How do you declutter kitchen countertops? 5 steps you can take today towards a more minimalist space

Eager for more countertop space to prep this year's Christmas dinner? These organizers explain how to declutter your surfaces for a more minimalist look

A white kitchen countertop with a marble backsplash and housing decorative bowls, a pestle and mortar and a small vase of flowers
(Image credit: Anna Stathaki)

If there's one thing smaller kitchens lack, it's countertop space. Combine that with the fact that even this highly functional space often falls victim to clutter and you have a recipe for disaster. To make our kitchens as convenient as possible we use our surfaces to house the utensils and appliances we want easy access to, but before long they inevitably become disorganized and unsightly. That's when you know you need to declutter your countertops. 

We all know the pain of a cluttered kitchen countertop. Sometimes, they seem totally unavoidable; once daily essentials like the toaster and coffee caddy have found their place, you're soon playing a game of Tetris just to get your cutting board out when it comes to prepping meals. That said, it's quite likely you don't actually need to have all those items out on your countertop, and there are some clever kitchen  organization solutions you can make use of to disguise those that you do. 

'As we look forward to the holiday season and the cooking and baking that comes along with it, now is the perfect time to clear off your countertops and create additional workspace,' says Julianna Poplin, owner of decluttering service, The Simplicity Habit. Since there's no better time to be clearing out your kitchen than the run up to the festive period, we've assembled a few words of advice from some professional organizers and declutterers so you can have tidy kitchen counters for prepping your Christmas dinner.

Lilith headshot for bio
Lilith Hudson

Lilith is an expert at following news and trends across the world of interior design. A strong believer that a tidy home is a happy one, she's committed to helping readers organize their spaces by sharing practical tips and guides. For this piece she asked professional declutters to explain how we can stay on top of clutter when it comes to our kitchen countertops.

How to declutter kitchen countertops

1. Take everything off your countertop 

A white kitchen with grey marble countertops

(Image credit: Anna Stathaki)

When it comes to tackling a cluttered kitchen countertop, you should always remove everything from it before you start to resist the temptation of leaving items there unnecessarily. 'We often assume that the items we've always stored on our countertops need to stay there, but if you're short on countertop real estate, you'll want to carefully evaluate what is worth keeping out,' The Simplicity Habit's Julianna explains. 

When it comes to returning items to your countertop, think about whether it's worth doing so or if you're simply fuelling the clutter. 'Carefully consider each item and if it should have a prime place on the counter or if it should be relegated to a cupboard or drawer,' says organizer Melissa Gugni. 'Traditionally a toaster goes on top, but if you don't use it daily it should be stored below.' 

Apply this same ethos to all of your appliances. Are you really going to use that blender to make a smoothie this week, or is it just collecting dust? There's no point keeping objects out just for the sake of it. 

'Think about your lifestyle and the storage possibilities in your kitchen. What do you use daily? Is there a very easy (no lifting, shoving, or stacking involved) way to store it that's not on your counter? If not, this might be a good candidate for countertop storage,' adds Lucy Milligan Wahl, owner of boutique organizing company, LMW Edits. 'Coffee makers, toasters, and tea kettles often tend to fit these criteria.'

2. Remove anything that doesn't belong in the kitchen

A kitchen with white marble countertops and white cabinetry

(Image credit: Anna Stathaki)

Are you guilty of storing catchalls on your kitchen countertop? Before long, you have bowls and trays brimming with sets of keys and miscellaneous bric-a-brac. Don't fall victim! While decluttering this space, make sure remove any items that don't belong in the kitchen and return them to their rightful place (wherever that may be).

'Make sure there's nothing on your kitchen counters that shouldn't be in your kitchen,' Lucy encourages. 'Do you have toys, homework, jackets, keys, mail, etc. all over your counters? Time to put those where they belong!' It's a good rule to keep in mine when it comes to how to declutter other rooms, too. 

3. Pair style and function with containers

A kitchen with blue cabinetry and a grey stone island

(Image credit: Anna Stathaki)

If there's one thing we're strong advocates for, it's that style needn't be sacrificed for functionality. This mantra has never rung more true than when applied to kitchen countertops. If you do decide to keep items on your surfaces, make sure your kitchen storage solutions also contribute to your overall design.

'If you need to take up valuable real estate on the counter, make it beautiful,' says Melissa. 'I use a pretty ceramic bowl from a local artisan maker for my fruit, and it is so lovely I don't mind that it uses up counter space.'

This could be as simple as a crock for utensils, a tree for your mugs, or a bowl for fruit. As Lucy notes: 'In doing this, you still want to keep functionality at the forefront of your mind. Store items close to where they're most practical and according to how frequently you use of them.'

Earthenware crock pot, Etsy 
Stylish storage

<a href="" data-link-merchant=""" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Earthenware crock pot, Etsy 

If there a more timeless design when it comes to housing your kitchen utensils than an earthenware crock? These vintage-style glazed stone pots make the perfect addition to a <a href="" data-link-merchant=""" data-link-merchant=""">rustic kitchen for countertop storage that's stylish as well as practical. 

4. Install hooks to hang objects beneath cabinets

If you're wanting a more minimalist kitchen this point probably isn't for you, but for those with small kitchens, vertical space can be a fantastic space saver. 

'If you can, go vertical and use your wall and under cabinet space,' Lucy says. 'You can hang a paper towel holder from the bottom of a cabinet, and use a magnetic strip mounted on the wall to store knives.' Tea towels or mugs on hooks underneath your cabinets can also be a great way to free up space on your countertop. 

Melissa suggests using stackable wire bins like these ones from Amazon, for vegetables like onions, garlic and potatoes if you want to keep some food items on display. You could also invest in some hanging wire shelves like these, also from Amazon, inside your cabinets if you need to maximize storage space behind closed doors. 

5. Consider an appliance garage 

Sage green shaker style kitchen cabinets with a small appliance garage housing a coffee machine

(Image credit: Miranda Estes / Interiors by Popov)

'All small kitchens have a common problem, a cluttered counter space stemming from improper choice of appliances and inadequate storage configuration,' says Julianna. 'Thankfully, there are always solutions to maximizing small kitchen space by utilizing modern design techniques and devices.' 

If you truly want a simplified countertop that's free from any clutter, an appliance garage might be the answer. These clever storage solutions promise to house bulkier items like your toaster or kettle behind a nifty little door for a truly organized kitchen design. 

Since kitchens are arguably the busiest space in the home, if you cut the clutter, you cut the stress. Now you have all the countertop space needed to prepare a Christmas meal for the whole family without the stress of having to balance baking trays on the toaster!

Lilith Hudson
News Editor

Lilith Hudson is the News Editor at Livingetc, and an expert at decoding trends and reporting on them as they happen. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.