When browsing magazines, I shake my head when I see kitchens. Clearly the people who inhabit them don't cook. My kitchen, on the other hand, is a work area. I prepare three meals a day from scratch. Many days I also can, freeze, or dehydrate food or prepare some special treat like muffins. This should be clear to anyone who walks into my kitchen. If it's spotless, it's usually only for a few minutes. And the counters and cupboards? Filled with stuff.
I've given up on the idea of having counters with nearly nothing on them. I take solace in looking at Julia Child's kitchen (which you can see anytime at the Smithsonian website). It was organized, but not what clutter-free gurus would appreciate. I dream of kitchen walls like hers: Covered in peg board covered with kitchen tools. Practical. That's what I want my kitchen to be about.
That said, however, there are ways to make even a tool-packed kitchen more practical and clutter free. Here are some ideas:
* Most clutter-free gurus say that if a small appliance isn't used at least once a week, it shouldn't be on the counter. However, in the average kitchen many small appliances are too large to store in a cupboard. I feel this way about my mixer. I typically use it every two to three weeks and it's too big and heavy to conveniently store away somewhere. Still, take a hard look at your small appliances. If there are any you rarely use, consider getting rid of them. If any are old and huge, consider updating to more compact models. Choose small appliances with multiple uses whenever possible. For example, instead of buying a grain mill, buy the grain mill attachment for your stand mixer.
* Rearrange your small appliances to make better use of counter space. For example, most of us do a lot of kitchen prep near the sink. Instead of keeping the breadmaker, for example, on the counter near the sink, move it to a more out of the way location.
* Move your canister set to the pantry. This is a quick, easy way to free up counter space. If you rarely use your canister set, consider getting rid of it altogether.
* Get rid of non-practical items. That pretty candle near the sink might have been a nice idea, but if it's eating up precious counter space and you rarely use it, let it go.
* Store food in cupboards and the pantry, not on the counter. I used to have a basket of onions and garlic on the counter; I moved the basket to the pantry and it not only made my kitchen look less cluttered, it freed up counter space.
* Store food, utensils, and tools close to where you normally use them. For example, don't make yourself walk across the kitchen to grab a spice you need when you're using the stove top. Store the spices near the stove.
* Put least-used items in the least convenient locations. For example, I have deep cupboards; to get to the stuff in the back, I have to remove the stuff in the front. So I store things like cookie cutters back there, since I use them perhaps three times a year. Sometimes I find that if the gadget is a pain to get to, I do without. If I do this for a year, I get rid of the item.
* Go through your cookbooks and keep only family heirlooms and those you frequently use. If there are only a handful of recipes you use in any cookbook, make copies of the recipes and place them in your recipe binder. Then give the cookbook to your favorite charity.
* Consider a Julia Child style peg board - if not for all your walls, then for one.
* Consider a high shelf, near the ceiling, for less used cookbooks or gadgets.
* Don't store anything in the kitchen that doesn't belong in the kitchen.
How do you keep your kitchen practical?