My kitchen isn’t a nightmare, but it wasn’t planned out either, not like the kitchen I grew up in.
That was a true gem; a double-oven, a massive refrigerator (three, actually, if you include the two we had in the garage), a wide stove, mixers, blenders, and enough knives to hold Paris hostage. The pantry was about half the size of my current kitchen. When all the lights were on and the appliances polished, it was beautiful.
It was not a minimalist kitchen. My mom had everything William-Sonoma cranked out. I think she still does, packed away somewhere. If you have a kitchen of your own – not rented, but one you can customize to your heart’s desire – you’re lucky. I do miss that kitchen, but you do what you can with what you have.
I had to get my place in better order. I took everything out, cleared out the pantry and emptied the cabinets. The thing about kitchens is to organize them by zones: prepping, cooking, cleaning, and storage.
For instance, the counter by my stove is where I prepare most of my food, so I’m going to have the cutting boards close at hand, the knife block on the counter-top, and conveniently, the cabinet above can serve as a pantry with oils, spices, and dry goods at the ready. This blends with my cooking zone – the stove and oven – and that’s really just a matter of organizing my spatulas and ladles. Cleaning supplies go in either a side cabinet or under the sink, and there’s a spot next to the sink for things to dry after washing. Storage is subdivided. There’s a space for Tupperware and plastic wrap. Pots, pans, and dishes have their place in the cabinets around my sink opposite the stove.
In the back of my mind, I figured I’d have a lot of extra stuff cluttering the place. I’m pretty conscious about what I buy, but always think there’s probably more than what I need. I was wrong. Aside from an extra Tupperware set that I overestimated and a garlic press I never really enjoy using, everything has a purpose.
Even if you’ve got an ordered space, it’s helpful to take stock of what you have. Stephen King had a similar theory in his book On Writing, comparing a writer’s skills to a toolbox (or a kitchen in this case). Take each tool, look at it careful, and remind yourself of its function.