I Tried to Keep My Counters Clear for Good — Behold, My Wins and Fails

published May 6, 2023
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Empty kitchen island with marble surface in foreground, green vintage countertop with drawers and pendant lights hanging above, lots of flowers in jars, blurred background.
Credit: Kseniya Ovchinnikova / Getty Images

My obsession with clear counters began in my very first apartment. I donated my microwave without hesitation, despite having plenty of space for it. When my mom and brother visited, they scratched their heads while I reheated their coffee in a saucepan. 

But let’s be real — the only person truly inconvenienced by things like digging the food processor out of the coat closet was me. I lived alone. Once I moved in with my spouse and added children to the mix, however, the amount of stuff (thank you, wedding and baby registries) increased exponentially, and my — I mean our — counters accumulated more and more bells and whistles. 

This year, I decided to go back to my roots. I set out to once again clear my counters — this time, for good. Here’s how my counter-clearing comeback went down. 

Attempt: Hide small appliances. 

Result: Fail. 

If my goal was to frustrate and bewilder my children, who drink at least two smoothies a day, then I could call this attempt a success. Every day was a game of guess-where-Mom-put-the-blender. I mostly gave up, although I’m still hoping Vitamix introduces a heavy-duty blender that’s easier on the eyes. 

Attempt: Get rid of the knife block. 

Result: Win. 

I thought a countertop knife block was a necessary part of adulthood, but turns out this in-drawer knife block works just as well and lives out of sight. I did have to get rid of one knife to make it work, but it was worth it. For apartment-dwellers with precious drawer space (or none), this magnetic bamboo knife block will do the trick, too. 

Attempt: Scrap a few small appliances. 

Result: Draw.

The toaster, pasta machine, and deep fryer left the house with no objections from my husband, who hates cleaning them as much as I do. On the heels of these successes, I tried willing myself to drink my coffee black, so I could get rid of the milk frother — never mind that my husband has no intention of giving up his oat milk foam. We did try a stick frother, but it just didn’t have the power of our Capresso. The frother, like the blender, is staying, and I’ve accepted its fate. 

Attempt: Choose tools with a smaller footprint. 

Result: Win. 

Okay, yes, the handheld milk frother was a fail, but we had plenty of other successes. Our Instant Pot serves as a slow cooker, pressure cooker, and air fryer, all in one. This kitchen scale folds so compactly that it can fit in our silverware drawer. This foldable drying rack cleared a whole section where our standing rack formerly sat. And by deciding to use our collapsible camping colander regularly, we were able to get rid of our giant stainless steel one, freeing up cabinet space to store the appliances we don’t use daily. 

Final result: We reached a middle ground. 

In the end, I realized clear counters were unrealistic for us. My kitchen isn’t a showroom — it’s a workhorse, a hub for my family. I now acknowledge that effortless meal prep is more important than idealistically clear counters. 

(I mean, mostly. I am still saving for an appliance garage.)

Are you team clear-counter, or do you prefer to have everything within arm’s reach? Let us know in the comments!

This post originally appeared on The Kitchn. See it there: I Vowed to Clear My Kitchen Counters for Good — Behold, My Epic Fails and Wins