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Kitchen Countertop Organization 101: What Can Stay and What Needs to Go!

In part 1 of this article series, I discussed the 5 benefits of a tidy countertop. In this article, we’ll dive into the nitty-gritty of what items deserve to take up valuable counter space and what items need to be put away! Think of this as a checklist. Feel free to print it out and do a walkthrough of your kitchen.

Never, Ever Countertop Sitters

The following items should not take up valuable countertop space:

Spices
Spices belong in a cabinet or on a spice rack. Otherwise, with dozens of flavors to collect, your counter could easily become overwhelmed with spice jars!

Kitchen Aid
Ok, if you happen to be Martha Stewart, this one doesn’t apply to you. But if you’re like me, you use your kitchen aid sparingly. So save space and store that bulky thing in a cabinet.

Deep Fryer
This one is specifically for my husband. Honey, please take that thing off the counter! You use it once a year. I’m begging you!

Mail
Since the kitchen tends to be the heart of the home, it’s understandable it also acts as the mailroom ā€“ not! Sort that mail and get it off of there – that space is for cooking.

Telephone
They make wall brackets for these. Need I say more?

Cereal
Ok, I have to admit I’m bad with this one. I sometimes (that’s right honey, SOMETIMES) leave my cereal box out when I anticipate a refill shortly. Definitely a space waster and one I need to work on. When you’re done with a food product, put it away.

Recyclables
I HATE when plastic and glass bottles are left on the counters! That’s why I use a little waste bin to store recyclables until pickup day.

Dishes
Nothing clutters up a kitchen faster than dishes. Even a few can make your counters look messy. Nicely ask all members of the household to “deal” with their dishes rather than setting them on the counter. And if they don’t, you can always go on a cooking strike!

Definite Countertop Sitters

The following items are worthy of that primo countertop real estate:

Canisters
Canisters are fantastic organizational tools! They not only help store your tasty cooking ingredients (sugar), they also help keep items fresh (coffee). They come in a variety of designs, so they can match your kitchen theme and help jazz up your countertops!

Coffee Maker
Yes, the coffee maker is definitely a countertop sitter in my book! I use it every day, which warrants it taking up space. I also store my coffee grounds right next to it (convenience).

Utensil Holder
Cooking utensils (like spatulas, wooden spoons and serving spoons) are valuable tools in the kitchen and deserve a space on your countertop. A utensil holder offers a great way to organize those utensils and keeps them in easy reach so you can avoid the dreaded drawer rummaging!

Fruit Bowl
A fruit bowl is a handy dish to leave out as it helps organize your, well, fruit! It can also act as a vegetable dish, bread bowl and sweet treat container. Pick a colorful one to help decorate your counter and you’re in business!

Spoon Rest
You may think this is just one more item that will clutter up your counters, but this is actually a vital piece of cleaning equipment that will keep your countertops tidy longer! If you have a coffee drinker in your household, do yourself (and your sponge) a favor and set out a spoon rest to prevent nasty coffee stains.

Toaster
Though I would prefer not to, I do allow counter space to be given to our toaster. It really depends on how often we use it though. Also, moving the toaster can result in crumb catastrophes!

Paper Towel Holder
It’s so annoying reaching for a paper towel only to find they were set down on the other end of the counter! If you want to keep paper towels on your counter (rather than hanging them under a cabinet), create an anchor for them by using a paper towel holder.

Soap Dispensers
Dish soap is going to take up space on your counter no matter what. Why not make it look nice by using a soap dispenser? Find one that matches your kitchen theme and throw out or recycle that plastic bottle!

Light Decoration
An olive oil bottle and vase full of flowers here or there can certainly warrant taking up space, but remember less is more!

Optional Countertop Sitters

The following items are completely optional (if you have space to spare).

Cookie Jars
This item is only really useful for bakers and sweet tooth junkies. If you often find cookies sitting on your counters, relocate them to a cookie jar and throw away those messy wrappers!

Sponge Holders
Sick of looking at that dingy green pile of foam? Hide it away in a sponge holder. No one but you and me has to know about it :).

Bread Boxes
If you’re a bread-head, a bread box can come in quite handy for keeping your food fresh and like new. However, keep in mind bread boxes can take up quite a bit of space (they’re intended to hold at least one loaf of bread). Be sure you will really use this item before reserving space to it.

Salt and Pepper Shakers
Though many consider these must-have countertop accessories, they work just as well when stored in a cabinet. Otherwise salt and pepper shakers can take up countertop space next to your oven.

In part three, I’ll give you tips on HOW to decide what stays on your counters and what goes! I will also touch on the importance of mixing function with design.

What do you have sitting on your kitchen countertops right now? Is there anything you wish wasn’t taking up space?

About The Author

Hi! Iā€™m Keller Hawthorne, owner of Theme Decor Stores ā€“ a collection of theme-focused home decorating shops. You can learn more about me here. If you enjoy our blog, be sure to subscribe to email updates!

Comments (2)

  • Sharon Howard says...

    Hi Keller,
    Loved your suggestions!

    Posted on Saturday, February 19th 2011 at 6:05 PM

  • Keller Hawthorne says...

    Thank you Sharon!

    Posted on Monday, February 21st 2011 at 1:26 PM

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