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How To Make A Minimalist Kitchen So You Actually Have Room To Cook

minimalist kitchen

Imagine a kitchen with a smooth, uncluttered work surface: dishes organized by color, pots and pans within easy reach, and silverware nestled into perfectly-sized spaces.

Now, in this imaginary kitchen, pretend you’re about to cook.

You open the fridge to find all of your foodstuffs in clear, organized containers. Nothing is hiding behind an old carton of milk or decaying cantaloupe.

Not only that.

Your pantry and spices are so organized, there's no way you're mistaking salt for sugar in the cookies this time.

That my friend, is a description of a perfectly designed minimalist kitchen.

Containers and plastic bags with frozen vegetables in refrigerator

Clear container organization enables for quick and easy location of what you need. Image By Leonid

If your kitchen would make Gordon Ramsey lose his mind:

We have great news for you.

You have more room than you think. But to use it the best way, you need to get in the right mindset. And then take steps to create the minimalist kitchen you never thought possible.

Digging Into Stuff's Past

It seems odd to start an article about creating a minimalist kitchen talking about consumerism, but stick with me.


To truly understand minimalism and how it came to be, we must look at the driving force behind it -- and that was consumerism.

Food Manufacturing Machines

Quick production of goods is possible due to machinery like this. Image By Formatube

It all started during the Industrial Revolution.


Before then, people made things from scratch and made to order.

No inventory.


Then machines came along and made a bunch of stuff, and manufacturers were like: What are we gonna do with all this stuff?

So, advertising agencies began designing ways to make people want to buy all the new products.


They met that goal. We need the latest and greatest.


That's right: We've been brainwashed.

Minimalism begins

You know where all of this stuff-collecting behavior led. Us consumer people gave up large chunks of time to work at jobs we hate to pay for stuff we no longer want.


Nuns and monks have always been on the minimalism train, but lately more people are catching on.


THESE BOOKS ARE GETTING EVERYONE'S ATTENTION:

Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Fumio Sasaki's Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism

In 2017, 24 percent of Americans said all they needed to be happy were the essentials.

But minimalism isn’t only about getting rid of debt and excess things:

it’s also about happiness.


Minimalists say that when they rid their lives of unnecessary things, they gain a certain freedom. They aren’t weighed down by clutter anymore, and they free up time because they don’t have to spend so much of it taking care of all that stuff.

Considering we spend so much time in the kitchen, it only makes sense to start there.


The average American spends two-and-a-half days each year looking for lost items. That costs U.S. households about $2.7 billion each year in replacement costs.

The Minimalist Lifestyle Explained

As you can imagine, minimalism isn’t just about getting rid of clutter. It’s a way of life. A lifestyle that leads to clear minds and lives by getting rid of unnecessary things.

BACK TO BASICS

It’s about getting rid of all the things that don’t add value to your life and only holding on to the things that do.

Less is more, said Mies va​​n der Rohe a long time ago, and today’s minimalists embrace his philosophy.

In other words, they believe that by eliminating the physical, mental, and emotional clutter, we will have more time for friends, family, hobbies, and the other things that bring us joy.

Minimalism Moves Into The Kitchen

couple in kitchen

You’ve probably heard a lot about how to live a minimalist lifestyle: reducing your wardrobe, folding your clothes all tiny, and budgeting your money like a minimalist.

All of these things are important, but we're concentrating on the kitchen.

The heart of the house

Your kitchen doesn’t have to be cluttered and messy. By creating a minimalist kitchen, you have a place for everything.


Bottom line: When you need something, you will know exactly where it is.

clean kitchen

Start By Decluttering Your Kitchen

If you don’t already have a minimalist kitchen, chances are you need to begin the process by decluttering your kitchen.


Don’t worry — it’s not as scary as it sounds.


Here are five steps to get you started:

groceries

Start with the food -- Grab a large trash bag and throw out anything bad. Give away or donate any unexpired food you won't use.

kitchen set

Inventory your kitchen appliances -- Pull out an empty box and put anything in it that you haven’t used in six months or more. Store them for six months. If you don't use them in that time, sell, donate, or toss.

breakfast

Reduce your dishes -- Start by having one dish for every person in your family. That’s it. If you want to keep more dishes for those elusive dinner parties, pack them neatly in a box and store them in the garage.

The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. This is not only the simplest but also the most accurate yardstick by which to judge. -- Marie Kondō,

Once you're done, organize what remains.


You will probably need to make some purchases, such as a Lazy Susan with bins so you can make the best use of that corner cabinet, or draw down space-saving spice racks, or pots and pans organization systems.

Keep your minimalist kitchen clean and tidy

It doesn’t make sense to do all the work to declutter your kitchen only to have it messed up again.


To prevent this:


Make it a daily habit to

1

Clean your dishes after each meal

2

Pick up clutter as soon as it lands and put it away

3

Throw away food as soon as it reaches its expiration date

4

Pull out any clutter that sneaks into your kitchen cabinets

Minimalist Kitchen Equipment You Should Have

When operating a minimalist kitchen, you will need certain items to ensure you can always prepare your food the way the recipe calls for.

But here’s the thing:


You don’t need a lot of things to make great food. In fact, if you have the basics, such as the items on the list below, you can cook anything you choose. Here are a few things every minimalist kitchen should have:


(designer_start) Please put these on a couple of recipe card. Maybe four different ones arranged in a square:

  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Cups
  • Glasses
  • Forks, spoons, and knives
  • At least one quality knife
  • Spatula
  • Coffee pot (optional)
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Glass storage containers for leftovers
  • Blender or food processor
  • Slow cooker
  • A large pot, small pot, and skillet (cast iron)
  •  A stirring and serving spoon
  • Metal baking sheet
  • Glass baking dish with lid
  • Loaf pan
  • Oven mitt and potholder
  • Strainer
  • Can opener
  • Cutting board
  • Vegetable peeler

According to the National Association of Professional Organizers, we never use 80 percent of the things we keep. And that includes the stuff in your kitchen.


Of course, everyone is different, and your list may not look the same.


Here's the point:

Only keep what you use.

The Minimalist Kitchen Décor And Color

When most people think of a minimalist kitchen, they imagine a white kitchen with very few colors. But not all minimalists use only white in their kitchen décor.


Here are some minimalist kitchen color palettes and design trends to consider:

Charcoal or navy over black

This monochromatic color palette showcases a restrained, sophisticated style that pairs beautifully with a minimalist kitchen design. It adds depth and interest.

Use natural materials

No matter which color palette you choose, pair it with natural materials such as marble and wood. Materials made from unique textures and colors will add another dimension.

Statement lighting adds interest

Lighting is an important aspect of minimalist kitchen design. When you add a statement piece, such as a sleek or unusually-shaped chandelier, your kitchen will stand out.

Blank spaces are art

When designing a minimalist kitchen, the spaces you leave blank can serve as art. Don’t think you have to fill up every space.

Leaving white space will give your minimalist kitchen an airy and clean feel.

Add greenery

Add a pop of interest to your minimalist kitchen by incorporating greenery. For example, a tall vase filled with greenery on your uncluttered white marble countertop adds visual interest and contrast.

image by Peter Heeling via: pexels

Choose display items carefully

Most minimalist kitchens feature open shelving, but you will have to choose what you display on them carefully. Display dishware that is unusually shaped or use it add a pop of color to the room.

Use closed storage over open shelves

Having a minimalist kitchen means you want it to look clean and tidy all the time. By opting to include all white closed shelving above your open shelves, you will have extra space to store the things you don’t want sitting on the countertops.

Ditch the hardware

Remember, less is more.

If you don't need cabinet and drawer hardware, skip it.

Organize And Stock

A beautiful minimalist kitchen is a joy, but to get the full benefit from it, it also needs to be functional. And that happens with organization.


The three main areas you will need to organize are your

Pantry

Refrigerator

Freezer

Here are some tips to help:

The pantry

Keep your kitchen pantry stocked and organized like this:

  • 1
    Buy what you eat
  • 2
    Store more of what you use the most
  • 3
    Create a meal routine
  • 4
    Watch expiration dates

Instead of grocery shopping every month and buying a lot of food you have to squeeze in your minimalist kitchen pantry, shop every week.


  • Make a list
  • Use the list
  • Store everything in containers

When shopping more frequently, you will only need to buy enough to last until the next week.

Pantry stock list

Using these methods will help keep your pantry organized. Now let’s talk about some staple pantry items you should always have in your minimalist kitchen.

  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Baking supplies
  • Pasta
  • Canned or boxed tomatoes
  • Pasta
  • Cooking oils
  • Dried fruit
  • Oats or cereals
  • Peanut butter or other nut butters
  • Canned meats
  • Bread
  • Crackers
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Snacks
  • Spices

Of course, this list will be slightly different for each person, based on taste, but you get the idea.


Don't forget the fridge

You will store all of your fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses and other perishable items in your fridge, so it’s important that it’s organized.

full fridge

Remember:


Get rid of things as they expire and only keep what you eat.

  • Check the expiration dates and perishables and throw away what’s bad
  • Wipe down all jars
  • Wipe down all of the shelves
  • Take out the drawers and clean them
  • Don’t forget to clean the shelves on the door
  • Grab your meal plan for the week and shop
  • Put the groceries away according to the meal plan, putting the foods you plan to make at the beginning of the week in front
  • If you can see your leftovers, you will be more likely to eat them, so store them in glass
  • Check your leftovers regularly to make sure they're still good. If not, toss 'em.
  • Like goes with like, enough said.
  • Take 10 minutes every day and clean your fridge.

Love your freezer

If you’re trying to cut down on waste, your freezer is your new best friend. A minimalist kitchen freezer is used for storing frozen items, but the way you do that will help reduce waste.


Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your freezer.

Break down portions

For example, if you purchase a package of four chicken breasts, but there are only two of you, break it down into two packages.

Store extra sauces

Great sauces are difficult to make, and just because you don’t use all it, that doesn’t mean it should go to waste. Instead, store about 2 1/2 cups of the sauce per freezer storage bag and use it within 2 months.

Freeze fresh herbs

Don’t you hate it when you buy or pick fresh herbs for a recipe and don’t use them all? Luckily, you don’t have to waste them.

Do this instead:


  1. Put a pinch of them in an ice tray compartment
  2. Add olive oil
  3. Put it in your freezer until it’s solid
  4. Take out the herb cubes and put them in a plastic freezer bag

You can use them for up to two weeks.

Crazy fact:

The average household has 300,000 items. Granted that’s everything from paper clips to furniture, but still — that’s a lot of stuff!

Storage And The Minimalist Kitchen

A minimalist kitchen is all about efficiency combined with spacious aesthetics.

What we mean is:


You want to use your space wisely instead of having things cluttering up your countertops.


But here's the problem:


Not everyone has a ton of space. Don't worry, where there's a will and all that...

Here's how to maximize the space in your minimalist kitchen.

Racks

rack

Kitchen racks are a great way to store things in your minimalist kitchen because you can hang them wherever it’s most convenient:


under cabinets, on the side of the fridge, at the end of a counter, from the rafters


Racks store all sorts of things such as pots and pans, dishes, knives, wine bottles, and more.

Use nesting

nesting bowl and plants in a pot

When you stack things on top of each other, you will save a lot of space in your minimalist kitchen.

Think:

  • Nesting bowls, plates, and saucers
  • Stackable storage containers
  • Spanish wine glasses, cookware, and bake sets
  • Anything that stacks and fits neatly inside one another

Invest in the basics

Invest in plates and bowls that are classic and can be used for multiple occasions from an informal lunch to an elegant dinner.

Consider quality linen napkins that double for a dinner party or an outdoor picnic.

And nothing's more classic than a good ceramic bowl to rise bread dough or serve a salad to your family.

10 Minimalist Rules To Live By

Now that you understand the basics of how to set up and run your minimalist kitchen, you need some rules.


Rule #1

Keep the countertops clear -- everything should have a place

Rule #2

Combine open shelving with cabinets -- this gives you private space to store the things that don’t look good on open shelves.

Rule #3

The one in, one out rule -- if you want to bring in something new, you must identify something you will get rid of to make room for it.

Rule #4

The don’t put it down, put it away rule -- put things away instead of putting them down

Rule #5

Keep your fridge surface clean -- when your fridge is covered with artwork, magnets, or grocery shopping lists, it clutters up the room

Rule #6

Clean every day -- take 10 minutes every day to tackle a job, every little bit adds up

Rule #7

Find pile alternatives -- hang pots on the wall, hang trash bags on a roller, use a magnetic strip for knives

Rule #8

Give yourself one messy drawer -- it's okay, we won't tell

Rule #9

Make a morning and evening ritual -- the habit will keep clutter under wraps

Rule #10

Do one little thing to improve your kitchen before you leave it -- every time

Your Minimalist Kitchen Awaits

It is easy to feel overwhelmed at the prospect, but you can do this. Just think about how wonderful you will feel to finally have the kitchen you’ve always dreamed of.


Minimalism is a state of mind, and once you wrap your head around that, it will be easy to see what stays and what gets the boot.


All it takes is a little commitment and patience.

minimalist kitchen

And maybe if you remember this when looking to get rid of that wedding gift Great Aunt Bessy gave you 22 years ago:

The true purpose of a present is to be received. -- Marie Kondō

It will be easier to let go.


Have you already converted your old, cluttered kitchen into a minimalist kitchen? If so, we would love to hear about your experience and any wisdom you want to share with our readers in the comments below!

woman happy in kitchen
Suzanne Kearns
 

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