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Note: if you're new around here I'm sure glad you're here! 🙂 Be SURE to read our story of how we started out pinching pennies 25 years ago (those brown paneled walls started it all off and I'm so thankful for them!) I'm so thankful we started out frugally, and the journey has been so fun.
I don't know that I ever set out to be a minimalist initially, but when my kids were little and clutter was everywhere in our home, having a little bit of order in my kitchen helped me feel a wee bit more in control of things. So each day in the morning and again at night, I'd clear the clutter, wipe down the kitchen sink, and keep as little as I could on my countertops.
This was our kitchen two years ago before we changed out the kitchen counters to white and painted the island Sherwin Williams Foggy Day. What a huge difference white countertops make!
Because I struggle with staying focused a bit (my brain just goes a whole lot of directions each day, like most women out there I think!), starting and ending my day with a tidy kitchen just takes a wee bit of anxiety off me each day.
And, since I do Facebook Live and Instagram Videos several times each week, my kitchen doubles as a “set” for video for me, so keeping my space clear of clutter helps me do my job more effectively and efficiently each day. Since I'm the “host” of the videos, the videographer, marketer, advertiser, as well as the set up and clean up crew 🙂 I do all I can to make sure this space “works” well for me.
After running PPP for 12 years, we finally updated our kitchen almost solely so that I would have white kitchen countertops to make a prettier backdrop. Before that I'd been hauling out white wood backdrops to stick under each recipe and laying out sheets to make our kitchen a little brighter. I'm so thankful for this happy kitchen space and know it is an incredible gift!
There are two “rules” I follow do faithfully that help my space feel peaceful to me.
Rule #1: The “clear countertops” rule.
I limit kitchen clutter on my countertops to only 5 things.
Here's what I keep on my kitchen counters all the time:
- Kitchenaid mixer
- my home planner with recipe stand and a small lamp
- my recipe tin
- my cleaning supplies (hand soap, dish soap, multisurface spray)
- a paper towel holder
For some reason my pantry door is ETERNALLY left open. Whew! 🙂
Because my “rule” is that my countertops have to stay clear of clutter and I don't have tons of cabinet space in our kitchen, I ruthlessly get rid of gadgets and dishes that I don't really need.
Rather than having 17 scrapers or spatulas, I have 4.
Instead of having 38 coffee mugs, I keep maybe 8 (which is still probably a few too many, but when having company I always want to hav enough!)
I constantly try to think of things that will serve dual purposes, and if I can get rid of one thing by using something different I do. Less stuff helps me feel more in control of my home, and I enjoy each thing we DO have so much more.
Rule #2: The “material” rule.
I limit kitchen clutter by using the “5 material” rule when purchasing anything in our kitchen.
(Ooch. Are you ready for this?)
I ONLY buy things for my kitchen that fit into the following five “material” categories. When I'm out shopping, if it can't be considered as one of these five things, I DO NOT PURCHASE NO MATTER HOW VERY MUCH I LOVE IT.
It must be . . .
- occasionally something with a pop of blue
*my two caveats:
- coffee mugs ~ but I still try to keep them pink or blue because those are my favorite colors!
- anything my kids get for me as a gift. My sweet Caroline gave me the MOST DARLING EVER snowman latte mugs that I use for soup in the wintertime. I love them and will keep them forever! 🙂
That means that if I see a red dish that I absolutely adore, no matter how much I love it I don't buy it for our kitchen. It's not that I don't love red, but setting up this “rule” keeps me from buying about 78 colors of red dishes (because just like everyone else, I love all the dishes!) 🙂
It helps me spend so much less money because I'm not tempted to snatch up something extra we really don't need, and I constantly think of ways I can live without that extra item before bringing it into our home.
Now, do not misunderstand me. I love pretty “happy” little things. But having too many happy pretty things feels overwhelming to me, so I work really hard to live with less. I know this absolutely isn't for everyone, but for us it totally works.
More than anything, when my home is incredibly cluttered I don't feel like I have space for the people in it, and they're more important to me than the stuff. When my kids (or husband!) walk in the door, just like every other family on the planet, they bring their “stuff” to the table. Backpacks are thrown everywhere, mail gets added to the counters, and homework binders are all over the place.
By having 95% of my counters clear for all the stuff ahead of time, my anxiety level simply goes down when the clutter DOES come in (because it definitely DOES come here too!)
They bring in their “stuff”, I get a little overwhelmed for a minute, and then I remember they'll be gone in just a quick minute 🙂 and I can declutter a few more things again the next day.
If you've been feeling overwhelmed with the clutter in your home, consider trying out these two “five things” rules. It might be incredibly scary, but you might truly just love it, and it'll give you space for your mind to clear and dream big.
So go ahead, hop up, clear your kitchen counters and give your kitchen sink a warm sudsy bath. I'll be over here in my kitchen wiping down these counters again too~ and am right on this side of the screen cheering for you!
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So, I am curious to know where all your mail/clutter does end up? I have one small counter spot in my kitchen where everything lands and I cannot seem to find somewhere else to put those things! Would love your thoughts.
Personally I also have a small place on my counter, in a basket, where I keep mail that I have to keep or go through still. Unless it’s something needed I discard the rest. Less clutter! Hope this helps!
Those rules won’t work in my house. My kitchen counters are used for my coffee pot, microwave and air fryer. My pantry is small so there is no room. I do keep my crockpot in my pantry. I love the white color scheme but it doesn’t work either. My planner is the blue one and my Bible is next to it and it is gray and pink. My tea towels vary in color and depends on the holiday.
Now if I lived in a big house like yours and had a large pantry then those rules might work lol. Except for the coffee pot. And it is always within reach
I’ve been a minimalist for years. I love having my house look spa like, I’m just like you clutter hurts my brain. My rule has always been “If it’s not decor, it’s not out”. I like your rule!
Keeps the whole house looking magazine ready, spa like and peaceful.
How do you organize spices. Our is always a mess and I am at a loss on organizing them.
Hi Wendy! Here’s what I use – hope that helps! 🙂 https://passionatepennypincher.com/spice-cabinet-makeover/
So after reading this, I tried it. I now have 6 things on my counters. This is from having so much on my counters that I could not meal prep. I feel so much better!! Thank you for encouraging us!
Woohoo ~ way to go Kristie! 🙂 Great job!
Where do you keep your toaster? We use ours nearly every morning.
Kristen ~ PPP Team says
I keep it in a cabinet. It’s just so nice to not have it out. I know that there might need to be more on the counter because of convenience, but it’s just what’s worked for us!
We got an air fryer that stays on the counter that doubles as a toaster oven and I use that for toast. But before that, I made a rule that unless I used something for long periods in the day multiple times a week, it had no reason to take up space on my counter.
The electric can opener gets used 30 seconds maybe twice a week and doesn’t deserve a spot on my counter. Same with the toaster. Before we got the air fryer, I figured for only being used 2-3 minutes once per day, the toaster shouldn’t live on my counter either. I use the air fryer for everything (toast, chicken nuggets, reheating foods, rotisserie, homemade fries and chips, etc) and it’s the only appliance that stays out on our counter (coffee maker is on its own littler cart).
I love gadgets but I keep them in the cabinet til I need them, use them, then back in they go. I love how just doing that made me feel like I had more counter space and freed up room to do more baking, bread making, etc. When I feel like I have more room to do things I really enjoy my kitchen more.
Thanks so much for sharing what works well for you CG ~ love that! 🙂
Angie Sutton says
Where did you get your rug at, the brown one in front of refrigerator? Thanks!!
Home Goods! 🙂
I love the rules. Do you have a kitchen “tour” to help with where things are living?
Yayy ~ so glad to hear that Krystal! Hmm, I don’t believe we’ve done a full kitchen tour of where everything is, but hopefully you can find a setup that works well for you (with most-used things in easily accessible places, etc)! 🙂 Cheering for you!
Jen Falkowski says
Hi!! I love your kitchen. I know this may be a silly question, but what do you use the wire rack for in your kitchen sink?
That’s so sweet of you Jen ~ thanks a bunch for your kind words! The rack is to help protect the sink from getting scratched or damaged from dishes getting put in!
Where did you get the white mug with a little color your holding, I love it
Linda Hyman says
That looks like a mug from Rifle and Co.
Bridgett - PPP Team says
It’s actually a Corkcicle mug. There’s a link in this post if you would like to check them out! https://passionatepennypincher.com/things-i-love/
Ok this may be a silly question but what is the wire rack for in your sink? . Thank you
Not a silly question at all Jen ~ it’s to help protect the sink from getting scratched or damaged when dishes get put in! 🙂
Thank you for this post Laurie!!!! Read it last night and looked at my kitchen with new eyes! Stayed up late last night cleaning and removing items that cluttered our counters and organized a few cabinets this morning- got rid of a few glasses to make the space nicer and finally cleared out a messy space with our phones and misc papers I never seem to get a handle on. And I have had hired a great organizer over the years! Little here and there. Still not as minimalist as you (We have a large toaster oven, vita mix & dish rack near our sink that’s used daily plus some misc.). Most of my drawers and pantry, fridge look pretty good (still need tweaking now & then, easy to clutter) but took it up a notch after your post. Thank you so much for inspiring me, esp before school starts !!! I finally (kinda) feel ready! Would love more posts like this about organizing tips that will inspire us.
Yayyy, way to go Joan ~ so glad to hear that! 🙂 Praying a beautiful school year for your family!
Thank you Laurie ❤️ Same for all yours too!
First of all, your kitchen is absolutely GORGEOUS!
I love this set of rules and am going to start implementing them in my kitchen ASAP!
Thank you so much for sharing all of your tips and tricks!
Thanks so much for your kind words, and for reading PPP Holly ~ grateful for you! 🙂 Hugs!
Nora Travieso says
I just love your kitchen and appreciate all that you share with us. It is truly an inspiration for me as I just started decluttering my own kitchen. Can you tell me where you got your over the island pendant lights? They are gorgeous! Thank you for all you do for all of us who need your inspiration!
Thank you for all your helpful tidbits! You are such an inspirational woman 🙂 And you certainly have a beautiful kitchen! Weird question, where do you keep your microwave? Our kitchen pantry is too small to fit it, so I just certainly don’t want to put it on the countertop! But it is just too convenient to have at arms reach in the kitchen 😉 Thanks for all your helpful guidance! Blessings to you! ~Jessica
Hi Jessica! It’s built into the cabinet in our bar which I know helps SO much. By any chance could you save and one day put one in over your stovetop ? We did that at our last house and it helped so much (I also can’t imagine not having it close at hand!)
Karen in Missouri says
I love the idea of eventually getting it put in over the stovetop!
What are your white countertops made of? Your kitchen is lovely!
Thank you so much Karen! They’re marble – I wouldn’t do them with younger kids as they stain much easier than other materials, but we love them so much!
LeAnn Bryson says
We are doing a complete house remodeling after building it 25 yrs ago….when I was pregnant w/ twins. Have I learned a lot & made huge changes, very much needed changes, lol. My biggest thought out, kitchen & laundry/pantry. We haven’t finished and moved back in yet, so I’m really trying to think all this organizing and implementing so many of the things o have read and learned from being a member of your amazing site. Thank you for being such an inspiration. I just hope I can get everything implemented the way I plan, lol.
Rena Gardner says
I LOVE IT a d totally understand the stress of stuff and more stuff on the counters! When my kids were little I had a cute bench in my kitchen that I didn’t let anyone put anything on because I just knew that if there was one thing on it there would be 100 things on it! And for all that mail…I never bring mail into the house without opening and sorting it out and pitching the junk before ever bringing it in!!
Mary Dwyer says
Where do you keep your knives? I have a knife block. I only have 3 drawers for all of my utensils, measuring spoons, serving utensils, spatulas, etc.
Some are in my drawers so they’re convenient, and my knife block is in the tuning caddy in my corner. I tend to use the ones in my drawers the most! 🙂
Mary Dwyer says
Where do you keep your knives? I have a knife block. I only have 3 drawers for all of my utensils, measuring spoons, serving utensils, spatulas, etc.!
Your kitchen is so pretty! I’m so excited summer series recipes were delivered yesterday, love them all. I have been enjoying slow cooker and low cal so much. I like your hints about clutter, very helpful. I have found that every night everything has to put away before I can turn the dishwasher on.
I love your kitchen and am getting ready to move and want to implement minimal things on my counter top but just have a couple of questions. Where do you keep your coffee maker and do you not have a fresh fruit bowl lol? I guess you can have them in your pantry but my pantry at my new house is smaller than I have now. Thanks for helping me! Love your planner and all that you do!
Hi Laurel! So… I am SUPER lucky and have a teeny tiny space by my back door for my coffee pot (I was thinking today after posting that that I’m so lucky to have that little spot)! As far as fresh fruit, it stays in the fridge (bananas stay in my kitchenaid mixer bowl on counter hidden… remember I mentioned that I use everything for dual purposes? It really is true! Hope that helps a little at least!
Cheri B says
I am now going to go move my bananas. Thanks for that tip.
Ha Cheri! I was thinking I need to show you all my hidden banana spot one day! 🙂 Glad it helped!
Michelle S. says
Your kitchenaid banana holder is a great idea!
I will definitely use the kitchen aide bowl for that for sure- I guess it doesn’t slow down or speed up your ripening because it is stainless does it? I know weird question lol
Thanks so much for answering! You are truly inspirational! Laurel
I have decluutered so much since following you. I hate clutter anyway and things on my counters really irritate me so I only have my Keurig my Ninja and my soaps on my sink. I got the pretty white tray from Grove.Thats it. I hate clutter in my house too but my family likes to clutter so Im always picking up. But I dont mind that too much cause one day they wont be here to pick up after. 🙁 Thankyou for all your encouragement. I love watching you.
Hi Cyndie ~ goodness that means so much to me 🙂 I’m so thankful for you and love that it encourages you too!
Love your kitchen. I have been tossing things but now I think I should do it again. Could you tell me about your lamp in the kitchen?
Hi Carol! 🙂 It’s just a tiny lamp from Home Goods! Hope that helps (and yay for decluttering!) 🙂
I really have very little storage space and very little countertop space to prep on. Working in my tiny kitchen is really frustrating. We plane to remodel but we’re not sure we want to stay in our neighborhood. It’s changed a lot in the 24 years we’ve lived here. I need to declutter my kitchen and buy more useable casserole dishes and serving bowls! Thanks for the tips!
You’re so welcome Angel ~ thanks a bunch for reading PPP! Hugs!
Hi! I thought I would share a hopeful helpful tip. I, too, have a tiny kitchen space and try to keep my coffee pot under the sink when not in use. I use my wood cutting board across my sink when trying to prep food. Seems to help as a make shift counter top.
Jody Melton says
I love these tips and am inspired to take them on as a personal challenge! We are recent empty nesters and I’ve been working on cleaning cabinets to make room for the appliances. Now I’m going to do even more to get all the little items (oils & salt/pepper) off my counters too.
Cheering for you Jody! 🙂
Your kitchen is beautiful! I can’t believe the difference painting your cabinets and changing your countertops made. It looks way bigger now! I love your kitchen rules. I try to keep my countertops free of clutter, but this post made me want to clean out my cabinets again bc I know I have unused stuff in there. I have a whole wall of cabinets but they are shallow and not as much space as one would think. Thanks for all the great advice!
Thank you Stephanie! I’ve had to REALLY keep decluttering, because truly I have one wall of cabinets (everything on the right side is my dishwasher, so not much space over there)! Thanks so much for sharing (good luck as you declutter too!)
This comment “…and I don’t have tons of cabinet space in our kitchen” made me laugh. Have you seen your kitchen?!? It has a HUGE amount of cabinet space! (at least according to the pictures in this post) I’d venture to guess more than the vast majority of kitchens – definitely more than twice as much as in my kitchen!
I don’t have tons of kitchen cabinets either. It made me chuckle. So I have a few more items on the countertops because of this. But I can see how I can use her tips to work for me and my specific situation. Her kitchen doubles as her workspace so it’s all relative. I am so thankful for all of the tips and information I have found at PPP.
You’re sooo right Banni and I even thought about that as I was writing it, but we’ve lived in 3 other homes with MUCH smaller kitchens that had twice the space (its kind of crazy to me!) The bar is mostly fake cabinets, and there aren’t any cabinets on the right side of the kitchen except for under the sink (so really I have one wall of cabinets, most of which are too tall to use except for things we NEVER touch). I know it probablyu sounds super strange, but the kitchen appears to have so much more storage than it actually does. (However, I know many people have wayyyy smaller kitchens, so I’m definitely not complaining one bit!)
Because I do so much video, my camera stands, props, and supplies all also have to go in that space too (its almost like a mini “set” in here which is kind of crazy!) You’re so right though- it is definitely a good sized space and I’m so thankful for that!
I am the same way. I only have some things on my counter top cause I have no other place to put them. Love your kitchen n your recipes.
It DEFINITELY is hard with smaller space! I’ve limited myself to one baking dish in each size (I used to have maybe 10 glass baking dishes, now I have 4!) Thank you so much for sharing Tina!
Right- I have four upper cabinets (8doors) and 2 lower plus under the sink and 7 drawers. Small space! So I have to leave more out. But I limit what is out and deliberately wipe it down every day and use my kitchen well!