Designed for clutter

I have never encountered a kitchen that wasn’t designed for clutter. There are nearly always cupboards in them that are too deep or high for practicality. These spaces are designed to store seldom used items. Everyone knows that the things you use all the time are the ones that are in the easy to reach places. In the fronts of the deeper cupboards and in the ones at the most convenient height. So I think it is entirely possible that everything else, at the very least, boarders on clutter and in most cases is clutter.

Yesterday I was doing some reorganising of my craft supplies and tools. Part of my plan was to rehouse some of them to the cupboard below the kitchen bench where I do my crafting. In order to do this said kitchen cupboard also needed rearranging. Most items in this cupboard are used regularly, so needed to be within easy reach. So to accommodate craft supplies I needed to install an extra shelf. In the end I was left with three shelves with most items neatly arranged to the front and nothing much in the back.

This is what got me thinking that kitchen cupboards really are designed for clutter. How much stuff do you have lingering in the far reaches of your kitchen cupboards that are rarely if ever used? How much would it really matter if you decluttered these items? And I mean, really matter. How much, just in case or, I use this only on special occasions or I used to use that, stuff are you hanging on to in your kitchen? Run a really critical eye over the murky depths of those cupboards this week and see if you can find at least a few things that you could happily live without.


To put things into perspective, these shelves are two feet (60cm) deep. The plates on the top shelf take up less than half of the shelf. And I am also considering decluttering some of those plastic containers. Although they all get used, they rarely all get used at once.

Today’s Mini Mission

Inspect the tools stored in your garage or other work space. There are usually a few that are a rarely if ever used. Declutter at least one.

Eco Tip for the Day

Save water and electricity ~think twice about how often you really need to wash your clothes and linens. Underpants and perhaps socks are the only clothing item the really need to be washed after one use. Most other clothing items are usually clean and fresh enough to wear twice unless badly soiled the first time round or if the weather is extremely warm and/or humid. Sheets need only be washed once a week at most while towels can last up to a week provided they are air dried between use.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Mini Mission ~ Friday 22Dec2017 Declutter a couple of old shabby shoes that you no long choose to use.
  • How little we really need Every time I go on a long vacation I am reminded of how little one really needs to live a comfortable and functional lifestyle. My husband and I often stay in Airbnb places when on […]
  • Getting the stuff out of your home It has come to my attention, both through comments on my blog and through real life experience, that one of the issues people have with their clutter, once they finally decide to be rid of […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. You are so right Colleen. It isn’t just the kitchen either. Our linen closets are really deep and make it very easy to hang on to things we never use. It is as though our minds can’t deal with unused space. I’m so glad that now most of our kitchen and linen shelves have lots of blank space.

    • Hi Deb, yes I agree about linen closets. Funnily enough though the linen closets in this and our last home were actually quite small. And yet most of those linen closets have house more other stuff than linen because I have so little of it these days. I wouldn’t mind getting rid of some of that other stuff though but the choice isn’t entirely mine.

      • One thing I was excited about was that Mom was very much for getting rid of a lot of the linens we had. Once we move to retirement housing we will get rid of more because there is guest housing there and we don’t have to keep things for them it is provided with the room.

    • Deb J,
      My sister and I were just talking about the hall linen closet in the home we both grew up in. The shelves were so deep (36 inches), and my depression baby mom kept every inch of that space full of clutter. My sister and I nicknamed it, the Black Hole, haha!

      • Yep, that was our too. Each shelf was crammed up against the one above and you could barely get anything out unless you took the stack out. Now it is all nice and tidy with lots of space.

  2. I think the kitchen has to be the worst area for clutter. I wish there was a more efficient way to organize my kitchen. I use my slow-cooker about once a month and I store it in the way back of a bottom cupboard. I have to sit on the floor and pull out my plastic storage containers and lids to get it out. I really admire those roll-out cupboard shelves and so wish I had those.

    This past long weekend, I was really hoping to spend some quality time in the house, continuing on my decluttering journey. Didn’t happen. A last minute “Girl’s Day Out” happened Saturday and then Sunday and Monday were garden clean-up and planting. I have a lovely weekend, but the house doesn’t look so great. 😛

    • Hi Michelle, I can vouch for the functionality of the roll-out shelves as I have just had two areas of my kitchen fitted out with them. This had made my kitchen far more functional. I only wish I could justify having the same done to the cupboard in the photo but it isn’t cheap so I will put up with this shelf (For now anyway).

      Michelle I think you deserve a girls day out and I hope you relaxed and enjoyed it immensely. And it isn’t as though you were sitting around doing nothing on Sunday and Monday. I have a friend whose house is a bit of a disaster zone, meanwhile she spends lots of time working in the garden. I think she uses the garden to feel useful while avoiding the issues in the house. I am sure that isn’t your case but I know it is for her.

      • Weeeeelll Colleen, I might could be a wee bit guilty of avoiding the interior of the house, but it SOOOOOO nice outside right now! 😉

        • Ah ha! Caught you, no naughty girl. But if it makes you feel any better I really have to force myself lately to do tasks around my house I would rather avoid in order to do other stuff I would rather do. I find that if I just alternate the must dos with the want to dos it is much more palatable. Sometimes I even end up doing more of the must dos than I planned during an episode because one thing just flows on to another. Not so easy going from inside to out as there is clean up involved between the out and in.

  3. Funny you should mention that, our rental has a ‘new’ kitchen which makes it all drawers. Way more functional imo! I do agree though that I have a drawer of ‘catering’ plates and platters, and another of tea towels, neither warrant enough use that they ‘must’ be in the kitchen (and in fact the former was in the ‘outer’ most cupboard of my past kitchen).

    Interestingly too – we have a drawer with half for tupperware and washed out jars etc. Then we have a shelf in a shallower cupboard that holds all the pyrex lunch containers (plastic lids). WE so seldom use ANY tupperware, mainly cause I’m adverse to heating plastic in the microwave. Thankfully, by getting on this thoughtful considered acquisition phase I avoided buying things that I’d come to now use (ie tupperware). And to think I went to a party right before moving out – I could have! Anyhow, I’d go so far as saying if I added one more size to the two existing sizes of pyrex, I could probably do away with all plastic containers. The bulk of what I have came into the home from Mum or take aways anyhow!

    • Hi Snosie, I would have loved my apartment to have all drawers and if the kitchen ever needed renovating that is what I would do. However because I look after things so well I dare say I will never need to renovate. Anyway I have added drawers where they weren’t before so I am happy.

      I sounds like it might be time for you to let go of all those plastic containers though. I would be happy to do that with mine too. But I am reluctant to replace perfectly good containers with new ones. Next week I will be getting my husband to pull out all the containers that he things we don’t need and then I will decide which of them I agree with. I would be very happy to let them go.

  4. We had tons of extra cabinet space in our house before we sold it. Now that we have less space in our apartment the cabinets are a bit fuller then I’d like them to be. Kitchen cabinets are on my list of things to declutter soon.

    For the mini mission we got rid of the garage entirely when we sold our house, so I’m pleased to say that item is complete. 🙂 It took a lot of work though, there were many, many items that we got rid of in the garage.

    • Hi Eric, it seems we have a lot in common. My cupboards are much fuller now that we are living in a two bedroom apartment. I have been working on that since I moved in. Slowly but surely I am freeing up some space. But mostly it is just a case of making the space a little more functional. Our laundry is the next to be fitted out so that everything that belongs in there will be organised and at hand. As it is at the moment it is all a bit hodgepodge.

  5. I had posted this comment before, but what I have done in the two homes I have lived in since getting married, is to pretend that the space in the corner cabinets is non-existent. You can’t reach anything in there without taking everything out, so I don’t put anything in that space. I have three of these corner cabinets in my current kitchen. Someday, maybe home builders will finally “get it”.

    • Hi Kimberly, at our local hardware store $145 will buy you a double revolving shelf that will make that space more functional. At least then the space can be used for something even if it is only to spread things out so they are easier to get at.

  6. Colleen, I like that little rack for your plates. I want something like that, too, but somehow never have come around actually getting one. Interestingly enough they seem completely uncommon over here, as I have never seen one in a normal home or household related store.

    • Hi Sanna, I just made that rack with the off cuts form the shelf I shorted to fit the cupboard and some dowel rods. The rack I used to use is too tall now. I am sure one of my kids will want the old rack. This one is kind of ugly and makeshift but it will do for now.

  7. We were lucky enough to design our own kitchen when we remodeled it. My husband designed most of it, including all pull out drawer on the bottom and regular cupboards on the top. It even has a pull out pantry with drawers, which I love. Many kitchen designers were trying to sell us on a U shaped kitchen with those tough corners, and to the ceiling cupboards. I am not very tall and I did not want more space to store and stuff things; so we went will a galley kitchen with regular top cupboards. I am sure there is still stuff in one of the upper cupboards that deserve another look. I also have a pressure cooker sitting on the counter top awaiting a decision. Ok, who am I kidding. I have had it for years and I have never even used it. Why do I think I am going to start now? I have the next 3 hours to make a decision and then it is out of here. My husband does most of the cooking and said he will never use it. He requested that we keep the slow cooker.
    The linen closet is good. I did this the last time it was on a mini mission and have not added anything. Maybe the laundry closet could use another gander. I am sure we do not use all that is in there. I also have some more books awaiting to go to the library donation. Small houses make you question every item you have, especially if you can’t stand clutter.

    • Hi Sheryl, I love the idea of all drawer at the bottom of the kitchen cupboards. I have never seen this set up before but it sure makes a lot of sense. If I had my way I would have all drawers in my kitchen. I pretty much have half and half now after my recent carpentry work. I must say I am much happier with it. My cupboards do go the ceiling but I love that because now I don’t get greasy cupboard tops. If you have this issue do what one of my readers suggested some time ago. Paper them, then when they get grotty, from airborne grease, just rip the paper off, throw it in the bin and repaper them.

      My two cents worth ~ Get rid of that pressure cooker.

  8. Our kitchen has all drawers on one side by the stove.. Last night I wiped out the top drawer–which goes all the way to the back wall and seldom gets opened very far. Behind the dish towels we were using were a bunch of old dish towels which I washed today and cut to a usable size for throwaway rags. I think these towels were last used when canning which always gets messy. To keep this clutter from happening again, I changed the way I had been storing the dish towels we actually use. The drawers do make room for clutter since no one normally pulls one out far enough to have seen those towels. The ones below have cookie sheets, muffin pans, wax paper, etc. stored parallel to the stove so if they are pulled out even a little way you see the front part of what is in there. Now the towels we use are stored the same way. So even the way we place stuff on shelves or in drawers can limit or make room for clutter. I hadn’t really thought about that before

    • Hi Nana, nice bit of repurposing/decluttering there. And also I am glad to have gotten you thinking about things a different way. That is why a blog about clutter and attack an issue over and over again in a slightly different way.