The Right Way to Organize Your Kitchen This Summer: Don’t Listen to Marie Kondo

published Jul 6, 2017
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(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

Does everything in your kitchen spark joy? No? Well, you know what? Who cares! Your kitchen is an everyday workhorse filled with gadgets big and small that make your life easier (thank you, garlic press, for existing). Yes, you want it to be functional — and it can be annoying when your cabinets are overflowing or you have to walk halfway across the room to grab a knife mid-recipe — but even if your kitchen needs some organizing help, Marie Kondo doesn’t have a place here. Not now and not any of these upcoming weekends. It’s summer! Wouldn’t you rather hit the beach than spend the weekend upending your kitchen and waiting for your pineapple corer to spark joy?

But if your cabinets really are overflowing — and your pantry’s got a clutter problem — you’re going to need to address them. Here’s how to do it without wasting an entire summer Sunday.

(Image credit: Cambria Bold)

1. Consider the layout.

Quite possibly when you moved into your place (one or 100 years ago!), you tucked things into the cabinets and didn’t think about where they should go or why they should go there. Now’s a time to reassess. “The common mistake people make is not organizing their spaces logically in the first place,” says Tonia Tomlin, a professional organizer and the founder of Sorted Out. The first stage of your clean-out: Go to the beach or the town pool and, while you’re laying there, spend some time contemplating your kitchen. Are the pots and pans near the stove? Do you spend time looking for their lids? All you have to do right now is identify your major frustration points. Then, you can address them in the morning or on a rainy day, using steps two and three.

2. Start small.

Marie Kondo wants you to tackle the whole project at once, but in reality? That’s exhausting. “I always suggest starting in an area where you’ll get the biggest satisfaction, quickly,” says Tomlin. Maybe that means your junk drawer, or the pile of papers on your countertop, or that drawer of weird old takeout containers you use as Tupperware — any of those can be tackled in 15 minutes or less (read: while you’re sipping coffee in your pjs and thinking about how you’d like to spend this gorgeous summer day. Or if it’s raining, while you’re sipping coffee in your pjs and thinking about what show you’re going to binge on.)

3. Set a timer.

Okay, you did the easy stuff — now you’ve got the bigger projects. Instead of deciding that you’ll spend the whole day organizing your kitchen, commit to just an hour or two to get as much done as possible. “Most of my clients have about a two-hour attention span,” says Tomlin. And this way, you can declutter for a bit in the morning and still enjoy the rest of the day.

Bonus tip: Let it go.

Let’s face it — not everyone’s meant to be a minimalist. Not everyone’s countertops are clear or shelves are full of matching dinnerware. That’s okay. “There’s no one solution that works for everyone, and expecting your kitchen to bring you joy is just a bunch of you-know-what,” says Tomlin. If you cook frequently and truly use all those spices and appliances on your countertop, but your kitchen is small — it’s just going to look a little cluttered. Embrace it.