Organize Your Kitchen With Guest Glynnis Whitwer

We are into week two of our online study of A Life That Says Welcome. This week we will tackle some practical tasks for getting our homes company-ready and strategies for cooking. (Chapters 4-7)

Today, my ministry partner, clever friend and fellow-author of an organizing book Glynnis Whitwer is here to help us get our acts together in the kitchen.

Remember, you can comment on all posts until the end of the study. Winners announced the day after Easter. So, be sure to catch up on the posts from over the weekend. They were fabulous. I am learning a ton from our guests and from you all too!

Now, for today’s guest:

Glynnis Whitwer is on staff with Proverbs 31 Ministries as the Senior Editor of the P31 Woman magazine. She is one of the writers of Encouragement for Today, the Proverbs 31 e-mail devotions, with over 500,000 daily readers.  Her newest book, I Used to be So Organized, was released last fall.  Glynnis, her husband Tod, and their five children live in Glendale, Arizona.  Visit for more information.

I’ve discovered many of life’s blessings happen in my kitchen.  This room unites the values I hold dear:  home, family and sharing life with others.  This is why keeping it organized and clutter-free is a top priority for me.  It’s not so I can boast of my alphabetized spices or labeled storage containers.  An organized kitchen helps keep me focused on what’s important, instead of mentally drained by a mess.

Here’s the problem with a disorganized kitchen as I see it.  When there’s no clear counter space, I’m discouraged from starting anything.  Instead of making an affordable and healthy dinner, I am tempted to pick something up. I can’t even imagine reaching out to anyone when I can’t even take care of my own family.

All my lovely ideas for hospitality evaporate as clutter drains me of creative energy.  Years ago I realized a well-managed life, one where I minister to my family and others, started in my kitchen.

So, in order to bring in more beauty, peace and order into my life and into the lives of those I love, I have declared a war on kitchen clutter.  If that appeals to you, here are some suggestions for how to de-cluttering the kitchen.

1)  Sort through and remove all clutter from on top of your counters.

Put away, recycle, toss and file those items you know what to do with.  If you don’t know where to start, pick a spot and work your way clockwise.  If you need to make decisions on other items, put those in a large box for later decision-making.  Wash and put away dishes. Clean your counters and sink. Now stand back and survey your accomplishment with joy!  (clap, clap, clap … that’s from me).

2)  Move many of your everyday kitchen appliances out of sight (toaster, bread maker, waffle iron, etc).

Clear counters will refresh you, and give you a clean palate for creativity.  You might need to work on step 3 at the same time so you have room to store these items.

3)  Eliminate extra, unwanted, broken, chipped and incomplete items.

Start with one cabinet or shelf and completely remove every item.  If you don’t use it, set it aside to give away, sell or toss.  Be honest and ruthless. I know this will be hard, because many of us are well intentioned.  I really intended to make fondue for my family … someday. But I had to be honest with myself.

Clean the shelves with warm soapy water and return the items you want to keep, including those items that were previously stored on your counter.

4)  Store seldom-used appliances elsewhere.

Can you store larger items outside your kitchen?  If you are holding out hope that you will start to use your waffle iron, then consider a shelf in an outside storage cabinet, extra bedroom or linen closet.   I have a shelf in my garage for larger items I don’t often use.

Another option is to purchase extra kitchen storage, like a free-standing cottage-style pantry or rolling island.  Consider buying something with doors to reduce visual clutter.

Great ideas, Glynnis!

Now, to be entered to win a copy of Glynnis’ book I Used to Be So Organized, tell us either your greatest kitchen organization dilemma or one tip you have when it comes to the kitchen.

REMEMBER: We are also interacting over at Karen Ehman’s Book Studies on Facebook. Click here to “like” the page & join us.

And, for this coming Friday’s idea swap and share, be thinking of your best decorating idea, tip, centerpiece or DIY project.

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  1. I have starting “couponing” to cut down on expenses and maintain a REALLY small budget… my problem is keeping up with all the coupons and paper mess that it creates. I have the BEST of intentions and a binder for organizing… but alas they sit on my counter.

  2. My biggest dilemma is my husband’s tea collection! I found this nifty tray at Target that I can put the tea bags in to “display”, and one cabinet is devoted soley to his tea collection. Makes it more managable.

  3. My greatest dilemma would be the two draws (yes not just one) that hold all my hand held kitchen gadgets. I love a new tool but can’t seem to make everything fit. A great idea I do is rotate appliances (small ones) in the winter I seem to use my kitchen aide more and in the summer I use my food processor or blender more. I have a spot in my pantry for one appliance while the other is out on the counter in the corner.

  4. My greatest dilemma is having my future mother in law living with us. She and I have very different opinions on where things should go in the kitchen. She has been with us for 8 months and she has rearranged the kitchen at least 4 times since she moved in. Now I have to ask her where things are in the kitchen!

  5. My greatest challenge is keeping clutter off the counters. I find if I clear it daily and try to touch paper once it makes a huge difference. We also move frequently, which is challenging. We recently moved to Boston and live in almost half the house we used to, which I am looking at as a cleansing opportunity! Very time consuming though.

  6. With young children who like to tear the cupboards apart (and actually keep themselves happy and occupied doing it), I found it helpful to designate one drawer of tupperware or plastic measuring cups that they are allowed to play with, and can put away in any fashion they want (as long as it is back in the drawer), and then call all other drawers and cabinets off limits! I got so tired of cleaning up all the cluttered cupboards, so when we moved last year this was a new rule we put into place for the new house and it has worked great!

  7. I like having a spice drawer. This way, I can read all the labels of the spices at a glance. I also have an entertainment cupboard. This is where I keep hot cocoa, teas, instant coffees, instant lemonades, etc. It’s all set up on a pretty tray and ready to be pulled out when we have company. All those free samples of products I get (drinks etc) go there. Now I need to organize the rest of the kitchen.

  8. My kitchen aid mixer, champion juicer, and water distiller stay on the counter because they are too heavy to take in and out of a cabinet. The keurig stays on the counter because it is used so much for my family for coffee or hot tea. I have plenty of other counter space for food prep. Two hints that have helped me alot are: the lids to Yankee Candles fit a large mouth quart canning jar. I labeled the jar and use the set for stuff like coffee, cream of wheat, granola, etc. since the lid is easier to get off, is decorative, and still rubber air sealed. Second, I used boxes from the grocery store about 3-4″ tall and rectangular as drawers on my wire shelves in the pantry that I have with bifold doors. The boxes that can be slid out as drawers help me to see what’s in the back of the shelf easily and I categorize the items in each box. Also got some bpa free, clear, tall plastic containers at Ross and labeled them for flour, sugar, corn meal, etc to put on the top shelf. The pantry is much easier to use now!!

  9. We don’t have much counter space, so instead of placing our microwave on what little space we have, we purchased a 3 shelf closet/laundry organizing shelf. One shelf for cookbooks, the other has decorative boxes (which hold less frequently used items, placemats, etc) and the microwave sits on top. It has been very helpful to us!

  10. My husband hates clutter! Growing up, his mom used the kitchen/dining table as a catch-all. I think he was traumatized..haha! Since we have been married we have have been space-challenged and I would leave things on the table and he would get really angry. So much so that it would lead to many fights. I had nowhere else to put things that I needed to look through at a later time. We recently moved into a much larger home with a kitchen that has a lot of space. Our counters are clear except for our toaster oven(we use this almost every day) and my Kitchen-Aid (too heavy to keep moving in and out of cabinets). We have a large butcher block type table that has shelves on the bottom so we bought large baskets and that is where all the Tupperware goes and our 3 year old has his own basket with his cups, plates, and bowls in so he can choose what he wants to use at mealtimes. The top is now a coffee and hot beverage station. The other thing we did was found some floating shelves (wood and metal) at Ikea and hung those to store the canisters (flour, sugar, etc) and hang our strainer and some other odd shaped items. The papers that I had laying on the table are now in our computer cabinet, with doors that we can close when we don’t want to look at the papers. Junk mail immediately goes in the trash! I am still a work in progress but am loving the ideas posted! Thank you!

  11. If we have a flat surface, it seems as if it is open game for anything! I intentionally invite friends over so I can keep it cleaned off!

  12. My biggest problem in my kitchen is the drawers. They make me crazy! I haven’t found a good way to keep them organized. Help!

  13. My dilemma is storing pots and pans! I have a small kitchen and don’t have those fancy “pull out” pot and pan drawers, so they go stacked in a cupboard and I HATE getting them in and out (especially when the one I need is in the back and on the bottom of the stack).

    Any great solutions for storing pots/pans in a cupboard?

  14. Junk mail clutters my kitchen table. I live alone so I have no one to blame but myself so typically I can only go a couple of days before I sort through it and clean off my table.
    Now that I have read the other comments I have some work to do to my kitchen counter.

  15. I recently just cleaned off my counters and refrigerator. After being in my home for 14 years, it feels fresh and new! I took 2, yes I had 2, junk drawers, and cleaned them out. I took my knives out of their block and put them in one drawer and took my spoons, potato masher, spatula’s and other assorted items out of their pottery and put them in the other. I also am going to try to live without my toaster oven that currently vacationing in the garage. We have a pop up toaster that might suit our needs well enough. I put my mixer in the pantry to see if I could live with out it on the counter. I love the clean uncluttered look. I want a basket with a lid to put on the counter for paper clutter. Progress!!!

  16. My greatest dilemma is when I distribute mail to each family member, their mail somehow always ends up either left at their place on the table or on our island.

  17. My kitchen dilemna is also the catch all counter. I sort threw the mail upon arrival. But it still is FULL of junk. I’m gonna try some of these suggestions… Can’t wait.

  18. I also have a small kitchen that doesn’t allow for many cupboards. Recently, I bought two large plastic storage boxes and put in all the large items that I only use once or twice a year (Things like large platters for use at Christmas & Thanksgiving, a large container of Christmas and Valentine cookie cutters, a punch bowl, etc.) I labeled the storage boxes as Box “A” and Box “B” and made out index cards to inventory what is in each box. That way when I need a stored item, I don’t have to rummage through both boxes, but know immediately what box to search. By doing this, I was able to free an entire cupboard, which enabled me to better organize all the items I frequently use. I keep the storage boxes on large shelves in the garage. I also have a problem with mail clutter and notes to myself in the kitchen. I have tried to eliminate this by going through everything on a daily basis before the stack gets too high; however, no matter how hard I try, I can only succeed for about a week and then it seems like I’m too busy to do the daily sifting and the stack grows again.

  19. My greatest kitchen dilemna is that we rent our house and we have a narrow gally kitchen with little storage. It seems we spend more time finding a place to put things, and finding them once we put them in a place. The house is old,from the 1960’s and it seams that we have larger pans, dishes,etc then they did back then. So finding the space is hard.

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