Kitchens are prone to chaos. Here's how to find serenity among the mess.

By Samantha Lande
December 21, 2020
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Spending time in the kitchen should be relaxing, in theory. Sometimes, however, that sacred space turns into chaos central. Dishes pile up, clutter ends up on the countertops, and gone is that calm feeling.

Although we can't promise your kitchen will remain spick and span, we can offer professional tips for keeping it as relaxing as possible. We've enlisted the help of Sarah Abdallah, the founder and CEO of Functional Creative Design, who specializes in designing timeless spaces that also promote wellbeing. Here's how you can transform your own kitchen into a home cook's sanctuary.

Less Is More

Although we all want to fill our countertops with the latest appliances and our cabinets with cute serving trays and pretty glasses, it's often the same stuff that stresses us out. The first step towards a functional and calm kitchen? Decluttering.

You may have appliances you only use once a year or dishes you just can't part with. To decide whether it's worth keeping, Abdallah turns to Marie Kondo's method: Does it bring you joy? If it doesn't, it may be time to part with it. If you are fortunate enough to have other storage space in your house for those once- or twice-a-year appliances (hello, waffle maker) it may make sense to keep them elsewhere.

And when it comes to decluttering, reserve your counter space only for the stuff you're actively using. Store everything else.

Credit: Hinterhaus Productions via Getty Images

Function Comes First

You may have already decluttered, but now it's time to take it one step further. You need to make your kitchen work for you. In terms of keeping a general flow, "keep things that you use on a daily basis close to your stove," Abdallah said in an interview with Allrecipes. This may be olive oil, salt and pepper, or your all-purpose seasoning. You'll also want to make sure the cooking tools you use on a regular basis are in a drawer, hanging, or on a shelf near your oven or stove. We all have a go-to mixing spoon, pan, or whisk, so make sure your favorites are easy to reach.

Create a Sense of Calm

Now for the fun part. It's time to add a few special touches to your kitchen to help it feel zen. "Zen to me equals functional engaging all four senses: sight, hearing, smell, and taste," Abdallah said.

In terms of sight, she suggests first making sure that you aren't blocking any natural light coming into the kitchen. If it's in your budget, painting lighter, neutral colors in your kitchen can also have a calming effect. Have fun with your appliances, too. If you do keep things on the counter, choose colors that make you happy. Plenty of appliances and cookware, such as the KitchenAid stand mixer or a Le Creuset Dutch oven, have expansive color choices.

Hearing is easy: If music is relaxing to you, pipe in some tunes while you cook. Or, if you prefer, just listen to the sizzle of oil in the frying pan.

You'll get plenty of smells from cooking in the kitchen, but candles, diffusers, or other aromatics from brands like Paddywax can add to the relaxing vibe. You can also find soap, dish soap, and cleaners in fresh scents from Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day and others.

As for taste, you'll get that from all of the wonderful cooking you can get done now that your kitchen feels calm.

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This story originally appeared on allrecipes.com