Heart of the Home or Family Dumping Ground?

Is there a way to keep the busiest room in the house from becoming the family junkyard?

Everyone loves the kitchen. The kitchen is warm, full of food, and is the center of family life. At the same time, the kitchen is often a magnet for clutter because it has large flat surfaces, is right near the door, and is heavily used. In order to keep the kitchen clear for its primary purpose – food preparation – consider implementing these strategies:

Designate a home for frequently “dumped” items outside of the kitchen.  The key here is to keep items from entering the kitchen in the first place. For example:

  • Set up a basket to receive all incoming paperwork in the dining room
  • Hang a hook near the door for keys
  • Set up a charging station for electronics on a hall table
  • Hang hooks for coats in a hallway to keep them off kitchen chairs
  • Set out an attractive dish for change in the living room
  • If family members still dump items onto the counter, at least you have a specified location to which you can easily relocate them.


Set up Project Boxes for activities which take place on the kitchen table. These boxes should have a home of their own outside of the kitchen, such as on a shelf in a closet or tucked under a couch. The idea is that you can pull them out at “task time,” and then easily gather items to the appropriate box and get them out of the kitchen when it is time to cook dinner.  Consider boxes for:

  • Bill processing
  • Crafting
  • School work


Provide vertical options to keep surfaces clear. Large, empty horizontal surfaces invite people to unload belongings onto them. Make it just as easy to hang something as to put it down. Consider using:

  • Back of any doors (either hooks or “over the door” racks)
  • Inside of cabinets
  • Hallway walls


Establish boundaries. Above all, the kitchen is intended for food preparation. Unfortunately, the “gathering” nature of the kitchen sometimes makes this difficult. Ever notice how the mere act of standing and walking into the kitchen to cook to draws people into the space? Suddenly everyone needs to throw something away, make a pot of coffee or use the microwave. To avoid this, establish certain “cut off” times and spaces. For example:

  • Set an “only the cook” time from 5-7pm. During this time, family members are to stay out, unless they are helping prepare the evening meal.
  • Make certain counters “off limits,” such as the counter to the right and left of the sink and next to the fridge.
  • Involve family members in table set up. If the kids set the table, they will need to clear their stuff off first.


Restore order every night. This applies to every space in which you want to maintain order, but especially to the heavily used kitchen. Build 10 minutes into your evening routine for walking through the kitchen and putting items where they belong (e.g. into the spaces you’ve designed in the steps above.) Leaving the kitchen clear and ready to go is a gift to yourself that pays off every morning.

For more information on how to organize the kitchen, or any part of your life, contact The Seana Method.


Submitted by Seana Turner, founder and president of The Seana Method.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Glen K Dunbar February 12, 2013 at 02:41 PM
Wish we had a normal Family life or structure. As it is I am mentally/physically not able to care for myself even. Wife needs/wants to work. Nobody will come over and present her w/a job. My poor daughter suffers in poverty and living conditions that are less than desireable. All because "the system" wants Glen to swim on his own when He can't Amazing It really is. Mind boggling my life and how it turned out. GLEN


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