Have you been following the latest trend in fashion called the Capsule wardrobe?
Wikipedia defines a Capsule wardrobe as a curated collection of 33 - 37 essential high quality items of clothing that don't go out of fashion, such as skirts, trousers, and coats, which can then be augmented with seasonal pieces. This notion has been around since the 70's and is not new. More recently, though, the Capsule wardrobe philosophy has been picked up by a number of minimalist lifestyle bloggers, motivated, I'm sure, by Japanese organizing guru, Marie Kondo who challenged us to righteously divest ourselves of items that do not spark joy!
So I gave it a whirl. Well, I tried anyway. I pulled everything out of my closet and drawers, sorted through everything one-by-one and donated several bags of clothing. But I couldn't figure out how to pare my clothing down enough to define it as a Capsule wardrobe. It wasn't so much because I needed to have lots of options. I just wasn't clear about what I needed and didn't need. I eventually gave up.
But my failed Capsule wardrobe experience got me thinking. Whatever skills I lack in paring down my clothing to a cohesive wardrobe, I more than make up for in the kitchen. In that particular arena, I am laser focused!
So here's my question/proposition:
What if, instead of clothing, we cast our discerning eye on each item in our kitchen and create a Capsule kitchen?
Unlike clothing, that changes from season to season, good pots, pans and utensils are classic. And, unlike outfits, which can feel awkward if repeated more than once a week, we can use the same kitchen items daily, even multiple times a day and never give it a thought.
Sure, dishes and glassware go in and out of style, but not high quality cookware. As long as you take good care of them, even used daily most cookware can last a lifetime. Imagine what your cupboards and drawers would look like if you reduced your pots, pans, baking sheets, utensils, dishes, glassware, tupperware and mugs down to what you actually used rather than what you've simply accumulated?
Eight years ago, in anticipation of moving out of our ancestral family home and buying a house, I pared my own kitchen items down to the absolute bare essentials. I wish I could say that I was at the forefront of the minimalist trend, but the truth was I was solely motivated by my need to pack light. I had no idea what my new kitchen would look like.
Jettisoning what I didn't use was far easier than I anticipated. Much of it was leftover from the three generations before me, and much of it was aluminum, which is now considered a health hazard. I think we can all agree that health hazards DO NOT spark joy! In the end, I only kept the best quality, most used and useful kitchen items, including my mom's carbon steel knife and my grandmother's cast iron skillet. Letting go of the rest has not given me a single pang of regret. When it comes to cooking, I know with absolute clarity what I use and like.
Creating a Capsule kitchen made it super easy to unpack into our current kitchen, which turns out to be the smallest kitchen I have ever cooked in. Considering I have no plans to remodel and give myself more space, I have made it work. In fact, it is a pleasure to cook in my tiny kitchen! Everything is basically two steps from where I use it. Especially after my brother installed my 1980s Taylor and Ng pot rack over my sink, which gives me easy access to my pots. The rest of my things fit comfortably in the cupboards and drawers.
Capsule kitchen living is not for everyone, and definitely not something that I expect my clients do. If you want to give a try, I suggest boxing the jettisoned kitchen items up for at least three months and seeing how that feels. I am willing to bet that at the end of three months, most, if not all of what was stowed away will feel irrelevant.