Decluttering and Organizing the Kitchen with Help from Marie Kondo

Decluttering and Organizing the Kitchen with Help from Marie Kondo

Use these tips from Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and your decluttered and organized kitchen will spark joy for you! Here’s how I reorganized my kitchen following the KonMari process.

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Two years ago my husband and I combined our households into a smaller home with an open floor plan that seems to highlight every bit of clutter left out.

I read Marie Kondo’s book in April and began a bit of a home purge and the results have been amazing for this former hoarder and messy person. I’m loving the results of keeping only those items that spark joy and having an organized place for every item. Following this process has truly made my life more serene.

Here’s the challenge about my kitchen: it’s an open space along with the living room, the whole area is very small, and clutter in any part of the room makes the whole space feel messy and cluttered.

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The kitchen took me so long to organize that I actually ended up posting a sneak preview of my kitchen cabinet organization. But I’m finally ready to share the finished results of my pantry and to offer you a few tips if you decide to embark on your own Marie Kondo inspired reorginization.

Step One: Declutter the Pantry

Let’s start with the unvarnished truth, shall we? Here’s the before picture.

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I’m really lucky to have this nice walk-in pantry in my home, but unfortunately having the space to fill meant that I filled the space and the result was that I couldn’t find anything when I needed it and ended up buying duplicates of items I already owned all too often. Does that sound familiar?

So, I started with the usual process: I took everything out and I discarded! As a child of a child of the depression, this made me deeply uncomfortable. Throwing out food! (In fact, I didn’t. It’s in my garage, waiting for the right place.) But here’s what I removed: Duplicate spices. (So many duplicate items!) Multiple boxes of popcorn. The cocoa we bought in Paris and then didn’t like, but we bought it in Paris! Basically, anything I touched and then said, “This does not spark joy.”

Step Two: Designate a Space for Everything that Remains

If you look at the before picture, you can see that I managed my pantry by bringing in the groceries and simply putting things away where ever I could find room, thus ensuring I would have a difficult time finding items when I needed them.

Marie Kondo recommends having a spot for everything so you always know where it goes and to store all items of the same type in the same place. Honestly, I can’t believe that never occurred to me before! Now the pantry is broken into zones: baking supplies and spices in the back, canned staples together, snack foods in one area and pasta and grains in another. Dinner is so much easier now and making my grocery list every week is a breeze.

Step Three: Store as Simply as Possible so You can Easily See What You Have

Marie suggests we store items so we can see at a glance what we have. After evaluating what I had left in my pantry, I decanted several items into acrylic jars with labels. Now, when I look for pasta, I can easily see which jar contains which shape. I also took the snack foods out of their bags (my husband is a snack-o-holic) and placed those in stackable containers.

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I was appalled to discover just how many snack foods we owned!
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Cereals and pasta go in containers as well. (I eventually moved the oatmeal into a jar too.)

My containers came from Ikea but these are similar.

I added standing shelves so I could stack canned goods and see everything at once.

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I added some bins with handles for items in boxes or pouches that didn’t transfer easily to containers and are accessed pretty frequently. These were things like sauce pouches, noodle side dishes and these containers were quickly elevated to the rank of “How did I live without you?”

I bought mine at Wal-Mart, but this is pretty much the same thing.

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Finally, I took the door space and turned it into a paper towel/grocery bag/pen & paper holder through a lovely all-purpose kit from Ikea. It’s been possibly the most useful change of all, I never realized how often I asked myself, “Where is a pen and piece of paper?”

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Here’s the Final Result

Here’s the final result. It sparks joy in me every time I open the door. And I’ve been cooking more since I’ve finished because I know what I have on hand. I’m going to throw out all that candy though.

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Catch Up on KonMari!

Looking for more KonMari information? Check out these posts:

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23 Comments

  1. January 22, 2016 / 1:01 pm

    What a dramatic difference! I love Ikea but usually don’t have a project in mind when rummaging around the container/shelf sections. I’m just in denial that I need to get my pantry organized. Thank you for the inspirational post and now I must go plan this project out!

    • Katy
      January 22, 2016 / 1:38 pm

      I’m usually the same way but as it turns out the experts are right. It really helps to figure out what you need and then go shopping! Who knew? Thanks for stopping by.

  2. January 22, 2016 / 7:22 pm

    Started following you after seeing your posts on Happiness at Midlife’s Pinterest board. Glad I did! I’m in the same de-cluttering phase you are — and am also reading Marie’s book. Decided the only way to get the whole house decluttered (for the first time ever) was to do one area a week, take before and after pix, and post it to my blog. Hoping the pressure keeps me on track!

    • Katy
      January 22, 2016 / 7:39 pm

      I’ll check out your progress and we can be declutterers together. I need a buddy to keep me on the straight and narrow. 🙂

  3. January 22, 2016 / 7:35 pm

    First of all, I would never need a container for candy because I would eat it all as soon as It got in the house! When I reorganized a year or so ago, (need to do it again), I was astounded at how many duplicate spices I had. And how many had expired. I think your pantry looks great & your townhouse is lovely. Stay warm this weekend.

    • Katy
      January 22, 2016 / 7:37 pm

      I never realized I had so much candy! Here’s hoping that container stays full for a long time I guess?

  4. January 22, 2016 / 8:04 pm

    I’m with you. Clutter stresses me out! I’ve tried the Ikea online site and it’s horrid! I’m working my way through the Konmari book, and need to start putting it into practice. Your kitchen cupboard looks so lovely I could live there!!

    xo-Rosemond

  5. January 23, 2016 / 9:55 am

    I just saw this book in Barnes and Noble yesterday and was thinking of buying a copy. Your post inspired me. I so need to organize my pantry closet.

    • Katy
      January 23, 2016 / 10:24 am

      I loved it but be warned – it’s like no they organizing book you’ve ever read!

  6. January 23, 2016 / 11:04 am

    Wow! I’m so glad to have discovered our site via WOM. Your gorgeous photos are inspirational, and make me thing a mundane thing like organizing the pantry can maybe even be a teeny bit fun. I’ve heard about the tidying up book. You’re making me want to read it.

    • Katy
      January 23, 2016 / 11:11 am

      Thanks Suzi! So glad you stopped by!

  7. January 23, 2016 / 1:22 pm

    How fast can you get over here? this is perfect timing because I’ve been threatening to get my pantry organized for a month now. I am tired of re-buying items that I actually already have, but could locate in the black hole that is my pantry! PS I loooove your kitchen!

    • Katy
      January 23, 2016 / 1:29 pm

      Rebuying is the worst! Two bottles of vegetable oil, multiple jars of cinnamon, etc. I didn’t have room for this in my post but I finally broke down and alphabetized my spices so I can see what’s on hand. Why did this take me so long to come on my board? My poor husband is so happy with how the downstairs has been staying so clean.

  8. January 23, 2016 / 8:09 pm

    Wow! What a difference. I have a much smaller space, so all the more reason to get organized. Thanks for all the great ideas and for sharing at the Blogger’s Pit Stop.

    • Katy
      January 24, 2016 / 8:23 am

      Thanks for stopping by Debbie!

  9. January 24, 2016 / 10:08 am

    Great post! I am reading her book and doing the same. I am only on the “books” section, but so far so good! Loved your photos, too.

    • Katy
      January 24, 2016 / 12:36 pm

      Thanks Tomi. I need to hit my papers next. Fortunately I did a lot of that already when we moved. I probably should do my books too. Love to know what you’re doing.

  10. Fiona Meaney
    May 24, 2016 / 2:46 am

    I find the easiest way to keep my pantry neat & tidy and with only 1 of each item, is to make a menu & shopping list.
    Although I am probably a bit weird, I do up a 30 day menu, which saves me having to do it every week.
    I have an excel document which is a ‘standard’ weekly shopping list. To this I then add the extra items I need from the weeks menu.
    The morning before I do my shop, I go through the pantry, fridge, laundry & bathroom and cross off anything from my standard list that I don’t need to purchase.
    Not only does this mean that I only buy what I need, my cupboards don’t fill up with duplicates and I save money !

    • Katy
      May 24, 2016 / 5:57 am

      That’s a great idea Fiona! I’ve actually started doing something similar although I don’t plan out my menus quite so far in advance :-). Now that I can easily see what I’ve got on hand I check out my pantry and fridge before before I leave for the store and cross off any items I don’t need.

  11. June 29, 2016 / 6:36 am

    I love those stacking shelves – they could just turn me into a super-star homemaker. Ikea here I come!

  12. Denise
    January 23, 2017 / 1:12 pm

    I am so inspired by your posts! I have been trying for about a year to find a declutter plan that I can get motivated to use. I have decided that this method, along with one other, will blend quite nicely for my needs. depression and anxiety have plagued me for many years and as the child of a generational hoarder, I have always struggled with clutter to the point of feeling as though I am drowning in it.
    As of this week, I have accomplished a few small areas of decluttering that may not seem huge to anyone else, but are HUGE in my eyes.
    thank you for sharing your journey!
    I did notice in these comments that nobody asked about your French hot cocoa… what ever became of it? lol!

    • Katy
      January 23, 2017 / 3:53 pm

      Hi Denise! Thanks so much for commenting! I think the Kon Mari method would be really helpful for someone struggling with possessions. I tend to be an accumulator myself so it’s much easier for me to declutter if I ask myself, “Does this think actually bring you joy or is it just a way to fill up space?” It’s a great question to ask myself before buying new items as well. As for the French Cocoa – I was going to donate it to a homeless shelter nearby but I was worried that it had expired so I finally thanked it for its (potential) serivce and threw it away.

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