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Published: Thursday, 6/30/2005

Take Steps to Scale Down Kitchen Clutter

The kitchen is one of the busiest spaces in a home. Cooking, eating, entertaining and socializing all happen in the kitchen -- it's the main gathering place in the home. As a result, it is likely the most unorganized room in the house. If your kitchen cabinets and junk drawers are jammed and overflowing, you are running out of counter space, or you can never find what you need when you need it, it's time to take control of your kitchen clutter. Here are some tips to organize your kitchen and keep it clutter-free.

Create an organizational plan.

Establish work stations like a restaurant does and keep related items at each station: prep area, cooking, baking and cleaning.

Purchase storage solutions.

Plastic bins, baskets, containers, racks and freestanding units are inexpensive storage ideas. You can find deals at dollar stores, or check stores that carry overstocks, closeouts and slightly dented items. You may even be able to re-use items you already own. For instance, a shoebox covered with the same contact paper as your shelves can store spice bottles. If you are short on cabinet space but have plenty of wall space, try using an old bureau to store canned goods, towels, extra dishes or cookware. Don't forget to nest items inside one another to maximize space.

Every item needs its own home.

When items have a designated place, they tend to get put away. If they don't, they tend to get lost. Utilize bins and baskets wherever possible to keep "like things" together and readily accessible. Go vertical to free up horizontal space. Utilize the empty vertical wall space in a nearby closet by installing shelves that can be used to store canned goods. Install hanging broom and mop holders. Employ hooks, pegboards and Lazy Susans. If your counter space is at a premium, mount some of your small appliances under the cabinets.

Toss clutter.

Get rid of what is old and what you don't use. Check expiration dates of herbs, yeast, baking powder, etc. Throw out cooking gadgets that are gathering dust. Remove items on counters that don't belong in the kitchen.

Organize for maximum efficiency.

Place items near each other if they will be used together. If your coffee maker sits on the counter, store the coffee cups, filters and sugar in the cabinet above it.

Clean everything.

Tackle cabinets, drawers, shelves, countertops, refrigerator, oven, etc. Replace tattered dish towels and torn or worn shelf paper.

Keep out clutter.

Since you've spent all that time organizing your kitchen, you'll want to make sure it remains clutter-free. Set aside some time once a month to check for clutter buildup, and spend a few minutes each night putting away anything that doesn't belong in the kitchen.

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