Kitchens are a huge clutter magnet. They are also the most essential place in the home to apply the well-known adage ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’.
A place for everything
Chefs the world over know the value of mise en place, the French term meaning “set in place”’, which applies not only to preparing ingredients before cooking but also to arranging all the equipment and utensils so that you know where things are and can easily access them.
Cooking becomes more enjoyable, and usually more successful too, because it’s easier to get the timing right when you work in an organized space. It also means you can focus more on the love and care you put into the food, which is what makes the difference between an edible meal and one that is truly nurturing.
Decluttering your kitchen
A good way to see this in your own kitchen is not to go in there and look with your eyes but to take some photos with a camera and then look at the photos. If you want the full truth, don’t just photograph the room, but open your cupboards and drawers and photograph them too.
When you look at the photos, you’ll notice clutter that you’ve long ago tuned out from seeing with your eyes. You may see such things as the untidy mess of magnets on a fridge, plants dying on window sills, equipment you’ve never used, and maybe things that don’t belong in the kitchen at all. Digging a little deeper you may discover stored foods you’ve had for years that are way past their eat-by date and things at the back of your fridge that would probably kill you if did eat them.
Break each area down into manageable chunks
The golden rule with clutter clearing is to always break each area down into small manageable chunks.
Start with a kitchen shelf you rarely delve into. Choose one that has odd things you’ve been keeping, “just in case” you need them.
Then pick a shelf in that cabinet, and begin. Don’t intend to do any more than one shelf.
Take everything out, clean the shelf, and then pick up each item in turn and use the Clutter Test to decide if it stays or goes:
The Clutter Test
Do I absolutely love this?
If you get a ‘yes’, ask yourself these questions:
Does it really inspire me, or is it just ‘nice’?
Do I already have enough of this type of item for my needs?
In spite of how much I love it, does it also have sad associations in my life?
Then ask yourself:
Is it genuinely useful?
If so, when did I actually last use it?
When, realistically, am I likely to use it again?
If you would like to know more about the Clutter Test, it is described in more detail in Chapter 16 of Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui.
It allows you to see clearly which items you really value and have a use for and which are just taking up space in your kitchen. You end up with a lovely clean shelf of things you love or use and a pile of things you’re ready to let go of.
That’s it. You’re done for the day.
But here’s what usually happens. Most people do one shelf and feel so good that they decide to do another. And then another. And another. The trick is to only intend to do one small area at a time, then reassess. You can work your way around your entire kitchen this way.
Be sure to take more photos at the end so you can compare them to your earlier shots to see how much better your kitchen looks and feels.
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