Kitchen Minimalism - The art of keeping your stuff but not too much stuff

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Growing up in the 1980s in the Midwest meant transitioning from a culture of keeping stuff that you purchased for a number of years to a culture of buying a bunch of stuff and throwing away only some of it to make room for buying more stuff. The idea of having modern kitchen cabinets was only for the purpose of making room for more stuff, more gadgets, more kitchen. More kitchen meant more kitchen cabinets to store and hide more stuff.

Kitchen minimalism, that is to say, being a kitchen minimalist, means having the utensils that one uses regularly and practically for preparing meals and entertaining one’s guests without allowing kitchen gadgets (which we all love) to overwhelm the function and beauty of our kitchen spaces. It means having what you need, but not hoarding needlessly, things that you might need “someday.”


Kitchen minimalism is the art and practice of having the right number of things in the kitchen to be able to use the kitchen effectively and efficiently, putting everything in its place, out of sight, quickly and easily. Kitchen minimalism is being the master of your kitchen, using the kitchen cabinets but not stuffing them full of things, mismatched and overfull. Minimalist kitchens don’t need to have things out on the counters when they are not being used because everything has a place.


Renown subject matter experts and Netflix documentary stars, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists, write and discuss their own experiences in minimalism in their own lives and in their own homes - at length. You can watch the trailer for their documentary here: and you can check out their amazing blog here:

In their blog titled, Tour My Minimalist Apartment, Joshua Fields Millburn states, “People are often intrigued by my living space, or rather by the idea of my living space, wondering what it looks like, how a minimalist really lives, often posing all sorts of voyeuristic questions: How many things do you own? What does your living room look like? Do you sleep on the floor?”

No doubt, many can relate to this idea when considering what a minimalist kitchen might be. Is it a blank white room like the TV Room from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? Is it just a blank nothing with a bar stool and a microwave? - Hardly.


Kitchens have a very specific purpose even though we often take them for granted. This purpose has transitioned over the last 150 years or so, but the fundamental kernel of purpose has remained true - safely feed the people in the home, provide ease and comfort while doing so, and be the hub of activity and work.

When we open our homes to guests, naturally, they gather in the heart of the home, the place where all of the action and emotion occur. This is the place where all of our memories are made.

Many times when people are in the kitchen cooking and preparing food, it is natural to come in and check to see what is being made and maybe have a taste. Of course, that leads to conversation and that leads to more people joining in, more conversation and the virtuous cycle begins until nearly everyone is pulled in to the fun.

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The great smells of the kitchen are enhanced by beautiful cabinets and counters with plenty of room to layout trays, pans, desserts and still do the necessary cooking.

In a minimalist kitchen, by not having extra spaces to clean and having a perfectly organized space, the people cooking can focus on the task at hand at still have plenty of time to engage in the event without being anchored to a stove while guests are enjoying themselves.


Having a purpose, as described above, a minimalist kitchen provides one with functionality. For example, a series of quality appliances, like those of Smeg™ and Liebherr™, allows you to perform cooking functions masterfully. Smeg™ themselves say that they have been, “... adopting policies for many years which target ongoing improvements…” No doubt discussing green initiatives but certainly pertaining to their extraordinary dedication to quality, technology, and style.


One of the first spaces we look at when purchasing a home is the kitchen. Everyone looks at the kitchen and imagines what it will be like to look through the cabinets and entertain family and friends. It is easy to picture the family around the island snacking and talking and doing homework and making a meal, romanticizing the future.

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Most people do not sit and daydream about having a set of drab cabinets with the dust settling in the overly ornate crevices. We don’t fantasize about having a fridge hanging out in the middle of the room, taking up space. No one really thinks, “Man! If only I could have inadequate storage options so that I can leave eleventy-seven small appliances out on the counter every day, making it impossible for cooking to take place.

Instead, what we are thinking about when we envision ourselves in our new home is the joy of having clean spaces, easy to wipe down and sanitize, filled with clever storage options that really make the day-to-day living of our lives convenient and pleasant.

What that looks like in real life is kitchen minimalism combined with modern kitchen design. For example, modern kitchen cabinets, with their clean lines and easy to clean surfaces, make a minimalist kitchen possible.

Neolith Sintered Stone - Minimalist Kitchens

We see thin, linear countertops made from products like Neoltih™ and we see smartly designed appliances like Smeg™. We see modern, smooth surfaced cabinets like Bauformat’s Purista™ line with handleless integrated lit channels that make for beautiful, functional living.

What makes these combinations so great? Why do we want to have well thought out kitchen spaces?

With the countertop, you are going to need a surface that is durable and scratch resistant, something that doesn’t fade and looks great. Something that you could take a hot pan and sit right on top if you need and do homework on and make pie crusts… because you actually live in the space. It needs to be practical and it should be attractive if you are going to be using it daily.

Minimalist kitchens do not mean having kitchens devoid of everything. Minimalism in the kitchen means having the right things in the kitchen and the design of the kitchen adequate to the task of your daily living.

Modern design excels in being easy to clean, and having incredible storage solutions which are also beautiful. More traditional options tend to lend themselves to be harder to maintain, more difficult to clean with their many surfaces and potentially more expensive to own overall.

Let go of things but don’t let go of reason.

No one is suggesting that you start counting your possessions but rather, count on the possessions that matter. “How often do I make toast with for two in my 8 slice toaster? Do I ever use the toaster-oven? What about the quesadilla maker that I haven’t used except two years ago when I had leftovers?”

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Joshua (of the Minimalists) said, “When Ryan and I first started this website, I counted my things as a parody, showcasing the fact that I didn’t have the desire to be as extreme as some minimalists. In that essay, you can see a picture of my beautiful loft apartment in downtown Dayton, Ohio, a capacious living space with hardwood floors and high ceilings, wide open and airy from brick wall to brick wall. It was not unlike something you’d see in a magazine (actually, it was featured in a couple magazines).”

The message here is: Extraneous stuff isn’t going to lead you to a clean efficient kitchen - but don’t get hung up on the legalism of minimalism.

Quality is better than quantity in almost every instance. Buying quality finishes instead of buying a quantity of stuff.


What we really want are experiences. Minimalist kitchens help us experience our home through a lense of convenience. Everything has its place in a minimalist kitchen - every can, every spoon, every cup, every small appliance - everything.

Intuitively knowing where all of your utensils, pots, pans, spices and food items are because they are in sophisticated organizational systems, easily accessed while you are preparing a meal.

Cleaning up after breakfast is easier as well when there are non-porous surfaces, hidden cook surface induction appliances,

But ultimately, the question is what experience are we looking for? Is it an experience of experience we are looking for is comfort, luxury, practicality, and style.

Kitchen Minimalism & Modern Kitchen Cabinets

The two simply go hand-in-hand. Joshua concludes, “I remember the old days when I’d spend an entire weekend organizing junk, separating miscellanea into various organizing bins, using a complex item-dispersal system to separate my hoard; but now it’s easy to remain organized since I don’t own much to organize in the first place. Instead, I’ve discovered that it’s much easier to get rid of something than it is to clean or organize it. Empty spaces allow us to focus on ourselves and the people around us—to find ourselves in spareness—not in the things we’re constantly trying to take care of.

The biggest fringe benefit, however, is the calm I feel when I return home. No longer am I worried about the wall-to-wall disorder. No longer am I bothered by the organized chaos. No longer am I discontent with my surroundings. My simple living space is calm, relaxed, serene.”


Special thanks to The Minimalists ℅ - attribution elsewhere in the article.
All photography is original or provided with permission.