The Only 4 Things That Belong on Your Kitchen Counter, According to Pro Organizers

published Oct 13, 2022
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While I wouldn’t call myself the most organized person in the world, there’s one thing I definitely can’t tolerate: cluttered kitchen counters. I have a pretty small kitchen, so even a little unnecessary clutter sitting out takes up space I could use to prep dinner. The thing is, I haven’t quite figured out what to leave on the counter.

To find out, I checked in with a few professional organizers. Here are their top recommendations for achieving that surprisingly hard sweet spot between functionality and neatness. 

1. Utensils You Use Every Day

If you’re reaching for a utensil on a daily basis — your favorite spatula, pair of tongs, or wooden spoon — then it deserves a designated spot on your countertop, says professional organizer Amy Trager. “At some point, it may become annoying to keep opening the same drawer over and over,” she explains . Of course, you’ll need a place to put those utensils. A utensil crock can boost functionality without adding clutter — but if you really don’t have room, consider mounting a magnetic strip to save valuable counter real estate. 

2. Appliances You Use Every Morning (or Most Nights)

Maybe you religiously start your day with a cup of coffee or tea. Or perhaps your whole family eats toast for breakfast. If that’s the case, Trager says your coffee maker, tea kettle, or toaster should stay on your countertop. “The step of putting away and taking back out every day will just be a bother,” she says. 

Appliances you use most nights — such as an Instant Pot — can also live on your counters if you have more counter space than closed storage space. But if you’re really short on square footage, prioritize the items you use in the morning, when you’re most likely to be in a hurry (and in a sleepy daze). 

3. Essential Cooking Ingredients

Professional organizer Regina Lark also recommends leaving out a few key cooking ingredients. If you have the space, she recommends adding a small turntable to your counter for your most commonly used spices and oils (basically, anything that would be annoying to dig for when you’re in the middle of cooking). If mismatched bottles bother you, consider decanting in uniform jars with pretty labels!

4. Certain Non-Kitchen Items  

Because you likely spend a lot of time in the kitchen — for many of us, it’s the hub of our homes — Trager recommends keeping any non-kitchen items you need a daily reminder about on your kitchen counters. “If you know you normally forget, create a spot for it on the counter,” she says. Now, that doesn’t mean you should keep every vitamin bottle in your home loose on the counter. Instead, choose organizers that make your kitchen look neat and tidy while helping you create your best odds for accomplishing what you want on a day-to-day basis.