BuildDirect Blog: Life at Home

8 Things You DON’T Need In Your Kitchen

small kitchen uncluttered counters

If you have a small kitchen, every square inch of counter space counts. Chances are you have a collection of items on your kitchen counters that you don’t use regularly, only have a single use, or both of those . Maybe space is so tight that you been thinking that you need to get a more minimalist vibe before you drown in clutter.

To cut clutter and liberate your cooking area and counter space, consider ditching the following 8 items.

1. Toaster

Let’s start radically by challenging tradition, shall we? While a toaster might seem like a can’t-live-without item, it’s really an unnecessary kitchen tool when you really look at it. The pop-up toaster was only developed in the way we recognize it by 1913. Before that into the late 1800s,  a broiler or a skillet was used for making toast. You can do that too!

To use the broiler for toast, put bread on a baking sheet and slide it onto the top rack of the oven. If you prefer to use a skillet, set it over medium-high heat and flip the bread from side to side until it turns that golden shade of brown. No problem!

2. Microwave

Ack! Are you insane???

Well, it might seem even more radical to suggest that a microwave should be anything less than totally central to your kitchen. But, one thing to consider is the relationship that you have with your kitchen as far as what you actually do while you’re in it. For instance, how central is your microwave, really, to the daily meals you’re preparing in your kitchen? Ask yourself this question, and then decide whether or not the counterspace or cabinet space your microwave takes up is really justified.

Also, think about where your microwave  might serve you better outside of the kitchen. If you use your  microwave to make popcorn, warm up hot chocolate, or to heat up other snacks while you’re spending time in front of the TV, or on board game night, or kids craft time, then maybe the microwave should be more central to those activities in family rooms, or living rooms.

You could do worse than to match up the function of your microwave with the kinds of activities it  supports. And it’s your house, so you get to decide where everything goes, even if tradition says otherwise.

3. Sandwich maker

In your quest for a minimalist kitchen, small appliances that have only one function (like your toaster!) are prime candidates for demotion on  your countertops. Sandwich makers have a certain appeal. But, unless your really expanding on ways to use it, or are maybe writing an eBook about the versatility of the sandwich in modern cuisine, it might be time to give your sandwich maker its walking papers when it comes to taking up countertop space.

And again, is there a better place for your sandwich maker? Basement family rooms, bar areas in recreation areas, and even in outdoor dining spaces might be a better choice for single-function appliances like this.

4. Extra dishes

You know that hideous floral dinnerware that your well-meaning neighbor gave you? Drop it off at the nearest secondhand store. You might keep stuff like that around in your cupboards and cabinetry, just in  case you ever have more guests than your regular set of dinnerware can handle. But if that happens, renting plates from catering companies or borrowing them from friends and family are always viable options. Your well-meaning neighbor won’t even notice.

5. Deep fryer

While your doctor probably wouldn’t argue with you if you gave up completely on those treats from the fryer, getting rid of your deep fryer doesn’t mean you have to go without the goodies. A sturdy saucepan and a thermometer will get the job done, and you’ll have one less bulky item hogging your counter or cupboard space.

6. Rice Cooker

Here’s the thing. You don’t really need a rice cooker. All you need is a saucepan with a lid. Cooking rice on the stove top is almost as easy as using a rice cooker.

My method? It’s one-part rice, two parts water, cover and set to boil, turn off the heat completely when boiling is achieved. Then, let it sit with the lid on for about 15 mins. Easy peasy.

7. Popcorn maker

You got rid of the microwave in the kitchen, and now the popcorn maker is on the chopping block, so what are you going to eat on movie night? Once again, making popcorn on the stove top is a solution. Granted, making popcorn on the stove isn’t as easy as throwing a bag of popcorn in the microwave or using the popcorn maker, but you still end up with a delicious treat—and a new skill to add to your growing list of culinary feats.

And like you did with your microwave, maybe this is just  a matter of re-location rather than changing your approach to making a buttery treat. Move that popcorn maker into the family room where you play your boardgames, or watch movies. Redefine where your appliances are according to your needs. This is your space. You get to decide where things go. Simple.

8. Extra knives

That big wooden block sitting on your counter probably only has a few slots that see frequent action. A chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife are all essential, but that’s really all you need. Keep them sharp, keep them clean, and say farewell to all the knives that you kept around for reasons that may now escape you.

The same goes for that drawer (you know the one, everyone has one …) with the jumble of mysterious implements with uses that remain to be a mystery. Clear that out and be brutal about how often you use each item in there. You’ll thank yourself later.

Efficiency that suits you

An efficient kitchen can make cooking easier, and it spares you the trouble of finding homes for all those extra items. It also leads to less physical clutter, and thereby gets rid of a lot of mental clutter, too.

And remember, you get to decide where these kinds of items serve you best, even if that means putting them in another room.  When it comes to organizing where things go in your home, the only rules to follow are the ones you decide on yourself.

Take a leap and challenge tradition by getting rid of all the non-essentials, and resolve to keep your kitchen a clutter-free zone.

Your kitchen counter space

What challenges have you had in freeing up counter space in your kitchen?

Are there common appliances you’ve removed or relocated that have done the trick?

Which items are not featured on the above list that should be?

Tell us all about it in the comments section of this post.


Looking for materials to realize your vision for a new kitchen space? Take a look at this selection of kitchen and bath materials from BuildDirect that open up a world of possibilities for new kitchens.

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Rob Jones

Rob serves as Blog Content Manager at BuildDirect, and is your humble Editor-In-Chief of BuildDirect Blog: Life At Home. Rob is also a writer, father, and music fan.


  1. Just plain Fritz Reply to Just

    Figured out just what to keep handy in kitchen from reading of majority opinion
    in comments. — toaster, microwave (over range, or under shelf) small electric
    coffee drip machine (useful also for heating water), rice cooker, and at suggestion
    of spouse, wok for use as fry-pan on stove top to reduce spatter on our ceramic
    top stove. Ttttatss all, folks, And thanks everyone, with love, ol’ Fritz

  2. Since everyone has their own food preferences, my hubby and I do not drink coffee so no coffee maker, the small appliances they use the most will be the ones they keep on their counter. My Vita Mix is my most used small appliance and stays on my counter. So does my toaster. We have an over the stove microwave, which I never use. I’ve read information on how it changes the molecular structure of the food and isn’t healthy to use. I do have a convection oven on our back porch for summertime cooking. it cooks your food faster than a regular oven. I agree with the comments on electric can openers.

    While my best friend loves her rice cooker, I cook mine in a pan on the stove. I soak my whole grain rice or quinoa in warm water for seven hours to break down the enzyme inhibitors that give grains shelf life. This makes the tenderest rice. If you have never tried brown basmati (Indian) or brown Jasmine (Thai) rices, they are delicious.

    • Jan – love your comments. I recently downsized from a house to an 800 sq ft apt with a dinky kitchen. When I moved, I donated 50 years of accumulation and 1/2 of my kitchen stuff that I rarely used. The apt doesn’t have a built-in microwave, only a little one that sits on the counter. I rarely use it and it’s mainly used for additional storage, i.e., cookies, rice cakes! I’ve been here since July 1 and I’m keeping track of what I use and what I don’t use…in a few months I’ll purge what I haven’t touched in those months, thereby freeing up more space. It’s truly amazing what you can live without…I’m all for the simple life now. So, you soak your quinoa and basmati rice overnight? I usually only soak it for 15-20 minutes and rinse really well. I’m going to try your overnight soak and see how it works. Thanks for the tip. Yea, read that same info about the microwave…kind of creeped me out…maybe I’ll kick mine to the curb.

    • Microwaves change the molecular structure of food, but ovens and toasters don’t??? Sure they do! How do you think bread turns into toast? The heat changes the molecular structure! Don’t believe everything you read, or spread silly made up rumors from people who only want attention. Microwaves cook just like toasters and ovens do, they just use longer waves so you get some cold spots in your food where the waves haven’t hit as many times, even when the turntable is working. One bit of advice: microwaves continue “hopping” around in the food after the beeper goes off, so stir your food and let it sit for a minute or so before you toss it down your gullet so you don’t get scorched :o)

    • Here is the truth about microwaves from Scientific American. They have absolutely no reason to lie to people (like others do):

  3. Interesting. but, I disagree with all the recommendations. A microwave and toaster or more energy efficient that the ways suggested.

    • You are so right. And I used to cook rice in a regular pan but ended up with burned rice way too often.

    • I agree with you, Jim. I don’t agree w/the suggestions mentioned. We use our Microwave often, and use it during meal-cooking. My toaster oven is another must, and the coffee maker. My kitchen STILL looks neat and uncluttered! I’m an artist and a decorator.

  4. Janel MH Reply to Janel

    I like that we got a toaster oven to replace our microwave, but had to take it out again because some stuff it just like to heat in a jiffy, sorry. Also our house is my husband, me and his mom, dad and brother,so his parents like to use the microwave cuz they are older and it’s easier for them.

    We do have two different Keurigs for coffee and tea, but I do like the Rico cuz we do use it for our frothy or straight up espresso drinks because I do not own a espresso pot and like that is has espresso maker and frothed with in included. So I keep those two out on my counter. Also I have my vitamin and my kitchen aid stand mixer on the counter and I leave it there because they are heavy to move.
    So I love with it and try to keep the other clutter on the counters to a minimum and it’s been ok.

    I am always on top of that because I hate clutter to begin with. His brother likes to use my old blender but I have him put that in a lower cabinet so I don’t have eighty million blenders out. My mother in law got one of those nutri bullets (which I have no idea why because my vitamin is better and I didn’t mind that she used it) and so another blender is in my house (which hasn’t even been used. Lot lately :/) and that is also in a cabinet they were using. Juice for Whiie also but that is in the garage when not in use. So I know having extra appliances is annoying but we do get use out of all of them having five people in our household. And extra stuff gets stored elsewhere. Plus I do have extra knives. I like that because I love kitchen knives and we do get use out of those also. I have drawers and use extra old decorative coffee mugs to store smaller knives and cutlery. So you can have extra stuff if you have room. Just be organized about it. :)

  5. Bending over 3 times a day isn’t a problem, so everything is OFF the counter and stored below inside a drawer or a cabinet. Exercise is physically healthy and bare countertops are healthy for our mental health.

    • Totally agree! We have six kids and use two microwaves to keep things warm sometimes. The deep fryers are in the garage on a rolling cart with locking legs. Rice in a pot on stove, everything in a cabinet or drawer. Fruit basket on counter to encourage healthy eating!

    • I’ve noticed that a more bare counter has me in a better mood lately. I do stowe a toaster in a cabinet under the counter, the microwave is in it’s own “cove,” and I don’t even own a rice cooker (seems a bit like a snow cone maker), so the only things on the counter are a simple burgundy 3-piece set of canisters, and a plate of fake chocolate eclairs with fake berries around them! I also have a fake chocolate cake with fake cherries on top with a piece cut out of it in a clear covered cake plate in the center of the breakfast nook table. Got tired of replacing the flowers all the time ! :o)

  6. For me a Convention microwave is a must have, built in with exhaust fan. As for counter top Kuerig, utensil holder for the ones I use the most. I keep my cutting boards in a metal filing stand on counter for easy access, they stand up out of the way. I keep my knives on a magnet strip on the wall easy for me to grab and put away. All other gadgets and small appliances all go in the pantry off the kitchen, hang on inside cupboard doors or go in drawers with basket or dividers. I look at my kitchen as a work place, if I were a mechanic or doctor I would want things in places were I could get them easily and quickly without hunting. Yes I keep decorative peices in my kitchen but they are out of the way of my preping area lol. You would be surprised how much more you enjoy cooking when your kitchen is organised and uncluttered. I always go with the rule if you haven’t used it in a year get rid of it !!!

  7. Back in the “old days” toasters were kept on the table, so toast was made warm and fresh to order at breakfast! If you have a small kitchen but room for a little eat in table,try putting it up against a wall (hopefully with an outlet)and put your toaster on the table! When my mother passed, I moved my father who was blind, into a small bungalow with an eating “area. There I put a small rectangular table, small end butted up to the wall, where I put his small microwave. This was great as he didn’t have to remove hot foods from it and try to carry them to the table without spilling, or burning himself, and still had room for two little chairs at the table!! …My micro is in the cupboard next to my stove ( also a matchbox of a kitchen) I had an outlet installed in the back of the cupboard that ran off of the one behind the stove( you can just run the cord through the the shelves and out the bottom of the cupboard if an outlet is not possible. The micro is pushed all the way to the back of the cupboard shelf,leaving room in front of it to take the food out and stir then return to micro or just set hot dish on shelf before moving it! I love having it hidden away! If your coffee maker is small, you can put it next to micro in the cupboard too!!

  8. Robert williams Reply to Robert

    Rob Jones, you’re an idiot. You need to go do something else other than dish out your ill informed opinions. What a waste of space. I wouldn’t take your advice if you were considered a genius.

  9. Ok, Ok, I’ll get rid of the toaster. I’m going to get rid of the knife block. My rice cooker? Never, I steam vegetables, hard boiled eggs are done in 20 minutes, and obviously rice. Nice because I can set the timer and walk away without babysitting. And yes, that coffee pot. I take out the filter basket and heat water for dishes, better than running it down the drain while I wait for it to heat.

    • thanks Sandy – thats brilliant! heating dishwater in coffeemaker…
      I live in drought stricken CA and cringe every time I run water waiting for it to get hot… (although I have been letting it run into a bucket for watering plants :)

  10. Sean Flynn Reply to Sean

    i agree with everything except the toaster – using the broiler in my oven is a TOTAL waste of electricity – the toaster uses a fraction of energy compared AND i don’t have to sit there and watch the dang toast!

  11. I’m all for putting things where they make the most sense! In a previous kitchen, where we raised our children, we had a pantry cabinet. It was perpendicular to the dishwasher and it just made sense to keep our everyday dishes in there. It was really convenient to empty the dishwasher and for our children to set the table. Cereal boxes worked well in there, too. This allowed our children to get themselves a snack independently.

    Even with an empty nest, keeping dishes in that pantry cabinet continued to make sense. I do wonder what the people who live there now keep in that cabinet.

    At the moment, I’m planning our new kitchen for our soon-to-be-built home. Clear counters are the goal!
    Downdraft cook top will be in an island. No bulky vent hood needed!
    Wall oven to reduce heat on the cook (me!), and installed so lowest shelf will be at about counter height to make removing food easier.
    Kitchen Aide mixer will be on a lift-in up shelf in a cabinet with a dedicated switched outlet inside the cabinet.
    Upright freezer will be in the kitchen, next to side-by-side, not in the basement or garage, where it will be so convenient!
    A wall of cabinets to house items used for entertaining-serving pieces, carafes, seasonal items, will be a dream come true.

    I’m one to use something to MY advantage, not the ‘designers’. Not being a trained, licensed kitchen planner is not stopping me from using common sense to create the best kitchen for the way we live our life!

    • Hintz Suellen Reply to Hintz

      Hi Sandy, don’t know your age but in this last house my husband and I built we put our dishwasher high, with a deep drawer below it. We’ve not regretted it in 13 years and as both of us have developed back and knee problems it was a great decision. Due to price we couldn’t do drawer dishwashers …

  12. I live this article in that it reaffirms my placement of our new microwave (we don’t use one much but to reheat coffee/tea, popcorn, and other little things (occasional melting of sauces, butter)… Our house is entirely MCM design and there weren’t many options for cute microwaves (until we found our metallic red nostalgia electrics one!). I knew it would go on the built in hutch countertop in our dining room next to the Kuerig/”coffee bar”; I got funny looks from family when I told them that’s where one would go but I don’t care!
    Since we have a tiny kitchen (we recently bought a new house that’s more sq footage than our old one but this house is a 1967 and we drastically downsized in the kitchen space) I’ve mounted as many things as “up” as possible: I’ve got an old expandable hat rack hanging near the coffee bar (in dining room) where coffee cups hang, and a chrome counter top fruit rack serves TWO great space saving purposes: the rack part is mounted with hooks under one cupboard for onions, fruit, etc. and the base fits a paper towel roll perfectly (hooks inserted into each end) which we’ve mounted with T braces understand another counter (each in places where they best serve!). By mounting things off the counters we have much more space, plus it’s another clever little repurposing trick that guests love!

  13. Lisa Secord Reply to Lisa

    I have a well stocked but minimalist kitchen for a heavy duty home cook.
    No microwave, toaster, coffee maker, sandwich maker, pot rack, or KNIFE BLOCK here.
    I keep a small toaster oven for the kids, stored on a low open shelf next to the dual masticating juicer.
    A compact espresso maker sits next to the standing mixer on the counter. Both appliances get every day use.
    I use a kettle for hot water and a french press for coffee and tea. The french press is stored in a deep drawer.
    A row of big glass square canisters line the long countertop – flour, cane sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, coffee, and tea.
    Next to the stovetop in an open top wood box that matches the countertop, I keep my frequently used spices, salt, pepper, and oven mitts. A single canister holds my essential spatulas and wooden spoons.
    My essential knives are in their own drawer. My essential cutting boards are in their own drawer. Bulky but essential tools (potato masher, pastry cutter, etc.) get their own drawer. The pots and pans go in an under-counter cabinet and their lids go in the cabinet next door. The blender and food processor are less frequently so they go in the deep pantry, along with the wok, salad spinner, pasta roller, etc. Accessible without cluttering the space.
    The only other thing on the counter is a drying rack and two small wood cutting boards to rest hot pots and pans upon.

    • Lisa Secord Reply to Lisa

      P.S. Rice also goes on the counter – next to the flour and sugars. I decided to keep them on the counter because of frequent use. It has cut down my prep and cleaning time exponentially.

  14. Greg Scott Reply to Greg

    The author misses the whole point. This is an article about philosophy. We live in a modern age and we have many inventions to improve or make our lives easier. We all always have the option to back up to more primitive and basic times or we can moderate or take full advantage. There seems to be an assumption that clear counters are better than occupied counters. Rubbish I say. We have counters and
    I say they are made to be used. Put the stuff we like on them and they are easier
    and faster to access which is congruent with improving or making our lives easier.
    Think about an analogy of living space in other rooms. I say we use smaller space
    100 percent and we are more efficient than having larger rooms with a lot of empty
    space without furniture or other fixtures etc. I want all my gadgets as close by
    as I can keep them and all my fifteen different kinds of knives regardless of how often I use them. All the people reading this article dont allow yourself to be brainwashed because of an assumption that someone who gets paid to write an
    article somehow knows better than you how you can best live your life.

    I say to the author, heck, you dont even need a kitchen. go out in the back
    yard and build a fire and cook on the rocks…. Now wouldnt that be the ultimate
    in declutterization ? Kind of extreme right ? Ok now indulge with all of modern
    societies inventions and live the best short life you possibly can and share
    as much as possible so others can help attain their best short life. There is nothing

  15. If you don’t use it on a daily basis, store it away. Canisters are most often used on a daily basis so that’s a no brainer, but pots/pans, dishes… put them away. I tell my clients to clean off all counter tops and in the kitchen limit appliances to only maybe 2. Otherwise, cleaned off is better, even in bathrooms. If not used on a daily basis, get rid of or stow away !! Just saying……..

  16. Remove the microwave and put it by the TV? Sure…..why don’t we also get rid of the sink, refrigerator, and possibly the oven? We can always put those in the bathroom to cook while we’re showering!!

  17. Kelli Karnes Reply to Kelli

    Rent dishes? So we save counter space, but we spend money renting dishes? I guess I’m more interested in saving money and energy. I don’t usually comment on articles such as this, but I’m disappointed in this read. Keep these things in a cabinet somewhere. And actually, if it’s a good idea to put the microwave in the tv room, why not store the gadgets in the linen closet or under the bed? That’s as good of an idea as what I just read. Sorry.

  18. Get rid of my popcorn popper? Worst advice ever!!!! I have made popcorn on my stovetop many times before. The popcorn popper is WAY easier, more convenient and I can make more per batch. I make popcorn several times per week. So getting rid of my magical popcorn popper ain’t gonna happen.

    And getting rid of the toaster? No! A toaster is pretty much a set it and forget it appliance. I like that I can put in a piece of bread, push down the lever and I can do other things and when it’s ready, it will turn itself off and not over do the toast.

    Yes, you are right. I don’t NEED those items. They can be done another way. Another time consuming way that limits the ability to multi-task. But for me, efficiency rules. On second thought, I do need those fool proof, efficient items that allow me to multi-task.

  19. I turned the broom closet/coat closet into an appliance pantry. I installed shelves, and that’s where I store the mixer, toaster, juicer, bread maker, etc…my counter today are free of clutter.

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