This article appears in Summer Home & Garden 2018.

Is your kitchen countertop crowded with appliances or littered in odds and ends? When you clear away the clutter in your life you literally make room to get things done.

“The kitchen is the most important area of the home when it comes to organization and efficiency, but it requires constant upkeep,” said professional organizer Monica Friel, president of Chaos to Order, Chicago. “Most people want a clean, fresh surface to work on, but things tend to pile up on the countertop.”

The No. 1 tip to alleviate clutter is to “streamline what you’re not using on a regular basis,” Friel said. If you’re not using it regularly, it may not deserve a place on the countertop.

‘Plugged in and used daily’

“The best tip for an uncluttered kitchen counter is to put everything away except for things that have to be plugged in and are used daily. These are primarily appliances like the coffee maker and toaster or toaster oven. Anything that is used less than daily can be put away unless it’s too heavy to move or too big to fit anywhere,” agreed organizing expert Eileen Roth, author of “Organizing For Dummies.” “My KitchenAid mixer is heavy, but I don’t use it more than once a month so it’s in a pantry on the bottom shelf. I lift it out when I need it.”

No matter how much you paid for your gorgeous appliances, they’re “taking up a ton of valuable real estate. ... These items should be neatly tucked and only pulled out while in use,” said Leigh Anderson, a private chef in Los Angeles. Keep on top of things

“Clean as you go,” said Claudia Sidoti, head chef and recipe developer at HelloFresh. “If you save it all until you’re finished cooking, you’ll end up with a chaotic counter and extra work waiting for you once you’re done eating. If you put ingredients away and clear and clean dishes step by step, you’ll be able to focus on enjoying your meal with the view of a clean kitchen.”

Designed for use

“My tip for having an uncluttered kitchen countertop is, have a designated cabinet or shelf for everything,” said home decor and lifestyle blogger Jenna Shaughnessy, whose blog is called Wife in Progress. “I love drawers next to the dishwasher for easy dinnerware storage. The toaster has a designated shelf on an upper cabinet while the microwave is built into an island. Finally, corral coffee-making items onto a tray for an attractive beverage station.”

Gather in groups

Group regularly used counter items together in containers, said professional organizer Laura Souders with Healthier Spaces Organizing in Middletown, Pennsylvania.

“For example, salt and pepper — they look neater and the space looks less cluttered if they are on a small tray. Use baskets or bowls to keep loose snacks and/or produce,” Souders said.

Avoid the dumping ground

“Mail, keys, school work, notes about activities, receipts, checkbooks and more get lost in piles on your counters if there’s no method to the madness. The first thing you need to do to control the clutter is, designate an inbox for the paper items,” said Marty Basher, home organization expert at Modular Closets.

“Take a couple of minutes every day to sort through the inbox. Toss anything that can be thrown, file bills and important mail away in the office, and handle school work and permission slips right away. Anything with upcoming dates should be put into your main calendar system, whether it’s electronic or an old-school write-on calendar,” Basher said.