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Q&A Tuesday: How do you keep your kitchen countertops cleaned off?

I am decluttering our house like a crazy woman because I believe, like you, that less is more. But I still struggle in the kitchen. I see your kitchen photo when you do your freezer cooking and I can’t believe you have only crock pot on your counter. How do you do it? -Nami

Growing up, my mom never liked to have anything on the kitchen countertops, so I’m pretty sure that’s where my love of clean countertops originated. I try to have mine completely clean and cleared off as much as possible. Sometimes, when we’re in the middle of homeschooling around the kitchen table, things will pile up. That’s life–and I’m okay with it.

However, I try to make sure the countertops are clutter-free every night before dinner and then again before bed. At least in our home, I’ve found that if I purposefully clean everything off the countertops and put it away at least twice per day, they never pile up beyond control.

To give you a little peek into my kitchen, here’s how I try to have it look every afternoon and evening (try being the key word there, believe me, it doesn’t always happen!)

And here’s a view from the other direction (don’t ask me why the lighting is so bad; I still have a hundred thousand things to learn about photography–as is very apparent from all the pictures I post!):

I keep our weekly menu on the side of the refrigerator. Having it there has been working so well for us to stay organized and to remind me of what I had planned to fix! I just print off the menu I format for my blog post each week and then cross things off as we make the meals:

I don’t keep a lot of cookbooks, since many of the recipes I make are online (thank you, Pinterest!). However, I do have a few favorites that stay on the shelf. And then I have a few others that are kept in one of the cupboards.

This house is the first we’ve lived in that has an actual pantry! It’s taken some shuffling and re-shuffling for me to determine what works best to keep in the pantry. Here’s how it looks now:

Our Busy Bags are on the top shelf in separate tubs. Jesse’s protein stuff and vitamins are on the second shelf. The third shelf holds the crock pot and lunch bags that we use when we take a field trip or have a picnic. The fourth shelf has my bread machine and a canister of oatmeal on it. The floor has the juicer, food processor, and some bulk items.

Since we do much of our homeschooling around the kitchen table, I wanted to have some place handy to keep all our current school books and notebooks, but I didn’t want it to take over our kitchen/dining room. I finally decided upon these storage tubs:

They don’t match our kitchen, but I got them free and they are fun and functional. We store the rest of our homeschooling items on the shelves in our school room/exercise room down in the basement and I just bring up what we need each week. I’ll probably need to revisit and revamp this system as our children grow and our schoolwork/books multiply, but this is working well for us right now.

We do keep a tea kettle out on the stove at all times since I use it often. But other than that (and the knife set you see in another picture above), all other appliances are stowed away when not in use. The built-in Lazy Susan serves as a perfect place for the Vita-Mix, toaster, grain mill, popcorn popper, and a few other items

It might seem like a lot of work to put appliances away when you aren’t using them, but I honestly have found that the extra seconds it takes are worth the clutter-free look it brings to our kitchen. This system might not work for others, but it works well for us. An added benefit is that I have a lot more countertop space to use when working in the kitchen!

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  • So neat & clean. I also love your homeschooling bins 🙂

  • Terri says:

    From someone who has OCD- I must say that your kitchen gave me an OCD HIGH! Very nice!!

  • Maria says:

    Can I say that I am JEALOUS?!!!!! Want to come over to my house in Northern VA? I’ll pay you in food? I make a mean cupcake that tastes like a Twinkie! Just putting it out there. 😀

    • Nicci says:

      @ Maria~ I’m in NoVA too and I will be happy to throw in some food to get Crystal here!!! Although I think I would be embarrassed for her to see my kitchen right now!

  • Kim says:

    I love it! Several years ago some friends helped me with decorating our house, because it is a skill I lack. However, their style has a lot more ‘stuff’ on my counters. It was good for a season, but I think I’m ready to go back to the bare minimum in my kitchen. Thanks for the inspiration and for all you do.

  • Kim says:

    We do the rule of 3- no more than 3 items that plug in on the counter. We have the toaster oven, microwave, and coffee pot. Everything else is hidden!

    • We also limit the appliances on our counters. Our rule is only appliances we use every day. So for now the only thing the is left out is our blender. During the colder months, our Hot Shot (water heater) will be welcomed to the counter, but for now it’s hidden away.

    • Shelby says:

      That is the best idea I’ve heard all day, and I’m at work, taking a quick brain break. Makes me want to go home and reorganize my kitchen.

  • Kathy says:

    You are inspiring me to declutter my kitchen, living room, bathrooms, closets…. etc. Wanna come help?? lol
    Seriously, great job!! I think a small picture frame with a snapshot of the family or just a picture that makes you smile would be great on the shelf above the sink. Something to help make washing dishes less mundane.

    • Crystal says:

      I think I need one more thing on that shelf, I’ve just been stumped as to what to put there… I should ask my local decorating friends for their suggestions!

      • Brooks says:

        A photo or painting in a frame about the same height as the books will make it more balanced.

      • Suzanne Schlotterback says:

        How about getting an old fashioned clock on feet? I love to use clocks as decor… they are useful and can be pretty! Plus, Kohl’s usually has them for 50% off and you can use your $10 gift cards they send in the mail towards them…

      • alyson says:

        a pretty plate/ platter on a stand.

      • Beth says:

        How about a potted live plant (succulents take little care), a vase filled with flowers your kid’s picked, or some of your children’s artwork? That would make your space look more inviting. 🙂

      • Liz says:

        I heard this idea somewhere and I love it: Pick a word that is an area you feel convicted to work on, and frame just that word in bold letters…that way you will see it often and be reminded that that is your goal for the year, or 6 months, or whatever.

  • diane says:

    Love it….going to clean out my cabinets right now……

  • Jenny says:

    Where do you keep your FOOD if not in the pantry or cupboards?

    • Danielle says:

      That’s what I was wondering too!

    • Crystal says:

      A lot of our food is in the fridge/freezer since much of what we buy is perishable. We have one cupboard with baking supplies and one cupboard with tea, hot chocolate, etc. We also have shelves in the basement in our utility room that I store pasta, canned goods, etc.

      • Andrea says:

        Do you keep all your fruit in the fridge? We always have a bowl of fruit on the counter.

      • Ashlee says:

        I’m glad you addressed this! I think I’d have to keep my kitchenaid out b/c it’s so heavy to move but I might try putting away more.

        One other question… What about the dish rack or dishes you’ve washed? I think our dish rack seems to be a permanent feature on our countertops too.

        • Crystal says:

          I’ve never used a dishrack, just because they always seem to get grimy or germy with a lot of use. I just lay hand-washed dishes on the countertop on a dish towel and then try to put them away quickly so they aren’t an eyesore on the countertop.

          • Heather says:

            My husbands grandmother Rachel taught me this trick. It motivates me to get the dishes done and put away instead of letting them sit there. If they don’t have a home to dry you put them in their home faster.

  • Aha! The built-in lazy Susan seems like it would work better for storing those things than our shelves, which are insanely difficult to access if I store more than one thing in them.

    My countertops are always a mess. I saw once on HGTV that if you are showing a house, you should have no more than 4 appliances on the counters at any one time. I’m going to have to get to that level before I can quit keeping anything on my counter “cold turkey.”

    Thanks so much for the post!

    • Erin says:

      I wish my lazy Susan accommodated my appliances! Mine are in cabinets and they are a pain to access!

      In regard to showing your house, it’s true that less is more. Our little townhouse was cramped after our son was born (all that large baby gear!). We packed up all our “extras” and put them in storage. Our realtor didn’t ask for any changes/staging, and we sold in a weekend–as the market was coming down.

      I also keep my cabinets as clutter free as possible because I’ve got a kid (son) and a big kid (hubby) who can’t seem to see the clutter they leave in their wake. Theoretically :), it’s easier to see the mess when there’s little on the countertops to begin with. Plus, it’s easier to clean when you don’t have to move a bunch of stuff first! I do wish my counters were this bare, though. I keep my knife block, Kitchen Aid, breadbox, and dish drainer out, as well as my son’s art caddy and supplies. We have lots of counter space, but I’d still love to pare things back even more.

  • jules says:

    Please show pictures of how your store your food 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      Most of our food is in the fridge/freezer since much of what we buy is perishable. We have one cupboard with baking supplies and one cupboard with tea, hot chocolate, etc. We also have shelves in the basement in our utility room that I store pasta, canned goods, etc.

  • josee says:

    That looks fantastic! Where is your coffee pot? I think your lighting was not great on that one picture because if the bright window in the background…camera focuses on the light coming from there

  • Amy says:

    I love it! Makes it so much easier to keep the counters cleaned when there is less on them. One question – where do you keep your dry goods/ canned foods if your appliances are in the pantry?

    • Crystal says:

      The bulk of our food is in the fridge/freezer since much of what we buy is perishable. We have one cupboard with baking supplies and one cupboard with tea, hot chocolate, etc. We also have shelves in the basement in our utility room that I store pasta, canned goods, etc.

  • Kamila says:

    Hi. Excellent post. Where do you store your food since your pantry has appliances in it?

    Tnx, Kamila

    • Crystal says:

      Most of our food is in the fridge and freezer since much of what we buy is perishable. We have one cupboard with baking supplies and one cupboard with tea, hot chocolate, etc. We also have shelves in the basement in our utility room that I store pasta, canned goods, etc.

  • Gail says:

    Are you a coffee drinker? Unfortunately we are in my house and just wondering if you have that stowed away also.

    • Crystal says:

      I used to be, but I gave up coffee a few months ago. I do have a french press, though. No coffeemaker.

      • Rachael says:

        We actually have TWO coffee pots. I drink a cup or two in the morning, so I have a small one, but when we have company (our parents), they drink coffee like crazy. We just couldn’t keep up with our small one, so they bought us one for a Christmas present!!

  • Sheina says:

    If the pantry holds mostly appliances, where do you keep your food?

    • Crystal says:

      The majority of our food is in the fridge/freezer since much of what we buy is perishable. We have one cupboard with baking supplies and one cupboard with tea, hot chocolate, etc. We also have shelves in the basement in our utility room that I store pasta, canned goods, etc.

  • Denise says:

    My DH was out of work 5 yrs ago, and we ate rice for weeks while he looked for work. Since then, he’s insisted on 3 months of food storage – I’m really struggling:) The cabinet space I used to use for app’s is now holding food – so, how do you store your food? Your kitchen is gorgeous – I love the green color – almost the same as mine 😉 I would love to go back to the minimal look lol:)

  • Anna says:

    This is my number one challenge this year, I must learn to live clutter free! I am a piler… and I have so many piles right now, that I am literally going insane. I am with you on this though, I must get the countertops clutter free…. 🙂

    • Mandy says:

      I am a piler too, and I almost go through withdrawal symptoms when my counters are completely clean and bare…I cannot handle the uncluttered look…it’s something I’m really struggling with..nice to know there are other pilers out there as well!!! It is my goal to get my counters clutter-free, but i’m taking baby steps. 🙂

    • Corinna says:

      Piles run my life, too! I have them everywhere and want them to go away but I do not know how to part with them, or how to stop making them. The papers, mail, magazines are overwhelming… 🙂

      • Anna says:

        I totally understand….. I really want to win the battle over piles though…. I throw a lot away, and yet, I still feel like I am losing all the time to the piles!

      • Kristine says:

        I feel the same way. And the kids bring home so many papers from school, too. It’s overwhelming trying to sort out everything.

        • Bethann says:

          For the papers (note I only have one in school right now, though) I stuck a diaper box under a cabinet and we put all papers in there every day. That not only gives us a focused place to store them, but if we should need to drag out an old test that perhaps didn’t get recorded or whatever, it’s very easy to find. It usually takes all year to fill up the box and sometime during summer vacation, we will go through the entire box and I’ll let her pull the papers she wants to keep/feels representative of the year/pretty and we put them into a binder and toss the rest.

          • Cheryl says:

            Great idea Bethann! I have so much clutter in my office and pretty much everywhere and much of it is school papers. Now that I have two kids in school it has really added up. I’m going to borrow your idea and have one box for each child and go through it on breaks. Thank you!

        • Yes, it’s hard with school papers. I have twin boys, and I immediately sort their papers when they get home from school while they’re snacking. I sort them like this: keep for sentimental reasons, papers for future reference, and throw away/recycle. For the sentimental papers, I don’t keep very many, and they go in the “school keeping” box in our upstairs closet. This is a medium size moving box, and it’s half full-I’ve been keeping papers since preschool, and two of everything-so since it’s only half full, that should tell you that I’m very picky about the papers I keep. The future reference papers are school newsletters, fundraisers, upcoming assignments, and these go in a paper tray in the office. Otherwise, the papers get recycled or I print coupons on the backs of them.

    • Audrey says:

      I’m a piler too, and I hate it so much. But I have no idea how to change! I LOVE the clutter-free look, but I just don’t know how to achieve it! We live in a small townhouse with our two (almost three) children, and we don’t have much space to store things. We have a “pantry” that we bought and put in our hall closet to store food, so we have very little food in the kitchen…. just baking supplies, spices, and some other stuff we use every day (tea, teeccino, etc.), but we don’t have much cupboard space so there is no where to put anything. I have 3 appliances out (microwave, crockpot, and toaster oven because we don’t have a cupboard big enough to store the crockpot and toaster oven), but my counters are still a mess. And we have no room in our townhouse for a desk, so my study materials (Bible, notebooks, books I’m reading, home management binder, etc.) all sit in piles on the counter so I can sit at the table to read and write. I have absolutely no idea how to get the piles under control without having to put my Bible and everything away (and if I put it away, it won’t get read–it has to be in the kitchen so I will read it). lkajdfksjdf! I have a baby coming in 5 weeks (give or take) though, so I’m hoping to get it all under control by then. We’ll see!

  • Paula says:

    I totally agree — I want to see your food — and inside all of those tidy cupboards. Looking around my kitchen after yours is making me feel queasy….Wanna come hang out in Canada for awhile??

  • Stephanie says:

    I loved this post! I WISH my kitchen looked like this! We have a bad habit of bringing the mail in and just stacking it up on the counter and never actually going through it for a few weeks (or until I just can’t stand the pile anymore!) I noticed you don’t have a microwave, what is your way for reheating things quickly (like mac n’ cheese or something like that)?

    Also, regarding the lighting situation, here’s a quick tip that helped me. If the light source is behind you/the camera your photos will come out like the first one did, nice and bright. If you are taking a picture toward the light source (your glass doors/windows) it will make the room appear darker, like the 2nd picture. Think of photography studios (like Sears or something) they always have the big flash behind the camera.

  • Mealr says:

    I put my appliances away to – especially since I have a small kitchen. Yes, where do you store your food stash? (besides the refrigerator) 🙂

  • Sabrina says:

    Thank you thank you thank you for this post! I really need to work on my kitchen. I usually keep appliances on the counter, but my husband prefers for them to all be out away. Maybe we’ll invest in a lazy susan, I love that idea!

  • Love it! I was in the process of cleaning my kitchen for the evening when I started reading your post. You just motivated me to do a quick “decluttering” of the rest of my house before bed!

    I’m always frustrated when I come home from work to make dinner and everything from the day is scattered around the kitchen. I feel like I have to clean the kitchen before I can do anything!

    I need to take a few extra minutes each morning to put items away before leaving the house, it will make our evenings run much smoother.

  • That’s inspiring! Going to clean the counters right now. My husband will be thrilled 🙂 At my house it’s the canning jars that are always out, since I’m always canning! (and the pots from always cooking in bulk all day!)

  • Diane says:

    Very inspiring! I gave away any extra kitchen stuff we had to a single mom who had very little and that helped. I really encourage all of you to give your extra things to someone who may need them when you are considering de-cluttering. I still have work to do, though. We have dried beans and rice on the counter, a coffee maker, knives, sugar, flour in canisters, and even some plants because that’s one of the only decent windows we have for light. I think I found another project to chip away at this week!
    Crystal I absolutely love your site and you have helped my family so much. God bless you!!

    • Most of my kitchen has been furnished this way. Two women’s things came after they went into nursing homes (most of my baking pans are from the 50’s!) and a few things that my grandmother picked up years ago at garage sales (my grandmother has 4-6 of everything in her kitchen!) Our Kitchen Aid stand mixer used to belong to my husband’s grandfather!

      So–if you’re decluttering the drawers–I agree with sharing! Newlyweds, college students, etc. can truly outfit a kitchen with cast-offs, and it’s even nicer when you don’t have to buy them at thrift stores!

  • Brooks says:

    Love the post.

    On your back lit photography (you mentioned that your photos are dark and you can see a lot of light through the windows)… your camera is having a hard time differing the drastic change of light that the windows bring. If you have a camera that you can push the shutter button 1/2 way down to focus, point it at an area that you want in focus without the added light from the window (the ceiling, floor, or table would work in your kitchen photo) and push the shutter 1/2 way to “lock” in the focus. Keeping the shutter button 1/2 way, move your camera to whatever you want to take a photo of and take your photo. You should be able to decide if you need to do this with or without your flash depending on your situation.

    (The opposite is also true if you want to keep outside in focus through the window. Focus first on outdoors/window light, hold 1/2 way to lock shutter focus and then readjust camera to whatever you want to photograph. You should be able to get whatever you want while seeing what is outside in your photos.)

    • What! How have I never known this?? I’ve struggled with taking photos with the added light and this is such a simple fix. Thank you!

    • Bethica-Ann says:

      I do that often. I just focus a little bit down, like on the cabinet doors, on the darker area to get everything to lighten up and then realign for the whole picture. Okay, this is easier to show than describe, but you’ve done a great job Brook.
      The picture perfect kitchen… sigh, I’ve really gotta work on mine now. 😉

      • Crystal says:

        Thanks for the input; improving my photography skills is on my long list of things to learn/improve. I think I need to develop more patience, too, to get the shot to look right, instead of just hastily snapping pictures! 🙂

        • Wendy in KY says:

          Another trick you can use is to turn your flash to on instead of auto. The camera sees the abundance of light from the window and thinks there is enough light in the room. If you set the camera to flash on it will flash even if the camera thinks it doesn’t need it. this will help brighten things in the foreground as well.

        • Brooks says:

          You are welcome! Improving my home-making skills is on my long list! There is value in the snapshots too… I was looking through photos with family the other day and it was the snapshots (quick catch the moment/room/whatever!) that we were enjoying the most. When we take photos of what is so normal in our lives it is often catching what we will most remember later on.

          Thanks for all you do on the site… it’s helped me more than I have time to share!

  • We don’t have a pantry, so that limits our options, but I love that green color in your house. What color is it, do you mind my asking?

  • Sarah R. says:

    the house we moved into has lots of cabinet space and a large pantry and that has made it easier for us to keep the counter tops cleared off. i too put away all small appliances unless i am using them. the only two that stay out are the coffee pot and kitchen aid stand mixer. i enjoy being in my kitchen much more when it feels clutter free.

  • brook says:

    Thanks for the pics of your corner cabinet with the lazy susan! I have one, and thought that it was mostly unuseable space! I could never think of what would work there, but now I am inspired to rearrange my cabinets and put some of my large items like my vitamix there. Thanks so much!

  • Stefanie says:

    We get our new house in 3 days and I am determined to keep my kitchen this clean and clutter-free! Looks great! 🙂

  • Melanie says:

    Hello! New follower here 😉 I started reading your FB page and well today I have decided to start “decluttering” and well I saw your post and HAD to come over to your blog to read it 😉 Thank you so much for taking time and posting. I am really thinking about doing something like this to my kitchen and everywhere else!

  • Kaidi says:

    Thank you so much for sharing. Makes me want to be really quiet and speak only near those cheery boxes =).

    I love clean counter tops. I am working hard on ours now that we have a lot more of them after we moved. I just need one corner for my crafts projects since I have nowhere to store those, so that won’t help when it comes to keeping mess contained somewhere else.

    Also, not everything is dishwasher safe, so I need to have one of those racks on the counter and that doesn’t make kitchen look very good. Unless you dry the dishes the moment you are done washing them but it’s not always an option. Any suggestions?

    Thanks again for sharing!

    • lyss says:

      If you have a double sink, you can put a small dishrack on one side, which is what I do. I never fill the sink with dishwater; I just use a soapy dish rag and rinse in the same sink.

      Or you can be like my inlaws who store their dish drying rack under the sink and just get it out when washing dishes. After the dishes are put away, the rack goes back in the cabinet under the sink.

      • Kaidi says:

        Thank you! I like those ideas very much! Our kitchen is pretty much the very first thing people see when they come to our house and the rack just makes it look cluttered. Thanks again!

        • Wendy says:

          The kitchen is the first room people come into at our house too. (No one uses our front door.) I have a drying rack too because, believe it or not, I do not own a dishwasher. When we built our house, we did not even put one in. I grew up with a dishwasher and hated unloading it so much, I’d rather just go ahead and wash/dry as I go along than have to deal with them hours later. I get a knot in my stomach when I think of having to unload a dishwasher. :-0

          • Kaidi says:

            We have such an open kitchen that you might come through any window or a door on the first floor and still see the kitchen =). I actually don’t like dishwasher that much either. And since I started noticing that there were some spots left on our dishes after they were done, it gave me a perfect excuse/reason to not use it and handwash everything =) (why bother running an entire cycle just to rewash things later). I am considering using the dishwasher as an appliance storage or something similar. Or maybe that’s where I should put my dish rack altoghether – good way to slide it out in the drawer and then back in =D

          • Niki says:

            You can use your dishwasher as your drying rack. Lots of storage. I do this at times. I struggle with unloading it, and not just shutting the door:)

  • Heather says:

    I don’t care for a dish rack either. I usually set the hand-wash items half on the stove, half on the counter to dry. Then it forces me to put them away before I start cooking again. Most stuff I put in the dishwasher, though.

  • jackie bumgardner says:

    the kitchen is one of my easiest parts of my house to keep organized but my counters do stay cluttered with all the in and out stuff, school work, mail, etc. i cleaned them off today and i am determined to keep them that way. i am going to try your twice a day trick to keep them clean. now if i could just get the rest of my house in order like my kitchen is then i would be getting somewhere. thank you for your inspiration!!! ~jackie b

  • Kelly says:

    I love keeping clean countertops too – it’s just hard in my kitchen since I have very little cabinet space and no pantry. In our “forever home” I hope to have clutter-free counter tops!! 🙂

  • Heather says:

    Love this post! I cannot abide things on the counter. Other people in the house don’t care though, so I put things away constantly. Keeping my sanity makes it worth it. I find that I can prepare meals faster and happier when I have open space. Only thing I keep out is a fruit bowl, and that’s behind the sink in what would be unused space (corner sink). I used to keep my knives out, but now they are locked away, thanks to my toddler. Canisters are in the cupboard right where I bake, so it’s quick to get at the flour, etc.
    My main reason for not getting a Kitchen Aid mixer is that I don’t want it sitting on the counter, and if it were put underneath I wouldn’t feel like hauling it out to use it!
    It helps to have a drawer designated as the “junk drawer”. Also, I don’t bring the mail in until I have the time to go through it and IMMEDIATELY throw away the junk. The rest goes on the desk – never on the kitchen counter.
    Sure, it’s a little effort to keep the counters clear, but it would still require the same effort to keep them at whatever level of clutter you can tolerate. Same effort. If that makes sense.

  • Lindsey says:

    Wow, I just looked around my kitchen and am astonished at just how much junk I have on the counters. Tomorrow – it goes! I just added that to my weekly goals list…

  • Kandace says:

    Beautiful! Keeping our counters clear is a daily struggle and most days I lose. It makes such a difference to have clear counters. New goal.

  • These photos make me want to cry a little, because I love keeping my kitchen nice and clutter free….but we are in the process of moving, and right now it’s piled high with boxes. Sigh. I can’t wait to get settled and have my new kitchen set up! If the kitchen is clean, I can be at peace with the rest of the house being messy.

  • Thanks for sharing!

    I only wish my counter tops looked that way!

  • Amy says:

    I’m in the process of decluttering my kitchen too, but I think it’s ok that everyone’s version of “decluttered” is ok. I love how much space you have on your counters, but it doesn’t bother me to have a few more things out. Whatever floats your boat, right? And there is no way I can put my vitamix away and get it out every time I use it. We use it a few times a day. You have inspired me to go through my cookbooks though. I love cookbooks and have way too many. Now, can anyone watch my kids while I tear apart my kitchen?

  • Kaidi says:

    This has nothing to do with a clean kitchen but after seeing your wall decorations, I felt the need to start making them from the TP tubes – and then spray painting them black =) It would look like a real thing, that’s for sure, but I need to finish my current project first =)

  • Vieve says:

    Very lovely. You have motivation like no other. You need to know that! Clean and beautiful. I went and cleaned one counter because of this. It is not empty, but it’s better…have to start somewhere, right? Enjoy these personal posts. Thank you. Keeping it real.

  • Hannah says:

    Love it! 🙂

  • Chelsy says:

    Very inspiring! I’m about to go find places for my small appliances! I seriously struggle everyday with the countertops!

  • Christy says:

    I like to leave my Kitchen Aide out because it is a pretty color and looks nice. It is back in a corner near our fridge. I also leave the coffee maker out–use every day and it is rather large.

  • Diana says:

    Thanks for the photos! I’m always looking for ideas to keep the kitchen less cluttered. I wish I had space to store my appliances not on the counter, but at least I keep other things off the counter! We have a big desk, and that’s where the mail goes (and the desk does NOT stay clutter-free, unfortunately).

  • melissa says:

    Wow! Inspiring. But my problem isn’t decluttering the stuff that has a home… it’s decluttering the papers that come home from school, the mail that comes each day, the stuff my husband brings home from work, etc. All this stuff ends up getting parked in the kitchen (on the counter tops or on the table) and it doesn’t all have a home. I need a paper decluttering/organization lesson.

    • Liz says:

      I find that keeping a trash barrel in the garage/mud room type area helps immensely because 75% off the mail never enters our home!

  • Karole says:

    The lighting in your second picture could probably be helped if you could close some blinds over that big window, there is more light in the background then there is in the forground and it is making the picture really dark.

    Also wish I had as many cabinets as you do … so for now there’s stuff on my counters 🙁

  • stephanie says:

    Love this post and your kitchen! Very inspirational. Where do you keep produce such as bananas and tomatoes that don’t belong in the fridge?

  • Jamie says:

    How do you deal with papers? I have mail, day care paperwork, school paperwork and projects, coupons, newsletters, work, etc. It’s out of control and ends up in one big pile on my counter! Does anyone have any good ideas for sorting in a way that’s simple to maintain?

    • Vieve says:

      I am with YOU Jamie. The papers. The recipes, the insurance, the birthday cards, the coupons to be cut, the running grocery list, the menu ideas (notebook, but sitting there), the this, the that. Oh dear, oh dear. A post, Crystal, with your method, and link ups to other organizers methods for a variety of ways and means would be so wonderful…please???

    • Connie says:

      Jamie, I know what you mean about paperwork! It’s so hard to stay on top of it. I try, but it’s a neverending battle. That being said, I have found a couple of things that seem to help me. I have 3 children in school, so that alone means lots of papers. I put short term papers (like a notice saying they need more lunch money or a birthday party invitation) on a bulletin board in the kitchen. Then I have this metal file organizer near my desk. I have a file for each of my kids and as I go through their school papers each day, I either put them in the recycling or in their file if it’s a paper I want to keep. I then go through those files at the end of the semester and put the ones I want to keep in long term storage. But, those files greatly help me keep day to day school papers under control.
      I also have a family binder that I use to hold school menus, church and sports calendars, etc. And the other main thing I am working on getting set up better is just a general file organizer. Either a metal one that holds files or even one of those plastic ones with a lid; just something that can sit out on a side table in my dining room. You can decide what your main categories are and then file each paper where it belongs. With something like that, it would still need to be gone through on a regular basis.
      For me, there are 2 keys to keeping paper clutter under control; one is having a place for the papers (hence the files and binder) and the other is to take care of things right away. If I set the mail down, thinking I’ll look at it later, it’ll probably still be sitting there the next day. But if I just take a few minutes and go through it right there and put things where they belong, it makes a big difference.

    • Andrea says:

      I sort the mail when I bring it into the house. All catalogs and junk mail go directly into the recycle bin.

    • Jamie, here is what I do-maybe it will help you. Everyday, as I’m walking in from getting the mail, I sort it into a keep or recycle pile. The “keeps” go on the bill pile in the office, or in my paper tray in the office where I put retail coupons, magazines, etc. For school papers, I use a second paper tray in the office. When my boys get home from school, I sort papers into a “keep forever”, recycle/throw away, and a “future reference pile. The “keep forever” go in a medium size moving box up in our extra closet-and I am VERY picky about what I keep forever. The “future reference” are like newsletters, fundraisers, upcoming project guidelines, etc.”. And obviously the recycle/throw away are just that. With twin boys, I’ve been keeping school papers since they were in preschool. At first, it was really hard to throw away their cute projects, etc. that they brought home from school. Then I realized I had about 12 more years ahead of me, and decided to be a bit more picky about what I keep. When summer comes, I revisit the “keep forever” pile, and I might weed out more papers, projects, etc. But, overall, I’m content with what I’ve kept so far.

    • Amy says:

      I scan all the ‘keep’ papers that I need to have, but don’t want to store or file. I just keep a small stack of stuff and make it a part of my daily chores, then if I need something I know it’s on my laptop in a clearly labeled file.

  • Amanda says:

    I am sort of a neat freak so this isn’t a problem LOL

  • Wani says:

    I love this! Since staging our house for sale we have greatly reduced the amount of clutter in our kitchen. I highly recommend putting appliances in cabinets when not in use!

  • Awesome. I just cleaned my kitchen counters now because of this post and it is like 10pm. LOL.

  • Diane says:

    Thanks for sharing. I was wondering – do you have a dish rack for drying dishes that have to be hand washed? If so – do you put that away everyday too? Thanks!

  • Kristine says:

    I’m in the process of decluttering as much as possible. We rent a townhome and have only about 875 square feet. With five people in the family, it gets pretty cluttered. I wish I could keep my kitchen counters that clear, but I have very few cupboards (one for dishes, one for food) and one drawer. Most of my appliances are stored on metal utility shelves in the kitchen, which is okay, but I can’t keep everything out of sight. We don’t have a pantry or any other rooms in which to store kitchen stuff, so I have no choice but to keep some things on the counter (and the one counter space that I have is very small as well) and on top of the refrigerator. I’m finding decluttering a big challenge with such limited space, even though I’ve gotten rid of most things that I wasn’t using.

    • Sarah says:

      Believe this or not… I’m a bit envious of you and your lack of square footage. We bought a huge house because it was being foreclosed and they had added on, but it wasn’t in the county records, so we got a whale of a deal per square foot. But stuff is stuff, and as much room as you have, the clutter finds it’s way. We just had #4 and I’m ready to downsize already. With a smaller place, it’s less area to pick up and clean all the time. Plus, you have to determine what you really like and what is really necessary.

    • Merrilee says:


      Before we bought our first house, four of us lived in a place about your size. My kitchen measured 6 feet by 8 feet, and the only counter space was next to the sink, big enough to fit one dish drainer (no dishwasher). We invested in some stainless steel shelving from Ikea, and I stored mixing bowls and food prep/cooking things on the shelves. I used S-shaped hooks to hang pots and pans easily within reach, and even drilled a hole in my dish drainer and put a ring through it so it could hang when not in use. We also got a wooden cart (portable work station) with a wooden surface that served as my “work area.” The best suggestion I can offer you is to see if you can store your dishes and silverware in the dining room area. (Dishes only need to be in the kitchen to be washed.) This worked so well for us that now that I have a bigger kitchen, I still store my dishes in the dining room. When I’m fixing dinner, it cuts down on kitchen traffic when the table needs to be set by the kids. Also, large baskets (again, from Ikea) served us well for storing plastic containers, cups, and lids, as well as table linens. They fit on bookcase shelves and serve as over-sized drawers, and the kids could help themselves. Best wishes!

      • Kristine says:

        Thanks for the suggestions. I love baskets, too, and have been gradually getting things more organized since the kids are back in school. We don’t have a dining room; the kitchen table is actually in the corner of the living room area, so storing stuff there is out. I do have a couple of stainless-steel shelves in the kitchen, and that works all right for baking dishes, pots and pans, small appliances, etc. And I have plastic drawers for silverware and towels and baskets for some of the stuff that I have to leave out on the counter. I really like the idea of hanging the dish drainer or putting it away in a cupboard when not in use although we don’t have much wall space or cupboard space either. Since I don’t have much counter space, I do most of my food preparation at the kitchen table, and I’ve been trying to make sure the kids clean up whatever stuff they accumulate on the table every day because I hate having a cluttered kitchen table.

  • Jennifer says:

    I am amazed at how clean the countertops are! Mine will never look like that! How do you suggest decluttering in a very small kitchen/house?? I have a very small kitchen with little counterspace, only a few cabinets, and 1 drawer. And I have a million kitchen appliances.

    • Amy says:

      When I had a very small kitchen (4 upper cupboards, 3 low cupboards, and a skinny pantry for food), I kept a lot of my lesser used item in nicely labeled totes in the basement storage area. I don’t use my hand mixer or blender or deviled eggs serving tray , or wine glasses everyday, so I kept those items out of the way yet still accessible. Our kitchen was away from the home entrance and near the laundry room, so that always seemed to help a lot with keeping the clutter out.

      I kept 3 file folders on the top of my fridge with mail/ take out menus/ coupon items. Cyrstals examples of totes might work better for that.

  • Mel says:

    Crystal, LOVED this post. Hope you’ll show us more soon. You’re inspiring me to be a minimalist….okay, so you’re inspiring me to be less of a clutterbug. Perhaps minimalism is a bit out of reach for me. But seriously, loved the pics and ideas.

    • Kristine says:

      I would love to be a minimalist, but it seems impossible for me. I am trying to declutter as much as I can, though. Baby steps, right? 🙂

  • Stacy Goodsell says:

    I too love the clutter free look. I wasn’t great with it at our old house BUT we are moving into a new house in a month or so after living with my inlaws.. and a MIL who keeps A LOT of stuff on her counter. Drives me INANE! So I know I will have more resolve to keep my counters clutter free. This was how our old home looked on a Good day.
    Our new house is larger and I am looking forward to throwing stuff away and giving stuff away before we move in (again all the clutter here) and have a place for everything in our new home.

    Crystal, where do you keep your fresh fruit that does better when not refridgerated?

  • Stacey says:

    My husband would love it if our counters looked like this. But, it’s impossible in our kitchen with next to no storage space. We only have 3 drawers and the cabinets are full of dishes & small appliances & food. Maybe I need a kitchen cabinent & counter makeover to figure out what might work more efficiently…

    Do you really keep things like bananas and other fruits in the fridge?

    • Ginny says:

      That’s exactly my problem. I have two decent sized drawers and then a very small one that I use for plastic wrap, foil, sandwich bags. That leaves things like plastic spatulas, wooden spoons, soup labels, rubber spatulas, etc. on the countertop in two crocks. Then there’s the food processor, the toaster oven, the coffee maker, the sugar and flour canisters . . . well, you get the idea. Not enough space, and I can’t figure out what to get rid of. At least everything is close at hand!

  • trista says:


    • karen mulhern says:

      trista said >>ANY MORE TIPS WOULD BE GREAT………..<<

      hahahahaha just one…maybe take the CAPS LOCK off? (sorry…couldn't resist 😉 )

      • trista says:


        • Joanne in az says:

          I am just trying to help the following comments I am going to write.
          #1. Some people, actually a lot of people consider it almost kind of like yelling when they see all CAPS. When I see CAPS, I look at it like the person is trying to make something really stand out.

          #2. When I initially saw your comment yesterday I wondered why you typed in all CAPS. It did not bother me but I wonder why you typed that way. ( Just saying).

          #3. It was kind of hard to my eyes to read at my advanced age of 42 ( this coming saturday…Happy Bday to me LOL). So for some reason it can be harder to adjust to reading all CAPS.

          #4. No worries though because I am sure we can all live with how you type and I am betting that Crystal does not want this to turn into a issue or have anyone feel badly. It is really not a big deal anyway. It is not worth being upset about, but we are all different.

          #5. PLEASE do not take offense to what I have said as I just wanted to help. I don’t think the other commenter meant any harm. DO NOT let this upset you okay? (pretty please …even!! :)).
          Have a good day everyone.

        • Andrea says:

          As Joann said below, typing in all capital letters means that you are shouting at the reader.

          • trista says:




          • Andrea says:

            People aren’t trying to be rude, they are trying to be helpful.

  • Anjanette says:

    Oh my husband is going to love you! He’s all about clean surfaces. After this post I realize that it’s silly to have empty canisters and a blender that I never use sitting on the countertop. I feel like areas need to look “used” so people know that I do in fact use them. Weird mentality, I know. My family is fed, so of course people know I cook! Not that it really matter what people think anyhow!

  • Sheila says:

    I’m puzzled why this wasn’t in the Lite feed – I thought these types of posts usually were. I saw it on Merchant Ships tumbler and was wondered if I had just somehow missed it. I like these types of posts. Thanks!

  • Angie D says:

    This is the least of MY kitchen woes, but I’m curious where you put your fruit that can’t go in the fridge (like your bananas). I think I’m going to let go of the dishrack….I..can…do…it. You are awesome and inspiring!

  • Jessica says:

    I don’t know if I can come over now. 😉

    Rejoicing in our differences: coffee pot, toaster, hot water pot, crock of utensils, kitchen aid, food processor, baskets of bread and bananas.

  • Wait a sec!! Where’s the microwave?! I never even thought of putting mine away!!! Our kitchen is increadibly small so this sounds like the perfect idea!!! I’m gonna try it tonigh 😉


    • Andrea says:

      It’s built in over the stove.

    • jessica says:

      We had our kitchen renovated a few years ago. Since I didn’t want the microwave on the counter and since I wanted a big hood/light over the stove, I had the electrician put a plug inside one of the lower cabinets. The microwave fits in there and I LOVE not having to look at it!

  • Kathy Jackson says:

    I struggle with clutter in every room of my house, especially the kitchen counter! To those of you looking for tips and ideas on how to de-clutter, something that has helped me a lot (although I haven’t done a very good job of implementing the knowledge!) is The FlyLady. It’s been SO helpful! 🙂

  • Heather says:

    Our mothers must have been cut from the same cloth…she always put stuff away. When I was younger I never did appreciate the cleanliness of it all, it looked all stale and boring to have bare countertops…she would say “everything has its place out of sight”, but now I relish in them and my kitchen looks just like yours! I do though have a collection of cookbooks and seem to have a whole array of them stashed below my island, so I am amazed (make that jealous) at your display that you have. 🙂 I seriously may need a 12 step program for this addiction…ha!

    • Marlene says:

      The only way I can keep my cookbook collection under control is to check them out at the library! I now have a small cupboard in the kitchen that I keep all my cookbooks in . . . if I get a new one as a gift or whatever, I go through what I have and get rid of one or two, making copies of my favorite recipes and putting those in a binder. If I didn’t do this, though, I would be in serious trouble 🙂

  • sarah says:

    We have lots of cabinets, which really helps because I’m able to give my children their own drawers, and myself and my husband cabinets to toss our things into. I also have a toy drawer in the kitchen which I use to contain floating bits and pieces until they can be put away…periodically.

  • A. S. says:

    At first I read this post and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t think to change anything. I keep my kitchen very clean, but I do like keeping my knives, oils (vegetable and olive) and my tea equipment out, as well as a dish rack and a few other items. I also have a 2 month old who I pump milk for on occasion, so his bottle dryer is on the kitchen counter. But as the evening progressed, the more I liked the idea. So today, I am off to declutter. My musts are the oils, knives, and bottle dryer. Thank you for the inspiration!

    • Angie says:

      My big issue right now is the bottle dryer too. What are your plans instead of that being on the counter?

      • A. S. says:

        No other choice but the counter 🙁 I just finished the declutter while my son napped – I kept the oils, knives, and bottle dryer. We don’t have a lot of counter space, but the dryer has to stay there as I pump once a day to build up a stash. It is convenient to have it on the counter though, since we wash the parts once a day.

    • Pamela says:

      Ah….the bottle rack/dryer. I just LOVE uncluttered counters, and mine are except for that darn bottle rack! I pump exclusively for my 6 month old, so at this stage there’s no getting around the bottle rack. I do try to make it look pretty though: it’s on a nice kitchen towel, folded in half, and the rack takes up half the towel while the rest of the towel holds rows of nipples, caps, and the bottle brush.

      • A. S. says:

        I do the same! At first, I would just randomly throw everything on the dryer. On a whim a few weeks ago, I organized it, and it looked so much nicer. The few extra moments do make a difference.

  • Elizabeth says:

    I start to feel bad about things like my kitchen when I see that and then I look closely and oh you have about 3 to 4 times as many cabnets & cubboards as me and I could fit 2 of my kitchen/dinning room areas in there… now I don’t feel quite as bad … still pretty but will never be my life til I convince my husband to buy me a new house.

    • Marlene says:

      I can so empathize with your space issue. We lived in a cracker box apartment for a time and the kitchen was so narrow that only one person could be in it – two made it very overcrowded! Then we moved into a house that was a little bigger that we rented, and lived there for a few years until God answered some big prayers of ours and we were able to move back home and buy a house that we love, and we consider ourselves very blessed. I don’t take what we have at all for granted, knowing what a hard process it was to get to where we want to be. Hang in there. I know how hard it is to see photos like this and feel like what you have just isn’t good enough. But God answers prayer . . . even if it takes a long time.

    • BethB says:

      I was just going to post almost exactly the same thing! You people with your modern kitchens are KILLING me! Ha ha.

      Reading this post I realized I do need to sort/purge my kitchen but I will never have my counters clear and keep the kitchen functional. I probably have about 1/3 the cupboard space Crystal does (although a very nice sized pantry) and no closets on the first floor of our house which creates other kinds of clutter with the broom, steam mop, and vacuum cleaner. But, as Crystal is always so great and reminding us, everyone is different and we shouldn’t fall into the trap of comparing ourselves against others. Sure, I’d love a more modern kitchen, a finished basement, and there are days I’d give my right arm for a dishwasher. But I love my house and I love the financial position we’re in because of it. 🙂

  • Nami says:

    I can’t believe my question was featured and this fast!
    Thank you so much, Crystal, for taking time to write this for me and millions of moms (or dads) out there!

    I’m so inspired that I am going to clean my kitchen right now.
    Thank you!

  • irene says:

    i like a little bit of a mess in my kitchen..its a home not a mother was a need freak and our house looked so steril and cold…never warm and cozy

    • Kristine says:

      I’ve been to houses like that, where I was nervous about even using the bathroom because I might accidentally leave a drop of water on the counter or something. At one place where we were invited over for dinner, the people got down on their hands and knees on the floor under the table right afterward and picked up every crumb that had fallen. That extreme is not for me, especially with three kids in the house. It would drive me crazy to be too much of a neat freak.

  • Andrea says:

    You wish I had the storage space to put all my things away. I have been looking for a home for my toaster but no luck so far. I clean off my countertops before I go to work each morning and before bed each night. I feel less stressed when I do not have clutter everywhere. Thanks for sharing!

  • SLK says:

    I so enjoy when you post pictures of your home. I see we share a fondness of keeping things in tact, neat, clean and to a minimum, but you have a great sense of style! Perhaps you could post pictures of the other rooms in your home as well 🙂

  • Ann says:

    I don’t see any food stockpile? Where do you keep that.
    Hmmm… wondering if I need to rethink my pantry strategy. Mine is full of food. Maybe, the stockpile needs to go somewhere else, and appliances go in the pantry.

    • Crystal says:

      Most of our food is in the fridge/freezer as much of what we buy is perishable. We have one cupboard with baking supplies and one cupboard with tea, hot chocolate, etc. We also have shelves in the basement in our utility room that I store pasta, canned goods, etc.

  • Lee Cockrum says:

    I do not seem to fit with the trend here, I find this look sterile and boring. I’d love to have more space to put things away, but my kitchen is very small, prob 1/3 of the cupboards and countertops. I am working on putting very infrequent use appliances in the basement, such as waffle iron and small crockpot.

  • Heather says:

    I love it! Thanks for sharing! I also have always kept my countertops clean – we don’t drink coffee and I have enough room to store out toaster, crock pot, and other small appliances. What I need to work on is the organization inside of my cabinets- your pictures of the inside of your cabinets have inspired me to reorganize! Thanks!

  • chelsea says:

    I love your orderly kitchen!

    Is there anything more frustrating than wanting to try to start dinner and there’s a mess on the table/counter to clean first or a dishwasher full of clean to unload? Ugh. Or when I need to do dinner prep and I have to move several appliances out of the way just to have room to chop!

    When I asked Hub recently what he would like the house to look like when he comes home, the first thing he said was no dirty dishes in the sink 🙂 I agree!

  • jessica says:

    I love clean counters too. They make my whole day better.

    With the wonky light in that one photo. Try putting your focus point on something dark … like your cabinet. Your camera will adjust the exposure to make that part lighter. The windows and such will be blown out, but since that’s not what we want to see anyway, it doesn’t matter.

  • Jessica says:

    I also keep my kitchen neat and clutter free at all times. I don’t think it feels cold or like a hospital. It is organized and I can find everything easily. To me, a mess isn’t cozy, it is just a mess. I will admit, I am a clean freak, but I think my home is very “homey” at the same time.

  • Anon says:

    Cold weather is coming…you need hand lotion by your sink!

  • Amara says:

    I, too, have a mother who always had clear counters, and I have followed her example! 🙂 I do love pretty canisters, however, so always have some stoneware out “decorating” the place.

    My mom also had a refrigerator with NO magnets or papers, but I have a few since I think they are cheery. My mom tells me that her clear refrigerator is a response to her growing up years, where her own mother’s cluttered, papered fridge made her a bit crazy! Ha! I love “generational cleaning psychosis.” 🙂

    For those of you who are pilers, I have one solution: I recycle most mailings instantly (box by my door), file bills in a binder, and have a “no mercy” attitude about most papers. I keep one drawer empty in the kitchen to collect the remaining junk that filters in (schedules, invitations, etc.) and try to deal with them once a week…although that week sometimes morphs into a month. I have a box for each child’s schoolwork in our homeschool room, and have them file each week.

  • karen mulhern says:

    i think its nice to come in to a kitchen that looks relaxed, homey and “lived-in” with evidence of food being cooked and served, coffee brewed and a plate of baked goods visible should someone happen by.

  • Tara says:

    At the risk of sounding like so many other comments, you inspired me!! I went to Starbucks yesterday evening and got a free coffee (with an empty coffee bag) and forgot to say decaf!!!… So, I was up until 1:30am cleaning the kitchen! 🙂 It’s amazing to me that people can actually keep the counter decluttered! Our’s is always filled with something so I’m going to work hard to remedy that!

    • Moriah Lazik says:

      please explain the coffee bag! did you get a free refill?

      • Tara says:

        No free refill! Some bags of Starbucks that you buy at the store have a note on the side…it says to bring in the empty bag for a free Tall cup of coffee! I keep the empty bags in my car so they’ll be handy when I’m out shopping! 😉

  • O Rivera says:

    I tried to request an invite to Pinterest but it doesn’t work. =(

  • That kitchen is REALLY clean. I’m wondering, what your favorite cleaning methods are and what products you like to use? Do you have a daily routine you use? Thanks 🙂

  • Michelle says:

    I’ve noticed that many have said they don’t have a pantry but wish they did. When I got married I knew that I would be moving into my husband’s one bedroom apartment with a very small kitchen. Someone asked if there was any specific larger gift he could get us for a wedding present so I mentioned a free standing pantry cupboard that I saw at a store similar to this . It has been one of the most useful things we were given because we have moved around so much. I have always been able to take my pantry with so no matter what kind of kitchen we had I always had storage. Now that I have a kitchen with a built in pantry I use the cupboard in the corner of the dinning room to hold all of our homeschool supplies. It works great and at the end of “school” I just close the cupboard door and it is a dinning room again.

    • Amy says:

      When we lived in a tiny apartment we did something similar. Free standing industrial type shelving in the eat-in part of our kitchen. I made them as pretty as possible and it more than doubled our storage capabilities.

  • julie says:

    TIP…we moved our microwave off our countertop…

    the microwave03210 was taking up my “cleaning station” in my kitchen…so through a miracle we found a practically brand new over-the-stove microwave at a garage sale for $15. They didn’t want white. We had to move our cabinet up, but it actually made our boring kitchen look custom when my husband did that. (Since many people are moving to SS, there are lots of white and black microwaves out there on resale sites if you aren’t picky on color)

    Also, my friend put her microwave under her countertop. She likes it there so that her shorter children can warm things and it isn’t seen. And her microwave is a cheaper countertop model.

  • Shara says:

    Hey, as a photographer, I can tell you that the lighting on the second picture is bad because of the windows. If your camera is the type that takes an overall read of the available light, the best option would be to cover the windows or take a picture from a different angle that doesn’t include windows. If your camera reads light from a specific point (normally shown in the viewfinder) you just need to focus your light reader on a darker point of the image. (Your light meter and focal point are often the same thing.) Please note that your window areas will probably be very bright and could blow out other parts of the image. One more option, if you have a hot shoe available on your camera, is to mount a flash on it and point it at the ceiling. The light reflecting off the ceiling will distribute evenly over the immediate area. I hope this helps. =)

  • Carla says:

    It is interesting how we can have different opinions, hopefully realizing that there is no right or wrong answer. It just depends on our own unique personality and also the desires of our husbands, too. My kitchen looks a little more cluttered, but I am very happy and content with that. It is not dirty or unsanitary. My refrigerator has lots of pictures on it and also many magnets from trips we have taken and a few are gifts. Sometimes when I am cleaning and remove all of them, I love the uncluttered look, but when I put them back, I like the reminders of fun times with my family. I do need to get rid of some things inside my cabinets, even though basically no one sees them. Yay for the church yard sale coming up! Blessings to all!

  • Andrea says:

    Where do you keep your cell phones/gadgets and their chargers? I hope someday to install an outlet inside of one of our cupboards, but for now, they are all on the counter.

    • Becky says:

      We keep the chargers in a kitchen cupboard and take them out overnight for charging phones a couple times a week.

    • Amy says:

      We keep the charges next to our night stands so we can hide them behind during the day and charge phones at night which works well b/c we use phones as alarm clocks.

  • Jessica says:

    I always keep my countertops clear, but I DO like having some appliances on my counters. My red kitchenaid mixer and red toaster oven help brighten up the room and I feel like photos bring character to the kitchen!

  • Leanne says:

    I struggle with this one a lot too because while our kitchen is very large, we have only a few cabinets and little counter space. My husband insists on keeping the toaster oven and coffee maker on the counter. We also have a counter top microwave – taking up even more space! Our solution was to add a set of shelves in dead open space in the kitchen and set up a coffee bar. Jarrod’s coffee, coffee cups, and coffee maker are all organized on one shelf. It looks nice and neat but it’s not taking up valuable counter space!

  • Amy says:

    PLEASE HELP!!! Any advice for the following?? I try to keep my counters clean but am struggling:
    1) The “next day piles” & purses? Each person has a pile of stuff that they need to take with them the next day: work entrance badge, chapstick to go back in tomorrow’s pair of pants, keys, lunch box, misc. papers, daycare bag, cell phones, laptops. We prepare the night before for the next day which means we always have a piles sitting across the kitchen counter. One pile for each person on week days. Looks horrible!! We usually dump things on the counter right when we get home, then clean them up and repack/ choose what we need for the next day. I need a better method!!!
    2) Drying bottles? I always have a towel with freshly washed bottles and nipples next to my sink, especially at the end of a day of daycare. They take so long to dry and it’s a real eye sore!!

    • It depends on how your house is set up, but we have a tabel with a drawer for all of our next day things.

      For the bottles, I don’t know of a solution. It seems to be a problem for a lot of people though. Maybe I should work on inventing something in my spare time?

    • Michelle says:

      For the bottle drying perhaps you could let them dry in the cupboard. It has taken me a while to realize that things don’t have to be on the counter to dry. Like glasses and cups that are still wet from the dishwasher….I just put them away right side up so the air can circulate and they dry just fine. If space is a problem maybe a something like a bread box with those roll top doors would work. You could put the bottles inside and close the door. It would still be on the counter but it would reduce the visual clutter.

  • Amy says:

    Mostly the “dumping items in the kitchen” is caused because I’m an automotive engineer and take pride in my vehicle, so even with a baby and a toddler, my car remains spotless!!! As spotless as Crystal’s kitchen!

  • Becky says:

    I think I lack cupboard space…with 6 people in our house, that must be the issue because my counters are cluttered and my cabinets are full, but I do have a smaller kitchen than you do, so that has to be the issue. But we don’t have a microwave, and replacing it, meant buying 3 appliances (veggie steamer, coffee pot and popcorn popper) and we lack a pantry, so I’m feeling a little better about the clutter in my kitchen. Your kitchen looks awesome!

  • Traci says:

    Thanks for the sneak peek into your kitchen. I love your cabinets and the color of your walls. The color is kind of sage like or lighter, I think?

  • Willa says:

    I read this earlier today and almost commented that it was inspiring me to go clean off my countertops. I decided instead of commenting and then stalling by checking other things out on my computer that I would turn it off and go clean. I did just that. My children are currently under the weather, so they were sleeping in this morning and it gave me an extra 20 minutes or so to really make a dent in the cleaning! My countertops look great, so thanks for the inspiration!!

  • Karol says:

    Where do you keep your stockpile? I assumed that you had a large stockpile of items from all of the freebies out there. I am still learning how to get grocery deals, and yet, my countertop is never empty… I don’t know how you do it?

  • Sharon says:

    Wow! Amazing! I wish my kitchen looked like that, but I just can’t find the time to do it. I am a pack-rat and piller and keep almost EVERYTHING! I can’t break myself of the habit. My oldest just turned 4 and I have every daily and scribbled piece of paper she brought home from daycare. Now with 17 month old twins you can imagine the amount of stuff I am collecting! My husband thinks I am going to end up on hoarders soon, but really it’s not that bad. I am slowly trying to part with objects even if it means scanning or taking pictures of them so I don’t feel like they are gone forever! I agree with many posters, but the one about having one clean space really struck a cord with me. So my goal will be to have a clean kitchen. After doing that for a few weeks/months, then maybe I can expand my clean zone to other areas of the house.

    Thanks Crystal for the inspiring post!

    If I could request, pictures of your stockpile/food storage would be helpful. Thanks!

  • Carrie says:

    Just one question, where do you put your fruit and bread? I LOVE this and pinned it to my pinterest page, I’m inspired to clear off my already pretty clear counters!

  • Crystal DuBois says:

    I am truly and COMPLETELY fascinated by this post, and have read ALL 197 comments! I just can’t believe that a kitchen can actually looks so fantastic!

    I hope this doesn’t come across as nit picky, but I am genuinely wondering…where do you store your paper towels… and tomatoes? When the bananas are on the counter, do you put them in a basket or fruit bowl or something? And do you store your potatoes and onions in the fridge too?

    • Crystal says:

      We don’t use papertowels (see this post: and tomatoes are stored in the fridge. Onions are stored in the cupboard next to the fridge and I store potatoes in the “pantry” in the basement.

      When the bananas are on the countertop, I just have them stuck there in a bunch. They rarely last for longer than a few days at our house, so that’s worked okay.

      Congrats on reading all the comments–that’s quite a feat in itself! 🙂

  • nicole says:

    Can your lazy susan really take that much weight from the appliances? Are they plastic shelves held into the cabinet door with only 4 short screws? Maybe you have a different set-up but my DH would never let me put that much weight on those shelves. Your kitchen is clutter free but I just wanted to give you something to think about that no one else had mentioned.

  • Debbie Burgess says:

    Been cleaning almost all day on my kitchen….. getting rid of a lot we don’t use anymore…… my kitchen isn’t as spotless as yours but it looks MUCH better. Still have a bit more to do though. Thanks for the much needed inspiration. Amazing what a few pictures can do 🙂

  • nicole says:

    The biggest, and only, complaint that arises with these corner cabinets is as much a result of their convenience as anything. In the past, they have been accused of breaking down easily—not a desireable attribute for a cabinet feature that prides itself on ease of use. The fault for this inconvenience, however, more often than not lies with the homeowner.

    These corner cabinets usually have a weight limit that must be observed in order not to overtax and wear out the mechanisms that allow it to spin effortlessly around. Unfortunately, because they are so handy, many homeowners pack the shelves full or fill them with heavy pots and pans with detrimental results. If you’re having a revolving cabinet installed, or if you already have one in your kitchen, be sure to find out how much is too much so that you don’t burn your unit out. If used properly, these cabinetry innovations should operate smoothly for years one end without giving you any problems.

    Read more:

  • jjoiner says:

    I don’t know what to do with mail, bills that need to be processed, thank you notes that need to be written, to do lists, etc. Those are what clutter my kitchen counters. I’ve tried filing things away but then I forget about them. So, I like to keep these things in plain sight and the best place is on my kitchen counter. My husband thinks I’m going to catch the whole kitchen on fire with my stacks of papers though! Any ideas?

    • Angela says:

      This drives me crazy too or did until we got a shoe cubbie (Target open cubbies) to put by our front door and a little closed shelf on top of it for our mail. All mail goes there until it’s sorted and (hopefully) put away. It really helps to have a place-a drawer, cabinet, basket, whatever works!

    • Maree says:

      A basket in which you could place these items till they are taken care of could be one solution

  • Teresa says:

    Beautiful! What brand and paint color are your walls?

  • Jessica says:

    I love having my counters clean. It is easier to “clean up” if you know it shouldn’t be on the counter. My mom told me that you shouldn’t have anything on the counter unless it is something you use every day, so I only have a crock of kitchen utensils since I do use them regularly and cannot fit them in the drawers. I have to get out the toaster often, but I like putting it away and having things look clean.

  • Yunnie says:

    Crystal, thank you for sharing your great habits!

    Have you guys ever read a book called “Sink Reflections”? By the amazing FLYLADY.

    She used to be a very messy person and was so stressed living in CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome – she lovingly dubs it). She has these awesome babysteps. I get a once daily e-mail from her that’s so helpful.

    I felt so much better once I read in the book that the reason we’re messy is because we’re actually perfectionists. What?! I said. Well, yeah! That’s why we don’t start cleaning, because we know if we’re going to do it, we’re gonna want to do it right and all the way through – but that’ll take all day, therefore, let’s procrastinate another day….

    Totally recommend her site and book!

  • Jill says:

    I admire how hard you must work to keep it so clutter free! I do think we differ on our style, though. I enjoy having my appliances out, along with a few small plants and herbs, and my cookbooks out on display. It keeps my kitchen feeling warm and cozy, and keeps everything I use day to day at my fingertips!!! 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    I loved this post, thanks for sharing! I have to ask, though – where do you keep your food?? I noticed there isn’t any (except oatmeal) in your pantry. I have a very small pantry in our new house, and I’m trying to figure out how to store food in it without it looking like a mess. What are your tips?? Thanks!

    • kathy says:

      You could use a lazy susan, graduated wire shelving racks. My husband made pegs for my pots and pans and lids. See through containers are great for storing food.

  • Abigail says:

    So I was very motivated by those spotless clean kitchen pictures. This was such good timing as I had just done some light decorating for fall in the empty space above my kitchen cabinets. But it just didn’t look quite right as I had over 20 (!) cookbooks, a crock JAMMED full of utensils, a canister of salt, salt and pepper shakers, a food processor and lots of other useful things cluttering my counters. I am blessed with lots of cabinet space, so everything fit right inside (after eliminating a junk drawer and parting with a few cookbooks). My kitchen looks so BEAUTIFUL tonight. I am burning a candle on my cleared counter and drinking in the peaceful atmosphere. Thank you for the inspiration, Crystal!

  • Tammy says:

    I wish I had a lazy suzan cabinet like that. I would be more apt to use to store items away b/c it would be easier to access in and out of that cabinet, but it is not right now. I cannot reach items way in the back at a long angle to the right (I have to take the entire contents of my cabinet out to beable to access those items in the back. I HATE IT)! Grrrr. LOL You are SOOOO lucky to have a lazy suzan cabinet. That is my DREAM some day to have that…………………….SOME day. (I hope). 🙂

  • April C. says:

    I love, love, LOVE bare countertops! For me, personally, it inspires me to cook. Over the last few years I have sort of surrendered to the clutter and it has been bugging me. Your post has motivated me to tackle it over the weekend. Now I just need to find a spot for the often-used toaster oven, coffee pot and blender. The KA mixer will stay put since it’s so big and heavy (and pretty, lol).

  • Audrey says:

    Like you, I already store my appliances in the cabinets, as I also love completely bare countertops (minus the pesky pile-up of dirty dishes, which I am committed to get better at.) But, your post, Crystal, has encouraged me to become even more organized and to really take pride in my kitchen, as I love my kitchen (both in the sense is that it is where I prepare meals for my family, and also in the design, layout, and color scheme.) I like that you post your weekly menu plan on the side of the refrigerator. I see your menu plan posted on your site every week, but it took me until seeing the pic of it posted on the side of your fridge, to really realize that I need to subscribe to this method. I am inspired by you to do some weekly menu planning of my own for my family. We’ll see how good I get at it – but, at least I’ll give it a try. Thankfully, you post your weekly menu plan and recipes for further inspiration.

  • Lakeitha says:

    sooo jealous….. I’m getting there though.

  • Amy f;) says:

    I’m going to give away one cookbook right now…its a start.

    And don’t feel bad about any perceived lack of decorating skills- clean is very asthetic and definitely working for your home:)

  • Dee says:

    I feel inspired to declutter my kitchen. Thanks for all you do!

  • Aberline says:

    Crystal, you probably won’t see this 200+ comments in, but the lighting was bad in that picture because the camera automatically adjusted the exposure for the much brighter window where you pointed the camera. I’m assuming you’re using a cheap point and shoot camera that doesn’t give you much control, but there are ways around it. Just point at a place that is lit similarly to the room you are trying to photograph (e.g. the drawers of the cabinet that you are facing.) That place also needs to be the right distance away so that the auto-focus won’t make the photo be out of focus (i.e. don’t focus on your shoes and then take a picture of something 20 ft away). While pointing at this suitable spot, press the shutter button halfway and hold it, then frame up your shot the way you want it to look. The camera will keep its settings from the other position but will take the picture where you are pointing it. Take the picture and it will be lit the way you want it.

    It could also help to close the blinds on those windows when you are shooting towards them, but the natural light in the other pictures are why those pics look so good.

    • Crystal says:

      Thank you so much for the info! I don’t have an expensive camera, but I’m trying to learn to make the most of it, so what you shared was incredibly helpful. Thank you!

  • Karen says:

    Not sure if I can find my last comment.LOL This really got me motivated. I stuck my toaster in the cabinet and a jar that holds plastic bags in another cabinet. I popped a cookbook on EBAY. I never realized how much I don’t use cookbooks. they’re pretty. LOL

    Do you have a section about getting paperwork off of the counters when your countertop sometimes serves as a working area. I pay bills there and deal with school papers. My countertop is like a pennisula.

    Any suggestions?

    • Angela says:

      Could you keep a tote, file box, crate or other basket container with folders/dividers for your stuff? That way you can slide it into a cabinet or at least keep it contained. I like the Sterilite tall show offs with handle lids. They are the sized of a file folder, but sleek and narrow and easy to snap shut and tote to their home.

      • I’ve tried a crate in the kitchen. That worked but I really didn’t have space for it. I would always have to move it if company came. I like your ideas though. I think I am going to use an accordion file with a handle until I can figure out a more permanent solution.

        Maybe I can free up some space by ditching some more cookbooks.
        I didn’t think decluttering would give me such a charge. Sometimes you need a ittle motivation or a straight up kick in the pants.

  • jen says:

    I find it so hard to keep my kitchen organized. We have a small kitchen and not much counter space or cabinets. We don’t have a basement. Where do people put their toaster, kitchen aid mixer, microwave, cookbooks, and coffee pot if you have a small amount of cabinets? So far, the only spot we have is the counter. I would love to have a larger kitchen. But I am thankful for what I do have. 🙂

  • Susan says:

    Where do you keep your pantry items, mainly foods?

  • Ena says:

    Thank you for a needed reminder! We succeed at things we intentionally do! Your counters are clear because you declutter them twice daily. Set priorities, intentionally meet them, that is the “magic”. Thank you!!!

  • molly says:

    The only question i have is where do you keep your food? My pantry is full of food not appliances. I have a separate cupboard for them.

  • Troobee says:

    Great Ideas! While I would rather have the coffee pot, toaster (i know i’m in the minority there), bowl of fruit, blender, canisters (i have no pantry) out on the counter, because I USE THEM EVERY DAY!… i can see the beauty of the totally clear counter tops. My toaster, for example, weighs like 90lbs (not really) and I can’t really manage getting it in and out of a cabinet (I’m old and decrepit, LOL). I can’t imagine putting the Osterizer (blender) away every day; too bulky, and way heavy. But, you know, different strokes for different folks, as they say.

    The only true criticism was regarding tomatoes in the the fridge. Mama said NEVER put tomatoes in the fridge! They must ripen on the counter. I disobey the rule in that once they are “ripe” –really just redder– i have been known to put them in the fridge to keep them from spoiling once they reach the perfect color and all. They taste so much better, if ripened on the counter. Plus there is a certain beauty in a tomato sitting there reminding you to eat it!

    Happy to have found your blog, I’ll be back to visit. I like hearing another voice besides the very WONDERFUL Flylady, who I’ve subscribed to for forever… i do know that the magic is in the STARTING, and must say Flylady can make a success out of you, if you pledge to yourself to do the missions EVERY DAY. And not beat yourself up if you miss a day or backslide. She always says you’re not starting over, just jump in where we are.

    Oh, and great idea about the meal plan; gonna start that first! I’ll check your post on that very soon. Thanks!

  • Sylvia says:

    This looks awesome!! Where do u dry your dishes??

  • Brenda says:

    Wow! I wish I could do that, but I don’t know where I would put everything. I don’t know where I’d put the 2 cooking utensil containers I have, or the fruit in the fruit baskets. Maybe this week, I can try to figure out where to put some of the other things I have out because I do like the way your counters look.

  • Ashley says:

    Off topic, what is the name and brand of the green paint you used in the kitchen/hall? I love it!!

  • Janell says:

    This must be an older post (it was linked on because that is either a different kitchen, or you revamped it. If you just revamped it, how did you have room for the island?

    Enjoy your blogs! Thanks!

  • Hannah says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I am a serial space filler which drives my other half nuts 🙂
    Today I have had a go at clearing my kitchen and it feels so good! I have left a few things out which work for us but I can’t believe I have managed to clear so much! It’s given me so much more space, and I love it.

  • Sarah says:

    My biggest discouragement in keeping the countertops clean (not even clear, just CLEAN), is the rest of my family leaving stuff out or not throwing trash away. I can remind the kids several times a day, but reminding my husband like that would, I am sure, be taken as nagging! Maybe I haven’t stuck to it for long enough for the habit to catch to the rest of the family? But it’s just depressing when, for instance, my husband will bring in food trash from his office, and put it on the countertop not 3 feet from the trash can! It just makes me cry a little inside. What would you do, Crystal?

    • Have you had an honest, kind conversation about it with him to explain to him how it makes you feel? He might not really understand. Or, he might be one of those people who just honestly doesn’t think to do things that come obvious to you.

      If it’s just a simple matter of throwing out the trash and would only take a few seconds, my advice is to talk to him, but then — if he continues to do it — just use it as a reminder to be grateful you have a husband and throw it away.

      My husband does plenty of things like that and I have a choice when it happens on a daily basis: I can be frustrated and stressed and upset, or I can use it as an opportunity to be grateful for him. Because many women would just plain LOVE to have a husband!

      We all have our pet peeves, we all have our things that are frustrating to other people, and I know that I do many things on a daily basis that could be really frustrating to my husband, as well. But he rarely ever gets frustrated at me and overlooks those things. He lost his mom at a young age and he has such a great perspective on just being grateful for someone’s life instead of wishing they were different or trying to change who they are.

      • Sarah says:

        Hi Crystal, thank you so much for taking the time to respond to my question. I have talked to him about it (gently enough, I hope!), but I think plan B (just being plain ol’ thankful) is the best route for my own sanity. 🙂 Thanks for the reminder to be grateful for what I do have.

  • Bren says:

    Thank you. The lazy susan idea is brilliant, I have can goods in mine, but have struggled with how to better store my appliance. Definitely will be trying this one.

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