Monday, March 12, 2007

Organizing for Spring: the Kitchen

Tip of the Week, March 4, 2007

Though it might not feel or look like spring where you are, longer days are ahead (Daylight Savings Time begins on Sunday, March 11 this year), and warmer, more pleasant ones won't be far behind. While you're waiting for the seasons to change, make the most of the time you'll be spending indoors by giving each area in your home or office an organizational tune-up. First up: the kitchen.

  • Clean out your fridge and freezer. Chances are there's at least something from the winter holidays still lurking somewhere in the back of your fridge or freezer. Now's the perfect time to excavate it, and to get rid of anything else that's old, out-of-date, or unappealing in the process.
  • Weed out your pantry. The same process works for canned goods and non-perishables as well: sort through everything you have, get rid of anything that's past its prime, donate anything still usable that you don't need to a food pantry or soup kitchen, and put the stuff you do want back into your cupboards in a way that'll make it easy to get at when you need it.
  • Replace tired linens and sponges. If your dishtowels, tablecloths, and napkins are ready to give up the ghost, toss them or cut them up for rags, then replace them. (Of course, if they're still good, a simple run through the washing machine--and, if you're ambitious, a few minutes with the iron--are all they need.) Now's a good time to replace worn-out sponges, too.
  • Look for ways to increase your storage efficiency. If there are items you find you're always using that are stored in hard-to-reach spots (such as high or low cabinets or storage across the kitchen from where you do your food prep), move them. As a general rule, devote the "valuable real estate" in your kitchen (that is, the accessible cabinets and drawers near your stove, prep counters, and sink) to the things you use most often, and relocate the other stuff to more out-of-the-way spots.
  • While you're at it, reconsider what you're storing. While you're moving things around to make your kitchen more user-friendly, take a long, hard look at some of your lesser-used items and reconsider whether they deserve storage space at all. If you don't often use them and are unlikely to, bid them goodbye.
  • Focus on problem areas. Think of the most frustrating area in your kitchen--perhaps the catch-all junk drawer, the countertop near the doorway, the cabinet that holds your pots and pans, or the area under the sink. Take a look at the cause of that frustration: is there no rhyme or reason to what gets stored in this spot? Do things end up here because they have nowhere else to go? Is it hard to get out or put away stuff? Finally, brainstorm ways you might ease some of these frustrations. Could you mount a mail and message center on the wall near the door to keep the countertop clean? Would a round of purging, followed by the installation of some drawer dividers, help keep your junk drawer manageable? Would a hanging pot rack or an in-cabinet pot-and-lid organizer address the tumbling pan issue? Aim to make one substantial change to your kitchen this season to clear out the frustration of what's not working.

While you wait for spring's arrival, huddle up inside and spend some time getting a jump start on the season. Next week, we'll turn our attention to spring organizing for the bathroom.

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