Elevate your homemaking: the kitchen

Homemaking, while extremely valuable, can become a bit dull from time to time. The same tasks need repeating day after day, week after week. It is easy to feel stuck and uninspired. Sometimes all you need is a tweak here or there to make homemaking feel fresh and enjoyable again.

In this series of posts, I will move from room to room sharing some inspiration and practical ideas to hone your homemaking skills. My husband saw an early draft of this post and asked incredulously, “Is that a to-do list?” HA! Most definitely not. These are not all things I do regularly in my home, but they are things I turn to when an I, or an area of my home, is needing a pick-me-up.

I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed or discouraged that you’re not consistently doing all of the things I mention below. My hope is that you would choose just one thing and try implementing it in your home. See if it makes a difference.

We are, of course, starting in the kitchen. The kitchen is the perfect place to start, as it is the most used area in most homes. The kitchen is such a valuable space. It is here that we take mere ingredients and form them into nourishment for our family. Three times (or more) a day, every day, the kitchen is our workspace to keep ourselves and our families well-fed and thriving. The kitchen definitely deserves a little love, care, and tending to.

Here are some ideas for elevating your homemaking in the kitchen.

Close the kitchen every night

Closing the kitchen every night is one of the best things you can do to up your homemaking game. Starting the day with a clean kitchen sets the tone for the entire day, and snowballs into the next. It is absolutely worth your time to do so, and your future self will thank you!

In my home, a closed kitchen means there are no dishes in the sink, the table and countertops are wiped down, the floor is swept in both the kitchen and the dining room, and the trash is emptied. This is the bare minimum. If I’m going the extra mile, I will scrub out the sink and stovetop, and wipe down cupboards and kitchen appliances.

This might be a different set of tasks for you. If this is a new habit you’re trying to form, maybe try starting with one thing, and add more as you get the hang of it. Make it a rule for yourself that you won’t go to bed until there are no dishes in the sink. This alone can make a huge difference the following morning.

Another thing you can do to help you look forward to closing the kitchen every night is to have a special thing you do when you’ve completed the task. It could be lighting a certain candle or putting on a diffuser in the kitchen, enjoying some time with your feet up with a good book, or even enjoying a square of your favorite dark chocolate.

Linens

Kitchen linens are arguably the most hard-working linens in the house. Hand towels, dish towels, washcloths, napkins, and tablecloths are put to use day in and day out, and we sometimes neglect them. They can grow dingy, stained, or smelly relatively quickly.

If you’re looking to elevate your homemaking in the kitchen, consider your linens. Take a good look at all those hand towels and washcloths you have piled up in a drawer and throw out the ones that are past their prime. It might be time to spring for some fresh ones.

I’m a firm believer that you don’t always need to buy something new to make your home beautiful. But when it comes to kitchen linens, there comes a time when they need to be replaced. It’s a small investment, and it’s amazing what fresh linens can do for the morale in the kitchen!

To make your dining room extra cozy and charming, consider adding a tablecloth or runner and cloth napkins. This is something most of us would only consider for a special occasion or when having guests over. I actually try to pull out the cloth napkins on a night when we’re having a really simple dinner, just to elevate it and make my family feel special. If you’re really wanting to dress up your table, give that tablecloth a good ironing. There’s just something about crisp linens and a dressed table that makes a space look well-tended and cared for.

Make it lovely

The kitchen is a very utilitarian place, and I’m all for practicality. But that doesn’t mean it can’t also be easy on the eyes. If we’re going to spend much of our time in the kitchen, let’s make it somewhere we actually want to be!

Try to hide away any eyesore appliances that aren’t in use every day, and clear the counter of all unnecessary clutter. For the things you do use on a daily basis, find beautiful ways to display them. Your collection of wooden spoons can live in an old crock you found at the thrift store. Find a vessel that will hold all of your dish scrubbers and sponges, and maybe opt for scrubbers made of natural materials that are nicer to look at. Decant your dish soap, hand soap, and counter spray if you don’t like the packaging they came in. Decanting and removing unattractive packaging is an easy way to make any space look tidy and more sophisticated.

Display your favorite cookbooks instead of hiding them away in a cupboard. Keep your fresh herbs out on the counter in jars. Display produce in a basket, or keep a bowl of lemons on the counter. Bring in a houseplant or artwork to make a statement. And of course, fresh flowers are a must whenever possible.

Set the atmosphere

I’ve got to talk about setting the atmosphere because to me this is the most important aspect of homemaking. The cooking and cleaning and decorating all have a place, but without the right heart, without the right atmosphere, it is all for naught.

The first thing you must do to set the atmosphere in your kitchen is to look inward. What thoughts are you having as you do the dishes? What kinds of things do you say? What is your attitude as you cook dinner each night? Your words, thoughts, and attitudes are setting the tone in your home whether you know it or not. We have the privilege of choosing what kind of tone and atmosphere we want to set.

If you’re dealing with negative thoughts and perspectives about your kitchen, try flipping the script. Observe the negative thoughts that you’re having, and look for something positive. Seek out the things you can be grateful for, and hold fast to those thoughts instead.

“I’m so grateful to have nourishing food to feed my family.”

“Closing the kitchen doesn’t take long, and I will be so grateful I did it in the morning.”

“I can ask for help from my family when I feel overwhelmed.”

“Loading the dishwasher is simple. I’m grateful to have one. This is something I can do easily.”

“I get to choose what kind of atmosphere to set. If I don’t like the current mood in my home, I can be the one to turn things around.”

When we sit down around the table with one another, we are doing so much more than feeding our stomachs. We are connecting with one another, holding conversations, and spending time together. We are nourishing body, mind, and soul. Our time spent in the kitchen is ultimately an investment in our relationships.

There are also lots of things you can do to set the atmosphere on the surface level. Make your kitchen smell nice! Light a candle, put some oils in the diffuser, or even just cut open a lemon or grind some coffee if you’re in a pinch. Make your kitchen smell welcoming, warm, or invigorating. Turn on some music! Make a playlist of songs that turn cooking or doing the dishes into a whole experience. A dance party is a surefire way to shift the atmosphere.

Make something delicious

Elevate your kitchen by putting it to good use! To me, a working, functional kitchen is a beautiful one. Here are a few ideas for keeping it fresh as it pertains to cooking.

Take the time to think through how you’re using your kitchen. Are your most-used items easily accessible? What is not flowing smoothly? Do you need to switch around a few cupboards or drawers to make your kitchen more functional? Perhaps you just need to declutter the things you aren’t using so that the things you do use can be properly organized when it comes time to cook.

Are you in a rut, using the same recipes over and over again? We’ve all been there. Rather than overhaul your entire cooking repertoire, try bringing in just one new recipe or ingredient at a time. See what kind of new inspiration this ignites. If cooking is something you enjoy or want to improve upon, try setting aside one meal every week where you can take the time to leisurely cook, turn on your favorite music, and delight in the process.

Sometimes, in the kitchen especially, familiarity is best. Go back to a tried and true recipe that the whole family enjoys. Involve your children, really enjoy the process. Draw everyone in with the warmth and comfort of food made with your own two hands. There’s just something about it. The kitchen is, to me, ultimately for fostering togetherness and connection.

I hope you’re inspired to try something new in your kitchen, and that these tips will help you bring back the joy of homemaking, especially in the kitchen! I’m excited to continue this series and share inspiration for elevating your homemaking in different areas of your home! What room should we talk about next?

Until next time,

-Jourdin

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