Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Combat kitchen clutter

By Ashleigh Lonsdale

Do you dread opening your pantry simply because you fear the chaos you’ll find inside? Or perhaps your cupboards and drawers are filled with mismatching pots, pans and other odds and ends. Let’s not even get started on the state of your fridge…


Organising your kitchen may seem like an overwhelming and timely task that you simply don’t have the time for, but with the right storage and organisation solutions you can easily (and quickly!) transform your clutter-filled space into one that’s welcoming, efficient and a joy to work in.

With the spring cleaning season now in session and DYMO National Organising Week (NOW) well underway, we thought it would be the perfect time to chat with organising guru Carolyn Verhoef, owner of Outside the Box Organisation Solutions and member of the Australian Association of Professional Organisers (AAPO), to find out her top tips for a clutter-free kitchen.


Say goodbye to kitchen chaos and hello to your new calm, clean cooking area!



1. Create zones: Emulate all good restaurant kitchens by being able to put your hand on the exact tool you need at the precise moment needed while cooking. Cupboards and equipment need to be arranged so that all the items you need to create certain tasks are together.





2. Use drawers where ever possible: If you’re designing a kitchen, clutter will be a thing of the past if drawers are the main storage facility. Best uses for drawers are pots, pans, daily china, cups, and dry ingredient items like flour sugar.






3. Designate a home for incoming papers: Often the kitchen is where families gather, so paper is normally a problem. Use an A4 box with a lid to hold papers coming into the home; the lid can easily be placed on top when visitors arrive no need to hide and then forget your paperwork.



4. Use the same container storage throughout: When all containers are identical you won’t be searching the dreaded plastic cupboard for the matching lid. Another big plus is that the containers will stack and line up perfectly in your cupboards or on your benches.


5. Label, label, label: It seems so simple, but when everyone knows where something is supposed to go by being labelled somehow it stays there, keeping your benches free and cupboards in order.



6. Go vertical: When space is an issue, clutter seems to appear faster. Anything stored on a flat surface will use more space. There are many products on the market that can help you go vertical. Use hooks to hang utensils above the cook top, chopping boards and baking trays can be stored on their end. We designed slim open slots on either side of the oven to hold all these items making them quicker to access also.


7. Fridges weren’t meant to be notice boards: One of the most obvious spots in the kitchen that attracts clutter is the fridge. Yes, a gorgeous artwork from school is lovely, but drowning your fridge doors in bills and reminders is not only ineffective, but also visually overwhelming. Create an action station in the kitchen to help process all these types of reminders.



8. Use drawer dividers and mats: These will again help everyone who uses the kitchen: identify where something should live, remember to label your containers and you’ll be unstoppable. Non-slip mats are essential in large item drawers to keep them organised and ordered.




9. Move the turkey platter to another location: Are you keeping cooking or serving utensils that are used once a year in your work area? Consider where these infrequently used items would be better kept as the kitchen is hot property in your home.


10. Declutter and cull: Do you really need 23 takeaway containers and 16 plastic cups? Sort and eliminate what is not functioning or not needed. It’s amazing how much stuff we collect – the 80/20 rule applies to the kitchen, too. We tend to only use 20 per cent of all the items we store 80 per cent of the time, so clear out what you can live without you’ll be amazed by the sense of freedom this can bring.



NOW runs until this Sunday, September 11. AAPO members will be holding workshops and “Ask an organiser” sessions at selected Howard’s Storage World outlets, local shopping centres, community libraries etc. in Brisbane, Sydney, Perth and Darwin. Check out www.aapo.org.au or click here to find where a NOW event is being held in your area.


Stay tuned for Carolyn’s top tips for banishing clutter from your bathroom.

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