simplified minimalist white kitchen with brick backsplash
Minimalism & Decluttering

How Do You Simplify a Kitchen? 13 Steps to Success

What’s inside: A big question for many people is “How do you simplify a kitchen?”  If you are looking for ways to simplify the heart of your home, these 13 tips are sure to help you turn your kitchen into a space you love.

how do you simplify a kitchen? An example kitchen with an island and eating area
Our simplified kitchen, which was still under construction.

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home, but for many households, it’s a place of stress and chaos.  Counters are overflowing with papers and projects.  Dishes are piled high in the sink.  Drawers are stuffed with tools and gadgets. Water bottles and coffee mugs seem to multiply by themselves.

Luckily, retaking your space in the kitchen is one of the easiest ways to begin minimizing. 

Decluttering and organizing the center of your home will simplify your mornings and reduce your stress in the evenings.

A simplified kitchen slows the pulse of life, providing a gathering place for your family to connect and talk about the events of the day.

How do you simplify a kitchen?

If you’re ready to streamline your kitchen and reclaim your counters, this baker’s dozen collection of tips will help you get there! (see what I did there? kitchen tips, baker’s dozen 😆)

1. Get rid of duplicates

Getting rid of duplicates is the easiest place to start when simplifying your kitchen. Eliminate multiples of cooking utensils, pot holders, bakeware, and measuring tools.

If you’re prone to cooking several dishes at once, it’s fine to have a couple of repeat tools (we have a few bamboo spoons in our drawer) but consider how many you actually need to cook a meal and eliminate the rest.

Hand washing utensils is also a quick way to ensure you always have one clean when you’re ready to cook again.

simple kitchen tools

2. Reduce job-specific tools & gadgets

Walk into any home goods store and you will find an assortment of miscellaneous kitchen tools- strawberry hullers, banana storage containers, avocado slicers, cake testing rods, baggie holder stands.

They’ve thought of just about everything and they’re marketing it all to you!

Instead of buying a bunch of highly selective products, invest in basic tools that do multiple jobs. Don’t buy 15 different products when a simple kitchen knife will do for all of them.

By skipping the selective gadgets, you’ll be able to keep your kitchen streamlined, and you’ll save lots of cash, too!

3. Declutter stuff you can do without

How do you simplify a kitchen when you feel overwhelmed with even starting? Begin with decluttering the stuff you can do without.

If you’ve gone months without touching something in your kitchen, odds are that will continue into the future.

By donating or selling items you can do without, you free up space for the appliances and tools you actually use.

simplified minimalist white kitchen with brick backsplash

4. Store stuff you don’t use often

Have something you don’t use often, but during certain times of the year it gets a lot of use?

Consider creating a permanent storage spot for that item elsewhere in your home so that you have access to it when you need it, but it’s not in your way every day, taking up prime real estate.

For example, I have a few insulated casserole carriers that get A LOT of use around the holidays. Instead of keeping them in the kitchen, they are stored in the basement. I know exactly where they are when I need them, but they won’t be taking up valuable space in my kitchen the rest of the time.

If you don’t have much room available for storage, consider borrowing rarely used items from a friend or family member.

5. Reduce specialty items for hosting

How often do you need a place setting for 12? Or fancy dessert bowls? What about the good china from your wedding registry?

Reducing specialty hosting items is a great way to free up real estate in your kitchen. Give serious thought to how you actually use your kitchen, not how you wish you would use your kitchen. 

If you dream of hosting fancy dinner parties but you hate to cook and only entertain one or two couples at a time, odds are you aren’t ever going to use that fancy china or an extra set of silver.

Instead of feeling guilty about not being that person every time you see those items, pass them along to someone that enjoys entertaining and free yourself from the burden.

Or, if you really love your fancy dishes, consider mainstreaming them for everyday use. If you love them and enjoy them, why not use them all the time?

 simplify small kitchen appliances

6. Assess the value of small appliances

How often do you use that fancy food processor? What about your stand mixer? Or that air fryer, or pressure cooker?

Odds are you’ve accumulated a few of these appliances over your adulting years. They promise to save you time, money, or energy in the kitchen. And they certainly can- when you use them!

The problem is that these appliances take a lot of room on your counters and in your cabinets. If you find your kitchen has accumulated several of these tools, sifting through your supply can go a long way in helping you simplify your kitchen.

Keep regularly used items that add a lot of value to your culinary life. Consider donating or selling items you rarely use.

For instance, if you don’t cook or bake often, do you need a large stand mixer on your counter, or would a small hand mixer do the trick? Do you need that toaster oven, or can you get the same results with a regular oven?

7. Invest in related food storage containers

This is one of the biggest difference-makers when you’re trying to figure out how to simplify a kitchen! Eliminate the stress of mismatched lids, ill-shaped containers, and towers of falling plastic by investing in a common style of food storage containers.

By sticking with one particular type, containers will stack compactly, taking up less space in your kitchen.

When we overhauled our food storage, I went with this food container set. I really wanted to eliminate plastic (didn’t like reheating in it and hated how it was always wet out of the dishwasher) so I splurged on this glass set.

I love how sturdy the glass is (a big plus around the little ones) and it never stains the way plastic does.

The only downside is that after several years of regular use, some of our lids are starting to crack. Luckily, you can buy lid replacements without having to purchase a whole new set.

8. Group items by use

Once you have decluttered and simplified the number of things you have in your kitchen, it’s time to get smart about how you store them.

Grouping items by use is a great way to simplify your kitchen. This reduces the amount of back and forth in your kitchen and helps everyone know where items go so they can put them away.

Consider grouping all cooking utensils in a drawer by the stove. Store glassware near the dishwasher for easy unloading. Keep all your plates and bowls together to simplify serving.

charcuterie board with fruit and cheese

9. Consider items that reduce in size & serve multiple purposes

How do you simplify a kitchen when your space is limited and you enjoy cooking from home?  One trick is to invest in items that nest or reduce in size to “add” space to your kitchen. 

Consider changing out your metal colander for a collapsable one. Or, select nesting bowl options to reduce the space they take up.

Look for items that can serve double or triple duty, like bowls that can be used for mixing and for serving, or a bamboo cutting board that could also double as a serving tray.

10. Take advantage of vertical space

How do you simplify a kitchen when you need access to a lot of things on the regular? You take advantage of vertical space!

Consider investing in magnetic spice containers that will keep your spices handy while also making a cute art installation. Keep paper towels handy but off the counters with a wall mount.

Hang storage containers for fruit instead of storing it in a basket on the counter. Add planter baskets to walls for growing your own herbs.

a simplified kitchen oven with pots and pans

11. Focus on the purpose of the room

Often the kitchen becomes the command center and drop zone of the home. Purses, wallets, and keys get placed on the counter. Notebooks, mail, and miscellaneous paper goods pile up.

Before you know it, the room is such a mess that you have to clean just to cook, so you order pizza instead.

The key to avoiding this trap is to keep the purpose of the room front and center. The kitchen is for food- cooking, eating, serving and gathering.

Try creating a command center elsewhere in your home so that miscellaneous items don’t take residence on your kitchen counters.

When your kitchen is clean and inviting, it becomes a room you want to spend time in. Or at least not run away from.

12. Keep counters clean

Keeping counters clean can either be a simple daily routine or a never-ending battle.

Once you’ve decluttered, analyzed your small appliance stash, and reduced the amount of paperwork and miscellaneous goods piling up in the room, odds are you can begin transitioning from war to daily maintenance.

You’ve likely decluttered or stored several items that have freed up precious cabinet space in your kitchen. Now it’s time to think about housing certain items underneath the counters instead of on them.

Clutter breeds clutter. If there are only one or two things on the counter, you’ll notice four or five. If the are ten, odds aren’t twelve or thirteen won’t make a blip on the radar.

Even if you use the item daily, consider finding a home for it off the counter so that your counters can be as clean and streamlined as possible. This will go a long way toward improving the visual appeal and function of your space.

For example, we use our toaster regularly, but it doesn’t live on our counter. Instead, it sits in the cabinet just below the outlet. It only takes 10 seconds to get it out and put it away (even with our amazing childproofing locks!) and then we benefit from not having it clutter up the counter all day long.

If you’ve always valued the convenience of appliances at hand over clear counters, odds are this might be a bit of an adjustment for you. But, once you see the benefits of simplifying your counter space, I bet you’ll never go back to the way things used to be!

13. Design a space you love that works for you

If you love to bake and it brings you joy, don’t feel like a failure because you have multiple cake pans and a bag full of icing tips. Clear your kitchen of stuff you don’t value so that you have room for the things that matter.

Streamline your kitchen gadgets without getting rid of that specialty thing you use on the regular.

My husband and I are self-proclaimed coffee snobs. At one point we had 5 different ways to make a cup of joe at our house!

After traveling to Italy a few summers ago, we bought a Bialetti moka pot and a set of cappuccino cups. We already had been gifted an amazing milk frother as a wedding present.

Did we need any of it? Nope. We already had a coffee pot. But, we love recreating our favorite cappuccinos and reminiscing about our travels, so we keep it and enjoy some regularly.

simplified white kitchen with brick backsplash

So how do you simplify a kitchen? 

The key to minimizing your kitchen is the same for minimizing your life- eliminate the unnecessary to focus on the primary. 

Eliminate the excess utensils, the unused small appliances, and the trendy gadgets. 

Declutter the duplicates, organize the essentials, and focus on creating a kitchen that works for the life you live in it. 

The point of simplifying your kitchen isn’t to limit your cookware to a certain number of items or to get rid of everything you don’t use every day.

The goal is to eliminate the stuff you don’t use, that isn’t serving a purpose in your home, and design a kitchen that feeds your soul every time you step into it.

So how do you simplify a kitchen?  You create a space that you love that works for you.

Looking for More Minimalist Inspiration?

12 Minimalist Living Tips to Simplify Your Life

How Do I Start Living as a Minimalist? 10 Essential Ways to Simplify

7 Reasons to Empty a Space Before Decluttering

How I Decluttered Our Problem Area- For Good!

10 Benefits of Minimalist Living

Declutter With The Container Principle to Curate Those Collections

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