Friday, February 14, 2014

Revamping the War Room - How A Kitchen Gets Organized

My cleaning habits are a lot more Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and a lot less Suzie Homemaker. When I decide a space is completely unkempt, I tear it all apart and reset it based on how I am using the space, not how I thought I wanted to use the space the last time I freaked out and tore it all apart. Thankfully, all that personal mayhem happens without the aid of highly trained military-style assassins.

There is some method to my madness... 

5 Point Organizational Strategy:


1. Everything in plain sight. I don't do well with closed cabinets, drawers, closets. If I put things behind an opaque barrier I forget I own them unless it's something I use every day. Occasionally, opening a drawer or closet is like some weird version of Christmas morning. This results in my use of open shelves, clear plastic drawers, curtains that are easily tied back.

2. Everything should have a place and should be used regularly. I play a game with my son when we clean up his room. I pick up an object and say "What is this?" "Where does it go?" "Do you still play with it?". I do the same thing when I clean up my own areas. If I haven't used it, worn it or thought about it in 6 months, it goes to Goodwill, or, to someone else who will use it.

3. Abhorrence of tchotchkes. The only things I own that don't adhere to the form follows function rule if they hold some emotional or beautiful significance. 

4. No single use tools. As much as I hate Alton Brown's fat shaming, I do go in on his theories that no kitchen item should serve some single, specific purpose. The only single purpose item I have in my home is my bread machine. I make no apologies. 

5. Things with lids are stored with the lids attached. Years of baskets of lids, boxes of lids, falling lids, misplaced lids... no more. If a container has a lid, it's stored with that lid on it. If a container loses it's lid and is still useful, keep it. If a lid doesn't have a container, it's a useless bit of plastic. Toss it. This gets applied to other things with parts- my rice cooker, my stand-mixer, 

Okay, so maybe the process looks like military-style assassins came in and tore my kitchen apart, but I swear it's my own insanity that created this mess. 

The Process: 

1. Start from the top and wipe your way down. The mess above is a result of pulling all the shelving off the opposite wall from the one in the photo and wiping down the ceilings with a broom, the walls and the floor boards. Then spot mop that part of the floor, move the shelving back into place and wipe it down. Then, I figured out what I wanted to go on the shelving and put it all back in order. 

2. Take everything off every flat surface and wipe it all down. Counter tops, cabinet fronts, containers, pot holders, spoon holders, all of it. Just with a little warm water with a small amount of dish soap. 

3. Put it all back where it makes the most sense. Don't get caught in the trap of making things 'organized', make them 'functional'. For instance, I have liquid measure cups and small fingers bowls in a couple of places so if I need them while cooking I don't have to think about it, they are in all the places I will need them. 

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