It may be the heart of the home, but the kitchen is also where organizational goals sometimes feel most out of reach. Every trip to the grocery store means more stuff to find a place for—more visual noisiness to contend with. Most of what we bring into our kitchens (storage containers, dry foods such as rice and cereal) comes in bright, loud packaging with eye-catching labels. “It can be really overstimulating, whether you’re aware of it or not,” minimalist consultant Devin VonderHaar says. Here are her suggestions for turning down the volume to create a more serene cooking and gathering place.
Organize What You’ve Got
VonderHaar recommends “decanting” foods by removing packaging to give your pantry a uniform look: Using glass containers, like repurposed sauce and jam jars, to store food items can cut back on busyness and improve shelf life. Containers that have long lost their lids can be used as shelf and refrigerator organizers. Even the plastic vessel your take-out came in can be upcycled to hold small items that once populated the junk drawer.
You Only Need One
“The kitchen is a hot spot for duplicates,” Wong says. “But do you really need two cheese graters?” The same goes for pots and pans that accomplish identical tasks. Identify your most-used kitchen appliances, and think about how they can work in even more scenarios. Can you boil pasta in your favorite wok? Get rid of anything that performs a repeat job.
Keep Counters Clear
The only items on VonderHaar’s counter are a coffeemaker and an air fryer in a fun color she loves. Utensils, appliances, and food items are kept neatly out of sight in drawers and behind cabinet doors. “It makes cleaning easier, and it’s visually calming,” she says.
Make Designated Zones
Everything from food to cookware should have its own place that makes logical sense based on how you use your kitchen. Baking dishes, pots, and pans can be stacked using their natural shape and should go near the oven. Cups, plates, and bowls can live together in a different zone. Even in small spaces, having a set place for everything can make the room feel clearer.
Upgrade Where It Counts
To cut down on plastic and glam up the sink, swap in glass containers for hand and dish soap (even better if you upcycle or source from thrift stores). Check to see if there’s a soap refill station or store near you, or sign up for a subscription: Grove Collaborative delivers plastic-free, refillable household items such as soap in aluminum bottles, while products by Cleancult come in cute, recyclable milk cartons ($9.99 for 32 ounces of hand soap).
When Less Is Really More: How to Declutter Your Life With Intention
The Mental Health Benefits of Minimalism
How to Create a Minimalist Wardrobe
Where to Mindfully Donate Your Once-Loved Items
From March/April 2021