50 Little Ways to Love Your Kitchen a Little More This Winter

updated Jan 16, 2020
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Credit: Minette Hand

There are lots of little things that can lead to you NOT loving your kitchen. Maybe you hate the way it looks? Find yourself getting way too frustrated with the lack of organization? Can never find enough time to clean it? Get overwhelmed with the idea of feeding your family? It’s all going to be okay! We’ve come up with 50 of our best tips to help you fall in love with your space this winter — no matter what your triggers or stressors happen to be. Because it’s too cold (for most of us) to go grill outside, we may as well make the most of the indoor space we have.

Here are our top tips for dealing with aesthetic issues, daily stresses, various messes, and more.

  1. Declutter your countertops. Clutter will weigh down the best of us. Do your best to find a new home for anything sitting out that you don’t use on a regular basis. Your coffee maker can stay, for example, but maybe that sporadically used juicer can go in a cabinet. Oh, and paper clutter should definitely get dealt with.
  2. Set out a tray and/or cake stand. What’s left on your counter will look nicer when corralled on a tray. Your soap, sponge, ring dish, and other dishwashing tools looks purposeful when set on a cake stand. And an assortment of oil bottles and salt can be a focal point when arranged on a tray.
  3. Weed out your utensil drawer/crock. How many spatulas does one really need? Answer: Probably fewer than however many you actually have. Go through your utensil drawer or crock and pull out anything you rarely or never use. Put it in a donation pile — and then make sure you actually drop that stuff off sometime in the not-too-distant future.
  4. Add lights to your upper cabinets. The dark nights of winter call for more lights. Pick up some battery-operated puck lights and stick them to the bottoms of your upper cabinets. You can get a six-pack (which should be enough for an average-sized kitchen) at Home Depot for just $35.
  5. Put down a rug. If you have cold, tiled floors (or a drafty kitchen!), consider putting down a stylish rug to keep your little toes warm. Just get a low-pile one so that it’s easy to clean.
  6. Pull up your rug. We know that kitchen rugs aren’t for everyone. If you have one and have been HATING it, maybe now’s the time to pull it up.
  7. Swap out your cabinet hardware. People often refer to cabinet hardware as jewelry for your kitchen, because changing all your knobs and pulls will give your kitchen a subtle new look. Nothing drastic, but a change nonetheless. Check out this list of our favorite sources for cabinet hardware.
  8. Buy a lazy Susan for your pantry. The lazy Susan is basically the hardest-working organizer we’ve ever met. Get one (or three) for your pantry and use it to organize spices and all your bottles. We’re huge fans of the one– and two-tiered options from Copco.
  9. Bake something. It’s hard to be grumpy when there are fresh chocolate chip cookies around.
  10. Light a candle. Light a candle to help set the mood in your kitchen. Pick one in a scent you love (we suggest Capri Blue from Anthropologie) and that’s even better.
  11. Clean the inside of your oven. If you’re going to use your oven so much these next few months, you may as well clean it and get it looking like new. Luckily, it’s not too hard and most of the work can be done for you overnight.
  12. Bring in some plants. You’re probably not logging much outdoor time these days. Buy some plants or just steal them from other rooms in your house so they can keep you company while you cook.
  13. Or some grocery store flowers. Treating yourself to a bouquet of flowers from the grocery store is rarely a bad idea.
  14. Clean your windows. To make sure you’re letting as much light as possible into your kitchen, give your windows a quick once-over. You’ll be amazed at how much brighter your space feels.
  15. Set up a speaker. Whether you’re splurging on a Sonos or just getting a little accessory to amplify your cellphone’s speaker, a speaker is key for adding kitchen entertainment. Chores go a lot faster when you’re listening to a podcast or dancing around to music.
  16. Open a new bottle of dish soap. Change out your dish soap so that the scents match the season. Go for anything citrusy this time of year.
  17. Wipe down your chairs. When was the last time you wiped down the chairs around your breakfast table? It’s time to do it now.
  18. Clean your baseboards. Even if you sweep your floors nightly, you might not always remember to hit your baseboards. Give them a quick swipe and your entire kitchen will look cleaner. Promise. (Tip: This inexpensive tool can help you!)
  19. Rearrange your artwork. You don’t have to buy a single new thing for this tip: Just take art from one room and swap it with the art in the other. It’ll help you see your space (and your collection!) in a whole new light.
  20. Give your Dutch oven a permanent home on the stove. These pots are usually pretty expensive, and they’re pretty! Plus, you’re likely using yours at least a few times a week. Why not leave it out on the stove for convenience and decorative reasons?
  21. Degrease your kitchen cabinets: Grease and grime can build up on your cabinets over time and, before you know it, the doors are way darker than they’re supposed to be. And oddly sticky! These are all the best ways to clean greasy wood cabinets.
  22. Get a new pair of dish gloves. You need gloves when you’re outside in the cold AND when you’re washing dishes. These have a super soft lining and hold up well over time.
  23. And a dish drying rack. It is incredibly frustrating to wash dishes and have nowhere to put them (or worse, watch them all tumble to the ground). If your dish rack isn’t working for you — and all your pots and pans — get a new one.
  24. Install some hooks. We’re hooked on hooks these days! Nice ones in the middle of the kitchen, removable Command Hooks in the pantry or on the back of cabinets… it doesn’t matter. They create storage space out of thin air and are highly underrated!
  25. Come up with a meal plan for next week. One of the most stressful decisions you can have to make in the kitchen is trying to figure out what to have for dinner… at 6 p.m. Cut that stress out of your life by making a meal plan for the week. You’ll feel SO MUCH better.
  26. Pick up some pretty new dish towels. Dish towels have a bigger decorative impact on your space than you may realize. Get some nice ones that you don’t mind hanging up.
  27. Enjoy a cup of tea. Make yourself a cup of tea (or coffee or whatever you prefer) and then take a few minutes to sit or stand there and enjoy it. Don’t rush to pour it into a travel mug and head out the door. Take. Your. Time. Just this once.
  28. Organize your food storage containers. And all the lids. What we hear, from almost everyone, is that food storage containers are the cause of most organizing frustrations. Too many avalanches of containers! Tackle that mess now once and for all.
  29. Crack open a new cookbook. Feeling like you’re in a rut every time you step into your kitchen? Perhaps you just need to try something new. Consider joining our cookbook club and cook along with us out of a new-to-you book.
  30. Reorganize your pots and pans. Next on the list of messes after food storage containers? Pots and pans. They’re big, awkward, and hard to stack! We’ve got some solutions for you.
  31. Wipe down the fridge shelves. Messes behind closed doors are still messes. If you get a wave of anxiety every time you open the fridge, it might be time to give it a clean out and wipe down the shelves. Then, follow these tips to keep it clean.
  32. Take a freezer inventory. Know what’s in your freezer at all times and you’ll waste less food, save money, and always be ready to pull together an emergency dinner.
  33. Sort through your pantry. Chances are, there’s lots in there that doesn’t need to be in there (because it’s either expired or could live somewhere else). Take everything out, wipe down the shelves, and put things back in a more organized way.
  34. Make a cocktail or a mocktail. Remember when we told you to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee? Well, do it again, this time with a more fun pre- or post-dinner drink.
  35. Declutter your fridge’s magnet situation. You probably don’t need seven magnets with numbers for local gutter cleaners and plumbers. Go through your magnet collection and only keep the ones you really love. And clear out any papers stuck to the fridge while you’re at it.
  36. Start shutting down the kitchen at night. The idea of shutting down the kitchen is simple: Once dinner is done and lunches are packed, clean the dishes, put everything away, wipe down the counters and “close” the kitchen for the night. It’s no longer open for business.
  37. And spend some time in there alone in the morning. There are few things in life greater than coming downstairs (or down the hall) and entering a total clean kitchen. If you can, set your alarm for a few minutes before everyone else in the house gets up so that you can spend even just a little bit of time in there before the day begins.
  38. Sort through your travel mugs. Most of us have too many of these things.
  39. Treat yourself to a new cutting board. You probably use a cutting board every day, but when was the last time you bought yourself a new one? Allow us to suggest this one from Material.
  40. And put your stand mixer on an old one. We love a one-in-one-out rule, but don’t be so fast to toss an old cutting board. Put your stand mixer on the board and you’ll be able to slide it around your counter without sending it skipping along.
  41. Use the surface light on your oven’s range. Again, winter nights are dark and long! If your oven range has a surface light option, and you don’t often use it, turn it on. You might like the ambiance/extra seeing power it creates.
  42. Cook with your roommate/partner/kids. Cooking and cleaning shouldn’t be a solo operation. Get your roommates in there with you. If you have a pup, bring in a dog bed so he can hang out with you while you chop and stir.
  43. Practice some mindfulness. The next time you’re washing an endless pile of dishes, take some time to be present for it. How does the water feel? What do the soap bubbles look like? How’s your breathing?
  44. Pull out five things to donate. They can be big or small.
  45. Get a label maker. And then use it to label pantry shelves, refrigerator bins, and more.
  46. Splurge a bit on the good cheese/fancy condiment. Go ahead! You deserve it. Get a nice wedge of cheese or a fun new condiment. Stop stressing about your budget for one second.
  47. Try an all-day project next weekend. We often rush in and out of the kitchen as quickly as possible. And that only makes us feel more hurried the next time we’re in there. Schedule an all-day cooking project and force yourself to spend some time in the kitchen. You’ll probably enjoy it.
  48. And then embrace the slow cooker on Monday. Come Monday, though, you’ll be happiest with something that’s quick and easy. Check out all of our slow cooker recipes here. They practically make themselves.
  49. Organize for five minutes when you get home tonight. You don’t need to spend hours organizing in the kitchen to make a difference. Set a timer for five minutes (or even just one!) and see how much you can get done tonight.
  50. Clean for five minutes when you get home tomorrow night. Do the same thing for a cleaning session tomorrow night. Repeat again next week.

What little things are you doing this winter to feel more at home in your kitchen?