The 6 Things You Should Do in Your New Kitchen Before You Unpack a Single Thing

published Jun 14, 2018
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(Image credit: Westend61/Get)

Packing up to move is the worst—and the kitchen just may be the trickiest space of your whole house because of all those small, fragile items you have to carefully wrap and contain. On the flip side of that: Unpacking in your new-to-you kitchen (as long as nothing’s broken) is just about the best. I know, because we just moved into a new house and we got to start all over—yay!

Starting fresh in a new place is an opportunity to really make that space work for you. So before you unpack, do these six things to make sure you’re getting the most out of it!

1. Clean all the things.

Now is the time to wipe down shelves and clean out the interiors of cabinets. Even though this is usually done before you move in, any time I’ve moved into a new place, there’s always been some random item left in the kitchen, like old vases and spices deep in the cabinets, or traces of dead pests. (Actually, those were all in the same apartment.)

Point is, you will probably never have it this easy to clean the shelves again, so do it thoroughly now! Same goes for the floors, windows, in and behind appliances, etc. It’s nice to start with a fresh slate.

(Image credit: Diana Paulson)

2. Paint.

You absolutely don’t have to paint your kitchen, but now’s the time if you’re planning do it at some point. This is especially true if you’re painting your cabinets. Even if you’re just doing touchups or only painting the walls, it’s worth it to do it now—before you have stuff on the countertops that you’ll have to move out of the way.

3. Think about where everything will go.

Grab a stack of sticky notes and walk around the room to label the shelves, cabinets, and drawers to figure out where you’re going to put everything. If you just open boxes and stash stuff away, chances are you’ll find yourself starting from scratch again in a few months—and no one wants to organize twice if they don’t have to! Take the time now to be strategic, consider your work triangle, and plan.

4. Adjust the shelves.

Once you know what’s going where, adjust the shelves to make sure your plan is going to work! This is another task that’s easiest before you put anything in a cabinet. If you know you have a couple tall vases, big cooking oils, or bulk-size cereal boxes, create a space for them.

(Image credit: Coco Morante)

5. Line the shelves and drawers.

A lot of people are split on whether they like shelf paper and drawer liners (I go back and forth myself), but if you’re going to use either one, buy it now and get it in place before you place anything inside. If you’re going to do the top-of-cabinet waxed-paper trick, do that now, too, while it’s as clean as it will ever be up there.

6. Build a maybe box.

As you’re unpacking, put things you’re unsure about into a box on the side. Ideally you decluttered as you packed, but just because you moved something doesn’t mean it has to have a home in your new place. Hold on to this maybe box for a few months and see what happens—maybe you’ll take everything out, bit by bit, or maybe you’ll never think about those items ever again. If the latter happens, donate the box and you’ve saved yourself the step of decluttering later on!

Anything else you do when you start fresh in a kitchen?