Real Life: What’s on Our Kitchen Counters

February 15, 2017

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We’ve done a tour of what’s inside all of our kitchen cabinets (way back here), and although you’re probably used to catching peeks at what we keep on our kitchen counter, I thought it would be fun to give you more of a detailed impromptu tour! After all, what we leave on our kitchen counters is what we likely use the most or like to have at arm’s reach. A friend had just dropped off some flowers for Greta after her surgery and besides throwing the mail from the island to the adjacent dining room table, these photos aren’t staged (I’m really wishing I would have plucked Greta’s play tea cup from next to the cookbooks among a few other things). Just from a random day last week when the sun was shining on our kitchen. (I linked the products under each photo for easy reference.)

On the far left counter, we keep our flour, sugar and brown sugar canisters. We recently switched from opaque ones to these glass ones and I love them so much, plus, you can easily see what, and how much, is inside. There’s nothing worse than starting to make cookies and then realizing you’re low on an ingredient. We also stacked two olive wood boards that we have never used for them everyday cutting, but we do love to use them as serving platters–they add so much warmth to a tablescape…and backsplash. :)  Bonus! The large one is under $20! 

To the right of the sink is where Chris keeps a small collection of cookbooks–the rest are in the den. And you can see where Greta’s tiny teacup hides out that she uses to help water the herbs. Every little bit counts. Back in October, before baking season was in full swing, we purchased this marble rolling pin–Chris really loves the weight, smoothness, and control of it. His granite mortar and pestle he’s had since college (over ten years!) and those are the kind of things that just get better with age.

I’ve talked about our Amazon Tap a little bit in the past. The girls have so much fun playing and requesting songs, that it usually ends up in the playroom after school. So we got a second bluetooth speaker, a Bose one, that stays on the kitchen counter. One of my favorite sounds is when Chris turns on his playlists and I hear the stove light.

On each side of the ranges, we have over-the-counter cutting boards from Ikea. They’re cheap, but I linked another budget-friendly option if you don’t have an Ikea nearby. On the counter to the right of the ranges is probably our most used counter–right out of the pantry, by all the knives. We used to tuck our toaster away, but after we realized it is our most-used small appliance, it felt worth it to keep it on the counter. Which, helped us decide it was worth it to splurge on one that was nicer to use and look at.

For Christmas, Chris asked for that 12″ pepper mill–he claims it’s the perfect size after having an 8″ for too long. We keep coarse salt in the cork-lidded container and butter in the butter bell next to the toaster. Chris really likes picking up olive oil and vinegars from Mountain Town Olive Oil Co when we’re in Salt Lake. (If you aren’t local, they have a website.) They have so many different, distinct flavors for a lot of different raw or cooked uses. We find ourselves reaching for the bottles throughout the day.

The marble utensil holder (and spoon rest) is semi-new and makes me happy. I realized recently, if there’s a tiny update you can do in your home, like a new utensil holder or a good-smelling hand soap–do it! So many times, for so many years, I focused solely on things we could do or purchase that would make a big impact in the way a room in our home looks, and often overlooked small things that were fine or placeholders. The funny things is, there’s so many small, inexpensive updates we could make that we use constantly throughout the day. Spending a few dollars occasionally makes even the tiny moments in our house feel special and loved.

Do you leave your countertops completely clear? Sprinkled with functionality? Or styled to magazine worthy at all times?

What do you think?

  1. Marta says:

    Hi! Love the kitchens that you do!! We are considering the mission bin pulls as well and are wondering how they wore over time? Thank you!

  2. Rebecca says:

    Do you have a link or info on where to get hanging planters near knives. Also are those real plants if so what kind. Beautiful.

  3. Heather says:

    Have you done a post about what’s in your cabinets/drawers (and in the island)? We’re remodeling and trying to figure out where we want everything, like our silverware drawer, etc. I’ve seen your spice drawer, but curious about the rest! Thanks!!

  4. Macy says:

    I love your comment on finding those inexpensive items that can bring functionality, but are so often overlooked!

    I recently purchased a small marble cutting board to place under our oil diffuser to catch stray water droplets or drips from sloshed water when refilling. It looks beautiful but is even more functional for keeping our nightstands protected from water stains! I’m looking at purchasing a slate board to put under my son’s bedroom humidifier for the same purpose.

  5. Morgan says:

    Y’all inspired me to post about this too! We also keep our salt and oil out and it’s been such a gamechanger!

  6. Amy S. says:

    What/where did you source the hanging herb pots near the knife racks? Very cool idea to keep herbs in house, off counter, but close by for snipping. Thanks so much!

  7. Caitlin says:

    We have super cluttered countertops, but mostly because we live in a small apartment with not-enough countertop space. I’ve been looking to clean them up but struggled with choosing what to leave out and what to put away, so this post is right up my alley!

    On the topic of small things that make you happy – one thing I started doing a couple years ago is spending the extra dollar or two on Mrs. Meyer’s soaps. They all smell so good and it brings me such joy to wash my hands with them. Lame, I know!!

  8. Anne says:

    I love your kitchen and style! I am trying to rethink my counter tops to make them functional and easy on the eye. Do you have enough room for food prep? I guess you use the cutting boards-have you linked to them?

  9. Sherri P says:

    I have a cute little narrow tray on one side of my cooktop. It holds a covered butter dish, an olive oil carafe, my pepper mill, and a little Staub mini cocotte for my Kosher salt. On the other side of the cooktop, I have a matching spoon rest and a crock to hold frequently used items, like my whisks, wooden spoons, and silicon tools. I have in-drawer knife holders for my knives (I love Wusthof, too!) I have a counter close to my wall ovens, and my Kitchenaid mixer is always out on the counter. I consider it functional art!

  10. Libby says:

    What’s the best care for your wooden counter cutting boards- handwash and dry? Also, being gluten-free, are you a big toast eater, or just the rest of your family? If you are, what’s your fave brand or kind of bread!? (Working on GF!)

    • Julia says:

      I am currently not gluten free due to pregnancy. As for our wooden cutting board, we rinse it and use mineral oil occasionally. But we never use it for meat. Only bread, cheese, fruit and veggies.

  11. Leslie says:

    Semi-off topic: An alternative to a butter bell (but soft butter at the ready) is the product below. Just cream and salt:

  12. This is probably going to sound silly but I’ve never thought it would be ok to keep your butter out of the fridge! I’m aware butter is healthier than spreads but what has always put me off of having it with my toast in the morning was how hard to spread it was when it just came out of the fridge. This is something I’m definitely going to try.

    Regarding my counter tops, I do love keeping them as clutter free as possible but of course, that’s not always possible :)

    • Caroline says:

      You don’t need anything special to keep butter out on the counter, unless you eat it VERY slowly or live in a very hot climate without air-conditioning. We have kept butter out of the fridge my entire life (57 years), as did my mother and other family members. Butter bells are fine, but they really aren’t necessary. Just a butter dish of some sort will do!

  13. Chantal says:

    Funny story – I have been wanting a marble rolling pin for a while and finally got not one, but TWO for Christmas this year. Haha Apparently Cord and his Mom were thinking the same things while Christmas shopping. I kept the one with prettier marble swirls and love keeping it on my counter. I used it for the first time while making crescent rolls this week and I totally love the added weight! I hardly even have to roll, it’s amazing.

    I finally caved and got a mini butter dish that matches our kitchen colors and is big enough for 1/2 cube of butter. I struggle with the butter on the counter idea but only keeping a small one out has been a good compromise for us. At least it’s cute!

    I also re-purposed the white ladder shelf I was using as my sewing storage and now have it in my kitchen for fun display items. I love having my pretty cookbooks, favorite red cast iron pot (Chantal brand, so perfect!), and ceramic vases on display. Until we have to child-proof in the future I’m enjoying having things where I can see and enjoy them. :)

  14. Brittany says:

    Your kitchen really is beautiful! No coffee maker though? Also, what kind of knives do you have and does the chef love them?

    • Julia says:

      We actually don’t drink coffee. And Chris only uses Wusthof knives and loves them!

      • Kelli says:

        My husband and I didn’t drink coffee until baby #3 came along ;) I hated the taste but now have come to love it!

    • Chris says:

      We have Wusthof knives, and they’re the greatest ever. Very comfortable to use and quality steel. As for a coffee maker, we actually don’t drink coffee, but our kettle works overtime during the winter to support our hot cocoa habits. ;)

  15. Grace says:

    Gah your kitchen is a dream! How do y’all care for your over the counter cutting boards? I’ve always loved the idea but am not sure about how to keep them sanitary and clean.

    • Roxie says:

      We’ve had the same IKEA cutting board for about 5 years now and a few smaller wood boards. We only cut veggies and herbs on them. Meat has it’s own Epicurean cutting board. We just rinse in the sink with a small amount of dish soap if needed after use and apply mineral oil every few months (ok more like every 6 months because I forget).

  16. Kimberly says:

    We moved six months ago and our kitchen is still in chaos, so all the surfaces of our home are littered with miscellaneous items that still don’t have a place. In our old home, I tried keeping the counters cleared out but they often became a drop site for junk. I’m hoping that once we redo our kitchen there will be enough functionality to have just the right amount of things on the counters.

  17. Rebecca says:

    So…where’s the option for “kitchen always looks like a bomb went off.” ???? I would love a kitchen as well put together as yours, but I find myself paralyzed every time I start the organizing (what if I neeeeed this someday) process. Plus I’m a terrible housekeeper. Someday I’ll have it all together. In the meantime. I’ll just ogle pictures of your absolutely beautiful home. ????

    • allison says:

      Hey Rebecca- I have/had the same issue with purging stuff from the kitchen. when organizing the kitchen last year, I made three piles 1) we use this every day it HAS to be in the kitchen (plates, coffee machine, silverware fell into this pile). 2) why do I still have this??? I should absolutely get rid of this (this pile went right into donations. and 3) the pile that I thought “what if I need this some day?” and “Man- I loved this when I got it- I haven’t used it in ages, but I don’t want to get rid of it!” I put that third pile in a box (or to be honest in a few boxes), and put those in the basement. Any time I found myself thinking “Where did XX go?” I could trot down to the basement and get said item out. Then at the end of like 6 months (I gave myself a really generous time to make sure that I didn’t want/need anything out of there), I took the whole box to the donation center. It had stuff in it that i truly didn’t think we would ever get rid of, but then when it was out of sight, I realize I really didn’t want! I am like you- not a great house keeper, but this one made it so that I could emotionally let go of some of the stuff and move it on!

  18. Kates says:

    I love a cleared off clean counter. However we usually have papers everywhere from our three girls. Artwork, school paper and bills. Oh and our coffee maker. I can’t live without that for coffee and tea.

  19. Maria says:

    I like my countertops clear, but now that we have 3 kids, I have had to let go of my need for clean countertops because I just don’t have the energy to keep putting stuff away. The biggest eye sore for me is our drying rack for dishes that we wash by hand. It takes up so much space, but I can’t get rid of it completely because we rarely have the time to hand dry our dishes. Where do you let your dishes dry?

    • Julia says:

      We have a drying rack stored under the sink that I pull out when I need to use it. But, we double sink so I’ll sometimes just let something dry on the other side.

      • Allie says:

        I have this drying rack from IKEA and I am in love with it! The bottom slides out for even more drying space

        I totally agree about loving the little inexpensive things in your kitchen that make it feel special. I put my dish soap in an olive oil cruet and recently bought a nicer paper towel holder and they make me smile every time I use them!

    • Haley says:

      We use a dish mat instead of a rack and I LOVE it, when it’s empty you hardly notice it, much less of an eyesore

  20. Diana says:

    It’s a constant daily battle to keep my countertops cleared off! I bought the IKEA cutting board upon your recommendation, and it’s a permanent fixture in our newly renovated kitchen. It might be the most used surface. I always enjoy getting a glimpse of your beautiful kitchen! I linked it in my post today where I share the second part of my subway tile backsplash tutorial. I gave grout color options, and I love the white-on-white look!

  21. Morgan says:

    Love this post! I started keeping oil, salt, and pepper by the stove and haven’t looked back.

    Luckily, we have an outlet in our pantry and were able to build in the toaster and coffee maker (details below). We use them right in there and since we have an open concept it’s so nice to see our dirty toaster when you walk in the front door :D

  22. Kala M. says:

    I wish we had more counter space so I could leave a cutting board out but we have a tiny kitchen. We have a shop out her in CT that we just discovered. One side is all oils and vinegars the other is honey. My husband and I loved it. You can go in and try every flavor oil, vinegar, and honey. We ended up with a Riesling vinegar, Margarita avocado oil, Dark Chocolate Honey, Strawberry Honey and a Honey Mustard. The owner suggested making a marinade of the oil, vinegar and Strawberry honey to grill chicken thighs so now I can’t wait for summer.

  23. Linda Bui says:

    We have our counters sprinkled with functionality although I wished we were a clear counters type of family. It certainly would make cleaning easier.
    I love your idea of finding prettier version of what is actually on your counters though.

    I was just wondering how well your herbs are doing in doors in the winter and what types are you growing? We currently have an outdoor garden (we live in California) but having them in the kitchen would save me the trip.

    • Julia says:

      We’ve grown basil, rosemary, and parsley mostly. They do pretty well indoors, but we’ve had to replace them since the initial planting. In the end though, it’s still so nice to have fresh herbs and save money and grocery trips!

  24. Elizabeth says:

    Love the close up photos. I have followed your blog for years and never realized you used square tile for your backsplash, not subway! Made me laugh. Love your work.

  25. Kristy says:

    There’s an olive oil shop in Idaho Falls, called Love at First Bite. It’s located at Snake River Landing. It’s a pretty cute shop. You should check it out sometime!

  26. shannon says:

    Ooo I love that utensil holder! Marble is so dreamy, but because of its cost I think I would stress out about ruining a marble countertop with spills. With so many affordable marble kitchen accessories out there, I am starting to lean toward waterloxed butcher block counters with a few marble items to leave out all the time. All for our theoretical kitchen in a home we haven’t yet purchased, of course ;)

  27. Laura J says:

    Can you add a link to the butter bell? I’m on the hunt for one to live on the counter. Thanks!

  28. Stacy G. says:

    We stick with mostly bare counters here. I like to be able to wipe everything down without moving a lot of stuff. We have six people in our house, and all of them are self-sufficient in the kitchen. However, they clean at different levels of proficiency. :) When the counters are bare, my family is more likely to see their mess and clean it to my satisfaction.

  29. Megan says:

    We are a counters mostly clear type family. However we are on the hunt for a more attractive toaster that we love. How do you like yours?

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