I am one of those people who is both organized and messy depending on the day of the week and how much is going on. Working from home adds another challenge since the dining room table is basically my office Monday-Friday, so usually my house is a mess during the week and then I do a tornado of tidying up—and it looks pretty dang good for the weekend. Repeat. Repeat. However, the spot that probably bothers me the most (and the hardest to keep clean all week) is our kitchen countertop. Maybe if we had a mudroom or entryway area that would divert some of the potential clutter to those zones, but we don’t, so it all seems to pile up on our countertop instead. We’ve tried to have “rules” about how long things can stay on the countertop, but they’ve never worked more than a few days. So I decided we needed to try something different and this time it’s been amazing how well it’s working for us! I’ll show you what I did:
Use a breadbox (or large tin) for storage: One of the favorite things I’ve done was get a cute breadbox to keep on the counter that I put all our supplement and daily vitamin type things in. Especially in the winter when we have a lot of extra supplements around to head off colds, etc., they all pile up on the counter and just make things look messy. I realized a breadbox would be the perfect thing to hide all those types of items but still keep them within easy reach when needed. Of course, you can use the breadbox or decorative tin to hide whatever you like, but it made a huge difference once I stashed them all in there.
Use cute bowls/planters/vases for small item storage: Instead of banning items like keys or sunglasses (or loose change—whatever!) from the counter, just give them their own spot! I got a planter—just the right size to hold a few pairs of sunglasses and it helps keep them handy for when I run out the door, but they are also contained (and almost invisible) in the whole overall countertop look. I definitely feel like a big part of the problem with messy areas is that things don’t have designated places, and once they do, it really helps minimize potential messes. You can also do a long tray like this and have smaller bowls lined up in it for things like coins, hair ties, or other super small items.
Choose colors that blend into the background for counter appliances: Even if it’s not cluttered, countertops that are stuffed with appliances can feel messy and overloaded. So I like to choose white appliances when I can and just keep the essential ones on the counter so they blend into the background and feel more integrated into the space (and that little white retro-inspired toaster is just so cute!). Of course, depending on your kitchen, different colors will do that better or worse depending on your color scheme, so take that into account when deciding what color to try. And for the record, I am never against a cute set of colored appliances (I was definitely torn between buying the white and the pink toaster!), but if your main concern is space and the counter feeling as open as possible, I would opt for the ones that blend in rather than stand out.
Have a designated place for papers and mail: This is a huge one for me. I have to have places for papers to go or the countertop ends up looking like an overworked lawyer’s desk a week before a huge case (or at least what I imagine that looks like from the movies—I’m not a lawyer!). Something like this or this is great because it gives you several slots so you can divide between checks to cash, bills to pay, important papers you may need to reference soon, tax documents—whatever (I also love Rachel’s DIY version as well)! Just make sure you get one with segments of some kind as it makes documents a lot easier to find if they aren’t all in one clump. You can also use something like this for your fridge if you are short on counter space (I still use mine)!
Add some shelves for more free counter space: I originally added those shelves in the kitchen to make room for some of the vintage glassware I have, but it’s also been great to keep things off the counter as well! Whether you are storing your favorite coffee mug you use every day, a Chemex, or some of your smaller containers I mentioned before that hold sunglasses or keys, shelves are an ideal way to keep things up and out of the way. And if those items also match the look and colors of the rest of your counter items, well then they really blend in and become part of the decor rather than random scattered items on a shelf.
I have to say I am thrilled so far with how it’s been going since I made these changes. It’s not that no other item is allowed to touch the countertop at any point, but it’s super easy to see where things don’t belong and then put them where they do belong at the end of the day, or when I have a few minutes to tidy up while I wait for tea to brew, etc. If you have one spot that is the hub in your home as well, I hope some of these tips will help keep your counters clear as well! xo. Laura