When it comes to kitchen countertop organization, how do you balance what you need to make the countertops function for the way you need to prep and cook food on a daily basis, while not sacrificing the pretty decorating aspects, especially if you have limited counter space?
When I started to eat a whole food plant based diet to enrich my health, the importance of getting organized in the kitchen, the proper mindset around cooking, along with the right kitchen tools and setup became the focus of how I set up my kitchen, specifically my limited countertop space.
Without making these a priority, my cooking efforts would have become too time consuming and after awhile it may have seemed like too much to stick with eating plant-based.
I wanted to be successful and had to change how I thought about my kitchen countertop organization in a way that would make food prep and cooking as efficient as possible.
If you were like I used to be, a non-cook, when it came to my kitchen, my focus was all about how I could make them look pretty. How the counters functioned for me was secondary since I didn’t cook much.
I cared more about my latest HomeGoods decor find that I could place on my kitchen counters over the “setting up” of the counters in a way to make cooking daily meals on those counters ultra-efficient.
Now, since changing to a whole food, plant-based diet where I make most of the food I eat from scratch, I need my kitchen to be a highly functioning space.
Many people can create a 100% functional plant based food prep kitchen and do not care one bit about how the space is decorated. I see kitchens like this on many plant-based cooking videos I watch.
I am not that kind of person :-) My brain needs to see the pretty along with the highly functioning aspects of all the rooms in my house.
I have been working on a kitchen counter organization plan for some time now in my head on how I can create a space that is equally efficient for the way I now prepare and cook food that is decoratively appealing at the same time.
If I had a large kitchen, it would be easier to create this balance, but my kitchen is small, so I have to do a lot of “give and take” to get the right balance of function vs. pretty as well as clutter-free for my personal style of cooking and decorating.
I am still dreaming of how we could add an addition to the side of the house to make the kitchen much larger and custom designed for my wants and needs, but that will have to stay a dream for awhile.
One of the first things I did to make my small kitchen function better when I started on my whole food, plant-based journey was to add large cutting board to the metal cart on wheels I use as a kitchen island. It was the best idea as we use the cart and cutting board on the top all the time.
In a recent post, I wrote about the tools I use every day to prepare plant-based meals. One item was my Vitamix. It is an amazing high-speed blender that sits out on the counter and gets used daily, but it does not process a combination of non-liquid food as well.
What I needed was a food processor. I hesitated to purchase one though for a few reasons:
- Where would I even put one on my limited kitchen counter space?
- If I bought a small food processor, it wouldn’t process larger “batch” quantities of food at one time, so that would be of no help.
- If I got a larger one, I would have to store it in a cabinet and bring it out every time I wanted to use it. Not efficient!
I looked into getting the new food processor attachment for the Vitamix, but the thing is huge, expensive and so complex and would have to be stored in a cabinet.
I like simple. If it takes too much effort to drag it out every time I use it, that is not efficient. It would end up not being used.
My friend Gail and her husband recently built a new home. I love how she designed a big open kitchen with a walk-in double door deep pantry that has a wrap around counter inside with a backsplash complete with electrical outlets for small appliances. ( I wish I took a photo to show you) It is the best place to easily use counter appliances, but keep them hidden when not in use that keep your countertops clutter-free.
My only option for keeping things easily accessible is to keep them out on the counter.
My other problem when placing any item on the kitchen counters is that the clearance from the counter to the bottom of the wall cabinets is only 15″.
I have to make sure that everything I use – appliance or decorative is short enough to fit underneath – the coffee maker, etc. As you can see the only place for the Vitamix is right next to the sink as it is taller than 15″.
When I decided a food processor would make food prep easier, I did quite a bit of research and found one that I could live with.
I bought this Cuisinart Pro Custom 11. It is powerful, simple to use and also simple in its design, plus the mixing bowl is wide enough to hold a good amount of food and short to fit under the cabinets. And best of all, it comes with a flat top so I don’t need to use the larger more complex chute top when I just want to mix food together to make plant-based burgers and more.
I have only had it a week and am loving it. It is easy to clean too.
It came in a few colors. I chose the silver and black that would coordinate with the Vitamix since they are now going to be countertop buddies.
A Tip on How to Style Limited Space on Kitchen Countertops
When it came time to add the pretty to the limited space on my kitchen counters, I found that making use of the corners on the counter were the best spots as the corner areas are not used as much since they are hard to reach.
These are the areas where I have tried to add the pretty that keeps my kitchen and me happy, decor wise. :-)
In the corner of the L-shaped peninsula, I created a vignette for a small lamp, and candle. I love how the lamp looks at night in the kitchen.
For a piece of pretty that is also functional, I decided to place our utensils in a caddy for the summer months. Come fall, they may go back in the utensil drawer.
Over on the opposite corner – I replaced a green desktop organizer with a new wood organizer. I use this area as a place for paperwork.
I bought the 12-cup coffee maker a few years ago. It was hard to find a silver one that was under 15″ in height.
Next to this corner is a what I call my no-prep area. I keep cookbooks here, mail to go out, keys as well as little stuff like sunglasses in a basket and flowers.
This is the last of my hydrangeas from the yard. Just this week I found the low glass vase. It is one of the items in the Studio McGee Collection at Target.
The vase filled with flowers is low enough to fit perfectly under the cabinets. :-) I am sure it will become a part of the kitchen from now on as I always like to have fresh flowers in the kitchen.
On the cooktop counter, I have 20″ of clearance between the counter and bottom of the wall cabinets. I have used different tiered stands in one corner over the years to hold veggies and fruit and recently added a decorative wood bowl.
This stand is the largest and my favorite.
I have to keep the opposite corner clear so I have a place to put things that come and go from the oven.
It is also where I put the toaster when needed. I hung the framed art on the tiles using Command Picture Hanging Strips.
My kitchen is functioning better now for its size. What makes me even happier is that I didn’t let the decor vanish as the functional items began to take over.
Style matters! So if you are trying to eat better and find the need to make the meal prep and cooking easier, you can have both pretty and functional by first figuring out exactly what you need to be efficient and then add the pretty in the least used areas on the counter.
These kinds of pretty arrangements bring me joy when I enter the room… for me and maybe you too, adding pretty in balance with function is worth striving for.
I am still dreaming of my ideal kitchen and will share those plans with you soon.
Want to Find Out More About The Way I Eat?
Changing the way I eat all started when I picked up a copy of the quarterly magazine, Forks Over Knives back in 2019. Reading the issue and then their website and documentary on Netflix, helped me so much on figuring out what to eat and how to prepare whole foods in healthy ways that taste good.
I recently learned that the name, Forks Over Knives means to eat healthy foods so you will keep the surgeons scalpel away. I thought the knife part meant that you didn’t need a knife anymore to cut meat. :-)
The Summer 2021 issue of the magazine is in stores now. It has two different covers. At some retailers, you might see a sandwich; in others you’ll see a grilled tostada. Either way, the interior of the magazine is the same: 100 pages of expert tips, beautiful photos, inspiring success stories, and 72 deliciously healthy summer recipes that will inspire you if you are thinking about about adding more plant-based foods to your diet.
You can find the magazine on newsstands in the U.S. and Canada, and at major U.S. retailers including Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons, Safeway, Publix, Target, and Barnes & Noble. You can also get a copy from the Forks Over Knives website.
Next week I will share another WFPB recipe that I now can make in half the time in my new food processor.
Do you have any organization tips on how you style your kitchen countertops?