Cheryl Meyer, president of Cardinal Closets and Jennifer Barber, a professional organizer who owns Cut the Chaos, gives you a plan for turning your kitchen into a neat and functional space.
“You need to be very selective about what you allow in your kitchen,” says Jennifer. “Then plan out a place for everything.” Cheryl has a simple motto for her home: “If I can’t fit it all on one shelf, I’ve got too much stuff,” she says.
Organization is all about determining which items you use the most, those you use occasionally, and those you never use. And then letting go.
Here’s a powerful process to help you tackle your cluttered kitchen:
Pull out and sort all like items, such as pots, pans, and lids.
Divide them into three piles: Use daily, use occasionally, use rarely, never use.
Toss all cookware that is worn, damaged, missing handles or knobs, scorched, or flaking. Donate or sell duplicates and rarely used pots (or store them in a box to see if you pull them out again). You have to be really tough and let go of as many items as possible. This keeps you from wasting time searching through a huge jumble of pots. “If you haven’t used it in a year, you can get rid of it,” Cheryl advises.
Designate a space for what’s left and put the pots and pans that you love and use regularly in one place, either a cabinet, drawer, or shelf. Arrange them so that the most used ones are in front. Use a lid rack to keep lids organized. If you have grandchildren who visit, label that shelf or drawer so they can help put things away from the dishwasher.
The idea is to have a storage place for every item for your size kitchen (not the kitchen of your dreams…. that’s another story), and to eliminate visual clutter. So put up a shelf or pegboard in the pantry, basement, or back hallway to store seldom-used essentials.
“Less is always more,” Jennifer says. If you can go in your kitchen and cook a meal without having to search for things or clear a space on the counter, “it’s much more relaxing than fighting to find the pan that you want to use, or moving stuff. The benefit will be well worth the pain of letting go.”
Use this same process for all kitchen items, including utensils, dishes, mugs, glasses, canned goods, appliances, glass cookware, baking pans, gadgets (such as meat thermometers and tea infusers), linens, cookbooks, etc. This process also works for food, so set aside time to declutter and organize the pantry and the refrigerator. If you’ve got tons of good stuff, avoid going to the grocery store for a few weeks and use what you have.