Monday, April 02, 2007

Kitchen Organization

According to the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), people identify their kitchen as the most cluttered room in the house. That is not surprising because that is the room that is used on a daily basis and usually by multiple members of the household. When I was a young mother chasing after children, maintaining multiple schedules, fixing meals, putting healthy snacks in accessible places, putting the good china where unsteady hands could not break it, I didn’t think about how organized my kitchen was. I just wanted it to be functional. It was not until much later that I learned that functionality is the key to organization. Some of the basic principles I adopted to survive the harried lifestyle of a young parent are the principles that help maintain an organized kitchen.

The first step is to take a look at the uses for your kitchen space and the work flow that accompanies each use. Most frequent uses are preparing meals and snacks, cooking, eating, clean up and social gathering. You might also pay bills, do crafts, get homework in your kitchen. I know of one guy who, much to his wife’s chagrin, repaired small engines in the kitchen space, a real organizational challenge solved by a designated work space away from the kitchen table.

Once you have a good idea of how you function in the kitchen, put things you use to accomplish a task close to the spot where the task is performed. For instance, china and utensils are placed close to the eating area, pots and pans are near the stove, cleaning items are proximal to the sink and dishwasher. The storage space in your kitchen will dictate the options you have for organization, but there are also many products that can create storage space where you need it. A small counter shelf, wall shelf or book shelf might be a good alternative for storing frequently used cookbooks near the preparation area, for instance. A canister or tray might be used near the coffee pot for coffee additives and condiments. Judicious use of under counter appliances and storage shelves can also be helpful.

The last step is to make sure that everyone who uses the kitchen knows the storage plan and the organizational system. Do dirty dishes go in the sink or in the dishwasher? What are the expectations for clean-up and what items can be accessed by children in the family without expectation or threat of bodily harm?

If you find yourself unable to come up with ideas to improve the organization in your kitchen, a fresh pair of eyes might see areas for enhancement. Ask a friend or a professional organizer for help. A better functioning kitchen will save your time and your sanity.

Beverly and Kristen

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