Several weeks ago, I took every single thing out of most of my kitchen cabinets. Piles of dishes, containers, mixing bowls, cookbooks, plates and napkins, serving dishes, ice buckets, vases, light bulbs, coolers, dish towels, aprons and more covered my kitchen and computer room floor.
It was pretty overwhelming.
I felt like I had to get everything out at once because one of the cardinal rules of organizing (according to Marie Kondo, author of the extremely popular book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”) is storing “likes with likes.” And it’s common sense to put things you use often closest to where you use them.
And reorganizing one cabinet at a time wasn’t going to accomplish that.
After years of tossing stuff willy-nilly in any available space, it was time to get serious.
As housekeeping guru FlyLady advises, I attacked the stacks by setting my timer for 15 minutes every day and telling myself “all you have to do is pick a pile and declutter it for 15 minutes.”
It’s amazing what you can accomplish in that short amount of time! And sometimes you even want to keep at it longer. 🙂
Several weeks later, by the time my massive project was done, I had filled five big, black Hefty trash bags with things I didn’t need and didn’t use — but that somebody else might want. Promptly packed those in the trunk of the car to donate to Goodwill!
Also packed a large kitchen garbage can full of items nobody else could use, either — lids without containers, containers without lids, broken things and mystery objects.
While I started to group things and put them back in the cabinets, I realized I needed some containers to — well, contain — like items. Some cupboard contents had been in shoe boxes before, but since I was going to all this trouble to do it right, I wanted the cabinets to look nicer — with uniform containers.
The depth of the cabinets is an odd size (11 inches), but I finally located what I needed at Walmart — matching plastic containers with lids that have a cute black and gray chevron design on the outside. Supplies fit inside them perfectly, and they come in two sizes, so I bought a supply of each.
I also bought some shelf lining and put some in the cabinets that needed it. (If you’re going to do it — go all out, huh?)
I threw out nearly every single item in the small cabinet above the refrigerator. Why did I hang on to so many half-used sets of holiday napkins and plates? Instead, I filled it with rarely used items such as liquor, an ice bucket and other non-paper party supplies.
Threw out a lot of scrappy-looking old dish towels and folded the nicest ones in the drawer next to the sink.
And I decided to stop using the metal towel holders (that hook over the top of the cabinet drawer next to the sink) for dish towels, since they always fall on the floor when you open the drawer! The light bulb went off when I was browsing through Pinterest and noticed everyone else hung their kitchen towels on the oven door… Now I do that, too.
I also got rid of a lot of big, old Tupperware containers. Wasn’t crazy about them 30 years ago and am even less enthusiastic about them now. Am planning to buy a set of nice glass storage containers in the near future to replace them.
And last, but not least, I packed a lot of knicknacks from various cruise vacations that ended up in the cabinets above the microwave — oven mitts, wall hangings, etc. — to donate to Goodwill. Decided to “bless someone else with them” (as FlyLady puts it).
My brother-in-law visits every Christmas and says something falls on his head whenever he gets in the cabinets above the microwave; this year, he’ll be amazed when he opens the cabinets and sees the organization and order!
Check out the “before” and “after” photos below.