Clear Your Kitchen Counter (It’s a Work Space, Not a Storage Space)

My kitchen is in progress right now, but a few months ago when we bought our house it looked like this:

Untouched from 1970. Very dark with lots of harvest gold.

During our first week of home ownership we pulled down the upper cabinets that divided the food prep area from the eat-in area. My heart raced as I anxiously watched those heavy oak cabinets be pried off the ceiling and come crashing down. It was for the best, as it opened up the space.

We considered removing the lower cabinets and counter that divide the room as well, but I’m glad we didn’t. We noticed during that first week how often we piled our tools on the counter, and it was so useful. It is the main landing spot in the house.

The kitchen counter is our dumping ground for everything that we bring into the house: groceries, bags, and school papers. It’s the place where we temporarily set glasses, tools, and toys as we come in from other rooms. It’s where I wrap gifts, pack lunches, and serve up meals for family and guests.

The kitchen is the center for work and activity in the house, and having a clear counter to serve as a work surface is essential.

We often treat the kitchen counter as a storage space, but it’s supposed to be a work space. Storage can get in the way. We can put our stuff on the counter, but that doesn’t mean it should stay there. It needs to move out of the way for the next activity to happen.

Let’s work on clearing off the kitchen counter today.

I always have a dish drying rack next to the sink, but otherwise I try to keep the counters as clear as I can. When I set something down temporarily, it’s obvious and out of place. This gives me incentive to put things where they should go.

As much as you can, clear the work area on your kitchen counter. Be sure to share your tips and progress in the comments!

clear the clutter

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. I totally agree!! The kitchen looks clean and uncluttered when the counter is clean. We do the same. Come in from anywhere and whatever was brought in starts off there. But gets moved quickly to its own space. And I like it free of hubby’s crumbs and finger prints. I wipe it off several times a day. The only things we keep on that side of the counter are a small TV and a basket of fruit. Nice and simple.
    Donna´s last post…Having Fun Trying To Meet Deadlines

  2. What a beautiful in-process transformation. all that open pantry space is lovely! It’s so much brighter and cleaner. We’re constantly working on a “the kitchen is not a storage space” problem. My kitchen is tiny, and because of the lack of counter space, my kitchen table becomes the workspace/storage space. It’s inevitable!

  3. Great post. I am always having anxiety when other people in the house leave the benches cluttered. I like both of your kitchens I have to confess, but love the point that it is not storage space, irrespective of HOW it looks. Tasmanian Minimalist.

  4. Karen (scotland) says:

    Completely agree with this but it is SO hard to maintain!

    We are currently redoing our kitchen and I actually made the decision to put a high unit immediately as we walk in the kitchen door. It’s going to have a “metal” side so we will use it as a noticeboard. That will be useful BUT the best thing is that there is no longer that one foot of landing space where everything got dumped and left too long (especially those NON-kitchen items – tools, items to return, etc)…

    Also, in Britain, there’s the kettle and toaster. We’ve made a small shelf about 10 inches above the usual worktop and that is where we have put the kettle and coffeemaker. It keeps my work surface clear and easier to wipe down.

    I used to put the toaster away but now that the kids eat toast daily (at least), it is left out permanently next to the breadmaker. I’d rather put it away but shaking it around produces more crumbs than is worth the effort!

    I always wonder about the hygiene of permanently cluttered worktops?
    Karen (Scotland)

    • Karen, in South Africa we also have toasters and kettles on the counter. I thought it was universal?

      Rachel, where is your kettle? :)
      Marcia (123 blog)´s last post…Remember that sewing machine?

      • Karen (scotland) says:

        Can’t remember if it was on this blog or another but I queried the US lack of kettles once and many replied to say they drink coffee, not tea, so don’t always have kettles.
        Maybe SA acquired the kettle legacy from Britain and Holland?
        Kettles in Holland are the norm but my mother-in-law in Holland thinks my toaster is a miracle machine and exclaims with delight “Makelijk, huh?!” (“Easy, huh?!”) every time I make her toast.

        This is what I love about the blog world – the little insights into those cultural differences that they don’t list in the travel guides!
        Karen (Scotland)

        • Karen, I do think it’s a British thing. After all, everything is better after a cup of tea :) There is NO doubt in my mind!

          It’s also what I love about the blog world – learning about all these differences the world over.

          We drink coffee and tea but I gave the coffee maker away because we weren’t using it more than once every two weeks and so now we just buy instant (but very good) coffee. And of course, my beloved tea :)
          Marcia (123 blog)´s last post…Do you need more friends?

        • Americans, if they have a kettle, usually have a stovetop one. I have no idea why, when everyone seems to be so gadget and kitchen appliance focused (I mean, I’ve seen ridiculous things like cupcake bakers). I learned about electric kettles while studying in the UK and never looked back! I use it constantly, even if I’m just boiling water for pasta.

          • I live in Germany and use my electric kettle a few times a day for tea. It’s so much faster than on the stove.
            We don’t have a coffee machine. If I want some coffee, I fix one mug with a hand filter, again with boiling water from the kettle.
            And: the toaster is always on the counter!

          • I got hooked on the electric kettle while living in Australia. I’ll never go back! During the winter we use it about every day for making tea and oatmeal. We store it in the cabinet though– not enough counter space to keep it out all the time!
            Katherine´s last post…A Child of the Cloth: Diapering that Tush

        • Hi Karen,I’m from Holland and (almost)everyone I know has a toaster :-) I keep mine in a cabinet because I only use it a few times a week. I have the rule that if I use something 4 or more days a week it can live on the counter. Sometimes my counter is completely empty but it is a struggle to keep it that way!

      • No kettle in this kitchen! We just don’t drink tea often enough. Now the coffee maker — permanently on the counter in its own spot.
        Lori´s last post…Balancing Balance, Part IX: Which Extras Get to Be in My Life?

      • I keep my kettle on the stove. We use it for coffee and tea a couple of times a day.

      • No kettle in my kitchen. If someone wants tea, we heat up the water in the microwave in a cup or my Keurig coffeemaker has tea pods too. Most of my friends don’t keep a kettle. We’ve all got the toaster on the counter and the coffee maker though! We’re in Chicago suburbs.

      • vermontmommy says:

        We too have a toaster on our counter. I also have an old metal bread box next to it. We use it too much to take it in and out of a cupboard.

        We used to have a kettle on the stove but we have a Keurig machine that makes our hot water for tea. I like it because my children can use it without having to turn on the gas stove. They can make tea and cocoa with it.

        We also have our Kitchenaid stand on another counter because we use that often as well. The rest of our appliances are in a cupboard as I don’t use them daily.

      • We are in the US and I couldn’t live without my kettle or my toaster!

      • We drink tea, not coffee…my copper teakettle stays on the stovetop ready to make hot water for a cup at a moments notice!

      • Kaycee Fisher says:

        Kettle on the stove, toaster on the counter

    • If only it were just a kettle and toaster. We have a radio, bread bin, bottle warmer, utensils jar, assorted crap and some cutlery I’ve been meaning to donate. Hold on, I can see a couple of targets there!

    • No kettle here…but my husband does have a French press and the toaster oven lives on the counter!

  5. I am really trying to do this, but there a few things that I am using all the time and don’t have enough cabinet space to put it all away. But I’ll check and see whether we can still reduce some.

  6. Kitchen counters, like dining tables, tend to be natural “catchers” for stuff during the day. As long as they are cleared off in the evenings, I think that’s fine. I find it easier to keep them as clear as possible during the day as well, because if there’s a lot on them, it slows me down or puts me off what I wanted to do, whether it be cooking or playing a board game with the kids.

    And you are right that clear counters highlight things that are out of place. Clutter only attracts more clutter!
    Kim @ Extra Organized´s last post…Today’s organizing bliss

  7. Not fair.

    If you didn’t have so many cabinets, drawers, and that great open pantry, you’d have to store small appliances & kitchen utensils on your countertops too.

    • Well keep in mind that this is my first house, and I’ve only lived here for a few months. I lived in apartments with my family before now.

      When we lived in apartments, we often put up shelves or kept extra pantry food in other places to make more storage space and keep the counters clear. We had very few small appliances. Most apartment kitchens aren’t designed for families who cook every meal, but having some clear counter space is still essential (maybe even more so), which is why I said to try as much as you can.

  8. I love your kitchen, it looks really nice. We have a bar area in our kitchen and we always used to put stuff on it. Or we’d walk right into the dining room and dump everything on the table, but it was a huge problem because it was things that didnt really have a home. So I re-organized our mudroom with some really simple solutions and now we are much better for it. Having clear space to work is so great, and the visual noise was so loud. Thanks for sharing your ideas, i always feel so inspired after reading anything you write.
    Jen @ a place 2 call home´s last post…Writing at FG2B

  9. This is a hard thing to balance, especially for Tiny Kitchen folks (although it is even more important for them!) The kitchen certainly is a storage space, one of the most important ones in the house, and it is one of the most-used rooms in the house for most families, so it requires careful and continual effort to keep in optimal condition for use.

    My kitchen is a good case in point right now. We hand wash our dishes. I’m having trouble with tendonitis in both arms and I’m trying to rest them as much as I can. Dishwashing is a no-no. I’ve got three young adult-age children and a husband, but somehow none of these generally-helpful people did anything about the dishes last night. Now breakfast prep is hampered for everybody. I’m to take a meal to a family this evening and need to cook this morning, but I can’t do that efficiently until these counters get cleared of dirty dishes and the sinks are emptied.

    Careful and continual effort — vital to the smooth running of the household! Excuse me while I go round up some workers… :)

  10. We keep one counter for appliances that I use daily – I reckon if they are not out I will never use them… so the coffee machine, the kitchen aid mixer and dare I say the microwave – we don’t use it my mother in law gave it to us – so I MUST keep it, we use it as a bread bin. The other counters are all clear, I almost hyperventilate if something lands on a counter – it is a work surface not a storage space!!!
    Gotta thank you for last weeks post and getting me to get rid of all the “donate piles” lingering around here – Oh the heady freedom, oh the space!!! Even got our broken old car towed away to the place where cars go never to return!!! The whole driveway has been blocked for months suddenly the bike space is back!!!

    • Oh that’s so great you were able to donate that car! What a refreshing way to reclaim that space.

  11. We have a similar counter between our kitchen and dining room and I’m afraid it is a constant battle between the “stuff” and me (and I sometimes just give up…).
    Tammy´s last post…~Empty Needles~

  12. Another tiny kitchen person here! I would love to have NOTHING on my countertops, but unfortunately, the coffee maker, microwave, toaster, and kitchen utensils must live there. My kitchen has only 2 drawers (TWO!), 3 lower cabinets, and no pantry (this is standard in Asia, where we live). I would get rid of the the coffee maker and toaster to free up space in a heartbeat, but my husband would never go along with that. :)
    Morgan´s last post…Happy Chinese New Year!

  13. You know what’s funny? Is that the house, in all of it’s 1970’s glory actually looks like it’s liveable and functional when it’s sparkling clean with no clutter! Not that I’d enjoy 40 year old appliances and such, but such a difference it makes if you just keep clutter free! Love your new place and LOVE this blog. Can’t wait til the next post! XO.

  14. I’m also a big fan of clean kitchen counters. I also hate having to move a lot of things to clean, and the counters are wiped down so frequently! On my counters I have: five canisters, coffee maker, knife block, TV, utensil jar and a bowl. I have a decent amount of counter space, so these are spread out and don’t seem like a lot. I too have to fight more kitchen counter clutter, because our counters are the landing space when we come in the door, for things that we need to remember to take with us, etc.

  15. It’s like you’re psychic or something.

    My to-do list has 3 items today: clean kitchen counter, balance budget, send in deposit for clubhouse rental. :)

    See my problem is the kitchen counter is a landing spot for misc detritus, and then when people are coming over I shove it all in a Trader Joe’s bag and stick it in the pantry. But now it’s piled up again, so I have a messy counter AND a TJ’s bag full of junk on my pantry floor. Today is the day!
    Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm´s last post…5 Reasons WHY to Get Rid of Books (and a GIVEAWAY!)

  16. love what you have done to your kitchen!! So inventive! I especially love the shelves–exposed shelving is my fav!

  17. We also have ceiling mounted hanging cabinets in between the kitchen/dining room like yours (and one one side it attached to the wall cabinets). We are considering taking the hanging cabinets down to open up the space. We are not very handy though so not sure if we could handle the task ourselves – would you mind sharing how you take them down please? I presume you’d need to patch the ceiling after ward? I tried googling but can’t seem to find an answer…. thanks much! Your kitchen looks so much nicer it’s hard to believe it’s the same kitchen!

  18. Lovely transformation! Our kitchen peninsula is a constant battle too. When we owned a house, I thought I was a minimalist, but when we downsized to a small apartment, I found out what minimalism was all about–there was only room for things I couldn’t live without. Everything else went into storage. Now, a year later, we are back in a house again (still renting), and I still don’t miss most of those things in storage. The other week, I finally went through the boxes, picked out a couple of items I wanted to keep and donated the rest. So much easier to keep things (at least semi-) tidy!
    Naomi´s last post…Pillow Talk

  19. I have the same constant battle. Both my husband and my boys constantly dump things on the counter. I almost have the boys trained, but the husband is another matter. I’ve tried giving him a basket to put things in, but he doesn’t use it. So, we’re still at me cleaning the counter when I have time, and grumbling about it!

  20. For us, this is our table. It is the first thing we see when we walk in the door and sometimes we just unload on it: purse, keys, jackets, gloves, groceries, books, mail… the list could go on for a while.

    Luckily, since everything has a space in our home, when it comes time to clean it off, it doesn’t take long because I don’t have to figure out where something is going to go. That alone has been a great time saver when it comes to picking up.
    Jennie´s last post…New Couch. Ta-da!

  21. Hello, I am so happy to have found your blog. I get motivation by reading blogs like this. Thanks for sharing with us, I love organizing.

  22. I have a peninsula just like that. In fact your kitchen is walking the journey I want my kitchen to go on. And that peninsula is such a clutter magnet. But when it’s clear, don’t I feel free like a cloud in the sky on a warm breezy day?

    Thanks for the reminder.


  23. The kitchen counter is a constant struggle for me. We have the coffeepot, kettle on the stove (even in the U.S.!), five canisters, toaster oven, pile of trivets for hot things on the table, blender, mixer, can opener, fruit basket, paper towels, nut basket, and right now a bunch of things that don’t really belong there. However, I just found this blog yesterday in my effort to simplify my family’s life, so hopefully I will be taking care of some of this as I learn and gain inspiration here!
    Robin´s last post…How to Get it all Done when you’re Sick!

  24. That picture made me catch my breath–gorgeous space. My kitchen counters look just like that (read, nothing like that). Thanks for some inspiration today….I am always striving for less clutter and lately have hit a big slump. I’m always working at it and have improved a lot, but some days just want an expert to come in and speed the process along! This post is a good alternative.
    Meaghan´s last post…Comment on The Lost Art of Cooking At Home by Kathleen

    • I’m sorry, I just realized that my last sentence makes it look like I’m talking about one of my posts….which I’m not! I meant ‘This post’ as in your post that I was commenting on! Oops. D*mn those ambiguous pronouns!

  25. I’m pretty good at this! We lived the first 8 years of our marriage in Japan so pretty much zip counter space. Now we’re in a rental house in Seattle (circa 1926) with 1700 sq. ft. of living space (feels ginormous!) and a teeny bit more counter space (still no dishwasher – bleck), but I’m still vigilant about my precious counter tops. A bowl of fruit, and we do have a water filter pitcher thingy to one side, but I keep my kettle on the stovetop and our toaster under the counter when we’re not using it. Also, I put the dishes on a towel after washing and try to put them away as soon as I can. The kids and I do a lot of mixing, etc. on the kitchen table. I get annoyed when I have to have the rice cooker and slow cooker out at the same time to make a meal because together they take up pretty much all of our counter space, but again, I put them away as soon as I can. I borrowed a dehydrator from a friend to see how I would like it, but it was HUGE so I’m not going to get one for myself. It’s such a great feeling to try things out and then get rid of them again.

  26. Last year you had a post suggesting one blank surface in the room – a place to rest your eye. I took that suggestion and have resisted the urge to populate every surface in my rooms. It is amazing how peaceful a room feels when it is not overly crowded with attention-seeking things to look at. (I believe this is equally true for walls). Thanks for another reminder about visual peace.

  27. I am Canadian and I don’t recall ever seeing a kitchen where there wasn’t a kettle on the stove or counter! Must be the British heritage.

    • My kettle is on a back burner on the stove which is why you can’t see it from here.

    • Another Canadian Bev and I also think everyone I know has a kettle in their stove or counter and the small town I grew up in was 65% Italian. As for the coffee maker thing, we have a Melita carafe with a cone thing on top – you boil the water in the kettle and pour it through. My sister has a beautiful stainless steel french press which also requires a kettle.

  28. I love your kitchen! We built our house almost 13 years ago and had to cut costs in materials, so it is looking rather outdated now and I have been pondering what I would like to do with it. While we can’t afford to remodel, I was thinking through what to do to simplify my work area and yet keep my eating area warm and inviting. I actually posted my thoughts here: :)
    Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

  29. Lovely, Rachel! I love clean counters too, but my kitchen is rather small and is part of one, large room (kitchen, dining area and living room). Since I have limited areas to display “pretties”, some of them end up on my kitchen counters. These are articles that look very decorative and nice in my kitchen (pewter charger on a stand, small pewter pitcher, a decorative pewter tray) as well as a nice wooden tray that contains little bowls of sugar, small bottle of maple syrup, etc) and finally there’s the brushed stainless toaster and my Kitchenaid mixer. All of these items are attractive, look very nice on my counters, and are useful. I hate to store them away, but they do indeed take up valuable real estate. I am always torn about having them out! Do you ever have any second thoughts about having pretty-to-look-at things out in the kitchen? I am, by the way, almost a minimalist, despite the long list I gave above on what’s in my kitchen. So having lots of things about on surfaces always makes me twitch. I’ve just been struggling with the kitchen….

    • My kitchen doesn’t look minimal because I have that open pantry, but I tend to decorate with the stuff that I use. I like how my dishes look, fruit, and my tea pot, so I don’t mind not having a lot of other “looks only” decorations, though I do want to add more to my kitchen once the renovation is finished.

  30. Love the new look you gave your kitchen!!! Where did you get your dry dish rack??

  31. Guilty. So guilty! My kitchen counters are an unholy mess right now. Even on a good day, they’re crowded. Part of my problem is that my primary storage space is open — (it’s a side-board with shelves under, rather than true cabinets) — and I have a toddler. So I had to move a bunch of stuff out of his range! Sigh. Some day it’ll go back…

  32. vermontmommy says:

    I think it is okay to have items you use in the kitchen. I don’t count my toaster, bread box and things like that as kitchen clutter. I do count my kids school papers, my husband’s keys, a screwdriver and things that have proper places else where clutter.

    I try very hard to have places for all those items. I do but I try very hard to make them accessible and consistent so that others can put them away when done.

    We walk into our home through our garage. It is a small “hallway” but I have two hooks for keys (one for my set and one for my husband’s). I have 4 hooks for jackets on the other side. One you walk past that I have 3 other hooks that hold backpacks and below that a little cubby that holds shoes.

    On the side of my fridge I have a file folder to hold homework that is in progress. That way it is off the counter but close by to the table and to backpacks. My husband sometimes thinks I am funny because I change how our home is organized. I do so as our needs change.

    My biggest catch all area is the bench that we have right as you enter the garage. All things garage related end up there as we don’t often want to head into the garage to put it away. I am working on that.

  33. I have always struggled with horizontal surfaces. I am a pile-r and tend to make piles here and there, as if it makes it look neater. I have an island that is supposed to hold a fruit basket, it tends to end up with the mail and other odd assortments! I also have a staging spot on my counter for recyclables as they have to go outside.
    I intentionally read this post just as I was going to clean my kitchen. I needed some motivation!

  34. Yes! This is my biggest problem area by far. I’ve let this space get out of control. It makes me feel stressed and overwhelmed everytime I look at them. Bag, purse, random cooking supplies, papers, bills, magazines, toys all piling up. When we do clear them off, I feel like I can breathe freely. Yet, they don’t stay clear for very long….I should have made this a resolution. Stop making piles!
    Mel@MySunshine´s last post…Sunday Scoop

  35. I’m so glad for this post because I/We battle this problem daily on every flat surface in the house but especially the kitchen. I put up a 4-pocket wood organizer from Ballard Designs and that has helped immensely with papers. We have a niche that I am having my hubby build a small bookcase for after tax season. This will hold my basket of pens/phone/keys, my iPod dock/player, markers, pens, pencils and mini drawers with office supplies…April can’t come fast enough !

    oh, and I thought it was just us that had this problem…glad to see it’s others too! dh seems to think we are the only ones with this issue!
    SueTR´s last post…Project life

  36. My two tips:
    1. Have a designated place for the things you bring into the house (bags, keys, etc.) and USE it!
    2. Clear everything else off the counter before you go to bed.

    Of course, this is more do as I say than do as I do! But working on it…hard when you have such a lovely big counter space and kids with lots of stuff.´s last post…Imagine the Impossibilities ChallengeWeek 2 progress report

  37. I get a free pass for the moment: we have a hook-up-to-the-kitchen-sink washing machine…and, well, it’s currently hooked up to the kitchen sink, washing the laundry. Very difficult to clean around.

    But I did take 30 seconds and FINALLY clean off the computer desk. I had started to forget what color the wood was…
    MK Jorgenson´s last post…A Writer’s Schedule, Broken Down

  38. In spit of a sizable kitchen, I have little counter space. So I found a solution in a tall standing cabinet with doors. It has five deep shelves and I use them to store school supplies, papers, office gadgets and the like. Everything has a paper file or basket or other special home in there. And then I get to close the doors over it all. It looks like a pretty country pine cupboard. Being disciplined to keep filing and putting things away is the trick!

  39. Hi Rachel, your kitchen looks fabulous. I would love to know what material your kitchen counters are made of. I’ve been wanting to change my white tiles to black solid surface, and I love the look of yours. Thanks for this encouraging post.

  40. The only logical explination for Harvest Gold (my parent’s house was covered in it until the 1990s) is 15 martinee lunches. I think drinking 1-2 pichers of martinees is the only way to trick the mind into thinking Harvest Gold is a good colour.

  41. The no kettle thing really shocked me when we visited the US last year. We had no way of preparing baby formula and our hosts very kindly borrowed a kettle from some relatives! Our kettle here plugs into the electrical socket, and boils 6-7 cups of water in less that 2 minutes before knocking itself off! Much safer and quicker than a stove top!

  42. Love Love it! My husband and I are getting ready to buy a house, and it’s looking like we’re going to end up with something out of the 70s too. :) Question – what did you do to change your counter tops?? I love the dark (black is it?), so much better than gold. :) Did you replace them completely (if so what material did you get) or did you paint/refinish them somehow?

  43. What Shelley says – in the UK we have electric kettles plugged into sockets, it’s on the worktop like a coffee machine. Kettles that you boil on the stove are in the minority.

    We have recently moved into a (rented) property with a smaller kitchen and I am really struggling with the lack of workspace and storage. I need to do some serious work in this area. The lack of electrical sockets in the kitchen isn’t helping with the placement of items either, to be honest! And being a rented property, we can’t alter it. Your kitchen looks lovely, I really like the painted units – they look so fresh.

  44. I’ve struggled with this, since we moved into our little urban apartment with a gorgeous (but not too big!) kitchen. We have an island with no electrical outlets, so leaving appliances out on it is pointless, and the rest of the counter space is almost non-existant. for the first time ever, i realized we needed to store the toaster when it wasn’t in use! as a result, we went from eating toast every day to now having it only 2-3 times per week for breakfast. we also traded in our getting-old electric kettle for a stovetop one, which saved a lot of space. we have two stainless steel french-press pots, one for coffee & one for tea, which we keep in the cupboard for when we want something warm. i also like to keep functional but pretty things out on the counter, so i have a pretty bowl filled with garlic, shallots & ginger that i use on a regular basis, and another for my veggies which don’t go in the fridge (tomatoes & avocadoes!) we also keep our loose teas out in matching glass jars, because they look beautiful & we use them all the time. other than that, i try to keep the space mostly clear because without space to work, cooking won’t get done (no matter how much garlic and veggies are in the house, ready to be cooked up into something delicious!) for christmas i got a kitchenaid stand mixer (yay!) which doesn’t fit in the kitchen, but i couldn’t stand not having on display so it’s on a rolling kitchen cart in our open concept dining room, right next to the kitchen – easy to access when i need it, but out of the way from my day-to-day kitchen activities. and so beautiful!

  45. After living in Scotland for a year, I wanted to find a kettle as well. Being that the standard was electric, I hesitated to add yet another item to the countertop. So, we still heat water in a little pan on the stove, but there sure are some cute kettles out there…and they are FAST! I liked the built-in drainboards, too.

  46. Love this series! I’ve been meaning to clear the clutter on my kitchen counter for a very long time. Your series is just the incentive I need to finally get it done. Thank you!!

  47. Purely coincidence but I cleared the peninsula counter (similar kitchen layout to yours) this evening. Things had been building up after several days of kids arts and crafts projects. Ahhh! I feel so much better. Loved seeing a peek of your kitchen renovation.

  48. My sweet husband and I cook a LOT, so clear and clean preparation space is crucial. We do have limited drawer storage, so bulky-type utensils are on the counter, in containers. Every now and then I move them all away, using the “if-you-haven’t-used-it-in-x-weeks, time to release it” theory, and within two weeks we will have used every single one of them. Love the open pantry, maybe in our next house will get to do something similar.

  49. Also, I find that although I can quite easily keep my kitchen counters clear, whenever we have visitors staying over, the counters become a bit of a collection area for their things too. While I don’t mind this, because it’s lovely to have them stay, it does make it hard for me to think clearly in the kitchen because of the clutter!
    Kim @ Extra Organized´s last post…A refined priority list

    • Same thing happens in our home, too. And I agree completely with your thoughts on it. Nice to know and I am not the only one that experiences this.

  50. Rachel,
    I found your blog a month ago and love it! I love it when I check in to my reader and find that you have a new post.
    Your simple way of organizing inspires me! I’m one who will go to the Container Store and lust after aisle and aisle of beautiful contraptions and then leave $50 or so less in my wallet. But those “beautiful contraptions” don’t magically make (or keep) me organized. You make it simple and better yet, you make it real!
    I’ve been in the process of clearing clutter and weeding out stuff that is filling our lives and stealing our time.
    I’ve made post to Craig’s List and have sold a few things! Things that were either in the garage getting dusty or things that were in our house getting cluttered.
    It feels good! Thank you for inspiring me! And thank you for posting! Please keep them coming!

  51. Your kitchen is stunning. Love the open pantry. You have kids, yes? Would you please share your tips on keeping things actually on the shelves? My 3 yo son is very engaged in exploring his world, with the decidedly unattractive result that all my open shelving has plastic dishes on it, while the stuff I actually use is all crammed into far too few upper cabinets.

    I’m in Canada. We have a kettle and a coffee maker and a toaster oven…all used daily and all on the counter!

    • I have a two year old who likes to reach his own snacks on the bottom two shelves, but he’s kind of orderly so he leaves the rest of it alone. I keep the glass jars on the top two shelves.

  52. Dreaming of a kitchen with that sort of space. I find it near impossible to keep the counters clear. We have a teeny kitchen with a really small amount of space and right now (not mentioning dishes waiting to go in the dishwasher) I keep my kettle, a tray of oil bottles, utensils, knives, microwave, fruit bowl and bins for both food and household waste. I have a very inquisitive toddler and just couldnt get him to stop reaching into the trash so up it went. I hate it but it’s just that season right now. I keep thinking maybe it is time to extend the shelving a bit so we can move a few things up there. It’s goin on my dad’s to-do list for their next visit!

  53. I am having Kitchen Envy right now. I am just now starting to plan what I want in my kitchen (and have just been told I’ve been bumped as the front fence will need fixing *before* the kitchen gets a turn.

    We have limited bench space and badly designed cupboard space (floor to ceiling – can’t reach the top cupboards without an actual ladder; variable height shelves – so they’re too short to be useful and too deep) so I have stuff out on the limited bench space – kettle, toaster, microwave, mixer, coffee machine, fruit bowl… none of which can fit in a cupboard!

    The main bench in the kitchen is generally clear – things for tomorrow, the list for the day and a wee candle are all that’s on there. The candle is used as a paperweight for things like the cleaner’s money or for something small and light that will be needed the next day and could easily get lost. The kitchen table is the crap repository/extendo bench.
    Harriet Archer´s last post…Where I accidentally go shopping. And buy stuff.

  54. I love the clean lines of your kitchen. We also have a 70’s house that is slowing being redone. My kitchen however is now almost 90% complete and I love always having my counters clean and clear. We cook from scratch here and it is a pleasure every morning and evening to “set up” to cook instead of cleaning up before cooking. I have even done away with the dish drainer because I found that I let the dishes sit there forever–now I just have the plastic liner that I can place the washed dishes/pots on and then I dry them quickly so they don’t sit out in a precarious pile. The liner is easy to store under the sink or in the sink if I want it more accessible.

  55. Thanks so much for these challenges! I’ve been working through our home this month trying to simplify and purge and had dreaded the counters, but last night I tackled them and felt so much better to start breakfast this morning. The worst is our island as it collects everything that is coming and going, homeschool stuff, and the excess from grocery day until I get it put away properly. I still have a Bosch mixer, coffee maker and grinder, knife block, big jar of wheat and a small basket of papers and writing utensils (all are used daily)on the counters. It sounds like a lot, but it is far better than it was and we are just at a stage with our toddler where he can open every drawer and lower cupboard so some things have to be put on the counters for his safety. I’m trying to be okay with some functional clutter, since we don’t have a desk or office, this is where paperwork temporarily lands, too.

    Your blog is a real encouragement!

  56. Amen.
    (I’m so bad at this…)

    This is such a good reminder.
    ~ Dana
    Dana @ Cooking at Cafe D´s last post…10 Easy Steps to Finding Your Perfect Paint Color (Our Jimmy John’s Kitchen Redesign – Part 2)

  57. Are you keeping the green ovens? It looks like you are. I LOVE it. Love. it.
    Kat´s last post…Let God…

  58. The kitchen makeover is beautiful, but I would have been hesitant to remove all of the cabinets over the counter. I would miss the extra storage! The new shelving on the right is nice, but because it’s open, it doesn’t hide clutter.

  59. We have a tiny apartment kitchen and I can’t handle anything left on the counters too long. Nothing is ‘stored’ on the counters. Everything has a ‘home’ in a cupboard.

  60. Your kitchen looks fabulous.

    I actually like certain things out all the time – prefer it to a completely uncluttered look. I don’t have great storage with easy access, though, so it might be different if that were the case.

  61. I moved the spices out of the rack and into the drawer, the sugar bowl into the cupboard and my boyfriend showed me how to play the radio on the TV so that’s gone too. Thanks for the push, Rachel!

  62. As simple as this sounds, two years ago I got rid of the electric can opener which had been a fixture on my counter for forever. We have very limited space and let’s face it, they can get quite icky very quickly so I bought a hand held crank one that when used, promptly goes in the dishwasher. I use so few canned goods that the opener was becoming an eyesore. I swear, it was quite liberating! It’s just one of those things you need once in a while yet so simple to downsize!

  63. Rachel, how do you like the layout of this kitchen so far? Looks like it may be good for more than one person in there. I’m gathering ideas for building a house and I know that I will not always be the only one in the kitchen (four little ones growing up fast.) My galley kitchen is great for now, but gets tight if anyone tries to help!

    • Two or three people can work in it quite well. I like the counter with peninsula and the sink right there in the center. The only downside is that the wall with the stove and oven lacks counter space, that could be better.

  64. A timely post for me! Our kitchen is right at our front door and the table is used more for storage than anything else and I HATE IT! (although, I am just as bad as the kids for filling it up). I am involved in a year long project of decluttering, learning about minimalism, etc and the kitchen is one of the rooms I have started with. I think just thinking about the surfaces as work spaces, rather than dumping grounds will help me act differently.
    Diane´s last post…Let it go.

  65. ah, that we had our own kitchen to de-clutter! We’re temporarily living with my parents as we just moved to a new state and are saving to buy a home, and as my mom doesn’t cook much (and doesn’t like to cook) the kitchen counters are not just for storage, but DECOR! Now I’m here and I enjoy making nightly dinners, and with a huge kitchen I always wind up in a tiny corner of space trying to make dinner next to the stove! She’s got pictures, lamps, figurines, plates on easels, coffee maker, keurig maker, utensils, knives, toaster oven, drying rack, painted fruit…it amazes me, sometimes. Definitely not my style at all…but I can’t complain since we’re able to save money for our own kitchen soon!
    Kait Palmer´s last post…Tatum’s Twenty-Fifth Week

  66. I nominated your blog over at Vintage Revivals Blog Crush link party. Why? Because when I see a post from you I know it’s going to be about real life. I smile when I see a post comes up from your blog. I CLEANED OFF my peninsula counter when I saw your wonderful clear surface. Sometimes it really is the small stuff that makes life better.

  67. I live in Australia and I don’t know ANYONE who has a kettle on the stove. It didn’t even occur to me that you would put a kettle on the stove…

    I’ve ALWAYS had an electric kettle (for tea AND coffee) and a toaster on the bench top.

    Aren’t cultural differences interesting!

  68. You inspired me this week! When we moved into our current home 12 years ago I rather randomly and hastily assigned cabinets to our different kitchen items and there they’ve stayed. Oh, we kept them clean and mostly de-cluttered, but the basic organization (or lack thereof) remained the same.

    My kitchen counters were ok, but after reading your post about them, I was inspired to completely re-organize our cabinets. We pulled everything out, sorted and then re-assigned spaces so my kitchen items are more convenient to reach.

    Thank you for the encouragement and motivation. Your kitchen is looking fabulous.

  69. Your kitchen looks great.
    I don’t have much counter space and what I have I’d like to keep clear, but my daughter insists on leaving hair ties, tablets and all sort of bits and pieces there. I tried leaving a small basket there to hold her stuff, but now it’s overflowing as I can’t seem to get her to put things away! She’s 19 so should know better!

  70. I love this post. I look at my counters and they are covered with appliances. We are always struggling with finding work space. I am going to make my February goal to clear my counters. I love the idea of having clear counters.

  71. Awesome kitchen! I love the clean look – and I’m trying to do the same in my small walled-in kitchen. It has a U-shaped counter and a path to walk from door to door, and is about 12 foot square. Not a huge space, especially when my hubby and two sons come in to help cook! :) Here are a couple things we did: 1) I took a lower cabinet and removed the shelf, then put things like the mixer, bread machine, and blender in there as their home; 2) we made a drawer for utensils, so they don’t all have to be out & displayed; and 3) for our toaster, we set up a breakfast “bar” in the dining room – it’s got the toaster, and the coffee maker for hot water (oatmeal or hot cocoa after school) and all the cereal, etc. for mornings! :) Hope this is helpful to someone. Great blog, I enjoy it!

  72. We just did a post similar to this! Our counter top became a catch all – we finally found the perfect little organizer to help prevent it. Love the before and after pic of your kitchen – looks like you’re off to a great start!!!
    Meredith @ Reilly + Copper´s last post…Clearing the Countertop!

  73. Wow, what a dramatic improvement in your kitchen.

    As for the clutter on the counter–my husband does it daily and it irks me to no end. I don’t even like loaves of bread or anything on the counter.

  74. i needed to read this post! i have been frustrated with our kitchen being the catch all for quite a while, but it overwhelms me a bit to try to clear it! i want to make a goal this week to clear the paper/school/random clutter that drives me crazy off my counters.

    that said, i do use my counters for the appliances i use every/nearly every day. for example, i have my champion juicer on the counter because 1. it is super heavy for a 7 mos pregnant gal to get out every day and 2. it reminds me to use it and i do! i have our toaster out, our kitchen aid mixer, our cuisinart food processor, some canisters, our espresso machine, our phone, a cute tea set, our kettle, spice rack, knife block, and a basket of citrus fruit that i am reminded to snack on all winter long.

    we are blessed to have a lot of counter space in this kitchen, but i do want to get the non-kitchen items out of my kitchen that just make it look messy. i don’t mind my kitchen looking used because we are almost a family of 7 and eat exclusively at home and whole foods, but messy and used are different.

    thanks for the motivation to deal with the mess!
    Charis´s last post…the best two minutes of your day

  75. My old house only afforded a tiny amount of counter space, so I have to keep it empty to cook. My DH is a clutter bug. It is a struggle to keep it clear. This is not a good cooking kitchen and he wonders why I dislike it. Glad you have lots of room!

  76. I hear ya! And I do like to keep my counter space cleared of unnecessary clutter. But I prefer to have a few more useful items pushed to the backsplash. Items life my utensils in a crock, knives in a block, coffee maker (which I use to make tea, and on a rarer occasions coffee), breadmaker and toaster oven.

    It just wouldn’t be practical to have to keep having to take those things in and out, and besides my kitchen is a small but efficient “U” shape.

    Also, I keep my tea kettle on the stove for the occasional one cup of tea or needing piping hot water for something else.

    By the way, I like the changes you’ve made in your kitchen. What a difference!

  77. Julie @ Essential Simplicity says:

    I JUST today took new pics of our kitchen for the third time since we moved in almost three years ago. Started out with 12 glass canisters across the longest part of the counter and at one point had a crockpot, breadmaker, and blender lined up at the back of another…and yet a few more things on the third.

    Later I banished the small kitchen appliances to the cabinets and moved my knife block up as well (small curious child), moved down to only eight canisters on a shorter counter, and then the odd bits on the third.

    Today’s pictures reveal a completely uncluttered long counter, only a knife block and a flower in a vase on a short counter, and only a tea chest and a holder for espresso mugs and saucers on the third. I LOVE having clear counters!!

  78. Thank you for this post. I’ve struggled with this on and off, mostly on! I’ve recently put up some coat hooks to hang my purse or bag, and some for the children’s bags as well. The rest of the kitchen piles are usually things like mail and receipts. By keeping a file for receipts and a letter opener to open, sort and put away mail on the counter in a small basket, my counter can stay clearer, basically, the principal of a place for everything.
    I’ve also found that the busier we are, the messier it gets, so planning time for tidying and maintenance is important. Keeping up with it is a daily process that I find myself needing to recommit to. It’s easy to fall back into old habits easily.

  79. I found this blog via Pinterest, and I love it – you have a new fan! I really like what you’ve done with your kitchen. It is such an inspiration to see people improve realistic spaces in real houses, much more inspiring than the over-the-top pictures on Houzz of places I will never afford. Sorry if you mentioned this somewhere already: what is your new countertop?

    I would love to see more pictures of your renovations.