5 Kitchen Gadgets That Made My Kitchen Feel Like It Got a Full Renovation

published Jul 1, 2021
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Credit: Viv Yapp

Over a year spent using my kitchen more regularly than I ever have before left me feeling overwhelmed by its inefficiencies. I realized that my apartment kitchen wasn’t suited for everyday, all-day use. It’s a small, galley-style space with few outlets and very limited countertop surface area. So in order to sustainably keep cooking as much as I have been, I’ve needed to reimagine how my kitchen functions. As a renter, though, I don’t have the time, money, or ability to renovate my space.

Instead, I’ve added appliances and gadgets that have expanded my kitchen’s capabilities, transforming it from a tiny, annoying galley where I used to juggle too many pots and pans into a harmonious, creative place I can easily navigate and keep clean. Best of all, I’ve found small, less expensive ways to upgrade my kitchen set-up. These little kitchen gems have made huge logistical, aesthetic, and emotional differences in my culinary life — which matters, because cooking most of my meals at home is a major way my partner and I stay within our budget each month. As such, finding little ways to upgrade our now-well-worn kitchen has felt like such a treat. Here are some of my favorites:

1 / 5

Being able to toast four pieces of bread at once is a luxury I never knew I needed. Now, both my partner and I can both have fresh, hot toast simultaneously, thanks to an upgrade to a compact plastic toaster by Cuisinart.

This particular model’s simple, classic design is delightfully minimalist, and I’m confident this toaster will fit in with any future aesthetic if we move. Its clean look feels more expensive than its $70 price tag, and it’s also fairly compact despite its expanded capabilities. These traits particularly suit our needs because, thanks to our small kitchen layout, ours lives on a credenza in our dining room for all to see.

2 / 5

The Instant Pot is a set-it-and-forget-it pressure cooker meets slow cooker meets at-this-point-pretty-much-anything cooker. Researching all of the different Instant Pot models available was its own grand adventure, and my partner and I spent hours on the project before landing on the 8-quart Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus.

While most buy the Instant Pot for its wide variety of functionalities — this version can pressure cook, saute, slow cook, steam, sous vide, and on and on and on — I’m in it for the physical convenience. The appliance itself is extremely easy to clean. While it’s not the smallest tool in our kitchen, it’s also not too heavy to regularly lift onto and off its designated storage spot on top of our refrigerator. This accessibility keeps me gladly reaching for it again and again.

3 / 5

Part of what always felt so tricky in our kitchen was how inaccessible our higher cabinets felt. I never wanted to store anything we used regularly inside of them, because getting anything down from them was such a pain.

Investing in a small, convenient step stool like Polder’s Mini 2-Step Stool has alleviated much of that annoyance around reaching high for what we need. It’s also small enough that we can tuck it out of sight behind our refrigerator and easily pull it out whenever we need it. Other stool models also exist with more steps for kitchens lucky enough to have even higher ceilings and shelving.

4 / 5
was $599.95

By far the priciest upgrade we made was investing in a nice blender, specifically the A3500 from Vitamix’s Ascent Series. At first, we balked at this blender’s high price tag, but our investment has been well worth it so far.

Given our lack of counter space, I never thought our small kitchen could accommodate a Vitamix, and ours is too bulky to move in and out of a cabinet easily. Even so, the speed and convenience it offers makes it well worth the sacrificed surface area.

An added bonus I also hadn’t anticipated prior to owning my Vitamix was that having a blender out on our counter, in our line of sight, encourages us to use it more. This has me reconsidering what I’ll look for in future places we move - possibly prioritizing more accessible open shelving opportunities. Did I mention this blender also features a self-cleaning function? How about that for a thoughtful roommate?

5 / 5

Maintaining a clean kitchen keeps me wanting to keep using it. Transfering my cooking oils into squeeze bottles has significantly cut down on my post-cooking kitchen mess. These OXO chef’s squeeze bottles have easy, hinged caps that cut down on drippage, making both use and clean-up super simple.

Squeeze bottles like these are also easy to label and relabel again and again, improving pantry organization. Using these bottles keeps my counters cleaner, which makes the entire kitchen feel tidier. If I can’t have a renovated kitchen, I at least have a clean one.