Map a Kitchen. Save a Life!
By Jacey Eckhart
What is my little mother doing in this picture? If you look closely, you can see that she has taped fluorescent pink note cards on every cabinet in her new kitchen listing where each coffee mug, cookie cutter, and Tupperware is going to go.
No, this is not the retiree version of A Beautiful Mind. (At least, I think it is not.) This is the sign that the woman finally took my advice as the Queen of 20 Moves and mapped her kitchen before she moved for the first time in her life. Let the trumpets sound. Let the earth move.
While I, uh, appreciate, my mom’s adaptation with all the pink index cards specially purchased for this project, that part isn’t necessary. The necessary part is thinking through your new kitchen before you leave the old one. Otherwise, you end up with a kitchen where things are stored because, as my mother said, “That’s where there was room left over.” Wha???
Even if you are not moving anytime soon, you can still perform this miracle on your kitchen. Here is how you do it:
1. Confront your current categories.
In your current cabinets, you probably have categories of which things go together. Some categories we can all agree go together. Dishes. Glasses. Spices. Coffee travel cups. Snacks for kids. Then there are your weirdo categories. For example, I have a drawer in my kitchen that is mentally labeled Things that are sharp. Knives, of course, fit in that drawer, but also can openers, scissors, bottle openers, lemon zester, potato peelers and small cutting boards. And, oh yeah, those corkscrew thingies that open wine. My mom has a cabinet that must be labeled Things My Mother Gave Me (That I Can’t Use), which is adorable.
2. Map out the new kitchen.
Draw a little map of each cabinet and drawer and pantry shelf in your new kitchen. It doesn’t have to be done well, just do it. Paper and pencil open the brain the way nothing else can.
3. Decide on your work zones.
Kitchens have work zones. (Really, Mom, they do. I think it’s a thing they invented in the 90s.) Anyway, if you look at your map, you will see there is a zone for slicing and one for mixing near the stove. There is a zone for plating food around the fridge, and a place where you are supposed to do all the cleaning around the sink. There is even a spot meant for all your food storage. Woo hoo.
4. Now assign seats.
Before you pack a single box in your old kitchen, assign each of your categories a place in their zone in the new kitchen. When I did this with my mom last month, she had a hissy fit over the bowls. Mom has millions of little bowls. If you are missing a little bowl from your stash, you can come over to my mom’s house to get it back because she probably stole it from you.
“All my bowls won’t fit in that little space,” she said, her mouth drawn into a little line.
“You only have the space you have,” I said piously, quoting organizing guru Peter Walsh.
Mom grumbled for maybe ten seconds. Then she had to confront each bowl. A lot of bowls did not make the cut, and my nieces had to bundle them off to Goodwill in the dark of night. Mom had to go lie down with a wet washcloth on her head.
5. Cut the leftovers.
Discard things without a category. Let them go. Things in your kitchen that do not have a category don’t belong to you, and you should let them go live somewhere else among their own kind. Bid farewell to any extras that don’t fit in their assigned places. The tyranny of space makes decision making so much easier than you ever thought it could be.
Mapping your kitchen before you move is a game changer. Look at my little mother’s face. That look of smug delight can be yours when all your things go into your new cabinets on the first day. Makes you want to move again tomorrow, right?