If you tossed out everything which doesn't belong in your kitchen, how much simpler would it be to serve dinner or simply grab a snack and kick back with a favorite TV show? De-junking can improve ANY kitchen area, big or tiny, well or badly laid out.

First, let's talk about de-cluttering.

Most of us have plenty of things hanging out in our kitchens which could be removed with no great loss. How about food? Foods you tried and hated, foods that you thought you would try, but never did, foods beyond their best-before date, can all be tossed out and never be missed. Occasionally we hang on to worn-out equipment or supplies long after they have ceased being usable - frayed towels and cleaning cloths, and cleaning supplies which are used up or no longer usable are good examples. Pots and pans with broken handles, burned-out areas, or cracked coatings are also good candidates for the junk pile.

Other things just don't belong in the kitchen, especially if we're tight on space there. Cleaning supplies you use elsewhere, stuff belonging to other people or other rooms, and things used only at the holidays could all be stored elsewhere to free up kitchen space. Unusual equipment you haven't used for more than a year also comes under this heading: if you will really use it again some day, store it somewhere else, otherwise: get rid of it!

Then there's the stuff that just seems to accumulate when our backs are turned. Gadgets and small appliances are a common offender here. Have you got small appliances you never used, or used only once and then never again? Or that are broken and almost certainly won't be fixed? How about "As seen on TV" gadgets that never operated as you'd expected? Many of us also have many duplicates of equipment such as can openers, utensils, china and flatware: pick the pieces you love the most to use, get rid of the ones you will really never use, and keep the 'just in case' or 'guest' pieces outside the kitchen. Oh, and we mustn't overlook the plastic tubs (and their covers, which never seem to match up) and glass bottles that we keep because they are SO USEFUL! Absolutely, they are, but how many of them do you really have room for? More are arriving all the time!

Sadly, lots of us also have shelves full of recipe cards and cookbooks we never look at. The illustrations were - and still are! - so alluring, but we just never had time for making the meals. Will you - ever? No? Then perhaps someone else should have the opportunity to benefit from them.

With all that gone, maybe you now have room to breathe and move in your kitchen. Going forward, try not to let the clutter gather again, as it will try to do. It's much quicker to organize the stuff you really need and use, once the unwanted stuff is out of the way.

Robin Gray facilitates local organizing courses in coastal BC, Canada and writes on organizing and decluttering homes, including kitchens, at Declutter First!, the decluttering and home organization site.