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By Marla Caceres, Brand Publishing Writer
Kitchens attract clutter. Along with all the utensils, appliances, food items and cookbooks that fill up counters and tabletops, there's all the family flotsam that accumulates there: keys, phone books, mail, coupons, magazines, homework, income- tax forms, gloves, plastic bags, pens, spare batteries, newspapers – the list goes on and on.
It's in the way when you're cooking or eating; it has to be moved when you're wiping down the surfaces; and just looking at all that mess creates stress.
Helene Brown and Edith Orlansky, experts from Baer's, one of Florida’s top sellers of fine furniture, offer 10 tips for decluttering and making more storage space without a major kitchen remodel.
1. "Put your stuff away," says Brown. "Put things in baskets. Get some really great-looking decorative baskets." These can store all the things that don't fit anywhere else, from folded dishtowels to the mail.
Even if you have to keep them on the table or the counter, baskets look neater and they're easier to move around than stacks of paper and a bunch of small items.
2. Clear things you don't use often out of your cupboards. Get rid of what you never use, and find alternate storage for those once-in-a-while items you want to keep. If you make waffles every six months, you don't need to store the waffle maker in the kitchen.
3. Use the freed-up cupboard space to stash your frequently used, lightweight appliances such as the blender, toaster and coffeemaker. Even if you make toast and coffee every morning, the appliances are in use for less than an hour each day and then cluttering up your counters for the next 23. If you've got them handy in a nearby cupboard taking them out takes just seconds.
4. If you have open space above your cabinets, says Orlansky, you can put baskets up there to hold rarely-used items such as the Christmas gelatin mold and the Easter lamb cake pan.
5. "Hang pots over the stove," Orlansky advises. "You will have to wash them more often, but it makes space in the cupboards." Pot racks come in all shapes and sizes.
6. If you have empty wall space, a free-standing cupboard with a hutch, a buffet or a baker's rack can be an attractive solution to your storage problems. If there's no space but the kitchen table is against the wall, you can put a hutch on top of that. Put smaller items in baskets or boxes on the open shelving to keep things looking good.
7. Control paper clutter with a kitchen center, advises Brown. "It's kind of like a desk and it closes up," she says. These kitchen organizers offer magazine racks, corkboards, bookshelves and baskets, all behind closed doors, plus drawers for additional items. Some types have a slide-out stool and a desk surface so you can sit there to pay the bills or clip coupons.
8. No wall space? Consider a kitchen island in the center of your kitchen. Models have space for storage, plus features like slide-out or drop-leaf tables, towel bars, wine racks, storage bins for school supplies, crafts or root vegetables and drawers for silverware. They come with stainless steel or marble tops.
9. If you can't spare that much space, a wheeled storage cart can store small appliances or other items and be rolled out of the way when you don't need it.
10. Get double duty out of your kitchen furniture. Replace your kitchen table with a style that has shelving underneath for more baskets of items. Instead of chairs, use benches with storage under the seat at your kitchen table.
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