Achieving the Holy Grail Part 3: Finding Homes for the Homeless Clutter Living on my Counters

My journey toward achieving a clutter free dining table and kitchen counter has not been a quick, easy fix. The clutter that lands on my horizontal surfaces usually has no other homes, is piled there by other family members, or is a low priority on my to-do list and thus gets ignored.

However, I have reached a point where I cannot ignore these piles any longer because they impact my happiness and sense of peace in my home.

Since I don’t have a budget that can accommodate moving to a larger house or calling in a contractor to add on an addition, I am forced to think outside the box for finding permanent homes for what lands on my table and counters.

One organizing solution emerged from a plan I had to contain my kids’ toys. I bought an IKEA shelf that my 4 and 1 year olds could easily access, but it required moving around the furniture on my first floor (it is an open floor space). The end result was that my dining table was moved across the space so that it was no longer next to my entry door. I was amazed by how much stuff no longer landed on my table because it was no longer the first horizontal space we encountered right after walking through the door. 

I also made sure to have a small table put next to the dining table where I could place a legal size stacking tray for mail and artwork to live immediately after reviewing them at the table. By giving my papers an alternate but just as convenient landing zone, I have been able to easily reroute the amount of paperwork landing on my dining table.

Another strategy I tried was examining what was on my kitchen counters and asking myself, “Does this really have to live here and is it possible to make room for it somewhere else in the kitchen”? I know that I, along with my clients, tend to forget what is on the counters because everything blends into the background. I challenged the current set up in my kitchen by finding an alternate home for my bread so that I could move a 1 x 2 ft. bread box off my counter. By putting my bread in a nearby cupboard that up to that point had only held dishes, I was able to free up not only physical but also visual space because the bread box had always felt like a hulking obstruction sitting on my counter.

While I have made significant strides in achieving my goal for clear kitchen counters and a dining table, I still have more progress to make. Join me in my next post as I regale my husband and children with what it takes to develop new habits and house rules regarding what can live on the counters and table, and what can be left there temporarily.

It will be an interesting conversation with my family figuring out how long papers can stay on the table, where they need to be moved to when necessary, and most importantly, who is responsible for moving clearing it off.

Missed any posts in this series and want to catch up?  

About Gabriela Burgman

Gabriela's mission is to empower her clients with the tools and motivation they need to get and stay organized. Prior to becoming a Professional Organizer, Gabriela worked in a photograph archive as well as several university archives, assisting offices, administrators, and retiring academics to sort through their files for preservation or disposal. She became a professional organizer in 2007 working as an independent consultant before joining Living Peace. When Gabriela is not learning new ways to organize photos or paper both physically and electronically, she is spending time on what matters most to her: visiting with family and friends, reading a good mystery book, or cooking a tasty meal.

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