I Stole a Simple Storage Idea from Emily Henderson and My Kitchen Has Never Looked Better

updated Mar 30, 2020
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My ideal home is one that makes people wonder, “Where’s all the stuff?” This is not easy to do because we have five children, ages eleven and under, and I make it a point to not spend every second of my free time cleaning like some kind of housekeeping robot. But for me, keeping the house in order is not just an aesthetic preference.

Maintaining the spaces in our home in relative order is imperative to my mental well-being. With so much life and activity and the noise and chaos that come with it, I get overwhelmed when it’s all happening in an environment that’s in disarray. One thing that helps me feel anchored is cleared off surfaces. For example, I try to keep what “belongs” out on the counters to a minimum. So when I discover storage solutions that enable me to take yet another thing off my hard-working counter, I get excited.

This is what happened as I read about Emily Henderson’s new mountain house kitchen. I drooled over things like skinny pull-out cabinets for spices and oils and kicked myself for not adding a docking station to our kitchen drawer when we did a recent bit of renovating. Re-doing our kitchen again isn’t something we plan or even want to do, but Emily’s kitchen did provide one “Aha!” moment for how I could get something else off my kitchen counter, something I’d actually been fine with having there: a utensil caddy.

I’d minimized it as much as possible already. The only utensils that lived in there were ones we regularly reach for while we cook. And instead of a solid container to put them in, I’d opted for a wide-mouthed vase, thinking that the glass blended into the background and therefore minimized drawing the eye.

Emily Henderson made room in her mountain house kitchen for a utensil crock housed within a pull-out drawer to the left of the range top.

But when I saw Emily’s utensil crock tucked into a tall pull-out drawer, I was inspired to transfer my kitchen tools into our pots-and-pans drawer that’s right next to the oven. Not only would that give me one completely cleared off section of counter, but it would keep my utensils from getting that sticky and dusty layer of grime that coats silicone left out near the stovetop.

As soon as I could, I tried to transfer the whole utensil container to the drawer, standing up, just like it was on the counter. Of course, the drawer was too short. But I didn’t give up on my idea.

Some kitchen tools laid flat in a drawer in Emily Henderson's mountain house kitchen.

I decided I’d try laying the utensils inside the drawer (something Emily also does in another part of the kitchen) but I still wanted them corralled in some way. I picked up a clear, simple rectangular bin for $10 at Target to put inside the drawer. The sides are deep enough to hold the utensils and not get lost in the deep drawer.

Before putting my container in the drawer, I emptied it out of the extra stuff that had been living in there for so long that I no longer noticed it, let alone realized that they didn’t belong in there in the first place! I took out several candles, candle holders, and an old hard drive (huh?). I put my plastic potato masher in a donation bag because I also have a stainless steel one. I rearranged the handles of my pans and nested a couple pots within others. Finally, I put my container in the drawer and made the big move of the utensils from the counter to the drawer.

Not everything quite fit. But I moved a large whisk to the baking drawer, where my small whisk is and rested the less-used utensils against the side of the drawer. Only the spatulas and wooden spoons we reach for daily are in the rectangular bin because I don’t want to have to dig for them.

I worried that I wouldn’t like having to open a drawer when I needed a spatula to flip the eggs or a wooden spoon to stir the soup. But by actually living with the new set up, I realized that we need to open the drawer to get a pan or pot anyway, and we can just grab the utensil we need while we’re at it.

The surprising thing about tucking my utensils into a drawer was that the counter felt too empty afterwards. The kitchen looked, in that spot, like an empty home for sale getting ready to be shown and I didn’t like it. So I grabbed one of my fake plants and a candle and put them where the utensil jar used to be. Boom. Now that spot is not just utilitarian but pretty and grounding. I love it. Thank you, Emily!

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: I Stole a Storage Idea From Emily Henderson and My Kitchen Has Never Looked Better