How to Design a Kitchen for Minimal Clutter

Oct 17, 2017  By Thomasville

There’s a lot going on in a kitchen, as well a lot of traffic passing through it, and sometimes it seems like clutter grows like bacteria. And that’s actually a pretty good comparison: like any other undesirable organism, clutter will grow if it has the smallest chance, and the best way to keep it from growing is to create an environment that doesn’t encourage it. Stay focused on these four kitchen design principles to keep clutter from getting started:

Function drives form. This principle is key for any functional space, whether it’s a kitchen, an office, a garage, or a factory: Locate the tools for the jobs you do in the places where you do them. Implements will migrate to the places where they’re used, and they become clutter if that place is not already their home. If you’re fortunate enough to be starting your kitchen design from scratch, identify what tools are used for each task you perform and make sure you create storage for those things in the places where you expect to do the tasks. If you’re redesigning an existing kitchen, study what you reach for, what takes extra steps, where accumulations happen and why, and start working on a kitchen design that addresses those issues.

Vertical is better than horizontal. Piles are natural habitat for clutter. Horizontal space is limited, and yet we try to defy that reality by putting things on top of other things. Piles make things at the bottom invisible or unreachable, so opt for vertical storage at every kitchen design opportunity. Store pan lids on edge, baking sheets upright, knives or other small tools along a magnet, and utensils upright in jars or caddies. If you have deep drawers, subdivide them so you can store objects upright inside them and avoid having to dig to the bottom.

The kitchen is for kitchen things. “The kitchen is the heart of the home” is not just a cliche, but often a physical reality, with foot traffic being steered right to it from exterior doors. That means a lot of what people carry with them ends up as piles of clutter in the kitchen. Successful kitchen design often depends on well thought out catch-spots outside the kitchen. Examine what the non-kitchen-related clutter is made of. Mail? School papers? Electronics? Coats and gloves? Who’s bringing them in and why are they setting them down in the kitchen? Put concentrated effort into developing workable solutions—hallway and entryway furniture with storage, closet arrangements, and so on. Have conversations with family members about what they need and would use. Every item you can keep from entering the kitchen in the first place is one less germ of clutter.

Visual clutter is clutter. Visual clutter—lots of separate objects drawing your eye—has as much capacity to attract additional clutter to the kitchen as a sprawl of mail on the counter does, so do all you can to minimize individual items kept out in the open. That’s easier to do with closed cabinetry, but if you love open shelving, just make sure you can keep it spare and tidy, and give high value to a unified color palette in your kitchen design. (See this article for more tips on styling open kitchen shelving.) Consider providing storage for small countertop appliances. If you use the toaster every morning, it’s still spending 23 ¾ hours a day as visual clutter. The fewer individual items you see, the more open and clear the surfaces are, the easier your kitchen will be to keep clutter-free.

With these principles guiding your kitchen design, you’ll enjoy a room that works and lives as well as you’ve imagined.

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