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tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

Posted by lawjedi (My Page) on
Thu, May 23, 13 at 17:50

Have you mastered the art of keeping your island (or other counter dumping place) clutter-free???

I keep trying. over and over. and over. but with a busy of house of 6 people, the island is a breeding ground of clutter. One item placed there quickly becomes a mountain.

I will constantly be striving to keep it clear -- I know, clean it off everyday... but the flat surface is a magnet for all the flotsam and jetsam of the house.

I am curious though -- my kitchen sink is nearly always kept clean and cleared - it made me wonder if there was a sink in the island the assorted items might be repelled.

perhaps that is wishful thinking...

any tips? any thoughts on whether or not a sink (clean up or prep) might change the outcome?

thanks!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

I have to say I am a bit of an organazation freak, so yes my island is generally free of clutter except if I am working there. The trick for my family, is that everything has to have a place. If you evaluate the things that make up your clutter, you will probably find that they are either things that don't have a place/ process or things for which people find the place/process annoying.
Don't try to eliminate all the clutter at once. Keep sorting, categorizing and coming up with solutions. If at all possible come up with solutions as a family so that there is consensus and buy in. .


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

I agree, it can stay clutter free if there's a place for the clutter to go....think bins or shelves.


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

What localeater said. Wise advice. Everything needs a place. I put in a compartment for keys in a drawer near the door, a rack of hooks for dog leashes and dog walking paraphernalia, and cork board inside a cab for current important papers. I process the mail as soon as I bring it in. There are areas of clutter elsewhere, but at least I managed to get it to flow further into the house instead of taking up my precious counter space.


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

I'm having the same problem. What I'm finding is that most of the stuff on the island belongs in the office. I need to get the office done and organized to move stuff in there.

Determine what is the stuff on your island? Who is putting in there? and why?


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

Yes dedicated home for things, specific drop zone, maybe a basket for mail and of course...
Electrified barbed wire ;)


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

Can you spare a drawer in your kitchen? When family members leave things there, they go into that drawer---I don't organize them, I just put them in the drawer. Then, when someone frantically asks for something, I say, "If you left it on the island, I put it in the drawer," and make them look for it. If the items include catalogs, junk mail, etc., that gets tossed. If someone says they wanted to look at the catalog or whatever, I tell them, "If it ends up on the island, it will be thrown away or put in the drawer. If it's important to you, don't leave it on the island."


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

Great post, I can so relate!

First I have DH - who accomplishes so much, let me first say - however, if there's a horizontal surface, he thinks it's to be used.

Then, there's DS, who does his homework on the computer(s) adjacent to the island. Great concept, he does his homework on the computer and I can keep an eye on what he's doing. Well... the backpack ends up on the island and the 5 folders get spread out on the island,and everything gets left there....

Next, DD. As an older 15 YO teenager who rarely goes out of her natural habitat (bedroom) I look forward to the times she ventures so far as to sit at the island to do work. When this happens, I very quietly proceed about my meal preparations and try to avoid comments and opinions. (Easily spooked, she will retreat to her bedroom, but can often be lured out with episodes of Downton Abbey or Revenge).


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

The odd thing is I AM very organized and have a "place for everything and everything in its place" house... yet the island is a spot where it constantly fails. On any given day I can find mail, pens, paper, homework, toys, headbands, hairbrush, tool box, a pile to go upstairs, a pile to go downstairs, trash that someone was too lazy to walk around to the trash can side... etc. etc. etc.. I feel like it's an uphill battle fighting my 6yr, 8 yr, 10yr, 12 yr, and even hubby and myself.

I can clear off the island multiple times a day. I liken it to rabbits... the second 2 items are on the island they breed.

any thoughts on whether the presence of a sink affects the outcome?


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

lawjedi - I can't imagine why having a sink in an island would prevent clutter...unless it's the fear of the other family members that you're going to pour water all over their things.

But really...it would probably prevent clutter in the actual sink area, but then it would be around it.

"I know what will help, I'll drop a sink in it!" If only it were that simple to eliminate a clutter issue, I'd have about 20 sinks in our house! :)


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

Welcome to the club. It's life with an island or peninsula. We have a small bar/prep sink in the island and it doesn't repell anything.

Like yours, our island becomes another flat surface to collect all things that come into the house. Mail and other papers are a big eyesore, as are laptops, vitamin bottles, keys, glasses, bags, and other assorted oddities. Being a clean freak Virgo it used to annoy me, but now I just give everything a sorting-thru every other day and it keeps it down to a manageable level. When friends come over or I have business clients in the house, I tidy it up as much as I can...you can always throw everything into a single pile, then hide the pile somewhere on the island or in a drawer until it can be dealt with. Remember your house is a house, not a museum, and most people would rather see a comfortable lived-in space than a sterile picture of a kitchen.


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

I put a new cabinet in the back hall to be the dedicated dumping ground. Mail, purse, junk of all kinds go there instead of any counters in the kitchen. I clean off the counter in the back hall almost every day, and this new system seems to be working well. The paper recycling bin is in the bottom of the cabinet, so I can sort through the papers right there.

But oh, it's only DH and me these days, which clearly makes it much easier. I never get as annoyed about my own crap as I get about other people's crap :-)


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

We also live in a house where every horizontal surface collects everything from drinking glasses to bugs in jars to mail to rocks that the kids find at the creek. Drives me crazy. And everything has a place, just no one seems to find that place, even if it's in a drawer right under the place where they sat their mail (DH) or on the shelf in their room with a bowl for neat rocks (DDs). Today, I'm working around a miter saw, two drills, and a bunch of scrap trim on the island. It will probably be there tomorrow and well into Saturday when we finish putting up the trim if DH doesn't work. If so, it might be Sunday or Monday. I could move it, but I have a really good feeling that the trim, that's been sitting the pantry for weeks or maybe even months, will finally get put up if I just leave it there as a constant reminder, plus the darn thing is awkward to move around! It makes that pile of junk mail seem far less intrusive. So maybe instead of a sink, you should put a compound miter saw on your island, no plumbing necessary.


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

My best suggestion would be to just wait until your youngest goes off to college lol. That was about the only thing that worked at my parents house when I was growing up (I just recently moved out of my parents house).

In all honesty, the best thing I can think of would be to find a way to make another area the "dumping" ground. Do you have a mud room or someplace near the door where you could have a counter that could be the designated dumping ground? When my parents built there house my mom turned small closet into her "office" it isn't even big enough to sit inside of with the door closed but allows her a place to keep all of her clutter that is easily hidden by closing the door.


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

You have to be mentally able to let it go, because if children can avoid cleanup by being passive, they will. Make it less convenient for them to clutter than to pick up after themselves and they will clutter less.

If you have made sure that the "junk" actually has a logical home, and that the owners are aware that the clutter is inhibiting the use of the kitchen and are aware of the proper place to keep it, just dump it into a huge bin and get it out of your way. Or let it pile up until no one can find anything and let them starve for a while.

I had a problem with the SO's college-aged "children" dropping luggage, backpacks, books, etc. all over the entry floor, dining area and table and leaving them there for the duration of their visits ... rummaging as needed, but leaving the area unusable and dangerous.

We discussed the issue, they agreed that they needed to make sure their things made it the extra few feet to their rooms for the benefit of the household. .... And they did the same thing all over again the next school break. So I cleared the house by tossing everything into a heap in the garage. Backpacks, personal electronics, clothing, shoes, books ... it all went into a refugee camp style heap.

They were irate. I pointed out that the solution they had proposed had not happened, and I had solved my problem in the most expedient way possible. If they didn't like my solution, they could implement one they liked better as long as it led to a clutter-free public area, but my solution to clutter was not going to be to place it in their rooms for them.

My solution to their kitchen messes, on the other hand, was to tell them that they arrived to a clean kitchen, and they were expected to clean up after themselves. Of course, they didn't, because they had not been trained as small children that the job isn't over until it's cleaned up.

So. when I had no room on the counters or stove to cook, which happened by noon on day 1, I didn't cook. Forewarned, SO ate on his way home, and I made a sandwich. About 8PM they realized that dinner had not happened yet and asked what the plans were. I said I had planned a stir fry with rice but I didn't have enough room or clean dishes to make it happen. If the kitchen was in a state that made it possible to cook the next night I would, but I was tired and going to bed.

A minor firestorm and much finger-pointing erupted amongst the college-age "children" as to whose dishes were the ONE TRUE CAUSE of their having to fend for themselves. The next morning the kitchen was still filthy, so SO and I went out for breakfast. When asked "but, but, how clean does it have to be" the answer was "As clean as it was when you got here".

I ate out a lot that first school break.


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

That is an everyday battle in our house. DW is probably worse at that than our two teenage boys, lol. With our kitchen reno started, we pulled out our coffee and end tables from the adjacent family room (carrying hardwoods from the kitchen into that room). So, where does the clutter now go? The couch. Ugh!

At least with our reno we got rid of two clutter catchers, the desk in the kitchen and the pony wall separating the kitchen and family room.


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

thanks everyone! it's good to know we are not alone :-)

lazygardens - I like the way you think! ;-)

(my sink idea was coming from my own aversion to having papers and clutter near a water source - but I guess that still wouldn't stop all the other repeat offenders in the house!)


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

lazygardens, I think I'm in love with you.


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

lazygardens, I know I'm in love with you. I wish I'd had your resolve when my lazy princess DD was a teen.

I live alone and have clutter. I try to keep it moving off my peninsula, but my dining table is covered with it. Even though I have a desk in my office, my table is really my workstation and is where my always-on laptop lives. I'm typing there right now, assisted by one of my cats.

There's a difference between food mess and extraneous clutter. I have zero tolerance for the former and it's probably behind my compulsion to pre-rinse/clean everything before it goes into the dishwasher (there's enough of that in another thread).

If people are coming over, I remove the clutter, as if this is always what my house looks like. It doesn't, who am I kidding?


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

sail-away, I like your style. I am going to preserve one drawer in my new kitchen just for your solution. That said, I have installed a drop zone -- a drop-leaf secretary, magnetic white boards, a shredder, and lots of (shut-able) shelves. But. It won't get used at first. Dropping open a desk will not prove tempting when one can pile on the island and try to get away with it.

lazygardens, you rock. Having had to repeatedly "re-orient" three stepkids, two of whom were raised by a mom whose kitchen counters and floors you literally could never see, I know what a hard job it is. Now in their 20's and 30's, one has become meticulous, one is working hard at it, and one has turned into her mother -- but not in my house. It's a crapshoot. But I actually got THANKED once for demonstrating the importance of organization. Yes, thanked. By a teenager, no less. And lightning did not strike.


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

I love lazygardens solutions and have used them myself a few times. I have 2 teens at home - one entering HS and one just finished first year University. They often put their backpacks on the island but will move them to the still unfinished mudroom. Keys and mail have a different home and stay off the island. I clean the island every night after dinner and the most that will stay on it O/N is the laptop.

As a solution to all the kids junk that multiplies I designated one drawer to each child. We have a 10' lower cabinet that has all drawers in it. It is outside of the working kitchen but still in the kitchen near the island. Both DS and DD have a large drawer that houses their clutter - notebooks,textbooks, ipads, headphones, magazines etc. It makes it easy for me to tidy and they always know where their stuff is and will use the drawers themselves to put things away. My DD has the middle drawer on the far left and my DS the middle drawer on the far right. Honestly, giving them these drawers has been a great solution. photo DSC_0052.jpg


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

lazygardens - You should have your own reality show teaching parents how to train kids to pick up after themselves. It would be like a cross between "Supernanny" and "How Clean is Your House." You can film the first episode at my place.

linelle - as justmakeit points out, your own clutter is never as problematic as other people's clutter. DH, who would tell you that he is a neat freak and I am a slob, somehow still has piles of mail, books, and other belongings laying around. As the homemaker, I often pick up after him, but he would never admit it. We all have more tolerance for our own "stuff" as opposed to someone else's "crap."

Of course you put everything away before people come over. I do that, too. We all know it's an illusion, except DH who, based on dinner parties, thinks everyone else's house is always neater than ours.


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

Ginny - I think we married the same guy!!! Our house is 'always' messier than everyone else's. Which is funny because I am sure like us they pick up before company comes. Shaking head. I can relate.

lazygardens that is awesome! We are still working on the place for everything part. :(


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

I'm moderately organized but mail, empty containers reminding me to buy replacements, broken necklaces that need to be fixed, etc all end up on my peninsula. I tidy mostly before the cleaner comes every two weeks (so that he can actually clean a clear surface), or when we have guests. I use the "sweep it all into an empty container and later sort it out" philosophy.

Once when I was in full clean up blitz mode before a party, my 16 year old son commented, "Mom, you live a life of deception." !!!

So I tell people that when they compliment me on my house. :)


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

When the Post office goes out of business, my clutter will mostly end. My clutter is usually junk mail! You could just move all of the clutter to the table, that's what I do:)


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

Lazygardens: I love that you stuck to your guns! I would have threatened but then gave in each time...mostly because I can't stand the clutter. It's not effective at all and I end up mumbling as I'm picking up after the kids and DH.


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

I was thinking of getting a garbage can / large hamper for the basement and using it as a lost and found. If you leave it out, you'll have to go dig it out of the lost and found. At the end of the week, lost and found becomes garbage. I think I am going to start this once school is out for summer. I don't want morning stress of looking for sneakers in the morning.

But its not just my kids. It me & DH too. There's the magazine I want to read later, the form I need to fill out, the catalog I might need, the instruction manual I'll need for weekend project, the coupon I'll need if we go out for ice cream, eyeglasses, thread for friendship bracelets, dance shoes, school projects, etc., etc.

I do notice that my charging drawer is utilized, but I think that's only because there is a need to ensure items are charged.


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

Hmmm, a pop up sprayer might do the trick. When someone puts something on the island, they get a spritz in the face! Well maybe not, I would probably drown since I am one of the accused.


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

Peke: that's hilarious! My DH would get soaked every night and many times on the weekend!


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

It's usually the first horizontal surface by the home's family entrance that gets the majority of the clutter. If you create another horizontal surface closer to the entry than the island, the majority of the clutter will migrate there. (Think bins or drawers in which all of the crapola can be desposited and not worry about editing it.)

Then it's up to you to use the cattle prod on the remaining offenders who put stuff where it doesn't belong. Or, just use a giant lawn trashbag to put the crapola into and place it in the garage, for a week. If someone doesn't fish their stuff out it goes into the trash. If they DO pull the "where is my..." then they get "the lecture". The second time that object appears on the counter, they get the "enhanced lecture" that there is no third chance. The third time, the object goes into the trash and cannot be retrieved. If it's something valuable like an Ipad or phone, you may want to put it in the car take it to work with you to hide it there until the behavior has been modified enough to earn it back.


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

The trick with junk mail is to not bring it in the house. If you have a recycling bin/tote outside just put it directly in there.


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

DH is worse than my three children who have grown up and are on their own. I am so tired of his clutter that I could scream. Is any of the clutter mine? Sure, but I am the one who has to put everything away so his messes annoy the day lights out of me.

The only good thing about this reno is my resolve to donate huge amounts of "stuff" to either goodwill or salvation army. When I was cleaning out my hutch I realized that I had my good china (service for 12), another set of china (service for eight), my holiday china ( service for 12), and some other smaller sets. All were put away very neatly and organized but I found myself wondering why I ever thought that much china was a good idea. That doesn't even include my everyday china that is stored in the kitchen.

I love antiquing but after I took stock of all I have I know it is time to sort and downsize. Now if I could just get DH to downsize his "stuff".


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

DH is worse than my three children who have grown up and are on their own. I am so tired of his clutter that I could scream. Is any of the clutter mine? Sure, but I am the one who has to put everything away so his messes annoy the day lights out of me.

The only good thing about this reno is my resolve to donate huge amounts of "stuff" to either goodwill or salvation army. When I was cleaning out my hutch I realized that I had my good china (service for 12), another set of china (service for eight), my holiday china ( service for 12), and some other smaller sets. All were put away very neatly and organized but I found myself wondering why I ever thought that much china was a good idea. That doesn't even include my everyday china that is stored in the kitchen.

I love antiquing but after I took stock of all I have I know it is time to sort and downsize. Now if I could just get DH to downsize his "stuff".


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

Sorry about the double post. Geesh!


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

A couple of things about FlyLady helped me, like setting a timer for 5 or 15 minutes and just doing as much as you can during that time, stop when the timer goes off. I THINK that kids could declutter at least some things in 5 minutes before bed. Grown-ups can allot themselves the 15 minutes.

I also bring the mail in and stand over the trash can while throwing the junk right into recycling. Mail that looks potentially important, I open and then discard the envelopes. The rest of the paper isn't technically clutter, and it gets dealt with some time before bed!

Keys, wallets, cell phones, and other stuff like that just have their own space. Of course, that space is generally somewhat cluttered itself, but it is smaller and has a "junk drawer" beneath it, which helps some!

A major motivator is that our island granite is heart-stopping and we really love to look at it, though we definitely do most of our prep on it (no prep sink)! Maybe that's part of it - everything that would be hurt by tomato paste, paprika, lemon juice, really any kind of spill - has to go before we start prepping. It's small compared with other islands, 3'x5' so that really needs to happen.

Well, good luck!


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RE: tips needed - keeping island clutter-free!

Sorry for double post

This post was edited by drbeanie2000 on Tue, May 28, 13 at 13:53


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