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Small kitchen large family, HELP

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I have a galley-style kitchen and I am terrible about clutter.  Trying to reclaim the counter space we do have.  I have 5 kids and often cook from scratch for everyone.  I put all my big appliances on shelves in the adjacent laundryroom b/c there is absolutely NO pantry.  I have had to put lots of things in surprising places...  No where to put recycling etc. and we're always trying to catch up.  Standard non-pantry 1980s galley kitchen.  There is a breakfast nook that has space for a table that is a 4 person table, not more.  Right now the breakfast nook is my midwifery study area as I am a student midwife.  One more thing to keep organized...  We only eat in the dining room.


We aren't in a mode to be able to remodel any time soon, so I'm looking for any suggestions for beating the paper and junk clutter on counters and making the kitchen space work best.  We added a microwave cart at the end of the counter for more counter space, but it's the "clean" counter to me, so I don't want to get it wet/dirty/messy.  Just cluttered.  Thanks for any ideas.

post #2 of 7



First thoughts - do you have an Ikea around? That place has some great organization ideas and it's usually pretty inexpensive. Other thoughts - make the fridge command central and move all papers there with good magnets. One for each kid, maybe using the side of the fridge if you can fit some things there. Or better - can you move the papers to a different room? Maybe make room for a household desk? 

post #3 of 7

Are you able to move the papers out of the kitchen and have it be more of a food prep area? Or have a single area papers are allowed & not let them out of that area unless in use?  I've done that by putting a multi-drawer unit I got from Costco in my dining room, with lots of thin drawers, for the kids papers, pens, coloring books, etc.  They draw & write a lot so it keeps it sort of under control as long as it's used. I also take digital photos of cool photos or notes they draw & only keep originals of their favorites that go into a little binder each kid has & the binders are stored in that drawer unit. 

I also make a lot from scratch and have decided to reduce what I have that is single use.  I'm going to try making yogurt in my crockpot so I can sell my yogurt maker, I sold my dehydrator since I don't use it and could always use the oven, etc...

Baby's crying.....

post #4 of 7

I have a rule:  "If it's not for cooking or eating, then it doesn't go on the kitchen counter."  Objects found in violation of this rule get punted.


We also have too many recyclables to keep in the kitchen.  Can they be stored further along the path to the pickup point?  We keep ours in the garage, or sometimes outside in the bins.


Is there room in your study area to go up the walls with storage, maybe some shelves and pigeonholes for everyone's papers?  Ikea has some nice tall, narrow shelves that take up very little floor space.


It might also be helpful to think about clutter flows and processes:  how did the clutter come in, how did it stop where it did, and what's keeping it from going on its way?


Likewise, sometimes it helps to think about different kitchen tasks (Mixing, Stove, Sink, Dishwashing, getting things out of the fridge) and making sure that things frequently needed for each task are stored near where it's done. 


We did have a tiny galley kitchen with nook in our first apartment, and built some freestanding shelves, about ten or twelve inches deep, at the side of the nook, with a wider shelf coming out at counter height for more counter space.  Before building it, I measured our pantry supplies, and spaced the shelves accordingly.  (The uprights were 2 by 4s, the cross pieces 2 by 2's, and plywood for the shelves and counter.)

post #5 of 7

If you only eat in the dining room, I'd try to make better use of that breakfast nook. Replace the table with a hard-working storage unit like an island with internal shelving where you can keep all your appliances and then use the surface for your food prep.  There must be *somewhere* else in the house you can study?

post #6 of 7

Midwifery study Area (breakfast nook)

 - Can you study somewhere else? When I was doing my second Master's degree, I had a small desk in the corner of our bedroom and DH put up some shelves for me. I kept books there and had some magazine boxes for some of my paper-work.


Once you've cleared out that area - can you put in shelves for storing things. Maybe get rid of one of the benches and put the recycling there?


Recycling - Do you have space out doors where the recycling can go? We live in an apartment building and the recycling bins are in the basement. We keep a plastic basket and put in all recyclables - then the person whose chore it is for that day will take the basket down and separate them out. Do you have a garage or a back yard for that?


Paper Clutter in general

? Do you have a filing cabinet? Do you have a place to put a filing cabinet which is not in your kitchen? We keep our filing cabinet in our eldest child's bedroom.



Big appliances?

I cook from scratch as well and almost all my meals do not require appliances. I would suggest you have a good hard look at what appliances you have and how often you use them and see whether you can get rid of some of them. If you can, maybe some of the space they now use can be used for other things.


Good luck!

post #7 of 7

Is there any reason the kitchen is catching so much paper? Is it mail or school papers? Can you designate a different spot in the house to collect this stuff? I have baskets by our front door to collect mail and other papers.


Could you install a bulletin board or use magnetic paint to hang up some papers on walls or cabinets? Could you put up a hanging wall filing system?


What are you collecting for recycling and how often? Could you just have smaller containers in the kitchen or other parts of the house to empty in to a larger bin somewhere else?


Could you take the table out of the breakfast nook and install shelves or put a free standing shelving unit/cabinet in there to hold appliances, food, books, or whatever?

I agree with looking hard at what appliances you really use often and maybe getting rid of some or replace some with something that can do more than one task. I cook often and don't have much counter space. I store all my appliances in the cabinets and I know that I only use a few frequently- hand held mixer, slow cooker, bread machine, toaster, coffee maker. The rest don't see the light of day so I could easily eliminate them.


I would also look for somewhere else in your house to study and keep the kitchen only for food preparation.

I homeschool my dd. I have a shelf unit for books and stuff in the dining area. She often works at the dining table or in the living room. Everything is put away on the shelves when we are done using it. Dh is in college and has a space to work in the attic or our bedroom.

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