Cleaning Up the Counter of Annoyance

cleaned up counter

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I mentioned, I think, that I have a really excellent kitchen. It’s big, and has lots of counter space, and will be even better for entertaining when we can get some barstools after the Bit is big enough to not use them to climb onto the counter (does that ever happen?).

But there’s this countertop. It’s next to the refrigerator, the glasses and dishes are in the cabinets above. This should be a great prep space for getting things to the table. It’s also where we keep our coffee pot, so at least it should be the place where breakfast gets made.

But it isn’t. Instead, it’s this:

the messy counter
This counter makes me sigh every time I see it.

In a nutshell, here’s the problem:

  • it’s a holding ground for old bread, random vegetables and dry goods that seem to have no other home
  • it’s the place where things go that we don’t know where else to put, and where we put things when we’re clearing off the main countertop in the kitchen
  • there’s never any real counter space here, and what there is almost always is dirty from coffee stuff

But I had a dream for this space. What I wanted was:

  • a clean station for morning beverage preparation and easy breakfast stuff
  • possibly a place for mail, to keep it off the main counter
  • a counter that’s clean and can be used regularly

Getting to a Better Place

empty counter
Wish it could stay this empty forever...

Because this is a pretty small counter, it didn’t take that long to get to the place I wanted to be. Because it’s Spring Break, I worked on this while the girl watched “Sesame Street.” It took less than the whole episode to get this done.

Here’s what I did.

  • toss old stuff
  • find homes for other stuff (a pitcher went to that empty top shelf in the pantry, the vinyl gloves and paper bags, which we don’t use that much, went to a shelf in the laundry room, for example)
  • decide what really needs to be there (breakfast stuff, morning beverage stuff, coffee pot and grinder, electric tea kettle; we also usually keep bread and root vegetables over here)
  • clear the counter completely off and clean it (my favorite part!)
  • group items together and display as neatly as possible (I stacked the tea and put the vegetables in a basket)
  • contemplate further changes (I would love the tea and coffee to go in a drawer so there’s less visible clutter; I also think the veggies could go on the counter by the stove if it were clear, and the cereal may go back in the pantry if I ever finish cleaning it out!)

Maintaining the Happy

cleaned up counter
Behold, my much nicer counter.

Of course, just because it looks good (or at least vastly improved) today doesn’t mean it will magically stay that way. Here’s the battle plan for keeping the space from turning back into the land of sighs:

  • pay attention after breakfast to see what can be picked up or wiped up immediately
  • remember to stay on top of stale bread/old veggies, toss out the old when new comes in and use things before they get too old

All of this is pretty personal to my space, but it’s also a great way to look at any countertop or messy space in your own home: figure out what you aren’t happy with, what you want it to look like/be like when it’s done, clear out and group the things that need to stay, find new homes or toss the rest, get the area clean, put things back thoughtfully and stay on top of it in the future. Easy, right?

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