This is the fifth post in a series. For the first post, please start with the bedroom.
The kitchen is often referred to as the heart of the home. Realtors tell us that kitchens sell homes. We generally have high expectations for our kitchens, and we get frustrated with them if they aren’t working for us. You may have even convinced yourself that nothing short of a full-scale kitchen renovation will solve your kitchen issues. Well, maybe. But it may also be if you changed your thinking about your kitchen and approached it with a firm but gentle hand, you could change your relationship with your kitchen without knocking down walls and cabinets.
Kitchens can be difficult because they house a lot of stuff, they get heavy, almost constant use, and not everyone puts things back or cleans up after themselves. What can we do and where do we start?
The first thing to do is to observe how you are using the kitchen and the tasks you do over and over, and then try to simplify those tasks as much as possible. For example, is the dish soap handy, or do you have to move three things under the sink to get to it? Think about getting a pretty glass bottle to hold your dish soap by the sink so you can leave it out. What about the trash? If you have gotten a huge trash can thinking that it will limit how often you need to take it out, think about getting something smaller that you can hide in a cabinet, and take out more frequently. If it is smaller and not so heavy, it may be easier to do it more often, rather than wait until it is absolutely full, horribly stinky, and weighs 80 pounds! Go ahead and throw out (or donate to a food bank if still good) those cans of beets you got on sale that your family refuses to eat. Get rid of that pasta maker you never use. Try not to get into a hurry with this process. Do a little at a time to make things easier and more functional. One good thing leads to another.
The same can be said for cleaning your kitchen. You don’t have to do it all at once. If you have five minutes, take a soapy rag and wipe down cabinet fronts. Next time you are waiting for the coffee, get rid of old condiments in your refrigerator. It is not going to be perfect, and it is not going to be clean all at once, but little by little, you will develop a relationship with your kitchen that will begin to feed your soul as well as your body. If you still decide to remodel your kitchen, you will know much more about what you really want and need. What we are really talking about here is approaching your kitchen with love and patience, rather than getting angry with it and hitting it with a sledgehammer. Keep asking yourself “How can I make this better?” Also, just do this process alone for now without involving other members of the household. You are the artist. After things start to take shape, you may notice other people following in your footsteps.
Some concrete suggestions to show your kitchen some love are: replace old ratty dishtowels, shine your sink before you go to bed at night so you can enjoy walking into the kitchen in the morning, hide the garbage can if at all possible, and respect the soul of your kitchen by treating it to some interior design. For example, think about putting a plant in your kitchen, or artwork. And last but not least, buy yourself a new sponge for goodness’ sake.