Organizing 101: Ruthless Decluttering for Kitchens and Baths

Organizing 101: Kitchens

Living simply is not for the faint of heart. The comfort of a small space depends on decisive action. It is oh-so-easy to drift into accumulation – one more eye cream won’t hurt anyone, right? But, if you can find your inner clutter-dictator and toss away enough crap to catch your breath, the reward is a space that feels like freedom.

Need a quick win to inspire your decluttering campaign? Kitchens and baths are relatively easy and less emotional rooms in which to create momentum for a larger decluttering crusade. Get a little mad at clutter and get started.

Organizing 101: The Simple Living Bathroom

Organizing 101: Simple Living Bathroom

Decluttering a bathroom requires ruthlessness. Unused makeup, hair products, skin care, all of it, are easy to collect and store. Bringing this room under control creates a fast track to morning peace. Before you begin, imagine opening a bathroom drawer that contains exactly what you need and nothing more. Start with the end in mind.

Once you have a vision, try this: place the items you use every day on the bathroom counter. Seriously, every day. If you haven’t used it in the last 24 hours, don’t set it out. This group will include your skin care, daily make up, hair products, contacts, and medications.

Now, put together the small group of items you will definitely need every few weeks. This includes the basics you’ll need for the less-than-daily beauty routines or supplies for a minor illness or injury. Manicure items, maybe some cold medicine, first-aid items or your weekly face mask belong in this group. You don’t need multiples of any of these – just one pair of tweezers, please.

Finally, put together a small collection of special items that you might use for a night out – maybe some sparkly eye shadow or your favorite perfume.

Now, THROW OUT EVERYTHING ELSE. Ouch. This is where the ruthlessness comes in. You don’t need all those half-used makeup colors; hair product samples, and general life rubble. Throw it out! Hesitation here loses the battle – grab your garbage can and make some history.

Now, wipe down the insides of the drawers and cabinets and put back the few things that are left. You’re on your way!

Organizing 101: The Simple Living Kitchen

Organizing 101: Kitchens and Bathrooms
Organizing 101: Kitchens and Bathrooms

Kitchens can also create a big win in the organizing game, so this area is a good place to tackle early in the declutter process.

My kitchen philosophy is that excellent, high quality kitchen tools are worth the money they cost, and that you should not make room in your kitchen for less-than-excellent tools. Even if it means you have one high quality knife and one perfect skillet.

For the last decade, I’ve had one knife in my kitchen. It works beautifully. I use one particular skillet almost every time I cook, and it’s just right. It’s at least 20 years old, and whatever I paid for it during the early 2000s was well worth the money.

There might be some luxury utensils that suit your method of cooking. For me, it’s a lemon zester. I splurged on one, and I love it every time a reach for it. Maybe for you it’s the perfect cheese grater or an excellent meat thermometer. But, if a utensil has just one job, make sure it does the job perfectly and makes you happy at the same time.

Glassware and dishes break, so care less about quality and replace as necessary. A couple good coffee cups and 10 drinking glasses is enough for almost any size family with a working dishwasher. Do you really need a cabinet full of drinking glasses? Nope.

What about the “good dishes”? Maybe they were wedding gifts or family keepsakes, but give some thought to what function they serve in your every day life. Could you use the “good dishes” every day? That may not be practical for a family with young children, but if your crowd doesn’t still eat with their fingers, this might be the solution. Or, recognize the “good dishes” for what they are: decorative items that come out on special occasions. If that’s the case, maybe they don’t need to take up space in a small kitchen, and are better stored away in a less-used closet with the other holiday decor.

Now, THROW OUT EVERYTHING ELSE. And, by “throw out” I mean find a new place for items that still have some useful life. By all means, take them to Goodwill or a shelter, and let someone enjoy that usefulness left in the item.

The magic here is in the “big chuck” – that is, raising your standards to keep just a few, beautiful, useful items that add to your life, and letting go of items that don’t serve you well. Keep in mind the lifestyle you are wanting to summon and ask yourself if each item serves that vision. If not, help the item move to a better place for everyone involved.

Now, wipe down your cabinets, tuck away everything that remains, and enjoy your newly found space.

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