How to whip crockery, cutlery & loose kitchen utensils into shape

Is your kitchen a room you’re proud to have guests in and a place that inspires your inner chef? Or does your messy kitchen hold you back from making the kinds of meals you know you’re capable of?

Do you feel uninspired when you can’t easily put your hands on the utensils you need? Fear not, you’re not alone.

These tips should help you confine your kitchen’s mess – and help you bring your inner Julia Child out to shine!

Think of your kitchen sort of like a car’s interior

The things you use most regularly should be easily within reach. When you’re sitting in the driver’s seat, you can control pretty much everything you need to – the steering, the lights and indicators, the radio and the wipers. You can’t reach into the glove box easily while driving but you shouldn’t really need to either.

Similarly, there’s an area in the kitchen that I call the ‘magic triangle’. That’s the space between your refrigerator, your sink, and your cooktop.

Saucepans in draw under hob

Making this area work well is key to a well-functioning kitchen. Keep things that you use regularly within this magic triangle. Things you use less frequently (like the mixer or big platters) should be kept further outside of that area.

Five fast steps to decluttering

  1. Let go of what you don’t need, use or want: Take everything out and think seriously about which things you can get rid of (if you haven’t used it for years, it’s probably time for it to go). Also, are you really, truly ever going to have that fondue party that you think you will? If you’re having problems figuring out what stays and what goes then put them aside – I have suggestions for those items in the next section.
  2. Once decluttered give everything a wipe-over: With shelves and countertops clear, it’s time to give everything a good clean. Wipe the cabinets down with a damp sponge and deep clean those spots that have needed attention for far too long.
  3. Like with like and set limits: Group like items together and return them to the designated space in your kitchen drawers or cabinets where you’ve decided they should live – only this time, make a deal with yourself that you won’t let anyone area grow beyond its allocated space.
  4. Use vertical space to your advantage: Generally bigger, heavier items should be lower down in your cabinets. Things you use regularly like glassware, plates, etc., should be at eye level.

Group like items together and return to a designated space in a kitchen drawer or cabinet. Picture: Kmart

How to know what to get rid of

If you’re struggling with too many utensils and can’t decide which should stay and which should go, then take the One-month Cardboard Box Test.

Dump every utensil you own into a cardboard box and leave that out on the benchtop. For the next month or so, every time you use an item put it back into a kitchen drawer.

At the end of the month, chances are that whatever is still in the box is never going to be used. It’s probably time to take the entire box to Vinnies.

OK, I know you may need certain utensils at certain times of year – so be somewhat reasonable. Maybe keep the turkey baster, but that strawberry corer? Seriously? Time to say goodbye!

Chances are, you’re like most people and have way more kitchen utensils than you actually need or ever use. Keep in mind that the more space you feel like you have, generally the more inspired you’ll feel in the kitchen.

Kitchens should be welcoming places and inspire you to create the food you love. A little decluttering and some serious organisation can go a long way to helping you achieve that.

Originally published as How to whip crockery, cutlery & loose kitchen utensils into shape by Peter Walsh. Author at