When it comes to minimalism, the most challenging room in the house for me is the kitchen. I really think that’s because the kitchen is pretty much the center of our home. We use it all day long. Being a homeschooling family, our kitchen is more than just a place to cook food. It is a gathering spot, a science lab, a school cafeteria… it’s just an all around important spot.
I’ve decided to divide the kitchen into two weeks. Today, I will be talking about the surface. What I mean by that is that we will be discussing what you would immediately see if you came to visit my house. Next week, I will be diving deeper and opening up the drawers and cupboards to talk about what we’ve downsized and what we’ve kept the same.
The basic design of our kitchen is one that was described to us by the builder as a “modern minimalist” style. I think I would definitely agree with him. In fact, the kitchen is pretty much what sold me on the house. It’s white cabinets and granite countertops combined with stainless steel appliances just give the entire place a very fresh look. But as fresh as it may seem, it is very lived in.
I considered leaving the wall above the stove empty as a way to just keep the minimal flow of the house going, but in the end I really needed to put something up there. I love the simple and inviting look of basic potholders. I also like tea, so having a teapot on the stove is something I enjoy. I chose a bright yellow because it brings a splash of color… during the winter in Wyoming, you need color.
I like to keep paper towels on the counter, but I’ve recently changed one thing in our kitchen to minimize our waste. See those hand towels on the stove? Those are for my kids. They love to wash their hands in the kitchen and they were always using paper towels to dry with. As you can imagine, we were throwing out a lot of wet paper towels and buying a lot of rolls each week. I finally said enough. I bought the hand towels and the kids now use them to dry. It isn’t that crisp minimalist feel you see in magazines, but it is practical for our family.
Yep, we use our kitchen. I have another hand towel for me on the dishwasher. We have a coffee maker that we leave out with coffee and filters right next to it. When my husband comes home, his work thermoses stay on the counter. And I have a dish drainer for my hand washed items. I tried one of those drying mats that I see all the minimalist people using and I just didn’t like it. I am a dish drainer person.
Another difference that sets me apart from many minimalists you see is that I actually use my dishwasher. Back in Nevada, I lived for years with a broken dishwasher and I hand washed twice a day every day because of it. When we moved here, I was thrilled to have a dish washer that works. It is energy efficient and I run it every night. Now, rather than hand washing after lunch and after dinner, I just load the dishwasher. I still hand wash pans because I like to do that.
On the other side of the kitchen we have our refrigerator and microwave. The counter under the microwave holds a toaster, an owl cookie jar that is actually full of tea, and a weather station so we can know the current temperature. To the right of the refrigerator, I have mine and my daughter’s aprons hanging on the wall. I also keep a step stool there.
I don’t cover the refrigerator with stuff, but when the kids give me a new drawing to hang it does go there. Currently, the only creative thing hanging is a fox cutout my daughter made. It’s actually been there since just after we moved in.
And now for a mega dose of reality… there is the big view of my kitchen. Notice the counter with stuff on it? There is always stuff there. Between all my books and journals and planners, yep… it’s always full. And tissues are just important to have. Our house is lived in. I read my books and write in my journals every day. I also use my planner every day. Storing these things out of sight just to maintain that minimalist look isn’t worth it to me.
We also have cups on the counter. We drink water all day long so everyone just leaves their cup where it is easiest to access… and that is generally the kitchen counter.
Minimalism my way, in the kitchen, means having a space that can be lived in and functional without being overwhelming. It isn’t a typical minimalist kitchen. But really, what is? Minimalism looks different for each person and family. For me, minimalism means keeping the counters as clear as I can without causing inconvenience. If I put my books and journals away, it is an inconvenience to me. If I place my husband’s thermoses in a cabinet, it is an inconvenience to him. I think the best thing I did in regards to our kitchen was to remember that we are a family that lives here 24/7. Perfection will never be sought in this space. Rather, I’ve found a happy medium. It works for everyone.