#StayAtHome Styling for the Kitchen & Pantry

Recently a local wellness and health guru friend of mine reached out to inquire what tips I had for fostering wellness in our home environments during this time of self-isolating and uncertainty (COVID epidemic). Andrea Peraino is the owner and mastermind behind the vegan brand Juice by the Sea. Her food products can even be ordered while we are isolating and delivered to your doorstep in a safe social distancing manner! I’m super excited because this summer she plans to open a vegan juice bar in downtown Oak Bluffs, which is within walking distance from our cottage! Andrea embodies a lifestyle focused on nurturing our bodies and minds by being purposeful with what we feed ourselves and ultimately absorb into our being. When creating interiors, I work within similar framework, taking into account how each detail in our environment can contribute to a sense of overall well-being.

Personally, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen to cook more involved recipes for my family while we have the extra time on our hands. I do well keeping my mind occupied by trying out new dishes and making everything from scratch during this time. I’ve seen via social media that many of you are doing the same and thought it would be the perfect time to share some of my home styling tips for the kitchen & pantry that contribute to overall personal wellness.

1. Less is Best - Minimalism is key to fostering an environment that reduces our anxiety. Our minds are constantly working, our to-do lists of managing our lives are never ending and can be overwhelming at times. We can, and should, make an effort to give ourselves a subconscious break at home by lessening visual distractions. Less is best when it comes to countertop accessories – if you have the space to store a mixer or crockpot behind cabinetry or on a pantry shelf, do so.

2. Cleaning crew - Adding onto our pursuit of minimalism is cleanliness. Our kitchens are constantly fluctuating with dishes and ingredients between each meal. Now more than ever we are cooking at home and the amount of stuff piling up feels endless. It’s very important to establish a routine for yourself and make members of your household part of the “cleaning crew” with clear responsibilities. In our home we do our sanitizing deep clean of the kitchen and “reset” every morning, so we are equipped each day with a put together and calming environment.

3. Let function guide form - There are countertop items in the kitchen that we use practically every day. Items such as the coffee pot, toaster, cutting boards, olive oil, salt, and so on should be readily accessible. Figure out what your “must-haves” are and style from there. Stack your cutting boards nicely under the cabinetry, put your salt & pepper in beautiful grinders and style in a tray next to the stove with olive oil. Select your prettiest utensils and position them in a jar for easy access while cooking. Location of items throughout the kitchen should accommodate how and where you use them. Placement of decorative accessories should come second to these essential items and only if there is ample space for accents that will compliment not clutter the design.

4. Keep it cool, calm, and collected - A simple color palette can ease the eye and calm our minds. Small choices such as only putting out matching dishcloths can go a long way. If you’re in a position to redecorate or buy new – we highly suggest all countertop appliances coordinate in color. You don’t have to go with a cookie cutter all matching set – in fact, we find it more interesting to mix brands but keep the color selections cohesive throughout. Personally, my entire kitchen is neutral; we have white cabinetry and backsplash, grey countertops, and simple natural wood accessories. I used red countertop appliances, cookware, and cooking accessories for a pop of color and personality. While red is a bold color choice, the kitchen still feels very calm and neutral as the “accents” are all well-coordinated. You can achieve this with more than one color if you wish, but try to keep it to 2-3 maximum or you will risk feeling too eclectic which can be overwhelming rather than calming.

5. Your pantry is your personal store - Right now, for some of us who cannot do our own shopping due to health concerns, it’s our only store! If you have not already given yourself the quarantine activity of reorganizing your pantry now is the time to do so! A pantry serves the function of storage in our homes but can also foster a sense of preparedness and control (which eases anxiety) when we put a little extra thought into how we set it up.

Items around eye through waist level should be where we keep smaller items and those that we use most frequently. Set up your items like store shelves – line your cans with labels facing out, stack your pasta boxes, and group your boxes of various stock and broth together. Use containers to house flour, sugars, and various rice and grains that you often use. Either label these or use clear jars so the contents of each jar is easily recognizable. Figure out what types of items your family uses most and group those items into storage containers when possible to reduce “clutter.” We keep our salad dressings and marinades in their own basket, and all our taco night and Tex-Mex ingredients in another. This can be a good quarantine activity to include your children or significant other in on as you discuss and organize your favorite foods to have on hand are. Right now, it’s not practical to suggest you run out to the store to buy organizational containers, so use what you have around the house for the time being – this can be a work in progress over time.

Keep bulkier items such as paper towel, toilet paper, extra Ziploc bags and tinfoil, cleaning supplies, large cans of oil ect., towards the bottom of the pantry. These items aren’t replenished as frequently and are more easily found than some of our items with smaller labels that we want at eye level. The upper most shelves are a good place to store extra cookware such as Dutch ovens, a large wok, the crockpot, blenders, mixer, and so on.

6. Practice Gratitude - It’s very easy to look around one’s home and have thoughts about what you “want” or perceive you “need.” We are very fortunate that many of us have everything we truly need already. I hope that you all take this collective experience of social distancing and self-isolating to practice gratitude for what we have in our lives currently. We are safe at home, the Vineyard is fortunate to have restocked grocery shelves, and many of us are receiving extra time with our loved ones. Establish a ritual each morning and evening that focuses on living in the present and gratitude for the small daily tasks such as making morning coffee and breakfast or extra selfcare at night, whatever it may be for you!

I hope you enjoyed these tips and are staying home and staying safe. I look forward to hopefully seeing some of y’all again in person this summer! Until then feel free to reach out online for more tips!


Kate Harrop

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