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Maybe it’s just us, but it seems like in most homes the kitchen is the room most prone to getting a big makeover.

We don’t just mean the sort of “move this couch” or “set up a new nightstand” projects you get in living rooms or bedrooms. Between how much work gets done in the kitchen and the new appliances that tend to find themselves making a home there (hello, new air fryer!) the kitchen is prone to getting big overhauls and renovations more so than nearly any other room.

Of course, due to the amount of stuff that’s already in the kitchen, this can make re-organizing and decluttering your kitchen a bit of an adventure every time. If you’re planning a big kitchen remodel soon, or if you’ve already lived through a few of them and need some tips on how to manage it a bit better next time, here’s our favorite strategies for decluttering your kitchen before a remodel:


Toss out everything that doesn’t belong

The first step with any big decluttering job is to throw away everything you absolutely don’t need. Expired food, stuff you’ll never actually eat, excess half-full bottles of hot sauce, even the sort of clutter that builds up like magazines and junk mail—as you go, be ready to throw out everything you absolutely do not need.


Start with the bags

One of the easiest ways to temporarily re-house everything already in your kitchen is to get a couple of sturdy, reusable tote bags or grocery bags to stash everything. Sort your bags by type (canned goods here, silverware here, etc) and start filling them up as you go.


Separate breakables

Things like plates and glasses that don’t go easily into bags should ideally be stored somewhere flat. If you have cardboard boxes you can access, try to store them carefully and with some kind of padding material to reduce breakage while you transport it around the house. If you have access to something like a bookcase in another room or a kitchen cart you can wheel around, this might be a good idea for storing them in an easily-accessible area while the renovations are ongoing.


Focus on the pantry

This is probably a good time to get your pantry cleaner than it’s been since you moved in, especially if part of your kitchen remodel involves expanding your kitchen. After everything is cleaned out and either bagged up or tossed out (depending on things like expiration dates), make sure your remodeling plans include pantry organizers to stop it from getting so messy next time.


Develop a system for moving everything

Sadly, the problem with a kitchen remodel is that everything that used to be in the kitchen is going to have to go somewhere. Perishables need to be kept somewhere a bit more temperate, even if they’re not refrigerated—a guest bedroom or home office may have to become a new walk-in pantry before the renovations are completed. Things like pots, pans, and utensils can probably be safely kept in the basement, but only if they’re still easily accessible. If you have heavier bags or boxes, try to keep them in an adjacent room (even before they go up the stairs) to save the strain on your back and get the kitchen itself cleaned faster.


Plan around the mess

Depending on the severity of the remodel, you may still need access to things like the refrigerator or oven while the work is being done. (Despite what you may be told, you can’t get pizza every night.) If anything has to stay in there, try to whittle it down to the absolute essentials—one pot and one pan that can be easily washed to prepare quick meals after the work is done for the day, and in a pinch you might have to move the microwave to another room so you can heat things up while you wait for that nice new cabinet or whatever you’re getting done.


Don’t be too scared to ask for help

The kitchen is a big place that can accumulate a lot of stuff after not too long, and it can get a little overwhelming on your own. Get some beer and take-out and grab a few friends to help. This might even be a great excuse to pawn off some stuff like coffee mugs and plates you never use on anyone that might need them a little more than you.

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