10 Things Every Kitchen Needs That You Can't See

Life in the Kitchen

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Choosing the right equipment for your kitchen is important and we believe that making educated choices can keep clutter down and harmony in the home. That said, the most important stuff in your kitchen isn't your handmade Swedish cutting board or even your new Vitamix that cost as much as your first car. No, the things that every kitchen needs most aren’t actually things you can see at all!

Read on for our picks for the 10 things your kitchen (and your cooking) need most of all. If you’re missing one or two, is it time to put it in place? These are 10 essentials that fit in every space devoted to good food and nourishment, no matter how big or small!

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The kitchen, as we all know, is the heart of the home and no matter whether you're a professional chef or a home cook who struggles to boil water, there are some things that make your space more than just a place to cut up vegetables.

These elements are what gives your kitchen spirit and personality, warmth and heart. If you read through and find that your kitchen is missing some of the items below, take a look to see how you can add them to your space.

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1. Space

It doesn't matter how big or small your kitchen is, it needs room to breathe. It needs less clutter and more space to work. It needs the longest lines possible. Maybe that's expanses of countertops (lucky you); maybe it's long floor length curtains to make the windows look bigger. Maybe it's a runner on the floor to lengthen the room, or a kitchen cart to give you a little more elbow room.

No matter how you achieve it, giving yourself room to work not only makes your kitchen feel welcoming to others, but inspires you to get in there, roll up your sleeves and maybe try making gnocchi for the first time!

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2. Smell

The smell of a kitchen is more than your fresh baked bread and curry simmering away on the stove. Smell is about having a clean space where what you smell is the food, not the trash can.

It's important to routinely clean things that absorb smells. Don't forget about linens, porous wood surfaces, and that fur collecting under your refrigerator or on top of your ceiling fan blades. Bringing in a plant to help act as a natural air freshener is always a plus; just make sure you choose one that's suited for the light your space receives.

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3. Light

We all dream of a kitchen with huge windows so we can watch the children and our dogs play while prepping our green beans, but that's not always what we get. Many city apartments are doing well to have a stove, let alone a window.

If you're lacking in the natural light department, try adding a lamp or under-cabinet light to make your space glow and come alive. Any extra light will make a small space feel larger. When all else fails, add a mirror to bounce around what little light you have to the deepest darkest corners.

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4. Sound

What are the sounds in your kitchen? The hum of a dishwasher or the buzz of fluorescent lighting, the whir of a blender, the gurgle of a refrigerator and the city sounds outside? Perhaps your family runs through the space with toys and pets and there's always a little commotion. These things make your kitchen feel like home.

It's nice to throw open a window and hear the bees, or to fix a recurrent noise that drives you crazy. There are some things in life we learn to ignore, but the unrest that they cause can be grating.

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5. Tradition

Tradition in the kitchen can be as simple as having tools or treasures your parents or grandparents used. It can mean making a recipe that's been in the family for years. Drawing on tradition is certainly essential in making your home your own. Maybe you make cookies with your kids every holiday season and have a single cookie cutter mounted on display for all to see. Maybe you use the same olive oil your grandfather used when he made a ragu.

No matter what how you carry tradition into your cooking place, these stories are the warmth that fills our spaces. What reminds you of tradition in your kitchen?

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6. Love

Love! We don't mean dressing your kitchen nest in wallpaper printed with kittens or donning an apron sporting hearts (Urban Outfitters-chic though it may be). When you cook for someone — your significant other, your friends, your family, heck, even your pets, you're doing so out of love. To nourish and feed one another is a human instinct and it's important to give it an outlet regularly.

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7. Passion

Although it sounds like love and passion are the same thing and sure, they might share a certain vibe, they couldn't be more different. Passion is what fuels you. It's what sparks your creative vibe and says, "Today... today I will make pasta." It's what ignites inside you when you do something really well and makes you want to do it again and again until it's perfected.

Passion is drive and without it, a kitchen sits uninspired and is just a place to microwave a bag of popcorn or pour a drink.

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8. Lightness

Do you feel heavy in your kitchen? Not because you have giant walls of cast iron pans and they're quite literally heavy, but because your stuff feels like a burden. Maybe there are things you're holding on to and shifting around in your cabinets that you don't need to keep; letting them go would make you suddenly feel lighter. It might be that your counters are too cluttered. Maybe those old vines and plate displays on top of your cabinet should finally go.

The goal of your kitchen is to feel light like the way a knife feels when you cut through a tomato. That way your food shines and lets good things flow throughout. It doesn't mean your kitchen has to be light in color, just in feeling!

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9. Air Flow

An open window or a ceiling fan can do wonders to freshen your space. Often in a small kitchen or even a large one, stale air feels, sort of, what's the word we're looking for? Frumpy?

A small desk fan from your local big box retailer — you know the tiny ones that don't actually look like they'd provide any relief from heat — will tuck behind your flour bin on your counter and move air around enough to keep things fresh. Open windows when you can too, but remember that stale air is icky air!

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10. Music

There's no denying that a good soundtrack makes any meal prep better. Some people like calming classical or jazz to cook to, others love rowdy rock or super sweet pop. Music helps you forget that the heirloom tomato salad you wanted to bring to that potluck involves cutting 200 cherry tomatoes and keeps a beat in your feet and a swing in your step.

Does your kitchen reflect the list above? Are you lacking in some and strong on others? What's your biggest challenge? Let us know in the comments below!

(Image credits: Leela Cyd; Amy Herr; Faith Durand; Nicola Tordoff and Mara Pellizzari ; Jill Slater; Marisol Márquez; Lucy Hewett; Amy Herr and Tracey Brower; Sarah Rae Trover)