Let’s be honest: Your kitchen counters are never going to stay completely clear. In fact, they shouldn’t—they’re literally designed to hold things.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that our definition of “things” has become way too inclusive lately, and most of the items were meant to be short-term solutions but have turned into long-term tenants (and may be inching toward earning squatters rights). When most of us walk into our kitchens, we’re greeted by everything from cutting boards and dish-drying racks (which do belong somewhere in the kitchen) to takeout menus and unopened mail (which do not).
No more “Bless This Mess.” It’s time to repress it. We’re not advocating a full-on KonMari kitchen. But the items below truly merit permanent residency on your countertops; the rest should probably be stowed in a cabinet or drawer until you actually need to use them.
You know those commercials where adult children back home for the holidays are awakened from their deep slumber, thanks to the enticing aroma of freshly brewed java? They didn’t have to shuffle out to the kitchen, open a cabinet, pull out an appliance, fill a carafe and fiddle with knobs and buttons … for delayed gratification.
Best-case scenario: Coffee is preprogrammed, freshly brewed and ready to greet you when you stumble and grumble out of your lair. That can’t happen unless the coffeemaker gets a star spot on your counter.
If your sink doesn’t have a built-in soap dispenser—ahem—you’ll need either a bar of soap or a container of hand wash close by to help eradicate grime and germs, especially before preparing meals. Bar soap gets a bad rap, but despite what you might have heard, it’s not “germy” just because multiple people put their hands all over it (or vice versa). Bar soap’s minimal cardboard packaging is often more environmentally friendly than the plastic bottles used for liquid hand soap, and its concentration means it lasts a long time. (Then again, liquid hand soaps often include moisturizers lacking in most bar hand soaps.)
Smaller appliances like toasters and hand-held mixers can easily be stowed away between uses. But some stand mixers weigh more than 25 pounds. We’re all for fitting in a little exercise during the day, but we draw the line at having to snatch, clean and jerk something—something that weighs as much as a 2-year-old—from the back of a low cabinet if we want to bust out a batch of cookies.
Some fruit ripens better on a counter than in the refrigerator (among them, apricots, avocados, bananas, kiwis, mangoes, peaches and plums). And melons actually lose flavor if you keep them in the fridge. Added bonus: Keeping fresh fruit on the counter makes it a convenient choice when your family’s searching for a snack, which can lead to healthier eating habits (but only if you’ve stashed the chips and aforementioned cookies away in the pantry).