Containing Kitchen Clutter - Written by Alison Kent, the Home Kitchen

by Kerrisdale Lumber


The Culinary Artist

The more time you spend in the Kitchen, the harder it is to avoid “clutter”. It can build over time into a nasty untamable beast that taunts us every time we enter! What’s one more small appliance or condiment on the Countertop?! But sometimes what one might consider clutter, another might consider necessity. Like Jonathan Kinney at Northwest Culinary so aptly put it on my panel at the Interior Design Show, 

“A Cook is an Artist. And as such, part of the creative process is having your tools at hand to assess and use as the mind - and tastebuds - build flavors onto a canvas. “

Your Creative Environment

Commercial Kitchens have a system for everything at hand, everything in it’s place. All the ingredients you need quickly are visible and accessible. We aren’t all working at a Restaurant level, but there is an efficiency to having your most-used, most-required items close at hand as you work without having to search, open drawers, find cupboards or make trips to the Pantry for items you use consistently. So, is it really clutter? Celebrity Chef Michael Smith explained it well:

“Clutter is having every nook & cranny stuffed with randomness. Having things you NEED out where you need them, is adapting an environment to your needs.”

Photo Credit: Alison Kent, the Home Kitchen

There’s a reason Julia Child had that pegboard system! You could see, grab and use any item you needed as you were ‘whipping’ your way through the Kitchen. Such an open environment isn’t all of our aesthetics, but there are a few things that SHOULD be out and handy in every Kitchen. Thankfully, for those much-needed items, there are beautiful vessels available from places like Kerrisdale Lumber Home to help keep that balance between efficiency and a sense of zen.

Beautifying the Beast

Photo Credit: Alison Kent, the Home Kitchen


  1. Try keeping to a simple color palette in your selection of vessels - i.e. focus on wood and pottery, or marble and wood

  2. Like a little color or contrast? Add gorgeous, thick linens to catch dust and add a softness

  3. Think ‘mini vignettes’ - groupings of pretty things take up less mental space than multiple items strewn about

  4. Less is more here. Keep a few Spices you use often on the countertop, but let everything else store nearby - no need to have 30 Spice containers out in the open (unless that’s your jam!)

  5. Even collectibles can be both organized AND handy - such as a magnetic knife holder for your ‘best of’!

  6. Elevate some groupings off the counter to maintain countertop space and to create height in some mini vignettes

  7. Group similar items onto a simple tray - a marble edged tray, or a small artisanal cutting board

  8. Start by removing EVERYTHING, add your ‘must-haves’, then remove one more thing - keep it simple

  9. Keep ‘medium appliances’ off to the edges and sides, and less in direct lines of sight when possible

  10. Try adding a beautiful open shelf to get some items off the countertop (workspace!)

  11. Countertops attract ‘junk’? Try a woven basket for keys, extra phone chargers & stray mail - and set it way off to the side

  12. Review your clutter containment every few months - take one thing away every time

The Must-Haves

If you think about how you cook, your most basic must-haves will become apparent.  When prepping food, you need a solid board, your favorite Chef’s knife, salt/pepper and Olive Oil pretty much the entire way through. When cooking, you need basic ‘stirring’ utensils, salt/pepper (kept separate from your Prep set to avoid always wondering where you left it last), favorite spices and a thick tea towel or two. From there, it’s all about your personal cooking style and food habits, but we’ll start you off with this list below:

A few NEEDS that should be handily out in the open might be -

  • Salt & Pepper (at both your Prep area AND your Stove - NOT one for both!)

  • Most-used Spices (i.e. I use Smoked Paprika and Aleppo Peppers a TON, so they may as well be out)

  • A good Olive Oil

  • Room Temperature Butter

  • Fruit & Veg that doesn’t need Refrigeration (the rule of thumb is that if it’s chilled at the store, chill it at home - otherwise, keep it at Room temp!)

  • “Potted” Herbs

  • Cutting Boards

  • A thick tea towel for wiping hands and handling hot pots

  • Favorite set of Knives (situated by your Prep Area)

  • Stovetop spoons & tongs (placed by the Stove/Cooktop)

  • Handsoaps

Let’s COOK!

Once your Kitchen is set up for success, you’ll be far more likely to enjoy your time spent there. Unlike a Commercial Kitchen, your Home Kitchen should be both well-planned AND lovely to look at. It should be inviting you in - and welcoming to your guests - not beastly and untamed. With well thought out vessels, like the many you can find at Kerrisdale Lumber Home, you can have the best of both worlds. A useable space that makes you feel good.

And the heart of our homes should make us feel our best!

Photo Credit: Alison Kent, the Home Kitchen

Photos by Alison Kent, the Home Kitchen

Find many of the vessels and wares shown at Kerrisdale Lumber Home

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