7 Upgrades Under $40 That Make Your Kitchen a More Comfortable Place to Hang Out

published Nov 19, 2018
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Brian and Nicki Rohloff)

If you’re anything like me, you may be about to spend hours upon hours in the kitchen this coming holiday season. Between hosting get-togethers and making contributions to bring to others’ events, not to mention kitchen-centric traditions like icing cookies and decorating gingerbread houses, your kitchen is about to be used a lot this season. If you make your space work hard, you can work a little bit easier—and help ensure that any hours spent in the kitchen are pleasant for you and yours.

The name of this rug itself promises what it delivers. These ergonomic floor mats offer relief from the knee and joint pain that often occurs with prolonged standing on hard floors. Put one near the sink and near the stove. They’re also easier to clean than rugs and come in a slew of colors if you’re worried about them making your kitchen look too industrial.

Aprons are definitely practical, saving your clothes from oil splatters and puffs of flour. But they’re also a way to have a bit of fun. My favorite place to sift through pretty aprons is Anthropologie (just check out their whole apron collection). They’re gorgeous and putting one on starts off a session in the kitchen in a way that feels a bit like grown-up dress-up time.

Whether you use it to blast holiday music or play a podcast or audio book, this bluetooth speaker will add some entertainment to your kitchen life and make even the drudgery of dish-washing and oven-scrubbing go by quickly. If you have a bit more than $40 to spend, you might want to upgrade to the Mini Jambox by Jawbone—Apartment Therapy’s pick for the best bluetooth speaker of 2018.

A diffuser offers the warm glow and pleasant scent that a candle does without your needing to babysit an open flame. This one has gleaned over 20,000 satisfied customers. A diffuser also adds a bit of humidity to the air—a welcome touch when the heater tends to dry out indoor air.

One of these will free up counter space and keep your cookbooks (or tablet) from getting dirty while displaying your recipes so you can see them with a glance. And when you’re done with it, you can slip it in to a cupboard for storage.

Nothing incites choice words quite like trying to unearth the pan you need from a slippery pile beneath a cabinet. This adjustable pan organizer rack takes the frustration out of retrieving cupcake pans, cookie sheets, and glass bakeware. You can also use it to store cutting boards, pie pans, and more.

When you’re hard at work in the kitchen, any little thing that delights your senses can help bring joy to the many tasks at hand. Something as small as the scent of your dish soap can keep you in a cheerful, festive mood. This fleur de sel scent—or any of Williams Sonoma’s other scents like Meyer lemon, or seasonal spiced chestnut—will make an evening of dish-washing smell good at the very least.

What brings you joy in your holiday kitchen?