Clutter relief…don’t we all wish we could have that? I know I do! The kitchen is the hub of our home and sees the worst of the everyday items that just…collect…and you put them away….and they come back! Again, and again! Let me introduce you to one of Hamilton’s creative minds in the world of Organizing, Downsizing, and SOLUTION professionals…Judy Rickey of Clutter Relief Services. As Judy states on her website, “So many families are so busy with kids and jobs and activities and laundry and meal preparation that clutter just accumulates. We can have you organized in a matter of hours. We can find homes for all the belongings you need and love and then you just have to keep them there.”
Sounds dreamy doesn’t it? Today Judy is going to share with us some of her own strategies and solutions to keeping our clutter—particularly in the kitchen—under control. Let’s dive in!
Written by Judy...
How many of you have kitchens that end up being the catch-all for the main floor?
“I do! I do!”
Your kids come running in the door and you yell "empty your backpacks!". Then they proceed to dump lunches and artwork and permission forms onto your counters. You come inside from a trip to Shopper's and drop the bags on the counter to be put away later. Your spouse drops the mail, their keys, wallets or purses on the counter.
- Having a hanging filing system on a wall can help separate children's items from household mail. Just remember to purge it once a week and file or recycle your paperwork. Also, important to actually open the mail and throw away the envelopes so have a paper recycling in your kitchen. I keep mine by my kitchen table as that is where I read the Hamilton Spectator.
- When you make purchases, unpack them into their appropriate homes (get your family to help, unless of course you have bought a gift, or new clothes and you don't want them to see it!).
- Put all your plastic bags into one, and when you have about 20, close it up and put it in the recycling bin. This works for City of Hamilton garbage. You can also use grocery bags to line garbage cans that you should have in each room to keep them from getting dirty. If you can, try to use reusable bags that you return to your vehicle after a shopping trip.
- Spend 15 min after the kids have gone to sleep (or even while you watch one of your shows) to tidy up your counters and sink and sanitize them for the next morning. You can even prep lunches if you are ambitious or just want your morning to run smoother.
Many kitchens these days are an open concept plan and are used for homework/watching T.V/working on your business as well as cooking and eating.
When I ran my home daycare for years, the kitchen table was also used to do all the crafts, so I had a plastic drawer unit filled with crafty items right beside my counter. Make sure to leave enough time to clean up the crafts though before meal times (I would even suggest using a plastic lined tablecloth for crafts that is easy to wipe down and remove).
A lot of families I have seen have large appliances on their countertops which are rarely used and should be stored in the basement or pantry. I mean when WAS the last time you used that Bread Maker or Juicer?
- These are items which can be easily decluttered from your space (either sold, to charity or just put away). If you have an unfinished basement and no separate pantry room, I suggest buying some sturdy plastic shelving to store your excess food and appliances/partyware/serving ware.
- Your countertops should only contain your most used (daily items). A toaster oven or toaster, a kettle or coffee machine, a bowl of fruit/utensils in a container, your blender or Magic Bullet. I also keep my breads in a basket and the items I use to make my morning shakes in a basket (if you have enough room you can put these in a cupboard). This visually reduces the clutter our eyes see as we span the open spaces of our kitchen and makes it appear more organized and calm.
- I did not have a pantry in my small kitchen, so I ended up buying a bookcase from IKEA to match my cupboards and I put doors on it. It holds all my pantry items as well as my crystal wine glasses as I do not have a dining room.
With a little extra time and effort by all family members, your kitchen countertops and table can be kept clutter free. Just remember that everyone should know how and where to put things away to avoid frustration.
Need some extra motivation? Host a party! There is nothing more motivating to jumpstart your clean up act than pending vistiors!
"Later is the best friend of clutter..." ~MaryAnne Bennie, From Stuffed to Sorted: Your Essential Guide to Organising, Room by Room, 2012
Can we not all relate to the examples Judy talked about? How many times do you say to yourself “I JUST cleaned that!!!!” as family members come home and dump lunches, juice bottles, mail, sweaters and the like in your freshly cleaned space! It’s enough to drive anyone a bit batty and give up trying…but don’t!
Judy gave us many ideas and solutions to common clutter issues we face in our kitchens and can be applied many other rooms as well.
Have a plan. Have a place. Don’t wait, clean up right away.
Sounds easy, doesn’t it?!?! But it isn’t…it takes determination and persistence to not only do what you need to do to keep your home in order, but to TRAIN your family to do the same! It’s a continuous work in progress, but the results are SO worth it!
The one tip I wanted to add to all of Judy’s real-life examples is that when you are purchasing that cabinet, or baskets, or storage cart, don’t just go with the cheapest most utilitarian item you can find. Look for something that is as attractive as you can get on your budget!
- Line your shelves with attractive peelable wallpaper or mac-tac. Amazon, Homesense and sometimes even Walmart have very nice options!
- If plastic, Dollar Store baskets just won’t cut it, then decorate old shoe boxes with fabric and glue, wrapping paper, or even wallpaper to make them useful AND pretty!
- Instead of a plastic cart with plastic shelves, try a metal cart with wheels that has a vintage vibe, like this one from Ikea.
If your home is small—and let’s be real, that’s the case for most of us—really rethink what you put where so that what you ACTUALLY use and need space for is in the easy to reach places, and what you only need occasionally goes downstairs or in some other out of the way spot. I recently posted on Facebook how I cleared a TON of clutter from my sideboard and kitchen counters by emptying out seldomly used candles from the top drawer of my sideboard and instead put in baskets to hold all our papers, tape, receipts, and miscellaneous items…and my surfaces are STILL clear weeks later!
Here is a BEFORE and AFTER.
And… all the candles that I rarely used ended up in a cabinet that barely had anything in it…I could never figure out what to put in there! …until I HAD to find a solution! Now it doesn’t just look pretty, but also serves a function…and that make me happy. Necessity is the mother of Invention they say!
To read more about my clutter struggles check out my recent post on the topic here!
In the words of Marie Kondo, "Does it Spark Joy?”, do you look at your kitchen and have that feeling? Or open a storage closet and have that feeling? I know it’s unrealistic to have that everywhere, every day, but for the most part--do what you can to make your home and storage solutions more on the side of Joy rather than Despair! 😊
Have a plan. Have a place. Don’t wait, clean up right away. ~ my new motto!
Thank you so much Judy Ricky of Clutter Relief Services for your great ideas! If you need help with ANY organizing needs, just give her a call…she has SO many service options and would love to help you with any home organizing, purging, moving, unpacking, clutter management issues you can think of! She’s amazing!
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