Organize your kitchen and get rid of clutter


Alberta’s leading home organizing guru, Megan Golightly, has long advocated for living without clutter to achieve a healthy lifestyle. She preaches the gospel of an organized lifestyle at home trade shows across Canada. Through her business, Go Simplified, she has clients throughout North America.

The cost of clutter is a frequent subject Golightly talks about in her trade show appearances, most recently at the March 23 Edmonton Home+ Garden Show. She gets into the psychology behind letting go of things and offers tools, awareness and the questions to ask to change the way people deal with clutter in daily life.

She spoke with Reno + Decor about how letting go in the kitchen is the key to functioning smoothly in this essential room in your home.

The cost of clutter

Clutter can be costly – not just financially, but also in the way we live. “Clutter takes a toll in our time and energy. You lose money when you buy things that you end up not needing. Clutter adds stress, so it negatively affects our physical health. And when it gets out of hand, it can also put pressure on relationships,” says Golightly.

The kitchen is a likely ground-zero for clutter, especially for busy families with young children. That’s why Golightly says it’s absolutely essential to get a handle on the matter before it becomes a problem.

Sentimentality may be the biggest obstacle in getting rid of clutter or keeping things long after they have outlived their usefulness. “You have to get rid of things to stay organized. Duplicate items, old appliances, things that you haven’t used in the last year; those are all good candidates for the donation bin,” she says.

Take coffee mugs. These can overrun a kitchen cabinet in no time. Most are kept for sentimental reasons or for nostalgia’s sake, even when they are hardly used. Golightly’s rule of thumb for mugs is for each family member to have three, so a family of five will have only 15 mugs.

“Take a picture of the mugs that mean something to you, then put them in a box for donation.”


If you really want to live with less but just cannot let go, put a few of the “rarely used” pots and pans in a box in the basement and mark the date on the top. If you don’t need to retrieve them from the box in six months, take the box to a donation centre and don’t look back. Don’t get in your own way; there is freedom in less clutter.

An organized life

Another key hack is to group similar things; keep utensils together, knives should be arranged neatly in a knife block, food containers in one spot. The old adage “everything has a place and there’s a place for everything” works best in the kitchen.

Getting started can seem like the biggest hurdle, but don’t think it is insurmountable. “Don’t be overwhelmed by the mess, just get started. Get a garbage bag and go through the kitchen – the pantry, the drawers and cabinets – and pick out stuff that is no longer useful or is just taking up space.”

Small appliances used every day stay on the kitchen counter for ease of use, but other ones can be kept out of sight. Coffee makers are a good example of small appliances that need to be on the counter, but clunky appliances such as a toaster oven and food processor are best put away until needed.

For families with young children, Golightly says to designate a kitchen drawer for lunch boxes. Arrange similar food containers in the pantry for a pleasing esthetic and to know where to find items when you need them.

“In my experience, most people are not disorganized, just overwhelmed by having too much stuff.”

Check out Golightly’s decluttering hacks and other tips for an organized life at

Kitchen organization tips

Quick steps from Megan Golightly to help you go through and declutter what you’re not using.

Pots and pans

  1. Pull out all your pots and pans
  2. Match lids with pots
  3. Place a pot or pan on each burner. Notice how many extra you have
  4. Ask yourself three questions (Do I like it? Do I use it? Would I buy it again if it broke?)
  5. Donate the remaining pots and pans that don’t have a matching lid or are rarely used


  1. Take it all out of the drawer and place similar items together; I call this process putting things into ‘towns’
  2. Toss out broken tools. Kitchen space is prime real estate.
  3. Take a look at what you have versus what you use
  4. If you have any gadgets that are rarely used and only do one specific job, it’s a good indicator that you don’t need them.
  5. Put back only what you USE
Pepper Rodriguez, Editor Calgary/Edmonton
Pepper Rodriguez, Editor Calgary/Edmonton
A Reno + Decor Influencer
14 articles