Saturday, October 18, 2014

Want a Magazine-Style Kitchen with Plenty of Room?

I have found the secret:

  1. Get rid of everything you don't need. Everything. Toaster? Brown your grain-free bread under the broiler. Countertop can opener? Use a hand-held model--get a battery-powered one if needed. Anything that cuts things? Use a knife. Anything you haven't used in a year? Get it out of there. 
  2. Put away everything you don't use daily. Containerized clutter is still clutter. Clean clutter is clutter. Clever clutter is clutter. Get it? A block of knives, a cutting board, a coffee pot, soap, and maybe a juicer or blender should be about all that's left on your counters. Cookbooks can stay, but likewise, clear out cookbooks you rarely use.
  3. Clean it up. Now that your kitchen is de-cluttered, this should be a snap. You know how it's harder to get ready to paint than it is to actually paint--because you have to paint around things? Same with cleaning: there's nothing hard about moving a paper towel or a soapy sponge  around. The hard part is getting the clutter out of the way, cleaning where the clutter was, cleaning the clutter, then putting the clutter back.

Think you don't have enough room to put all your stuff away? You don't need a big, country-style kitchen to get organized or cook fabulous meals:

Galley of the Orient Express. Image from
Galley of the Maharajas Express, where they make... like this. See more images at
Home cooks in Paris likewise turn out great meals with few gadgets and little space.

It's taken me 45 years to figure this out. Why don't cleaning and organizing gurus tell us this instead of, say, putting on shoes? You can't build an enterprise on advice like this. You can't sell containers if there isn't much to contain. And like a lot of good advice, it isn't easy to take. People would rather hear they can keep all their stuff, shop for more, and still have a place that looks like something out of a magazine.


tess said...

all right, now you did it -- I want to go on the Maharaja Express!!!

Galina L. said...

The smallest kitchen I used was 50 squire feet, and everything was cooked there. However, in Russia, unlike in Paris, kitchen is the most common gathering place when small amount of guess come casually. In Moscow no one would say "two bedrooms apartment", but one room apartment, two rooms apartment. Usually there is no rooms designated for sleeping, every room contains a sofa which could be turned into a sleeping place at night, and no room is designated specifically for dining . Many people have tables which are folded into a small piece of furniture unless a lot of guests come, and usually kitchen already has a table which doesn't require unfolding.
In my Florida house we have an open floor plan, and I like it. It is like a huge kitchen I have never had before, even though our real estate agent told us our kitchen was designed for the people who didn't cook much - not enough of cooking surfaces.

Lori Miller said...

The Maharaja Express looks like a great way to see some amazing places.

Lori Miller said...

I for one wouldn't want a big kitchen. (Google "large kitchen" images and you'll see some that are larger than my house.) The ostentatious ones with unpolished stone and wood and herbs, lights and pots and pans hanging from the ceiling and lots of nooks and crannies would be a cleaning nightmare. And a big kitchen will cost a fortune to remodel when designers tell us to replace all the boring maple and stainless steel with laser-cut sheet metal cabinetry, or whatever they come up with next.

Galina L. said...

I just googled big kitchen images - look spectacular! A lot of cleaning potential! I am sure IRL live flowers and mountains of fruits will give space to clutter and different food processors.
My kitchen needs to be updated - Formica counter-top looks shabby, and linoleum floors are worn out. It was new 14 years ago. We opted for cheapest options because bank requested from us a 30% down-payment -because we were then on a working visa. On a positive side - it allowed us to be mortgage-free in 7 years after the purchase . My husband doesn't like to live through renovations, so we are not ready to start yet. I was thinking about stainless-still countertops, but he didn't like the idea.

Lori Miller said...

Ha, my kitchen was new in the 50s. It's so old it's in style again: faux-marble formica and white cabinets. But it's in need of an upgrade, too: I'd like to paint and put subway tiles on the walls and octagon and dot tile on the floor. I don't see any reason to replace functional cabinets.

Stainless steel countertops would be durable and sanitary, but a little industrial for a house.

And mortgage-free in seven years--rock on!

Lori Miller said...

I've always loved the Victorian aesthetic, and only lately realized how much clutter it involved. But the clutter was in Art Nouveau, and the Victorians had servants to keep it clean. I still love it, but I also see a maintenance nightmare.

JanKnitz said...

I have quite a few gadgets on countertops but they are used weekly if not daily. Toaster oven is a great broiler and mini oven, the high powered blender gets used for sauces, pates, making nut butters, "grating cheese", and smoothies. Coffee grinder and coffee maker are used every morning as is the microwave, and my huge electric pressure/multi-cooker is used at least a few times a week for steaming veggies, making bone broth, rice (for the grain eaters), and used as a slow cooker. I make hard and soft boiled eggs in it and sweet or savory custards. Not to mention the knife block, continuous brewer for kombucha, and compost pail. Everything is used often.

Lori Miller said...

I have a microwave, a small 1930s coffee maker, knife block, water filter/pitcher, cups in a wire rack, small food scale, cutting board, a few cookbooks, a plant, and some vintage ceramic canisters for decoration on the counter. I got rid of enough stuff to put away the blender and food processor; the pressure cooker has always had a home in the cupboard and I use the coffee grinder at the grocery store.

I'm ready to give up on the compost pail sitting by the washing machine. I have a composter outside, but nothing seems to rot here in the land of fossils. And the food scraps splatter when I put the in the bucket, even though I'm careful.

Galina L. said...

There is also an opinion that Victorian stile clutter could accommodate a little bit more of additional clutter, while sleek modern look could be destroyed with one item which is out of place. I am neither, I guess.

Yes, the industrial look of steel countertops is what my husband objects - it wouldn't be fitting for the kitchen inside a living space idea. Since walls painting doesn't require his consent, it is up to date - I am the designated painter/decorator in our household. Our maple cabinets look good against dark green olive paint. Other walls in the house are different shades of sage, floor is lite grey. I have many pictures on walls, even in the kitchen there is an oil painting of a still life with red/green peppers, eggplant and garlic.
I keep and use some of my gadgets (foreman grill, pressure cooker, toaster oven) in the garage in order not to heat house, so it is not inside my kitchen, but there are still some unnecessary items even though not many appliances. I don't have a food processor and use instead a German made Borner v-slicer , good knives (99% I use a Swiss army long bread serrated knife on everything) and a stick blender. My meat grinder is manual too. People mostly keep electrical appliances on countertops, not manual ones.

Lori Miller said...

I don't like the look of sleek modern minimalism--it's too cold for me. Traditional but simple is what I'd like for my house.

The outside of my house is painted sage with white trim and dark gray accents--and plants running amok.

Galina L. said...

Sage color is great - everything looks great against it!

Lori Miller said...

What I like about a sage green house and garage is that they blend in with the landscape and the color doesn't fade badly.

Lowcarb team member said...

Clutter is always the enemy - very satisfying to clear away.

Whatever space you have don't you find you use it to the full ...and perhaps overflowing?

Feng Shui and all that jazz.

All the best Jan

Galina L. said...

Lori, could you sent me your e-mail?

Lori Miller said...

Galina, if you'll send me your email address in a comment, I won't publish it, but will share my email address with you.