THE WASHINGTON POST – Clutter on the countertop can also clutter up your day, whether you’re rushing to get ready for a morning meeting or trying to make dinner before your hangry kid melts down.
Although it’s not possible to instantly double the size of your kitchen or bathroom, there are several easy (and affordable!) strategies to make the surfaces in those all-important spaces work more efficiently. Professional home organisers will tell you the first step is to consider your lifestyle.
“It’s really taking a look at the way that you function day-to-day and what you use the most,” said Kimberly Hairston-Neal, owner of Pittsburgh organizing company the Modern Steward. “Typically,” echoed Kenika Williams, founder of Atlanta’s Tidied by K, “people just have too much stuff”.
But if purging the excess isn’t enough, what next? Here’s how experts suggest reclaiming your counter space.
EDIT AND CONTAIN
A general rule of thumb is that if you don’t reach for it every day, it doesn’t need to sit on your counter. “Edit the things that are taking up space but aren’t being used actively,” Williams said.
To wrangle the remaining items, incorporate trays, baskets and other unfussy containers. Corralling pieces into designated spots will keep them from taking over an unnecessary share of the counter space and will help them look purposeful.
This doesn’t require a spending spree at the Container Store. Instead, shop your own home. A rarely used water pitcher, for instance, can double as a utensil caddy in the kitchen.
CREATE MORE CABINET SPACE
One of the biggest mistakes in small bathrooms and kitchens is not taking advantage of the full capacity inside cabinets and underneath sinks, said Marissa Hagmeyer, co-founder and chief operating officer of national organising company Neat Method.
She advised creating vertical storage with over-the-door organisers on the back of cabinet doors, or adding tiered units or risers to your shelves.
Stackable bins can also work as makeshift drawers. “I always recommend that people try to go up versus going horizontal,” she said.
Turntable storage is another clever option. Like Lazy Susans for the inside of your cupboards, these allow you to store items in the farthest reaches of your cabinetry and still easily access them.
In the kitchen, Hagmeyer suggested loading them up with oils and spices that would otherwise clutter surfaces. In the bathroom, they’re ideal for corralling daily skin-care products and perfume on the countertop, or hair-care products and tools under the sink.
PUT YOUR WALLS TO WORK
When your counter space is lacking, thinking of your walls as storage opens up a lot of opportunities.
Take the classic Julia Child approach with a peg board for hanging pots and pans. You can DIY one with inexpensive supplies found at most hardware stores.
Or, for a bit more money, add a shelving unit. Hairston-Neal has a heavy-duty metal one in her kitchen with sections for appliances and pantry items.
In the bathroom, wall-mounted train or hotel racks can hold extra linens.
Try over-the-toilet shelving units or floating shelves styled with glass jars and trays for containing cosmetics and other space-hogging products.
“You’ve added a decorative element, but it’s still serving a purpose to hold things that you need,” Williams said.
FAKE MORE COUNTER SPACE
Whether you have a gas or electric stove, a noodle board – also called a stovetop cover – will fit over the burners, turning them into usable counter space for preparing or serving.
Betsy Fein, president of Clutterbusters, said she appreciates that her noodle board is actually better looking than her exposed stovetop. “It looks so much more put together, and I get compliments about it all the time,” she said.
Another way to “create” more surface area is to invest in multitasking appliances. Hairston-Neal points to her beloved Ninja Foodi, which can pressure-cook, air-fry and steam-fry.
USE OTHER STORAGE SPACE
Clear out space by relocating extra supplies somewhere else. Can you make room on a shelf in your closet? Or, better yet, is there free real estate in a guest room or den? “Your bulk or your backup does not need to be in the space that you’re operating in,” Hagmeyer said.
Appliances that you only use once in a while – a pasta maker, for example – or extra toilet paper and paper towels are prime candidates for relocation.
CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK
Finally, it’s important to remember that “practice makes progress”, Hairston-Neal said.
Your first attempt at getting organised might not last long or be as successful as you hoped, so instead of viewing it as a bust, she suggests looking at it as an initial step toward changing your habits.
“Take it in bite-sized pieces,” Hagmeyer advised.
“As you see small successes, you’re all of a sudden way more motivated to take on the bigger project.”