What To Store On A Kitchen Counter (And What Not To)

The definitive answers we all need.

Cottage Kitchen with Butcherblock Countertops
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn; styling: Elizabeth Demos

There are a few places in every home that catch all the clutter, like the desk that's stacked with papers, or the bedroom chair that's filled with laundry (who knows if it's clean or dirty). And then there are the kitchen countertops. For some reason, kitchen counter space is some of the most valuable surface real estate in our homes, yet we often fill it with stuff instead of making it functional. Before you know it, you've lined up every small appliance, some cutting boards, a cake stand, and a splash of seasonal decor, and that's all before counting any edible items.

What to Store on Your Counter

In order to know what to keep on your kitchen counter and what to put away, you should first think about how you live day to day. Pay keen attention to what you truly need. Those items that you use frequently are the ones that you should leave out with easy accessibility.

Coffee Maker

A coffee maker is likely your most used small appliance, so feel free to give it the dedicated space it deserves. Place it near an outlet and make sure you can easily access essential parts such as the water reservoir. If possible, designate a coffee station where accessories such as pods, syrups, sugars, spoons, and even cups are nearby. Depending on available space, you might opt to arrange those items neatly on a tray or in a basket next to the coffee maker or choose to store them in a closeby cabinet.

Paper Towels

While paper towels aren't exactly glamorous, they are a kitchen necessity. Therefore, they should be in plain sight and easy to reach. Place them by the sink for when you need a quick clean-up.

Utensils Crock

Keep a utensils crock next to your cooktop for making meal prep a breeze. You never know when you might need a second spoon or spatula, so leaving cooking utensils in the open is handy. A crock is also a great opportunity to add a little personality to your kitchen. You can use a beautiful planter or an antique jar to spruce up an otherwise drab spot.

Fruit and Vegetable Basket

There are many fruits and vegetables that don't need to be stored in your refrigerator. In fact, there are many that shouldn't be refrigerated (like tomatoes). Designate a spot in your kitchen where these can live. Besides adding pops of color to your space, you'll be more likely to eat them if they're visible.

Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil, and Butter

These four cooking necessities are completely acceptable (and encouraged) to store on your kitchen countertop, especially since you will likely find yourself reaching for each as you cook. And yes, we included butter. Butter can be stored in a crock, so it's always softened and ready to go for biscuits.

What to Put Away

Other Small Appliances

This section should come with a flashing red warning light: Just because you have a small appliance, doesn't mean you have to display it. Yes, we all love our stand mixers, but do you use your stand mixer daily or even weekly? If the answer is no, consider storing it in a bottom cabinet. You might find that you use your food processor more than your mixer or that you use your blender more than your toaster. This is a great opportunity to take advantage of lower cabinet storage which is often studier with more holding room. This same rule applies to cake stands, dutch ovens, and other serving pieces.

Cookbooks

As tempting as it is to display your full cookbook collection, tuck these onto a nearby shelf or in a cabinet. They can get easily dirtied thanks to cooking splatters, plus they add unnecessary clutter to your countertops.

Cutting Boards

It's become trendy to leave cutting boards out in the open. If you have space to lean a few wooden ones against your backsplash, go for it, but if you don't, it's best that they go into a small cabinet. This will keep them clean for use and your kitchen looking tidy.

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