Welcome to the results of Week 1 of the 52 Weeks to an Organized Home Challenge

Step 1: Think about the function of your kitchen

Our kitchen doesn’t usually become a dumping ground for random items since it is at the back of the house. (The chaise lounge and/or dining room table are usually gifted that honor). It primarily serves as a place to prepare food, plan meals, serve meals and organize the family schedule. The biggest problem I have is dealing with my paper recycling. I know this sounds ridiculous but I find old sticky notes, envelopes and other loose paper throughout the day that usually forms a pile on the kitchen table. If my daughter doesn’t get to it first, eventually it is put in the recycling bin in the unfinished mudroom outside the backdoor. The problem is that in winter especially I am reluctant to open and close that door so many times, leading to serious heat loss. I have similar problems with our glass and plastic recycling which simply piles up on the kitchen counter until we finally deal with it.Our lack of counter space is a major problem as well. There are just far too many things on the counter and no other apparent place to put them. But I am willing to pursue alternate options as I head into this challenge.

Step 2: Create Usable Counter Space and Clear the Kitchen Table

In my kitchen this is easier said than done. It seems that as soon as a clear a space it is taken up with dirty dishes, items to recycle or other clutter. Things that don’t go in curbside recycling are the biggest culprit. Dark glass bottles and Styrofoam sit around for ages until we finally make a trip to the local recycling center.

Step 3: Consider Kitchen Storage Solutions to Help Clear Counter Space

I’m trying to take the articles advice and avoid giving valuable counter real estate to rarely used items. My big challenge right now: my cookbooks. I only have a few, but I also have loose recipes written on sticky notes and index cards that are simply filed in piles between larger cook books. I also have cooking magazines that I can’t quite part with even though I’ve already extracted any recipes that really interest me. In a perfect world all of my recipes would be in digital form, but I hesitate to use my laptop when my fingers are covered in flour or raw meat; assuming I could find a good location to use it in my kitchen anyway. I’m going to try to downsize my cookbooks and get a couple of folders to keep my loose recipes organized. That being said, I really don’t use most of them very often. Most of my favorite meals I prepare from memory. So the trick is to get them off of the counter but not entirely out of site.

Step 4: Create the Habit of Keeping Your Sink Clear of Dishes at Least Two Times Per Day

I am also trying to institute the new healthy habit of not leaving dishes in the sink over night. This is very hard for me, as I am usually exhausted by the time dinner is finished. But I figure that washing just a few dishes every night is better than devoting an hour or more to the task later in the week. Plus I don’t have to see the dirty dishes sitting there day after day. I’m hoping that by doing a quick clean up every night after dinner or before bed I can actually keep my kitchen clean for more than thirty seconds.

I’ll call this attempt a mixed success for multiple reasons. First, the budget does not allow for any addition storage solutions in kitchen, though I do plan to add a shade or curtain to my pantry once I find one I actually like that is within my budget. Second, upkeep will be my constant struggle. My kitchen gets messy really fast so constant vigilance is required. There are some long term solutions we are pursuing such replacing out microwave and toaster oven with under the cabinet mount models. But for now these are just goals we are saving for.

I’m using an old Clementine crate to store recycling that gets emptied every night. That way I have a place to put the items I come across throughout the day without going out back. I moved my cookbooks up to the ledge above the countertop and threw out the old cooking magazines since I had already pulled all my favorite recipes out of them. We do still keep a lot of fresh fruit out on the counter, but I can live with that as long as it looks decently organized. I moved the cloth napkins to the kitchen table and cleared off just about everything else. Now when we sit down to eat, we actually have the space to eat. Things can still get cluttered fast, but I’m hoping a few new innovations (such as the daily emptying of compost and recycling and doing dishes daily or every other day) will keep the clutter at bay. I have to say it’s already a great feeling to come downstairs in the morning with clean dishes and a clear countertop.

(My apologies for the lack of pictures in this post. In the future I will try to include before and after shots)

So far so good. It’s a challenge to keep up with the new anti-clutter habits, but already my kitchen looks better. On to Week 2: Kitchen Drawers and Cabinets