Usually when you talk about upgrading your kitchen, you’re talking about big ticket items: a new refrigerator, range, cabinets, or floors. But sometimes it’s the little changes that add up to a big difference in the way you use your kitchen. Especially in a smaller kitchen, simple functionality-adding features are the best upgrades you can make. Better still, many of the most useful kitchen gadgets are inexpensive to add. Here are a few of my favorites that are affordable and easy to install, but that can really streamline the way you use your kitchen.
In Sink Colander
In sink colanders are large, commercial-kitchen style colanders designed to be paired with specific kitchen sinks, especially stainless steel sinks. I call them kitchen gadgets because they aren’t especially well-known, but they are incredibly useful. These colanders are usually deep and rectangular, and can be set directly onto two edges of the kitchen sink so that they’re suspended across and inside the sink without touching the bottom. In-sink colanders won’t tip over when you pour out a big pot of pasta, so you won’t need a second pair of hands to use it safely. They’re self stabilizing and drain directly into the sink, no muss, no fuss. Better still, you can still use the sink, even with your food sitting in the colander, so you don’t need to rush to put food back in the pan to make space.
In-sink cutting boards are in the same class of kitchen gadgets: they’re cutting boards designed to rest solidly on the lip of your kitchen sink, turning it into a decent-sized solid work space. I particularly like these because not only does it create a prep area from nothing, but it makes it supremely easy to dump scraps directly into your sink. Any liquid on your cutting board will drip into the sink, not onto your counter, and because it’s positioned right next to your kitchen faucet, it’s easy to clean, too. As with colanders, these typically come bundled with new sinks, but if yours is from a popular manufacturer, there’s a good chance you can find a matching design.
This might seem like a silly addition, and I’ll grant that it’s a very simple kitchen gadget. But if you have an extra hole in your sink (say if you opt for a kitchen faucet with a built in sprayer rather than a separate side spray), installing a simple soap dispenser is a great way to clean up your counter tops. These have nice metal hardware on top and connect to a large, refillable plastic bottle of soap underneath your kitchen sink, and can be used either for hand soap or dish soap. For dish soap especially, it means you won’t have an awkward plastic bottle sitting on the edge of your sink all the time, and that you can add more soap to your sink or your sponge with a simple pump.
Hot Drinking Water Dispenser
Hot water dispensers are a little more complicated to install than soap dispensers, but the idea is generally the same. In a single spare hole in your kitchen sink, you can install a second, smaller faucet. Under your sink, these petite spigots are linked to compact water heaters, water filters, or both. Water heaters allow you to get piping hot water up to 180 degrees F, perfect for making a cup of tea or cocoa, thawing frozen vegetables, or even just giving your pasta water a head start. Installing a water filter is a great way to get clean, filtered water without a pitcher or a bulky attachment on your main faucet. Really, these are more complex fixtures that looks and works a whole lot better than many of the throw away water-filtering kitchen gadgets, and produce hot water on demand to boot.
A Better Faucet
Finally, one of my favorite kitchen gadgets is maybe the most important one. If your kitchen faucet is just so-so, upgrading to a new, culinary style faucet can add a significant amount of functionality to your kitchen sink. From simple models with pull-down faucets to high powered sprayers or sophisticated touch faucets, there are more innovative faucet options than ever. With a better faucet, you can easily direct water where you need it in a variety of spray types, or even start and stop the flow of water with a bump of your wrist. I’m strongly of the opinion that if your kitchen faucet isn’t doing more than one thing, it isn’t doing enough. There’s really no reason not to take advantage of at least some of the cool features that come standard on newer faucets. Plus, it’s a simple, relatively inexpensive upgrade to one of the most-used fixtures in your kitchen.
What are some of your favorite tips to streamline your kitchen? Any favorite kitchen gadgets or kitchen sink accessories that will make a big difference on a budget? Let me know in the comments!