Clean & Clear Kitchen Counters

Kitchen counters that are devoid of any useful items, and have on them only a bowl of perfectly ripe oranges and a vase of colorful hydrangeas are certainly gorgeous, but I’ve found that having completely clean and clear kitchen counters is unrealistic in my house.  There is stuff we need to use in our everyday lives that is simply more convenient to keep out on the countertops.  
The clutter and ugliness of it all does get to me sometimes and I feel like I’m always seeking a way to streamline the messy counters.  In an effort to really pare down, clean, and organize over the holiday break, I think I found a happy medium.  On our kitchen counters now are only those items/small appliances that we tend to use everyday, plus some food items, and a jar of fresh flowers.  I’ve made the things we keep out as pretty as I can by putting them in nice containers and arranging them in a simple way.  I decanted items like protein powder and coffee beans so they look more like decor than bags of marketing.  As I walk through the kitchen now, I feel lighter and not as weighed down as I did before.  It’s a nice change.  

As I was removing the Christmas decor in the kitchen and going through and cleaning/purging/organizing the drawers and cabinets, I started to go deeper into analyzing what we need and what can go.  As I let go of things we no longer use, were duplicate or broken, or just didn’t belong, more empty space was created.  We do have a large kitchen with lots of storage, so that helps tremendously when it comes to putting things out of sight.  I remember the apartments I used to live in where there wasn’t much of an option for where to put things and there was barely enough counter space to prep food on!  In that situation, I had to be creative and work with what I had at the time.  
Here, I didn’t have a crazy amount of things on the counters before, but for instance, on the left side of the counter beside the stovetop, I used to keep a bunch of cutting boards and our knife block.  I didn’t really think about it, that’s just where they lived.  The top drawer had a knife organizer for our extra knives that the block didn’t hold and I realized I could fit all of the knives in it.  
The bottom drawer of the island was also newly emptied and large enough to hold our cutting boards, so there they went.  It’s a logical place for them too because I always use them on the island for food prep.  
On the right side of the stove, I only kept out the olive oil, salt and pepper, and kitchen utensils. The other oils and seasonings were put in the pantry or in the upper cabinet. The ceramic tool holder is from Williams Sonoma and is great because it has a wide mouth, great for holding lots of tools.  I keep the wooden and white plastic spatulas in one holder, and the black and silver in the other. 
Grocery store flowers add inexpensive beauty. Two bunches cut short fit perfectly in this mercury glass candle holder.  

Although I could have went more extreme and put the fruit and veggies in the pantry, I like having the visual reminder to eat fresh, healthy food.  I peel the stickers off the apples when I bring them home from the store and then wash them so they are grab and go.  They are stored in a rustic dough bowl that I found at our local holiday market. 
At the kitchen sink, I keep out my dish soap, hand soap, and the sponges I use throughout the day.  Having them under the sink would be neater, but realistically, I’d be bending over and opening the door a million times a day, so I’d rather keep them handy.  I refill my cute soap bottles with inexpensive soap too. 
I do a lot of dishes by hand and put out a drying mat that is kept in a drawer- as opposed to leaving it out, which is what I used to do.  It’s not photographed, but you’ll also normally see a dishtowel laying near the sink.  
The espresso machine is obviously getting used daily so it and all the accouterments need to be close at hand.  I keep them tidy on a small wooden cutting board.  Raw sugar is pretty in a mason jar and packets are kept in a white ceramic bowl.  Decanting the beans also makes them look better and stay fresher. 
The island is staying clear.  I even removed the cookbooks that were on the island shelves.  Some are in the pantry, I’m rereading three right now for new healthy ideas, and some were given to friends. 

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Since adding a “drop zone” in our entryway, the counters below the white dishes have been kept cleaner.  Now, I just have the toaster, bread basket, and a spot to charge our phones and iPads. When the charger isn’t in use, I keep it in the top middle drawer.  (Did you spy the little boy sock on the stairs? πŸ™‚
On the adjacent side is the breakfast, snack, and smoothie bar.  The giant Vitamix blender stays out because we use it daily and, again, it’s easier to just keep it out.
Decanted are the big bag of protein powder, nuts, and my oatmeal premixed so I just have to add water and heat it up.  Total lifesaver in the mornings. 
I keep the daily vitamins out too so that we remember to take them.  They are sitting on a Stella & Dot jewelry display tray.  I’ve learned not to put my daily gummy mulitvitamin in my vitamin holder because they dry out and get hard, hence the bottle.  The other bottles of vitamins I take are in the top drawer and I just refill my holder weekly.
These clean and clear kitchen counters have paved the way for other rooms in my home. In the dining room, wet bar, and entryway all decor has been removed and I’m just letting the spaces breathe for all of January.  I’m sure I’ll have some ideas for Spring decor soon enough, but for now, this is a fresh start for the new year- a definite blank slate!
How’s the cleaning and organizing coming at your house since the holidays? 
See more of my ORGANIZATION posts here
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  1. January 7, 2014 / 2:23 am

    What a beautiful kitchen you have -and white as I'd love mine to be!
    I am a " empty counter" kind of girl and I use trays to move things in and out of the cabinets, and since we have a pretty steady routine, it's easy to just pull the toaster and coffee tray out of the pantry at night and replace it for the cutting boards when time for prepping dinner comes around. I confess some nights I might be just too tired, but I love coming in to a clean, empty counter. πŸ™‚

    • January 7, 2014 / 2:23 pm

      The trays are a great idea Helena. I agree, waking up to a clean kitchen, particularly the sink, is awesome.

  2. January 7, 2014 / 2:25 am

    We have only lived here for six months, but I'm sure I'll find something to throw away (OCD at its finest)! Your kitchen is beautiful!

  3. January 7, 2014 / 2:50 am

    I have been so inspired by your blog and I have already started the projects. Kitchen drawers are clean, closets look great, and now I am starting to re do with new hardwood floors and granite kitchen counter tops! Love your blog!

    • January 7, 2014 / 2:24 pm

      That sounds so good Erica. Thanks for the compliment on my blog- I'm happy to hear you like it!

  4. January 7, 2014 / 2:56 am

    Where did you get the wooden fruit bowl? I'd love something like that to replace our broken fruit basket.

  5. January 7, 2014 / 3:12 am

    Love it! And love the idea to put the vitamins on the counter too. Sometimes I forget to take mine because they're not in view! Great job.

  6. January 7, 2014 / 3:59 am

    I love how beautiful and clean your kitchen looks. I'm going to take some of your tips and try applying them to our kitchen too πŸ™‚

  7. January 7, 2014 / 4:21 am

    Beautiful kitchen Megan! Such a fun post. I love the idea of keeping surfaces clean with no decor during January! Gives you time to enjoy a clutter free space and plan for the spring. I am anxious to start decorating my new spaces but am taking my time so I don't make purchases I regret. Wish you were here! I'd love to have you over to get your expert advice! And just to chat. πŸ™‚

    • January 7, 2014 / 2:27 pm

      I'm sure you are enjoying your gorgeous new home. The kitchen alone is beyond beautiful! I'll be popping in to see how the decor is coming along this year. πŸ™‚

  8. January 7, 2014 / 4:56 am

    I am OBSESSED with your kitchen! Every time you post about your kitchen, I fall more in love! It's perfect! Keeping the fruit out is a great idea.

  9. Courtney {a thoughtful place}
    January 7, 2014 / 3:04 am

    So pretty and fresh, Megan. Yes. We are living with lots of naked spaces and it feels so good. I am already bringing in some fresh spring like colors to just to make me happy around here. Always nice after the holidays. I started leaving our blender out, too. Just so much easier.

    • January 7, 2014 / 2:25 pm

      Spring colors make me think of yellow and green! The blender out is a must these days- oh well!

  10. Pam
    January 7, 2014 / 4:17 am

    I love the utensil crocks. How long ago did you buy them?
    Youre whole kitchen is magnificent!

  11. January 7, 2014 / 11:39 am

    Kitchen drawers are clean, closets look great, and now I am starting to re do with new hardwood floors. Love your blog! Sometimes I forget to take mine because they're not in view! Great job. I started leaving our blender out, too. Just so much easier. I have been so inspired by your blog.

    Diaper Bags

  12. Andrea Worley
    January 7, 2014 / 5:40 am

    Love how clean and put together it is, but still keeping out the things that you use daily! Good tip for living life and making your home work for you!!

  13. January 7, 2014 / 1:17 pm

    I am so jealous of your kitchen! It's gorgeous!!!

  14. January 7, 2014 / 1:56 pm

    I always struggle with counter space in our kitchen. I love our place but our kitchen isn't my faovrite room. We have a lot of storage but our cupboard are full to the brim. Nearly all of our appliances are out so I try to stick to the same color scheme to make them prettier. My ultimate dream would be to have a big kitchen with great wide cabinets with plugs in them to store things like my Nespresso machine and Kitchen aid…

    Style playground

  15. January 7, 2014 / 2:20 pm

    I would love to hear your tips for clearing the counters when you had limited space in an apartment. We are really struggling over here to keep things clear!

    • January 7, 2014 / 3:04 pm

      I came across a picture the other day of me making dinner in my tiny kitchen. I remember the tiny pantry and how limited the space was. Of course, then, before I was married, I didn't have as many things like big casserole pots and such. I hated having to put "kitchen" items in places like the hall closet. I tried to only have what I really needed and used every area as wisely as possible- high storage and a step stool helped.

  16. January 7, 2014 / 3:07 pm

    Working on my "52 Weeks Of Home Organization". It's a slow process, which works well for me. So far I've cleaned out the cabinets and drawers, but I'm so wishing we had our kitchen island. We need more space! Your kitchen is absolutely beautiful.

  17. January 7, 2014 / 3:32 pm

    Super envious of your large kitchen..ours is medium at best! But I have done a lot of the same as you to save counter space…decanted the flour, sugar and protein powder in nice matching jars with cute labels…use a small bowl in a corner for fresh fruit {I find my boys ask for it more when they can see it!} and the only appliances out are the blender, microwave (unfortunately ours lives on the counter), toaster and Keurig.

    • January 8, 2014 / 4:19 am

      Sounds like all the things we have out. My son asks for his vitamins because he can see them too!

  18. January 7, 2014 / 4:38 pm

    Looks fantastic Megan. I too do not like having things out on the counters that we do not use daily. As you know from the post I did for you several years back (boy time flies), I am all about having zones in a kitchen. Things just run much more smoothly, even with just Mark and I.

  19. January 7, 2014 / 6:04 pm

    I too have a white kitchen and really need to add some color to it. I love your idea of fresh flowers, I need to jump on that! I have been looking for a pretty set of canisters that also keep things fresh (not an easy task!). May I ask where you found yours? Those look like they would seal very well. Thanks, am loving your blog.

    • January 8, 2014 / 4:20 am

      I think I found those at Pier One Imports, but I have also seen them at Hobby Lobby. They do seal well.

    • January 8, 2014 / 1:53 pm

      Thank you!

  20. January 7, 2014 / 6:22 pm

    Such great tips! I actually pinned a bunch of the pictures as reminders of things to go back and register for. Thank you for all the great ideas and beautiful images.

  21. January 7, 2014 / 6:37 pm

    You've got one of the most beautiful homes I've ever seen. Ever. New follower for life here. I cannot wait to get home to organize and clean like a mad woman! Your home is the so fresh, clean and beautiful!! Thank you for your amazing-ness! I love the list and I can't wait to follow along πŸ˜€

  22. January 7, 2014 / 6:42 pm

    Love your kitchen Megan. I seriously became a fan after I saw it (sorry it wasn't your fabulous closet). I love the rugs in your kitchen. Where did you get them?

  23. January 7, 2014 / 6:45 pm

    Your kitchen is beautiful! It's so clean and uncluttered! I really want to do some decluttering in our kitchen too!

  24. January 7, 2014 / 7:04 pm

    This post was inspiring. I pinned many of the images as reminders of things to add to the wedding registry. Thank you for the great ideas and beautiful images.

  25. January 7, 2014 / 7:21 pm

    I love clean kitchen counters! I try to keep ours clear but it almost never happens.

  26. marty (A Stroll Thru Life)
    January 7, 2014 / 2:00 pm

    Your kitchen is fabulous and I love how clean the counters are. I need to eleminate a few things I have on mine. Love it all. I would love for you to link up to my Inspire Me Tuesday party – – - Hugs, Marty

  27. Shelia
    January 7, 2014 / 2:29 pm

    I love your beautiful kitchen! It does look so fresh and clean. I have a little bitty kitchen but have been doing the same thing – decluttering my countertops too. Makes me feel better!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia πŸ˜‰

  28. January 7, 2014 / 9:08 pm

    I love seeing how you organize your kitchen. I love clean and clear countertops too.

  29. January 7, 2014 / 10:13 pm

    You have a beautiful kitchen. Thanks for sharing these fantastic tips. It's refreshing to see a more practical way of keeping things clear on the countertops. Some things you just use everyday and that's why they wind up on the counter instead of in their "proper place," so I really appreciate that your tips reflected that reality. Your home can't look magazine perfect everyday. πŸ™‚

    • January 8, 2014 / 4:21 am

      That's what I was going for. Magazine kitchens look beautiful in magazines but aren't practical for everyday life.

  30. January 7, 2014 / 11:58 pm

    Love your kitchen. Very inspiring. I love a clean look and well organized kitchen. Where did you purchase the glass canisters? I love the size.

  31. January 8, 2014 / 1:14 am

    Your kitchen is beautiful. I love, love, love a white kitchen! Are your floors a dark mahogany, or are they black?

  32. January 8, 2014 / 8:05 am

    We keep our gummy vitamins & soft calcium pills (in wrappers) in mason jars – they stay soft & I like how it looks.

    Your counters look great – hope I can get mine more cleared off soon!

  33. Kitty and June
    January 8, 2014 / 2:56 am

    Your kitchen is an absolute dream boat! I love taking down my holiday decorations, purging and just leaving January fresh too. I feel after Xmas stuff EVERYWHERE, it's nice to have simple for a while!

  34. Dream Mom
    January 8, 2014 / 5:22 am

    I don't keep much on my counters at all; I prefer them clean with very little on them. I have a galley kitchen so it's better to keep them clear so I have some prep space.

    I liked the bread boards in your kitchen but it looks nice both ways. I'd probably store the Vitamix under the counter since it looks a little bulky. I use my Blendtec daily but I just keep it in the cabinet right below where I use it. Two suggestions for the sink: I store my dish soap in the upper cabinet next to the sink-less bending over and then I don't have it sitting on the counter. Inside that cupboard, I keep any other cleaning tools I have-that way they don't sit out. I don't use sponges though. Second, I purchased a glass lotion dispenser to store my hand soap in on the counter-I had some vinyl letters made that say, "Soap" on it and it looks a little nicer than the typical plastic soap containers. Very pretty kitchen though-nice and spacious too!

  35. January 8, 2014 / 1:28 pm

    I love this fresh and clean look! I hate our old oak cabinets, we need new counter tops, and back splash…. So yea, a whole new kitchen LOL. Our microwave and toaster oven take up the entire counter space next to the fridge, I cannot wait to do a mounted microwave above the stove…. Your design is such an inspiration, and I think it will help us envision our remodel! Probably won't be for a couple years since we just bought the house 2 months ago, haha! I would love to leave the blender on the counter too, but just not enough space! Ray loves his knife block so I don't think I will be able to talk him into getting rid of it… sigh! Can't wait to see what you have planned for the spring!

  36. January 8, 2014 / 2:58 pm

    Beautiful kitchen- It is so hard to keep the kitchen clean in my house it seems to be the dumping spot for mail and everything! I love the vitamins on the tray(a place for everything) Very nicely done!

  37. January 8, 2014 / 9:02 pm

    Your beautiful kitchen blows me away every time.. and to have it so organized is the icing on the cake! I would love to cook in there!
    Brandi @ Nest of Bliss

  38. January 9, 2014 / 9:07 am

    Lovely images….Really amazing kitchen. We have also a lots of bio chemicals to clean the kitchen like Bio Clean, Grease Trap ST3,they are really effective.Try this..They have amazing results. For more information Visit Us.

  39. January 9, 2014 / 9:11 am

    Very Nice images…Really lovely kitchen.I like it. We have also a lots of Bio Chemicals to make kitchen clean and hygienic like Grease Trap ST3,Bio Clean.Try these chemicals,they have amazing results.For more information Visit Us.

  40. May 26, 2014 / 1:47 am

    Are your countertops Marble? I have been wanting them but so many kitchen stores are discouraging me….I love the way your kitchen looks!

  41. June 30, 2014 / 11:11 pm

    Love your kitchen! Any chance you would know where your lighting fixtures are from?

  42. August 5, 2014 / 11:15 pm

    How are your marble countertops holding up

  43. March 11, 2018 / 5:58 pm

    Where did you get the glass jars with black tops from? Thank you!

  44. Sara
    May 16, 2020 / 3:47 pm

    Hi! What color are your kitchen cabinets and your walls?

    • Megan
      May 17, 2020 / 11:36 am

      Hi Sara! That paint color is Sherwin Williams Divine White.

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