Whether you're sprucing up for company or just trying to maintain a tidy home on the reg, there are several things that can hinder your efforts. Kitchens are a notoriously tough room; no matter how often you scrub, sweep, and organize, if you do any of these six things it will still look messy.
1. You have too much clutter on your counters.
This one may be obvious, but too much stuff on your countertops is a total no-no. It doesn't matter if it's a couple small appliances or decorative canisters — the more you clutter your counters, the messier the space will seem. Stick to only one or two frequently used gadgets on the counter (like your coffee maker and toaster) and keep everything else hidden behind your cabinet doors.
2. You don't have enough stuff on your counters.
But! But! It's a crazy balance, I know. If you don't have a lot of stuff on your counters and then you start piling up the mail, coupons, and other random stuff, those things are really going to stand out.
More on Organized Counters
3. You use your fridge as an art gallery.
As charming as your kiddo's crayon drawings are, a refrigerator blanketed with their Picasso moments is bound to add clutter, not artistic value, to your kitchen. Instead, dedicate a rotating gallery wall in your dining nook as a space to hang framed — and curated — masterpieces.
Take this quiz: What Your Fridge Decor Reveals About Who You Really Are
4. You don't put your dishes away fast enough.
Dishes in the sink or stacked in the dish rack will make your kitchen look messier just by their mere presence. The solution? Make a rule that you don't go to bed in the same house as dirty dishes. That means you either have to run the dishwasher, clean anything that's in the sink, or find somewhere else to sleep. Then, in the morning, you can unload the dishwasher and put away the hand-washed stuff while you wait for the coffee to brew.
5. You don't have a junk drawer.
This "cardinal sin" is actually … a good thing? It's true. Your kitchen is likely the hub of your home, so it's bound to collect everything from batteries to rubber bands to measuring tapes. Give all those randoms a place to land with a junk drawer. It sounds counter-intuitive, but giving knick-knacks a spot to hide until you find a better location and purpose is way better than just leaving them out. Be sure to be very intentional about where that spot is, though — keep it to one shelf or drawer, and don't let that clutter take over any more space.
More on Junk Drawers
6. You try to make it do too many things.
These days it's common — and practical — for your kitchen to do double duty as an office or a family craft nook. If you have a little workspace or desk off to the side in your kitchen, make sure that stays as neat and tidy as possible. If you're in the middle of a project, you don't have to clean it up right away, but if something's sat idle for 24 hours, it's time to get it under control.