small kitchen upgrades

Small Kitchen Upgrades That Make a Big Difference

Plus, plenty of shopping picks to get you started.

Nicole Kliest
For many of us, 2020 will go down in history as the year we became better acquainted with our kitchens (amongst a few other defining moments). More cooking, more at-home meals, maybe even a little bread baking in the mix, if you were feeling ambitious. Our kitchens serve as tiny havens that spark creativity and inspire comfort, which is why spending a little extra time to make sure they look good is an endeavor worth embarking on.

No, we’re not talking about a full kitchen renovation (though that’s also encouraged if it’s in the budget)—rather, a small upgrade or two to give your culinary zone a much-deserved facelift. These improvements can be as simple as swapping out your monotonous sponge for colorful scrubbers. Or grabbing your cooking utensils from the drawer and artfully displaying them inside a ceramic vase. If you’re going the extra mile, you might even consider installing an interesting light fixture or experimenting with a stick-and-peel backsplash. Even the most seemingly subtle details can all come together for a final effect that’ll make whipping up your signature dish a more enriching experience. Ahead, plenty of ideas to get you started.

Essentials That Excite

There are certain items that every kitchen is better off having: sponges, tea towels, a coffee maker, and other similar mainstays. They’re the staples you use every day and thus should be your first stop on the kitchen upgrade tour. You may have rested on your laurels all these years by picking up a three-pack of sponges from the supermarket or slicing up your avocado on a plastic cutting board that’s seen better days. Don’t worry—you’re not alone. Start with these basics for high-impact upgrades, and reap the benefits that come from washing your dirty plates with a rainbow-hued sponge.

Kitchen Sponge


Bump Tea Pot

Tom Dixon
$200 $110

Wow-Inducing Accents

Moving on to decor, no kitchen is worth its weight in gold without a few splashy accents. What to choose is initially determined by the layout of your space (shoutout to all of you working with an oddly shaped, small city apartment). Once you’ve decided what the room can accommodate, consider a range of options starting from lighting fixtures all the way to plants and artwork. These items should enhance your space and, if possible, make it feel larger than it is (example: mirrors).

Standard Sconce


Single Stem Vessel

Simone Bodmer-Turner

Red Lime

Via Citrus

Coast to Coast Rug

Cold Picnic

Creative Organization

Organization is the name of the game when it comes to kitchens simply because you’re working with so many different pieces in one place. Rather than settling for the ordinary, reimagine how you can organize items like spices, fruit, and cooking utensils. A few of our favorite organizational hacks include hanging baskets to draw the eye upward and a sleek magnetic wall bar for knives.

Ria Tiered Hanging Basket

Urban Outfitters

Tech Gadgets

What’s life without a few superfluous gadgets to brighten the day? But honestly, kitchens are a great area of the home to strategically place a few techie pieces to enhance your cooking experience. A trash receptacle that opens when you say “open can” is a great place to start. Also to file under worthwhile: a voice-activated faucet that measures out the perfect amount of water for things like washing your hands (you can say goodbye to singing happy birthday for good).

Fizzi Starter Pack

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