Decluttering my home and moving towards a more minimal lifestyle has been a long journey for me – 8 or 9 years in fact. Kitchen minimalism was one of the easiest areas. I love cooking and baking, but we don’t entertain often, so pairing down unneeded cookware, extra dinnerware and duplicate utensils was pretty easy the first time around. Since then, I occasionally grab a few items from the back of a drawer or cupboard that I don’t use as much as I thought I would, and toss them in the donation box. I’ve maintained for years what most people would consider a very small inventory in my kitchen.
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When we moved in to our new home in December, we decided to create a coffee station in the dining room to free up the small amount of kitchen counters for food prep. On Christmas day, my sister and brother-in-law gave us a hand made shelf similar to one I had admired at their house, especially for this purpose and I absolutely love it. Morning coffee is a big part of connecting with my partner every day and now we have a functional space to prepare it without adding to kitchen clutter.
With that addition, I thought my kitchen minimalism was complete. But somehow, we were still having a hard time keeping everything tidy.
My partner stays home with the kids and does some work from home, while I have a full time job outside of the house. He is responsible for lunch and dinner most days, and cleaning key areas of the house. He has his hands full, and I understand when not everything gets done each day, but it was clearly getting to be too much for him to manage. Often the kitchen was only about 80% clean – the dish rack was stacked full but there were a few odd shaped items still in the sink and maybe the counters could use a wipe. It wasn’t the clean and clutter free room I’ve dreamed of.
More than once he said to me that we still had too much stuff in our kitchen. And more than once I expressed displeasure at him using specific use dishes (namely pasta plates and soup mugs) for purposes they were not intended for, instead of washing the right dish.
Because I’m juggling more balls than usual this summer (working in two locations for my company and coaching my oldest daughter’s baseball team) I’ve been feeling more burnt out at the end of the day, so I really wanted to find a new system that would help us get on top of our messy kitchen. Finally, the other day I said enough was enough and I got to work on paring down to the absolute minimum in my kitchen.
First, I reflected on what was working. When my littlest started eating solids, I bought each girl a colour coded dish set – one bowl, one divided plate, and a water bottle. Those were to be the only kid dishes, washed after each use to minimize the pile we needed to wash from each meal and multiple snacks throughout the day. I liked that system, so I figured why not implement it for the adults too. We would each have one plate, bowl and mug. I packed up the excess in a banker box to store in the basement for now.
This is now all of our dishes – 2 water bottles, insulated cups, mugs, plates, bowls and kids dishes. The upper cabinet also contains kids snacks, 1 pitcher, 1 vase, 3 bottles, 1 travel mug, 1 shaker cup, butter and a wine aerator.
Next I moved on to the drawers. I have 2 sets of cutlery that I really like, so a full 8 place settings. The style has been discontinued and I’m sure a few pieces will go missing over time, so I’ll never get rid of them. However, I did come to accept that if they all live in the drawer, they will all end up in the sink. So I decided on 4 forks, knives and spoons and 2 steak knives. I kept all of the kids cutlery because they use it when they eat on the deck and I fully expect it to get lost. Additionally this is where I keep scissors, a can opener, wine opener and cover, bbq lighter and mini whisk. The container in the back holds small mason jars that we use for drinking glasses, sauces, storage etc.
Drawer number two is most of my cooking and baking tools. While this is certainly not a very good example of extreme minimalism, it’s important for me to have the right tools for the job. The only thing that probably doesn’t get used weekly is the rolling pin. I won’t itemize it but this drawer contains cutting boards, utensils, measuring cups and glass storage containers. I love the baskets for keeping it a little tidier and easy to find the right tool quickly.
This drawer I think demonstrates how much I prefer drawers to lower cabinets. I hate, HATE bending over and digging around in a cupboard to dig out a pot, knocking over other things in the meantime. When my past kitchens mostly had lower cabinets, they were always a disaster. Putting my pots and mixing bowls in a drawer where I can easily reach them is a game changer for keeping my kitchen tidy. Someday, if we decide to renovate, I want to do all drawers in the lower cabinets, sized and divided to perfectly accommodate my essential items. I’ve probably kept too many containers, so maybe I still have some work to do in this area.
And because I hate cupboards, here’s the nearly empty space where my Instant Pot lives. We use it multiple times a week, often because we don’t think about taking meat out for dinner early enough for it to defrost. A whole frozen cut of meat will cook relatively quickly in the pressurized cooker. It also replaces a show cooker, rice cooker an several other single use appliances. It’s pretty tall though, so this is the easiest place to store it for easy access. I’ve also stashed my large colander and a couple glass baking dishes on the shelf. There might be plenty of room left over, but I have no reason to put anything else in this cupboard.
Aside from what I’ve shown here I have a baking sheet, a muffin tin and a loaf pan that all live in the drawer below my stove. I also have a small cast iron pan that lives on the stove top, and a large one that lives inside the oven, which I rarely use. I primarily use a toaster oven for baking, toasting and air frying because of it’s energy efficiency. Only our Christmas turkey and large batches of baked goods go in the oven.
At this point in time I think these are truly all the things my family needs for a wide variety of foods, and only a few baking items do not get used every single week.
One week later
Now that I’ve extreme decluttered my minimalist kitchen, it’s spotless all the time, the dishes wash themselves and dinner is magically served promptly when I arrive home. I wish. In reality, there are usually still a few dishes in the sink and the counters could use a wipe. But my partner and I both agree that the change has made a positive impact. If we don’t do breakfast dishes right away, we are forced to do them before lunch because there just aren’t any more plates. There are no more piles in the sink or dishrack; even after a big meal there’s only a sink-full to clean. The simple result is that we may need to wash a few items more frequently, but it never takes more than a couple of minutes to get it all done.
We still have some work to do on cleaning up directly after each meal, and putting clean dishes back in their homes in a timely matter. But those are a matter of developing better habits, not the number of things we have. The results of extreme kitchen minimalism have been great for us, and I doubt we will reintroduce any of the items currently stored away. In a month or two it will most likely end up in a donation bin, and we will stick to this simplicity long term.
Would you give kitchen minimalism a try? What parts of your home do you struggle with the most? What would you love to read more about? Leave me a comment.
5 thoughts on “Kitchen Minimalism – Going Extreme”
Looks tidy & functional! I always feel like my mind is less cluttered when my kitchen is less cluttered.
Absolutely! My mind is quite the jumbled mess at the moment, so my spaces need to be clear to balance it out! lol
Great article. Any ideas for other rooms?
I think the kids rooms will have to be next. They recently went from sharing a room with a separate playroom to now having their own rooms, but the toys are exploding everywhere!
Thank you for sharing your experience and some very useful tips! I also do declutter in my flat and I am always so surprised, from where I got all these 100 things and WHY?? 😀 But after cleaning everything and throwing out old things I feel like new energy is coming inside my flat / kitchen!