101 Little Ways to Love Your Kitchen More

updated Sep 12, 2019
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When it comes to falling in love with your kitchen, there are a few factors at play. The most obvious is aesthetics. (Would you post any of it on Instagram? Does the bubbled linoleum floor send you running for the hills? Is it too dark? Do you wish you had granite counters?) There’s also the functionality of the kitchen. (Can you get a pot out of the cabinet without making a mess? Do you struggle to find space for pantry ingredients? Does your oven set off your smoke alarm every time it goes above 350 degrees?) And then, among other things, there’s YOU. (How prepared are you? Do you have what you need? How do you feel when you’re in your kitchen?)

While this sounds like a lot, it’s actually good news! It means that there are a ton of tiny things you can do to love your kitchen a little more than you do right now. You can make some small cosmetic changes, organize something, clean something, or change your approach. Or you can do a bunch of things on this list and fall totally head-over-heels with your kitchen.

So here goes! Here are 101 things you can do (right now!) to love your kitchen more.

Small, No-Reno Design Changes

1. Change the hardware: Knobs and pulls are like jewelry for your cabinets. If you don’t like the look, swap out the accessories. You can probably do it in less than a half-hour, and the hardest part is seriously just picking the new hardware. Where to start? Here are 10 of our favorite sources for cheap hardware.

2. Add some light: A dark kitchen is never fun (and can actually be pretty dangerous for knife-wielding home cooks!). We’re big fans of lights under your upper cabinets (these are battery-powered and don’t even require installation!) and have been amazed at the difference a few plug-in pendant lights (no hardwiring necessary!) can make.

3. Put down a rug or a gel mat: Despite what some people may think, rugs totally belong in the kitchen. Just make sure to get a low-pile one so that crumbs and messes can easily be vacuumed up. If you’re looking for something more cushy, we’ve finally found a pretty gel mat that we actually like: the NamaMat.

4. Hang some artwork: There are lots of ways to enjoy artwork in your kitchen. Get a piece that means something to you or just makes you smile. Check out these sites for some affordable options.

5. Add some plants: A little greenery can go a long way! Worried your kitchen doesn’t get a lot of light? Here are some plants that don’t need much natural light.

6. Or flowers from the grocery store: If you lack any sort of green thumb, skip the plants (which will just die and make you feel bad) and pick up the occasional bouquet of flowers from the grocery store. They’re likely to make you happy and inspire you to keep the kitchen clean.

7. Take cabinet doors off the hinges: Ripping out cabinets to install some open shelving is not a little task. But taking a few doors off the hinges sure is! If you hate the doors on your cabinets or just really love your dishes, take some (or all) of the doors off and style the shelves up nicely.

8. Upgrade your dishes: Which brings us here. Maybe you’ve been using the same dishes since you graduated from college? Or maybe everything is totally mix-and-match? Treat yourself to some nice new dishes, which you can even display. Allow us to suggest Year & Day — it looks way more expensive than it actually is.

9. Pick up a pretty tea towel: A pretty tea towel draped over your oven door handle or the counter can do more for your kitchen than you’d think. Etsy has thousands of great options.

10. Insert a pop of yellow: Yellow is the sunniest, happiest color of all time, so adding the hue to your kitchen is bound to cheer things up. Don’t like yellow? No problem! Just insert your favorite color.

11. Get some pretty canisters for your counter: While you’ll see that we’re not fans of unnecessary counter clutter, we recognize that pretty canisters (like this porcelain set or these glass ones) can help dress up a space. And if you fill them with stuff you commonly reach for, they’ll actually be useful too.

12. Add a backsplash: Even if you’re not all that handy, you can totally install a backsplash. Consider temporary wallpaper, which is very forgiving while you work, or these peel-and-stick panels that look like subway tiles.

13. Swap out your kitchen chairs or counter stools: Get something more colorful, more your style, or, well, less old. Surprisingly, Amazon has lots of great options. Check out the site’s private-label brands, Stone & Beam and Rivet.

14. Paint something: An accent wall! Your breakfast table! A storage cabinet! Paint anything! It’ll make a huge difference.

15. Set your favorite pot on the stove: Obsessed with your Staub Dutch oven that you saved up for? Put it on display so that you can appreciate it every time you walk into the kitchen.

16. Display a collection you love: Similarly, you can display a collection that you’re super proud of. Have a bunch of vintage cutting boards? Hang them on the wall. Got a collection of Pyrex? Put the pieces on a shelf or in a glass-doored cabinet where you can see them.

17. Add washi tape to your shelves: It’s such a little thing, but we’ve found that washi tape is exactly the same size as most cabinet shelves. Put a length of it on the sides of your shelves and it’ll add a little pop that you can appreciate every time you reach for a water glass.

18. Swap out your curtains: Did you know that Minted has curtains? They do! And they’re awesome. Shop by color or pattern type and dress up your windows in a fun new way.

19. Make over your appliances: No, we’re not telling you to get new appliances (that would not be a little way!). But you can paint or cover the appliances you do have to give them an updated look. Get some ideas here.

20. Refinish your counters: They make all sorts of kits that you can use to totally transform your old counters in just a weekend. Some of them are so good, it’ll really look like you installed granite!

21. Install a new faucet: As long as you get a new faucet that has a similar mounting deck to the one you already have, you can easily swap it out in an afternoon.

22. Put in self-closing hinges: Tired of hearing the slam of cabinet doors? For just $4 per door, you can put in self-closing hinges.

23. Add counter space where you can: We don’t know a single person who says they have enough counter space. Get a rolling island, which you can move over to your workspace when you need it, or DIY some burner covers that’ll turn your stove into bonus workspace.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Little (yet Impactful) Things to Clean

24. Clean your sink: A kitchen sink can host more bacteria than a public toilet. Give yours a good cleaning and then get in the habit of wiping it down after every dish-washing session.

25. Scrub the inside of your oven: Not only will a clean oven have you happier to use it, but it could also mean the end of your smoke alarm going off for no reason. Here’s how to do it.

26. Give your oven racks a bath: While you’re cleaning the inside of your oven, you may as well wash your oven racks, too. It’s as easy as putting them in the bathtub.

27. Wash your stove burners: Don’t forget to clean your stove burners (or your glass stovetop).

28. Wipe down your counters: There are few things more satisfying than wiping down your counters and having fresh surfaces. Take everything off and do a deep clean with an all-purpose cleaner and microfiber cloth. Then, disinfect them with a Clorox wipe.

29. Refresh the air: Nobody likes a stinky kitchen! Open the windows, simmer some citrus and cinnamon, light a candle, or set out some baking soda.

30. Get a sponge holder: Where do you put your sponge now when you’re done washing dishes? If you don’t have a sponge holder, we strongly recommend getting one. (We love this one from Etsy.) This way, you can be sure that your sponge can dry out and it will last longer.

31. And a sink strainer: Even if you have a garbage disposal, you shouldn’t be putting food scraps down the sink all willy-nilly. This $8 silicone strainer from OXO is a favorite among Kitchn editors and makes washing dishes a million times easier.

32. Set your microwave to clean itself: Splatters in the microwave are inevitable. Luckily, you can clean your microwave with ease! Just nuke some lemons and wipe.

33. Clean your dishwasher: If your dishes aren’t coming out of the dishwasher clean, chances are, the appliance could use a once-over. It’s not hard — you just have to do it. Here’s how to clean your dishwasher.

34. Swap out your dishwasher detergent: If your glasses are still coming out spotty and cloudy, we get how frustrating that can be. There are probably two issues: You’re likely using too much detergent, and you could be using the wrong kind. Many Kitchn editors have switched to this stuff and have zero complaints.

35. Master the best way to load your dishwasher: Loading the dishwasher can be a frustrating game of Tetris. But it doesn’t have to be! Your dishwasher’s manual will actually show you the best way to load it. Look for yours here or by searching online.

36. Degrease your kitchen cabinets: Grease and grime can build up on your cabinets over time and, before you know it, the doors are way darker than they’re supposed to be. Plus, they’re oddly sticky! These are all the best ways to clean greasy wood cabinets.

37. Soak your faucet and sprayer: If hard water is a problem where you live, you’ll want to soak your faucet and sprayer attachment in order to unclog the holes.

38. Set a cleaning timer: Cleaning doesn’t have to be an all-day affair. Set a timer for five, 10, or 15 minutes (20 if you’re feeling ambitious!) and see how much you can get done before the buzzer goes off. A little bit of time will have a big payoff.

39. Treat yourself to a spoon rest: If you’ve ever stirred a pot and looked around frantically for a place to put your dirty spoon, you know how important a spoon rest is! And yet, you probably still don’t have one. Treat yourself! Etsy has some gorgeous handmade options.

40. Start storing your honey on a small plate: This is going to seem so simple, but sometimes happiness really depends on the little things.

Put a small dish under that container of honey

Run vinegar through your coffee maker: What’s the one thing your kitchen gives you that you can’t live without? If you said “coffee,” then do yourself a favor and
clean your coffee maker. It’ll make your morning cup even better.

Get a dish drying rack that makes sense for you: Too often, we see people hand-wash a dish and then struggle to find a place on the dish rack to dry said dish. Get one that works for you, whether that’s a small mat that you can fold up and put away or a giant one that you can leave out at all times. Here are

Embrace that clean-as-you-go method: Wash a
cutting board when you’re done with it and wipe up spills as they happen. This way, cleanup after a meal and those deep-cleaning sessions will both take less time.

Perfect the seasoning on your cast iron skillet: It’s hard to be grumpy when you’re looking at a perfectly seasoned cast iron skill that you can pass down for generations to come. Here’s

Give some TLC to the rest of your cookware and knives: It’s not just your cast iron that needs some love. You may be overdue for some knife honing? Or maybe your stainless steel pots and pans have seen better days? Or maybe your wooden spoons need some conditioning? Give your pieces a little love and they’ll love you back, which will get you excited to use them.

Reset the kitchen every night: Imagine walking into a nice, clean kitchen tomorrow morning. You know, instead of a pile of dirty dishes from the night before. Do what you can to reset it before you collapse on the couch. Run the dishwasher, wipe down the counters, and sweep the floor.
Then collapse on the couch.

Start unloading the dishwasher in the morning while the coffee brews: Congrats! You reset your kitchen last night! That means your dishwasher is ready to be emptied. Do it while the coffee brews and then dirty dishes will have a place to go the rest of the day (read: not the counter or sink).

Go through your cleaning supplies: You’re going to be a lot more likely to clean if your cleaning supplies are nice and organized. Make sure you have what you need properly stocked and set it all up so that you can see everything. How?

Put some shelf line down: Our gear expert says
shelf paper makes her cabinet under the sink way less gross. And we like for under your dishes, too.

Swap out your sponge: Happiness is a
new, clean sponge. That’s how the saying goes, right? It should be!

Clean your trash can: Perhaps the most overlooked, yet
Give it a good cleaning — do it now before the weather gets too cold.

And then add a hook to it: A
simple Command Hook can make your trash can a million times better.

Banish pests and insects: “I love finding evidence of mice in the kitchen,” said no one ever. Here’s what you need to know to

banish ants, flies, mice, and other pests from your kitchen

Clean your range hood: A dirty range hood filter will lose its effectiveness, which could mean smoke and grease in your eyes and the air when you’re trying to cook.
Clean the filter and standing at the stove will be a lot more enjoyable.

Get your family/roommates to help: Unless you live alone, keeping the kitchen clean is not a one-person job. Get everyone you live with on board to help. If you’ve got kids,

Easy Organizational Changes to Make

56. Reorganize your fridge: Digging through the fridge (while the door hits you in the bum) looking for that lost jar of olives sure is aggravating! Take everything out and make sense of it all. Toss anything that’s expired and put things back the proper way.

57. And your freezer: It’s equally as un-fun to dig through the freezer. We have 30 brilliant tips and tricks to help you get that frozen tundra under control.

58. Clean out your pantry: Raise your hand if you’ve ever bought mustard only to later realize you had mustard? Yeah, that’s annoying. Take everything out of your pantry and toss anything that’s expired.

59. Group like pantry items together: Finished number 58? Great, now it’s time to group like things together (baking supplies, all your ingredients for making Indian food, etc!) and put them back in the pantry in those groups. Use baskets or even sheet pans to keep things grouped.

60. Pick up a lazy Susan: It’s no secret how much we love a lazy Susan around here. Because having one means you can store several small bottles or jars in a tiny space and you’ll still always be able to see what you’ve got. This $10 option is one of our favorites.

61. Install a hook or three: Hooks can be so handy! Hang a few up and you’ll have instant storage for aprons, tea towels, tools, and more. If you don’t want to drill into the wall (or can’t for security deposit reasons, consider the Command Hook route).

62. Hang a pot rail: Don’t let the name fool you — pot rails are good for so much more than pots! Put some S-hooks on it and you can hang anything that’s got a loop: a colander (by its handle), spatulas, cutting boards, and more. And you can usually rest pot lids along the top of a pot rail, too.

63. Hang a pegboard: Pegboards are so versatile, and once they’re hung, the sky’s the limit for figuring out what to do with them. Not only can we tell you how to hang one, but we can give lots of ideas for how to use one, too.

64. Hang a shelf: If it’s not clear by now, we just really want you to hang something! Anything! Too much vertical wall space gets wasted. Hang a shelf — even if it’s a narrow one (for bottles of olive oil) or way up high (for stuff you rarely use but want to keep!).

65. Install a magnetic knife strip: Knife blocks are not good for your knives (the wood dulls them every time the knives go in and out of their slots)! Your best bet is a knife strip, which will also give you easier access and free up counter or drawer space. Plus, then you get to look at all the fun knives you’ve collected!

66. Adjust your cabinet shelves: Just because the shelves in your cabinet have been one way for years doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. What worked for you then might not work for you now. Take a look at your setup and adjust the shelves where necessary.

67. Sort through your storage containers: An avalanche of plastic food containers is enough to put anyone in a bad mood. Same for spending five minutes hunting for the right-sized lid! Go through your containers/lids and get rid of anything that doesn’t have a mate. While you’re at it, cut any containers that you just never use. Then, put everything back neatly so that you’ll be able to grab what you need.

68. Rethink your silverware drawer: Is your drawer organizer still working for you? Or do you spend too much time cursing the big spoons when you’re looking for a small one? You may need a new drawer organizer. Here are some of our favorite drawer organizers. (Yes, we’re so cool that we have a list of favorite drawer organizers.)

69. Reorganize your pot lids: Pot lids are annoyingly hard to store. If you put them on their respective pots, you then can’t stack the cookware. But they don’t exactly nest well in other things. We’ve found a simple organizer (like this $4 one from The Container Store) makes a huge difference. You can also try this brilliant-yet-easy DIY hack.

70. Double the storage space under your sink: For most people, the under-sink cabinet is a black hole full of all-purpose cleaners, trash bags, and who knows what. Take that space back (and double it!) with this $20 organizer that Amazon shoppers (and Kitchn editors!) are obsessed with.

71. Corral your water bottles and travel mugs: It’s amazing how quickly a collection of three water bottles can turn into, um, 30. Donate any of the ones you don’t need and then organize the leftovers in any of these smart storage solutions.

72. Eliminate the counter clutter: Stuff on the counter is a good way to make a kitchen look messier than it is. Use a laundry basket to gather up anything that doesn’t belong in that room (papers, your kids’ jackets, your purse, etc!) and put that all away. Then, give the surface a scan and see if there’s anything on there that doesn’t really need to be (read: your toaster, if you only make toast once in a blue moon).

73. Donate anything you haven’t used in the last year: That bread maker that you hold onto strictly because you want to be someone who makes bread? If you haven’t used it in the last year, it may be time to donate it. If you’re not sure what you’ve used and what you haven’t, try our masking tape trick.

74. Find a new home for seasonal stuff: Ice pop molds, grilling tools, and other seasonal supplies can find a new home (maybe in the garage or basement?) for the next six months or so. Just like some people switch out their closets, it’s a good idea to switch out your kitchen if you’re short on space.

75. Get a kitchen cart: A kitchen cart will give you instant storage and when you’re not using it, you can tuck it into a closet or a corner. The RASKOG cart from IKEA is a classic, but we also like this round one from Target, which is just the right size and shape for your Instant Pot.

76. Make sure your pantry has all the essentials: A well-stocked pantry is key for home cooks. You don’t want to be in the middle of making a meal and realize that you’re out of something. At the very least, you should have these 10 things on hand.

77. Go through your junk drawer: People love to bash the junk drawer, but we think it’s important to have one. Just don’t let it take over the room or get so messy that you can’t find, say, batteries, when you need them.

78. Put your stand mixer on a cutting board: You know how, every time you have to pull your stand mixer out, it skips along on the counter? If you put it on a cheap plastic cutting board, you’ll be able to just slide it in and out of its resting position.

79. Make your spices easier to find: Just like you don’t want to realize you’re out of an ingredient in the middle of a cooking session, you also don’t want to spend five minutes hunting for the turmeric while stuff burns on the stove. Two solutions here. One, you really should pull out what you need before you start cooking! Two, you should also get your spices in order. Steal this tip from professional restaurants.

80. Set up a cook’s station near your stove: While we do not love a lot of counter clutter, some things really should be kept out so you can reach them at a moment’s notice. This includes a crock filled with your go-to utensils (spatulas, wooden spoons, whisks, etc!). And also your favorite olive oil (in an opaque vessel), salts, pepper grinder, and whatever else you reach for time and time again. Set these things on a small tray and it’ll look purposeful rather than messy.

81. Label your leftovers and everything in the freezer: Just because you know what something is now doesn’t mean you’ll know what it is a month from now. Use a piece of masking tape and a permanent marker to clearly label what’s in a package, and when you packaged it.

82. Improve your ice situation: If your freezer has an ice machine, now is the time to clean it and to dump any old ice that’s stuck to the bucket. If you make your own ice, consider upgrading your trays (we’re obsessed with these no-spill trays from OXO). And don’t forget to add a bucket or container to use as a waiting area for finished ice. (This way, you can make more ice and just reach in and grab a few cubes when you’re thirsty.)

83. Sort through your cookbooks: How many cookbooks do you have that you’ve never opened? Pull out the ones that you’re just not going to use and donate them.

84. Get control over all of your reusable tote bags: Start with one tote bag and you end up with 100! You’ll need a bunch (for grocery shopping), but you can probably part with a handful. Donate your extras to a local homeless shelter.

85. Turn your cutting boards and baking sheets on their sides: The smartest way to store baking sheets, cutting boards, and cake pans is on their sides with a tension rod. (Click here to see what we mean.) This way, you can pull one out without sending everything else toppling over.

86. Install a pull-out shelf: Drawers are better than shelves. It’s a fact. Because they allow you to see what’s stashed all the way in the back! Home Depot has some great options from Rev-A-Shelf. If you can’t install anything in your cabinets, look for a basket that you sit on the shelf — it’ll essentially do the same thing!

87. Fix sticky, stubborn drawers: That wonky drawer that’s hard to open and close? Fix it! Pull the drawer out and use wax or a bar of soap to grease the tracks.

88. Rethink a corner cabinet: Nearly every kitchen has a corner cabinet (or two) and yet, they’re so wildly unpractical! Luckily, the folks at Reddit have some smart solutions.

89. Stash stuff near where you use it: If you spend most of your kitchen time walking back and forth from cabinet to cabinet, chances are, you can stand to reorganize some things. Put your dishes near your dishwasher (so you can unload them easier), your pots near your stove, and so on.

Credit: Kim Lucian

12 Other Little Things You Can Do

90. Learn a new skill: Remember that unbridled joy you got as a kid when you finally learned how to ride a bike? You’ll feel like that again after your first loaf of sourdough or successful batch of kombucha.

91. Bake something: No one can be grumpy in a kitchen that smells like fresh chocolate chip cookies. It’s scientifically impossible.

92. Treat yourself to a tool or gadget you’ve been wanting: You deserve a new toy! Not sure what you want? Sign up for our new Cook/Shop newsletter and we’ll show you all the best and newest tools.

93. Try a pantry challenge: Challenge yourself to make a set number of meals using only ingredients you already have on hand in the pantry, fridge, and freezer. Sure, you’ll save money, but you’ll also clear out space.

94. Serve a snack board for dinner: Snack boards are nice because you don’t really have to cook, they’re a great way to use up little bits of this and that, and — whether you’re solo or a family with lots of kids — they’re fun to nibble on.

95. Pick a special playlist or podcast for the kitchen: We’ve talked about listening to music or podcasts while you cook/clean, but let’s take things a step further. Pick a special podcast or playlist that you only listen to while you’re in the kitchen. This way, it becomes something you look forward to.

96. Get a fan or a dehumidifier: If your kitchen tends to get hot, this is a no-brainer.

97. Give your pets their own special place: It’s way more fun to cook with a pup nearby than it is to cook without one! We’ll always meal planning.

99. And meal prepping: Once you’ve gotten in the habit of meal planning, you can take it up a notch and start meal prepping. Make as much as possible ahead of time and your kitchen will become this well-oiled weeknight-dinner-making machine.

100. Invite people over more often: Try following the rules of our