What I Keep on My Kitchen Counters

posted by Andrea | 09/19/2017
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I was recently asked what I keep on my kitchen counters — and I thought it would make a good blog post (especially since I’ve been asked this question many times over the years).

My quick answer is: “not a lot”.

I’m definitely not a minimalist, and I don’t mind a handful of decorative and functional items sitting out on my kitchen counter; but I’ve never been big on letting too much stuff set out on my kitchen counters — especially not appliances.

I’m not sure why — but I’ve always “vowed” not to have any appliances out on my counters unless they looked really, really great (if I ever get my dream toaster some day, it WILL sit out on my counters!)

That said, here is what you’d find on our kitchen counters if you came over any time other than when I’m cooking or when we’re cleaning up after a meal (I promise, I did NOT frantically clean or put things away for this post).

I keep the 3 cutting boards I use ALLLLLL the time propped up next to the refrigerator.

Next to the cutting boards are 2 decorative antique tins. The bottom one is empty, the top one holds candy. We keep a bottle of lotion next to the tins and our vitamins on top of this so we can easily remember to take them every day.

We have a soap dispenser next to the sink — and we often use the windowsill as a nice place to display flowers the kids bring me.

I have a couple more decorative items in the back corner of the counter — the fern and star are just for show, but the antique lether container holds all my hot chocolate and tea (for when company comes — I don’t really drink the stuff).

Next to the stove, I have a ceramic container with some of the spoons and spatulas I use several times a day. The rest of my spatulas and kitchen gadgets are in the big top drawer of our island (see below).

Oh, and I should also mention that I keep all our knives in our utensil drawer because I really dislike knife blocks on the counter. I use a handy knife block that fits right inside our drawer.

We have a wooden fruit bowl and a small ceramic crock on the counter by our pantry. We use this crock for random tiny things that we don’t have a designated place for — like box tops for education that Nora brings to school or an extra key that we aren’t sure what it goes to.

As you can see, we don’t have a massive amount of counter space — but that’s because we have a VERY large island in the middle of our kitchen — I do almost all the food prep and food serving from this island, so aside from washing dishes, I don’t actually use the other counters all that much.

We try not to let anything pile up on the island (because it’s where I do all my kitchen work) but we do keep our water bottles sitting out on the corner of the island for easy access throughout the day.

So that’s it — aside from when I’m baking, cooking, washing dishes, cleaning out the dishwasher, or getting a craft set up for the kids, our counters are fairly empty.
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And in case you’re wondering where on earth with keep all our small appliances — they are all hidden behind cabinets!

The microwave and toaster oven are in the pantry.

The coffee maker, toaster, and George Foreman are hidden behind our little “appliance garage”.

I don’t have a stand mixer because they are too bulky for my taste, but all other small appliances (hand mixer, immersion blender, waffle maker, steamer, apple slicer peeler corer, etc.) are in the upper cabinets next to the pantry.

Everything is very easy for us to access and I don’t have to look at it sitting out all the time.

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I’d love to know… what do you keep on your counters?

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45 comments

  1. Lora

    10/19/2017

    Clear counters keep me sane
    On our counters…

    Paper towel stick holder by sink
    Coffee pot on side counter (we make a pot at least 2x a day.)
    Pottery tray beside coffee pot with canister of beans, bananas and any other fresh produce
    Other counter just has a causal floral arrangement on it
    Island has a flower vase with things my kids pick for me, a small pottery dish for odds and ends and a candy dish. That’s all

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  2. Maria Blasko

    10/18/2017

    This is great if you live in a McMansion but most apartment kitchens don’t have near that counter space or storage space and forget about a pantry. This is a GREAT post if you live in a large house or have a large kitchen. Sorry, but it did not help me at all. What I was looking for was a post about what makes sense to keep on the countertops and what doesn’t. Maybe you could do a kitchen makeover for someone who lives in a much smaller space?

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  3. Pat

    09/26/2017

    I have a small kitchen with too much on the counters! I keep working on clearing the counters. This fall we are having a real problem with flies so I am constantly cleaning counter and the sink. It helps but doesn’t cure. We really need a good freeze!

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  4. Summer

    09/22/2017

    I laughed out loud when I clicked on the link for the toaster! I saw those a few years ago and thought $330 for a toaster?!?! What can that possibly do?!

    We also have all our small appliances tucked away in a butlers panty. I am not big on clutter in general, but it’s just impossible to keep everything truly clean if there is stuff everywhere. Everyone comments how ‘clean’ my house it, but really it’s just very uncluttered visually.

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    Andrea Reply:

    I know — totally ridiculous! Maybe someday someone will give me the toaster as a gift πŸ™‚

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  5. Pixie508

    09/20/2017

    Ahhh…. the appliance garage. We’re looking to hopefully build in a few years. My dream is a “Butler’s Pantry” – part of it would have upper and lower cabinets with countertops with a multitude of outlet. The countertop would contain several appliances that we use regularly (our , toaster, microwave, etc. as well as storage for things like the crockpot that don’t need to constantly be out. I love the idea of having some of those small appliances hidden out of site. I’d probably still have my mixer on the counter, because I got a cool charcoal color that I love, and totally goes with my future kitchen vision. I’d also love a coffee bar area, because we love coffee, and if it’s neatly displayed, I think it’s fun! (we’ve got a keurig, regular pot, and french press, so a nice way to display them and have fun with it is on my wishlist) Clearly I’ve spent some time daydreaming of my dream kitchen!

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  6. Barb

    09/20/2017

    Where do you keep your bread?

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    Andrea Reply:

    in the pantry

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  7. Lois

    09/19/2017

    I’d like to know where your dishwasher is. I don’t see it in your photos.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    in the island

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  8. Rachel

    09/19/2017

    What do you do with baby bottles/nipples and toddler cups? I have a dishwasher, but it seems like they’re never quite dry enough to put away, so they go on a bottle drying rack that sits on the counter & annoys me with all the space it takes up. πŸ™‚
    And, paper towel storage…? Maybe you stick with your cloth napkins… πŸ™‚

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    We have an under-cabinet holder for our paper towel so it doesn’t sit on the counter. As for the bottles — we only used them with Simon and I had a bottle drying rack that we used. We usually washed them at night and then I put everything away in the morning (it was dry by then). The drying rack is stored under the sink with all our other dish washing things.

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  9. Stephanie

    09/19/2017

    I love when you do posts like this one. I am always looking for ways to streamline our home. I do consider myself a minimalist but we have a toaster oven and our coffee maker out all the time since we use them daily and have a large family. We also have paper towels (on a stand), bananas in a bowl, and just a few decorative items. We have a lot of counter space. I would like them to be more bare though because I feel better when the counters are clear (especially before cooking). I find if I don’t have a few decorative items out though, it looks too bare. I wonder how big your island is. We have one too but I wished it was a little bigger.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    our island is 6.5 ft. by 3 ft — it’s good size — not too big, but definitely big enough for our needs. We can get 4 stools around it.

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  10. Leigh

    09/19/2017

    Dish soap, bananas, and the knife block/cutting boards belong on my counters along with a decorative creamer that holds pacifiers on the windowsill.

    One tip I love is to peel the labels off any containers you know what is in them, like lotion or deodorant. It really quiets how they looo and makes them cuter.

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    Rhonda Reply:

    I like the tip about the labels. On the same note, I usually take all of the little stickers off the fruit before it goes in the fruit bowl. That way it looks neater, plus when you peel them it’s ready to go in the scrap container. I put my dish soap in a plain clear glass dispenser – looks neater and the top doesn’t require opening/closing.

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  11. Melissa

    09/19/2017

    Too much. That is what I have on my counters, but I actually use every item out there. Coffee maker, toaster, electric kettle, soap and dish stuff, paper towels, blender, rice maker, crock with utensils, spice rack with most used spices and phone charger. That’s from right to left, and the small appliances are used every day. I know I would feel better with some of it put away, but I have nowhere to put it. I am slightly envious of your drawers, though – it’s a great idea for if I ever do over my kitchen.

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  12. Debbie

    09/19/2017

    We also don’t like too many things out on the kitchen counter. Other than the mixer, coffee maker, toaster, and paper towel the rest are in cabinets. I still wish we have an appliance garage though. You’ve got lots of cabinet space to store all your appliance so that’s super nice. Your dream toaster is a dream! I like that it comes in so many colors too! Now that’s going in my dream list along with the Dyson stick vacuum you shared the other week. LOL!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah… I still haven’t broken down and purchased the Dyson (I was REALLY close, but just couldn’t do it!) But… Christmas is coming πŸ™‚

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  13. Luba @ Healthy with Luba

    09/19/2017

    Keeping things off my counters really helps with my sanity!

    I usually keep tea, some vitamins, our electric tea kettle, and my husband’s breakfast ingredients on the counter. Oh, and by the sink there are usually clean dishes to put away . . . πŸ™‚

    Our knives are in a drawer, and we do not have a toaster. πŸ™‚

    If anyone has secrets to keeping stuff off counters, I am open to hear them!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, I never feel like cooking or baking if my counters are cluttered and I’d have to put things away first… so in a way, keeping my counters less cluttered helps me enjoy cooking and baking more — a win win for everyone in our house!

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  14. Rhonda

    09/19/2017

    Here is what we keep (and it looks like we have similar counter space and a similarly-sized kitchen island to you):
    -2-slice toaster
    knife block
    container with wooden spoons
    decorative bird marker holder for my “Label Once” reusable labels
    large fruit bowl
    food scrap bucket with lid
    empty kleenex box next to scrap bin – to hold extra trash bags for the scrap bin
    -a Grove Collaborative kitchen dish for setting wet kitchen plug and scrubbing tools, and clear glass “oil” dispenser that contains dish soap
    -container of Vaseline Intensive Care advanced repair for my hands πŸ™‚
    – vinegar/water solution in a clear glass Grove spray container
    – paper towel holder
    -large jar for loose change

    Whew. I don’t think my counters are very cluttered…but when I type it all out is sounds like a lot!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Well, sometimes the list makes it feel like more — if it seems manageable when you’re working in the kitchen (and you’re not constantly moving things around to make more space), then it must be OK for you!

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  15. Deb

    09/19/2017

    I just ordered the toaster through your link……..bahahahahaha

    You could redo 5 rooms for that and go on vacation! πŸ˜‰

    Hoping baby comes soon!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — maybe not 5 rooms AND a vacation, but yes, it’s a pricy toaster!

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  16. Linda Bolt

    09/19/2017

    I also use a knife block inside a drawer, and keep a minimum of knives. What is out: my blue stand mixer that I waited 20 years to get, electric kettle for boiling water (I think it’s a Canadian/Dutch thing), toaster (dh wants it out), and I have my counters lined with old blue Mason jars I inherited, filled with dried beans and such. Also, I have a red crock next to the stove with utensils I use regularly.
    I also leave out my red dishpan, red dish drainer, and red mat for hand-washing dishes. I don’t have room to store those anywhere else, or I would.
    I also have my silverware chest out (it looks like an old-fashioned school desk).
    Then we have one area of extra countertop that we use as a desk area, since I don’t have a desk.
    I have more out than I wish, and I hope to find homes for a couple of those items. I’m in the middle of cleaning out, purging, and rearranging all the kitchen cupboards.

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    Andrea Reply:

    we love our knife block in our drawer too!
    happy kitchen purging!! It’s a good time of year to do it — before all the holiday baking/cooking/entertaining!

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  17. Meghan

    09/19/2017

    Looks great! Ah, if I ever redo the kitchen I need an appliance garage! I didn’t notice where your knives are. I have enough drawer space to get rid of the knife block and store them flat. Does anyone know of a cool drawer insert that keeps them safely put away?
    I’m going to start putting the mixer in the pantry. Whenever I use it, I move it from a corner to the island anyway. Also going to put the cookbooks I have out in a cabinet.
    That still leaves napkins, paper towel holder, drying rack for cups/ bottles, toaster, coffee maker, and canisters out. Anyone have good ideas for storing these items I use daily?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Meghan — and I’ve gotten a bunch of questions about our knives already so I JUST (like 1 minute ago) updated the post to show exactly how we store our knives in a really cool in-drawer knife block!! I LOVE it!

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    Denise Z Reply:

    IKEA has an in-drawer knife holder, too!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    good to know — but probably not free shipping like Amazon πŸ™‚

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  18. Carrie

    09/19/2017

    I can’t believe you don’t have a stand mixer with how much baking you do! I find it makes baking soooooooo much easier. I hardly ever baked when I had a hand mixer because it was such a pain in the butt. My stand mixer made all the difference in the world.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I know — I used to have one and hated how heavy and bulky it was so I sold it. There are a few times every year when I wish I had one, but my hand mixer is just fine for my day-to-day and weekly baking!

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    Patti Reply:

    When we redid our kitchen I put in a stand for my kitchen aid to be lowered into a cabinet. Now it is out of sight but handy when I use it. We actually tore out our appliance garage for mor counter space. I use it for my coffee maker boy it looks s a lot more spacious.

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  19. Dakwerken

    09/19/2017

    Wow, loved the way you have kept your kitchen counter free from all equipment and utilised the more space for cooking. Thanks for sharing.

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  20. Chris

    09/19/2017

    Wow! I never knew there were such expensive toasters!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I know — I’ll probably never own one, but they are pretty πŸ™‚

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  21. Jen

    09/19/2017

    I’m with you! I hate crowded counters (or tops of cabinets, for that matter. We have friends who store all kinds of junk on the very top of their cabinets!) Our counters have my kitchen-aid mixer (I cannot believe you don’t have a stand mixer! I use mine 4-5 times a week!), the Keurig (only because my husband uses it every day), a small utensil holder, and four glass crocks that hold flour, sugar, snacks, and coffee pods. If it were up to me, the mixer and Keurig wouldn’t be out but that’s what works with my storage space. We have a very small pantry, unfortunately, so my other appliances (griddle, rice cooker, waffle maker, crock pot–I’m not one to have a gadget for everything!) live in a closed storage cabinet in our garage, which is right off the kitchen. We rarely use our toaster so that’s in a cabinet as well. Clutter-free counters are important to me!

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  22. Kate

    09/19/2017

    Your house has so many neat little spaces…the appliance garage is so cool!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks! I guess that’s one benefit of gutting a house and starting from scratch! We’ve added a TON of storage to our house over the past 7 years!

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  23. Katie

    09/19/2017

    I so wish I had an appliance garage. And a specialty drawer for bread. And a specialty drawer for knives. That would eliminate my blender (used daily), my toaster, the espresso maker, my knife block, and my bread keeper from my counter. That would leave the fruit bowl, large coffee maker, butter and a decorative rooster.

    Unfortunately (fortunately?) my pantry is an adjoining room, so I don’t have a long cabinet within the kitchen to stash a lot of this stuff either. But I think I need to come up with a better solution than what I have now!

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    Andrea Reply:

    You should check out the cool knife block I have that fits right in the drawer — very clever!

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  24. Mara Yager

    09/19/2017

    Thanks for sharing! So, no baby yesterday I see! Watching and waiting, can’t wait to see her! Praying for your comfort in these last few days!

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  25. Abby

    09/19/2017

    Your kitchen is gorgeous! I have too much crap on my counters…and I am going to be intentional about clearing them off!

    Also, I have a never seen a more expensive toaster! Woah! However, it is super cute!

    Love, love, love your blog!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, I’ll probably never get that toaster, but I know 2 people who have it and it IS amazing!

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