Monday, January 7, 2013

Organize-a-palooza: The Kitchen


It is TIME!

Time to start getting ourselves together and getting our houses together, so today starts the first week of The Cluttered House’s month-long organization project: Organize-a-palooza! (As is the hallmark of an individual who came of age in the 90s, I believe calling anything a “palooza” makes it inherently better).  In the next four weeks, we will tackle four areas of the house that are common sources of organizational frustration (and by common, I mean they are bugging me, so they MUST be bugging you. Right? Riiiight).

Week 1: The Kitchen

If your home is anything like mine, the kitchen is the hub of all activity. As nice as that can be, it also means that the kitchen often becomes a dumping ground for a lot of other “stuff.” As I write this, I can see at least a dozen items that do not belong in my kitchen.

Another issue that plagues many kitchens (mine included) is that all too often, we are in a rush when we are in them; making breakfast and hustling out the door to work, or throwing together a quick dinner before heading out to gymnastics, meetings, etc. As a result, many kitchen items are hastily shoved into cupboards, or dishes pile up in the sink because the dishwasher didn’t get unloaded (assuming you have a dishwasher… otherwise the dishes are piling up because you haven’t had time to stop and wash them!). We always mean to get to the dishes, or to rearrange the pantry, or sort through those infernal mismatched Tupperware lids, but life gets busy and we don’t make the time to take care of these things.

Well, the buck stops here! After this week we will all have neat and organized kitchens that STAY that way.

Now, I’m not going to tell you how or where you should start, but I am going to give you some suggestions to help you get going. I’ll be here to support you through all this, and when we are all said and done, on Sunday, we’ll have a nice before & after linky party (for those of you who have blogs) and for those of you without blogs, I’m working on a way for you to be able to share your before and after pictures too.

 Let’s get started, shall we?

What you will need:
  • 2-3 boxes: Label one “Relocate,” as this will be where you put items that do not belong in the room on which you are working. Label another “Donate,” for items that you plan to donate or give away. If you plan on selling items, label the third box/bin as “Sell.”
  • Trash bags: For items that have expired or are too old, dirty, or damaged to donate or sell.
  • Paper and pen/pencil: for taking inventory, writing notes, keeping track of items you need to purchase, etc.
  • Towels, rags, cleanser: for cleaning the shelves, cabinets and appliances of your kitchen
After you have gathered all of these items, you will need a plan of attack. Are you able to tackle the kitchen all in one day? If you are, I’m way jealous! If you aren’t, I recommend trying to work on projects that will take 30-40 minutes a day. So perhaps today you clean out the fridge and tomorrow you tackle those pesky Tupperware lids! 

As you plan, think about how you use your kitchen. Is everything where it should be? If you use olive oil in almost everything you cook, it should be next to the stove, not by the sink (True story, I love my olive oil, but for some reason I have it hanging in a basket over the sink. THAT is going to change). Also, what are some on-going organizational issues about which you need to talk to the members of your household and/or come up with a solution to? In my house, I have started labeling all my shelves and cupboards. Yes, it makes my kitchen look a bit like an OCD preschool teacher lives there, but it saves on frustration with Diesel when he puts items where, to ME, they clearly do not belong. Now, he can clearly identify where the glass pitcher goes, and I can be righteously indignant when it isn’t put there.

Ideally, you will also want to try to reorganize your kitchen with minimal expense, so try to use what you have. I would love NOTHING more than to go to the Container Store and blow a few grand on lots of cool storage stuff, but… that so isn’t in the budget! (Have I ever mentioned that there is a part of me that truly, deeply, wholeheartedly, believes that if I just buy enough storage bins, my life will suddenly become organized. But, all this seems to do is add a bunch of unused bins to the clutter of The Cluttered House).  Try to be creative in how you repurpose items—on Thursday I am going to tackle a Pinterest inspired project where I make a drawer organizer out of food boxes, so the sky is the limit in how you figure out your storage needs! You don’t have to spend a lot to get organized!
Speaking of Pinterest, you can get some ideas from my Organizing: Kitchen & Pantry board, as well as from my Organizing: General Information/Books/Help board. For a great checklist to help guide your organizing, head over to this one on Real Simple's website. I had initially planned to make a list of my own, but found this and couldn’t seem to create one that wasn’t darn near plagiarizing Real Simple's list—and anyone who knows me or has ever had me as an English instructor knows how I feel about plagiarism! (If you know me only through this blog, just FYI, plagiarism sets off a fiery rage within my soul).  

Last, but not least, have fun and good luck! I’m off to tackle the madness that is the top of my refrigerator!

OH! And I learned how to make a cool badge (top right of the page). You should totally add it to your blog… 


  1. Let commentapalooza and repinapalooza commence!

  2. I'm on board with this project! Though, due to my super short pregnancy attention span and feeling way overwhelmed by parts of my kitchen, I'm jumping around my house doing some of the easier projects first. I need the sense of accomplishment from completing the easy projects. Also, my kitchen always ends up messier as I clear out other spaces because I bring stuff into the kitchen when I don't know quite what do to with it yet. I know you are OAM to use what you have but I'm finding the dollar store storage bins to be totally awesome right now. They are keeping things orderly on the cheap and are making me so happy!

    1. Dollar store stuff is great! Low to no cost is something I can get behind. Just don't want to go crazy buying stuff when I can repurpose items I have.

      And I'm not gonna lie, I totally took "inspiration" pics of the insides of some of your cabinets. I was impressed by the bottle and school Tupperware storage & organization!!

    2. Is it creepy that I just confessed to covertly photographing your kitchen cabinets?

      That is why you can never leave me alone!! I will totally peep your cabinets!

  3. Just got a new baker's rack for my kitchen! Freed up a lot of counter space and allowed me to organize things better. Plus, pretty! Got it second-hand, looks almost like new, and fits the space for it like a glove. Closest I'll get to organizing my kitchen. :)

  4. Shut up, you did not! That is hilarious! I guess I'm doing a lot more of the same as I did with the bottle stuff just using bigger tubs for bigger objects. I did under my kitchen sink this morning and now all the extra scrubbers and sponges are in an open top tub and all the cleaning products are in another tub instead of just shoved in there. I think I really like having things grouped by like kind and in containers so they aren't floating all over the place. I'm even thinking after I get everything where I want it I'll borrow Jake's label maker and label each of the tubs so other people can put things away properly. I am super excited to tackle my bathroom cabinet, pantry and a couple more kitchen cabinets this weekend. I am totally going to be ruthless about getting rid of things that we don't use. It is fun to know you are charging though your mess too it keeps me motivated.

  5. Issues- need to figure out a way to make snacks for lunches easy to see and grab. Right now I just have them in the Costco boxes they came in shoved wherever they will (or won't really) fit. I don't want it too low because then His Nibs (the 3 yr old) will get into them. I also have my trash can and recycle in there which is causing me to lose lots of potential storage space. Now that I have identified a few fixable problems, I feel like I can tackle them!

    1. Costco packs are tough. I see all these cute ideas on Pinterest, but none of them work well for our family, because my little guys (or the dog) would be into the snacks in a heartbeat.

      I have found that tearing the flaps off of snack boxes, so they are open and easy to get into, often helps with grab and go stuff.

      GO TACKLE IT!! :)

  6. What kind of label maker do you have?

    1. I have an older P-touch label maker, the PT 1900/1910 model. Just does the black writing on the white background. I love it, even though it isn't fancy!


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