Jessica Sommerfield on November 23, 2015 0 Comments Small appliances are a necessary part of a functional kitchen. Rarely is any kitchen, regardless of its size, without basics like a toaster, blender, coffeemaker, and microwave. In most kitchens, you will also find numerous not-as-essential gadgets. In this age of convenience, there are specialized appliances for every function and food group: electric can openers, rice cookers, slow cookers, juicers, food processors, table top grills and griddles, bread makers, mixers, and pressure cookers — just to name a few. If you live in a tiny home, spend a lot of time in your R.V., or simply have a small kitchen fitted with compact appliances, all these small gadgets compete for precious counter space. The first step to reclaiming your countertops is condensing down to what you really need. 1. Creatively Condensing It seems logical to jump to frequency of use as the benchmark for which appliances should go or stay, but some small appliances are seasonal–rarely, but heavily used. For instance, you might only use your pressure cooker a few times a year, but if you make your own sauces or canned produce and jam, its function can’t be replaced. That being said, the first question you should ask is: Can I get the job done without it? If the answer is no, then it’s something you need to prioritize, even if that means storing it in a remote cupboard for 9 months at a time. On the other hand, an electric can opener isn’t the only tool for the job. Take a look at which tasks you’ve been using appliances for that could be done without them. What’s its value to my lifestyle? Some items aren’t necessarily essential, but their worth to you in time and convenience makes them valuable. Slow cookers aren’t vital, but they’re a lifesaver to many busy families who can cook dinner while they’re at work or running errands. If the value of these appliances outweighs your desire to have more room out on your countertop, then it is probably wise to make room for them. The last test for small appliances involves their function. Ask this question to further condense your gadgets and streamline your countertop: Which appliances perform tasks that can be done by another appliance? With so many gadgets, our kitchens are bound to have some redundancy. Do you have a toaster and a toaster (convection) oven? Unless you need extra space for fast baking, it may not be valuable enough to keep on the counter. On the other hand, you could eliminate your toaster and stick with the convection oven, or even eliminate your toaster oven by purchasing a double-duty convection microwave. The same concept applies to items like specialty sandwich makers, which are essentially small grills. Evaluating the answers to these questions will shed light on what should stay and what to give away or sell. Of course, don’t get so excited about counter space that you make impulsive decisions. Start by removing the questionable appliance for a week or so to see how much it’s missed. If you get along just fine, there will be no regrets about donating it to gain extra space. 2. Storage and Organization So you’ve condensed down to the essential small appliances for your lifestyle, but they still look cluttered. It’s time to get creative. There are a few groupings you’ll want to establish for small appliances that will determine where you store them: Appliances used daily Appliances used a few times a week Appliances used occasionally or seasonally Small appliances used daily such as the coffee maker, toaster, and microwave should be easily accessible. You’ll be the judge of whether this means directly on your countertop or elsewhere. Open storage of appliances is on-trend, so don’t feel the need to hide the coffeepot or toaster in an “appliance garage” unless it suits your lifestyle. If you feel compelled to get them off the counter, coffeepots do nicely on a side bar, rolling rack, or cabinet. Create a trendy coffee nook by arranging it with accessories and mugs (this also keeps multi-cup coffee drinkers out of the cook’s way). Microwaves are bulky, so they work best at lower levels, such as an under-the-counter microwave drawer, or an open rolling rack next to large appliances. If you have the opportunity to plan ahead, investing in a built-in microwave combined with a refrigerator or stove is yet another way to consolidate your appliances and get more out of your space. Small appliances used a few times a week are where you can really start to get creative. Kitchen cupboards are easily customizable to the needs of appliances by simply adjusting the height of existing shelves and installing inexpensive roll-outs for easy access. Mimic the growing kitchen design trend by creating your own modern “appliance garage” and designating a larger cupboard for all your small appliances. To avoid repeatedly taking them out and replacing them, strategize storage near a power source (or have one put in) so they remain operational right where they’re at. What about that space in between your cupboards and the ceiling? This otherwise wasted space could be just enough room to place a few lightweight appliances (just don’t store your KitchenAid mixer up there). No one will notice them, and they’ll be accessible with a stepladder. Small appliances only used occasionally are best stored in a pantry or closet. Unless you have ample cupboard space where they won’t be in the way, store rarely used appliances in the pantry on a designated appliance shelf, or in a closet elsewhere in the house. Keep attachments from getting lost by storing everything together in a labeled box or tote, and wrap cords neatly to keep them from getting damaged. Honestly, if you’re storing appliances out of the kitchen, and you don’t use them heavily at least once year, you probably don’t need them. What you do with rarely used appliances boils down to the value of their function versus the value of the space they take. The more you condense and creatively store, the clearer your countertops will be.