Clear counters make us drunk with happiness, so we found fail-safe ways to organize the key stuff (and hide the rest).
1. Use a stainless-steel rack to dry items you won't put in the dish-washer. It looks sleeker and lasts longer than wood or plastic. Then, ditch the soap bottles by the sink and fill one automated dispenser with detergent that's easy on skin, says kitchen designer Susan Serra, of www.thekitchendesigner.org (she likes Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid). Her other tip: Cut down on germs by moving the sponge to a holder away from the faucet stream.
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2. Find more prep space! A stove-side lazy Susan is perfect for the usual suspects, like salt, pepper, and oil. Other counter-space-worthy items include your most-used spoons and spatulas (throw them in an old vase - or even a coffee can). If you're slicing and dicing constantly, keep knives on a mounted magnetic board; it's much more streamlined than a wooden block.
3. Make room for essentials by folding your towels and pot holders to store in a nearby drawer.
4. Use it or move it. "If you reach for an item a few times a week, it belongs on the counter," says Serra. "Everything else goes in a cabinet." If you're like us and need caffeine in the a.m., put the coffeemaker and a tray with grinds and sugar in an easy-access spot, and push your second-most-used gadget further back (like our toaster). If you have a corner, tuck your all-the-time items there to avoid wasted space.
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