When we moved a few years ago from a 2000 square foot house to a 750 square foot apartment, we expected to lose some cabinet space in the kitchen.
This weekend, we moved again. We didn’t move far though, only across the hall. We like the layout even better than our last apartment and it’s a little bigger, just over 900 square feet. We didn’t move for more space, but for different space. Our last apartment sat over the building’s garage, so we could hear the door open and close from our bedroom. It wasn’t terrible, but a little annoying.
For those of you who are familiar with minimalist fashion challenge Project 333, this next part will make you smile. Most of the square footage we gained is in the closets.
We lost about 1/3 of our kitchen cabinet space, which inspired this article about how to simplify the kitchen.
1. Hide things you don’t use often, but still enjoy using occasionally.
Now that we have extra closet space, I hide things like our mixer, wok, muffin tins, and toaster that we don’t use very often. If I don’t use any of these things by the end of the year, I’ll be donating them.
2. Turn food into a work of art.
In our last kitchen, I had a drawer just for spices, but in the new place, there wasn’t a drawer left. Instead of hiding the spices in the back of the pantry or in a cabinet where we’d forget what we had, we made this:
I wanted to have fun with it, so there is an Italian board, Indian board, and spicy and sweet boards. These are the spices I use most often.
3. Dump the duplicates.
I used to have several whisks, now I have one. Kitchen gadgets and utensils seem to multiply overnight, but in most cases, you can only use one thing at a time. Assess what you have and decide if you really need more than one set of measuring cups, slotted spoons, or salt and pepper shakers.
4. Use the counters for making things, not storing things.
Last night I made this delicious gnocchi dish (with added spinach and asparagus). I used all of our counter space. I clean up when I’m done, but cooking is like an art project for me. My husband often jokingly applauds my creativity when I am making soups and sauces, because the stove and counter tops (and sometimes the floor and nearby cabinets) become my canvas.
Our new kitchen is the first thing I see when I walk in the door so I keep the counters clear of odds and ends. I want this to be a place to cook, and enjoy food and my family, not a place to sort mail or store stuff.
5. Lean on the experts.
Thank goodness my good friend Heidi is a professional foodie. I call her from the grocery store and my kitchen about recipes and cooking techniques and she calls me for decluttering tips. We were made for each other.
If you aren’t friends with a someone who knows their way around the kitchen, visit Foodie Crush and Heidi will come to your rescue.
6. Put things where they belong.
This is the easiest thing of all, but one we often overlook. Designate a space for each thing and always return it to it’s home. I have eggs and hash browns a few mornings a week and if I don’t put the potato peeler away, I have to open every cabinet before I find it.
7. Simplify all recipes.
Jules Clancy from the Stone Soup blog recommends simplifying all recipes. Check out her recommendations:
- Combine like ingredients.
This is always my starting point. Look for any ingredients that are providing the same function and instead choose one. You’ll need to adjust the quantities accordingly. See how she does it with this example.
- Don’t be afraid to outsource.
There are no prizes for making every single part of every meal you eat from scratch. So ‘cheat’ when you feel like it. My favourite examples are to use commercial spice blends or commercial sauces such as hummus, mayo, pesto or curry pastes.
8. Put your go-to items in the same place.
I used to have a cabinet for glasses and one for dishes, but since these are my go-to items, I put them all in the same place. It helps to group similar items too. One drawer contains all of my baking supplies and another is for cooking utensils like whisks, wooden spoons, knives, and a garlic press.
It helps to group similar items too. One drawer contains all of my baking supplies and I use another drawer for cooking utensils like my whisk, garlic press, wooden spoons, and knives.
9. Don’t worry about what people think.
I spent a bunch of money on furniture over the years on pieces I thought I should have. Did I really need a living room and family room full of furniture? Who was I trying to impress?
In our big house, we had a kitchen table, dining room table and 27 chairs. Yes, 27 chairs for 3 people. Eventually, with all the decluttering we did, there were empty rooms in the house. People probably thought it was weird, but we were so happy living with less, we just didn’t care.
Now that our kitchen, dining area, and living room are all in one smaller space, we use a fold up table, and 3 chairs. We have 2 folding chairs for company that are hanging in the closet, and if we ever need more, we will borrow them.
10. Create a kitchen space that works for you.
If you are a pastry chef who loves creating confections, you may need two drawers for baking supplies. Likewise, if you order take out, or prefer salads, you may not need many of the utensils you are holding on to. Create a kitchen that reflects your cooking and dining habits, and a space that lets you be you. This one step will simplify everything.