Have you ever looked around your living room and wondered where all of those plates came from? Do coffee mugs seem to sneak their way into every corner of your house? Then you’re suffering from dish sprawl! The most common cause of dish sprawl is an abundance of cups, plates and bowls, which can happen without you noticing (those Crate & Barrel orders add up!).
Photo: West Elm
Ready to reclaim your coffee table and countertops? Try this simple cure for dish sprawl:
1. Do an inventory. Go through your kitchen cabinets and remove all of your dishware. Sort through your plates, cups and bowls. Ask yourself: “When was the last time someone in my family used this?” If it’s been over two months (and it’s not a seasonal dish) set it in an “unused” pile. Place pieces that you use consistently in a “keep” pile.
2. Clear out the “unused” pile. The dishes that you don’t use can be donated or thrown out. If you’re not quite ready to part ways with all of your dinnerware, you don’t have to! Simply store them in an out-of-the-way place, like a high cabinet or the back of the pantry. Keeping them out of reach will prevent you from being tempted to use them as a crutch when everything else is dirty. That way, you’ll still have extra dishes to accommodate company.
3. Scale down your “keep” pile (optional). If your “keep” pile is still going to fill a few cabinets, try this trick: winnow down the pile until each member of your household only has one set of dishware for each meal. This means that each person in your home will have just one bowl, plate and cup for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This sounds a little Spartan, but it totally works! Note: If you have little ones, add in their snack-time stuff, too.
4. Do dishes right away. Now that you’ve cut down your dish arsenal, it’s time to ramp up your dishwashing routine! Instill a household rule that all dishes need to be cleaned and put away (or placed in the dishwasher) immediately after they’re used.
5. Use personalized coasters. Label a coaster for each member of the family and have everyone keep their glasses on their personalized coaster. That way, you’ll always know whose cup is whose (and you’ll know if anyone is skipping step #4). Bonus: If everyone is using their own coaster, you won’t have to worry about drink rings!