The kitchen is often called the heart of the home – and for good reason. Not only does food bring us together, nourish us and bind us to familiar rituals, but it’s also the physical hub of many modern homes. It’s a dining room, meeting place, admin area and homework station, not to mention, you know, the storage and preparation of food.
Having a simple, slow, pleasant kitchen space that works for you doesn’t mean you need to remodel. Nor does it mean you need huge, shiny benchtops, high-end appliances or a spacious butler’s pantry.
To create a simple, slow kitchen, you just need it to work for you. But first you need to take note of which tasks your kitchen is used for.
Is your kitchen used for:
- dining – Do you have an eat-in kitchen? Do you eat at a breakfast bar?
- admin area/office – Do you keep incoming mail, bills and papers in the kitchen?
- computer work – Is the laptop kept on the kitchen bench? Do you use the iPad as a recipe book?
- homework – Do your kids do their homework at the kitchen bench?
- congregation point – Do guests often congregate in your kitchen? Is it a natural gathering point?
Regardless of how you use your kitchen, it needs to work for you, your home and the people who live there.
A simple, clutter-free kitchen is not only functional, but can also be beautiful. Some people will find it boring, but to have a clean, clear, open space that is simply a kitchen really is beautiful. It doesn’t need to be fancy or Pinterest-worthy – just functional.
Room Service – 10 Ways to Create a Beautiful, Simple Kitchen
1. Embrace white space.
The kitchen, beyond all else, is a functional space and a clutter-free benchtop not only looks appealing, but also makes food prep much easier. It doesn’t mean your kitchen needs to be devoid of personality, but you should question the usefulness of the items kept on display. Keep the benches empty (or as close to empty as possible) and try to pack away as you go.
2. Find beauty in utilitarian items.
Just because an item is useful rather than beautiful doesn’t mean there isn’t beauty there. No, I don’t mean use your juicer as a piece of modernist sculpture (unless you really love your juicer) but perhaps:
- a stack of mixing bowls on an otherwise empty shelf
- a fruit bowl on the breakfast bar
- a bunch of flowers or a few potted herbs in a sunny corner
- a handful of cookbooks lined up on a bare shelf
3. Make use of the kitchen’s functions.
That is, if you also use the kitchen space as the admin/organisational hub of the home, embrace that by having a chalkboard wall for notes and reminders. Combined with a pinboard or a magnetic surface, you can fully use the space you have at your disposal.
3. Clear the cupboards of unnecessary clutter.
Utensils that are never used, gadgets that seemed like a good idea at the time, countless serving platters, baking trays and cutlery – what of these things do you actually use? This Stone Soup post is a fantastic starting point in helping you decide what you do and don’t need in a simple, efficient kitchen.
Also consider moving items that aren’t used often to a different part of the house. For example, I store my slow cooker, serving platters, pizza stone and extra wine glasses in the linen cupboard, as I would only use them once a week at the very most.
4. Group similar use items together.
Perhaps a basic suggestion, but keeping all saucepans, pots and frying pans together, or all dry goods, baking goods, tinned foods or crockery in the same place will make it much easier to work in the space, and you will be much more efficient.
5. Consider secondary storage for bulk items.
Extra bags of pasta, tins of tomatoes, washing liquid and other non-perishable items can be kept out of the kitchen to help free up space. A shelf in the laundry may work, or a hall cupboard. Then, when it comes time to do the groceries, be sure to shop your storage first.
6. Keep the fridge orderly – inside and out.
Before unpacking the groceries, do a quick run-through of the contents of your fridge, removing anything that is past its use-by date. Milk, leftovers, fruit and veges left to linger in the crisper – these are the usual suspects. Ensuring the inside of your fridge stays healthy means you’re less likely to waste food or buy too much.
As for the outside of the fridge, keep it clear if you want – it certainly is in keeping with the clutter-free kitchen. Personally though, I like the personality kids’ drawings, various magnets and photos bring to the room. Keep them relevant by sorting through them every month or so, to stop the space becoming another clutter magnet.
7. Use lighting to add interest.
A pendant light hung above a worktop or island bench gives interest, but is also great for functionality. You want good lighting in your kitchen, so adding a light instead of additional decor is a win-win.
8. Use colour to add interest, rather than clutter.
A wall painted in a striking colour, a chalkboard feature or interesting coloured cabinetry all add interest without adding clutter to your space.
9. Buy secondhand where possible.
Enamel stoves, cookware, benches, bar stools, benchtops, hardware and sinks can all be sourced secondhand. Craigslist, ebay, local papers, op-shops are the best place to begin. Again, adding items with a history will help you to add interest and personality without adding stuff. Plus, using second-hand items is a great environmentally-friendly option.
10. Ensure everything has its place.
As well as the utensils, gadgets, crockery, cutlery and glassware, each item that lives in the kitchen space needs to have it’s own place. If you use the kitchen as an admin area, you need to set aside space specifically for the tasks involved. Even if it’s simply a matter of putting your paperwork in folders and storing them with the cookbooks, or using a drawer to collect bills as they come in. Everything needs to have a place of its own, otherwise clutter will creep in.
If you keep the laptop in the kitchen (for homework, work or study) then find a place for that too. Alicia suggests finding an attractive box to hold your laptop and charger – hiding it in plain sight when not in use. Alternatively, you could find somewhere else to keep it.
Aside from cooking, what do you find your kitchen being used for? Does it work for you? Or would you like to make some changes, to create a slower, simpler space?