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.



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. Boy is this a thought provoking article. As the years go by my style of cooking changes and things I used to use all the time are no longer needed. Toaster is staying- I use it to defrost bread. I may get rid of my Cuisinart which I used all the time when I was younger.

    I now have a Vitamix blender which does wonders. When I was going to have to cook Christmas dinner for my family in a hotel room the only appliance I took with me was this blender. I made mashed potatoes in it and mixed the pumpkin pie ingredients. Rice cooker is staying, rice just tastes better and I do not have to watch it. Microwave in wall staying but since I use it multiple times a day not going to get rid of. Deep fryer is now going to leave the cupboard. Not supposed to be eating that stuff anyway. Sandwich maker and extra dishes are currently in the garage for donation. Ditto with the multiple sets of silverware all incomplete.

    Coffee maker has always been for guests but it has a good hiding spot in a cupboard. Bread box is a sentimental item as my mother made it but it can find a new home else where to store DVD’s. Tea kettle leaving I would rather heat water in a pan. Knife block stays I agree that it is a safety issue. But extra knives are leaving. I bought a new spatula so out go two or three old ones. Tupperware is history. AARP says it does cause cancer. In Tupperware’s defense only the old stuff does. I still have a few pieces but am replacing slowly with glass or ceramic storage containers and bowls.

    I refuse to get rid of my antique cash register!!!! Somethings just have to stay. LOL

    Thanks for the ideas. Drawers are my next goal.

  2. Get rid of the toaster? Rediculous!!!! Far easier to use and quicker than broiler and used often.

  3. Rob, thanks for this! I totally agree with Nan — here it is a year later and it’s still getting traction. :-) I swear to God that clutter is going to kill me, but I’m happy to know that based on your post, I’m doing all these things right!

    I moved the toaster out of sight into a slide-out shelf under the cabinet a few years ago. Cut way down on carbs — especially bread — so we NEVER use it.

    Got rid of the huge ugly wooden knife block and put the knives in the drawer.

    Recently got an over the range microwave, so that freed up a lot of counterspace.

    Have to make another pass at the extra dishes. I swear I did this once. Maybe people are sneaking into my house and stashing dishes in the cupboards while I’m sleeping?

    Next to go: Canisters!!!!!!! Those lovely cobalt canisters. Maybe a shelf in the pantry. And we hardly use the coffeepot anymore, so maybe that can go out of sight, also.

    But please tell me how that corner where the phone used to be keeps filling up with paper and doodads — receipts, mail, pens, you name it. Anyone else got one of those magically filling up areas?

  4. Much of this article and the comments made me chuckle a bit, since I live in approx. 120 sq. ft. (plus closet and bath) with a “kitchen” that is 7.5 sf (45″x24″) (countertop) with 4.2 cu. ft. overhead storage and an undercounter fridge. No oven or cooktop (open elements are banned).

    The microwave and my rice cooker are essential – and the rice cooker is *not* a one-use item! I’ve made one-pot rice and bean dishes, bulgar wheat for tabouleh (with fresh mint from my windowsill garden), lentil, barley and split pea soups, huevos ranchero (leftovers make great next-day burritos!), rice and tapioca pudding, Irish oatmeal and even a chocolate cake (more chewy, brownie-like, admittedly, but still!). And it fits on top of the microwave (btw – this is a $15 on-clearance-at-the-discount store 6-cup cooker, not one of the high-end multi-setting ones). A little research, imagination and a few failed experiments … but more successful ones.

    One big space saver for me was getting a plastic industrial 2-step step stool (approx. 19″x19″x12″) (~$20) that I parked on the counter – effectively doubling that space. Things like spare paper towels rolls (11″ high) and such that I don’t need daily fit neatly underneath, while the treads supply stacked storage of things I do use. Easy enough to clear when I actually need a step stool – a quick wipe down when done and back it goes. Also adds a kind of industrial chic note to the space – may spray paint it something other than black at some point. Same with “shelf saver” stepped racks ($3 ea.) – a couple of those in the shelves, a few cheapy plastic baskets ($1 for 3) and re-used jars underneath for small tools and such – cleared counter and shelf space and added organization for those little things that accumulate.

    Microliving can be easy – especially when you make good friends with your measuring tape!

  5. Jo Ann Reply to Jo

    You want me to get rid of the microwave? I do most of what I eat in the microwave. Please, I want to keep it.

  6. Some of these suggestions are just ridiculous. Use the broiler or stove top instead of a toaster? Put the microwave in the family room? I don’t know about you, but the stench of microwaved popcorn in the family room is not appealing in the least. My kitchen is pretty uncluttered to begin with. I have a knife block, but none of those other gadgets listed. Those sandwich makers are dumb, and who keeps a popcorn popper out on the counter all of the time? Not buying silly gadgets is more helpful than putting the microwave in the living room, lol.

  7. onita caldwell Reply to onita

    Got rid of the fancy china before I moved in this house. the toaster stays because yes it is faster than the broiler or skillet. The microwave is also a permanent fixture, use it many times a day. If the picture that goes with article is supposed to be a tiny kitchen I want one. It has miles of countertop, compared to mine. I have one strip of counter space about 31/2 ft. and one about 2 ft. Fortunately, there was enough floor space that I was able to add a microwave cart and 2 drawer units from the thrift store that makes the kitchen fairly functional.

  8. Dorthy Johnson Reply to Dorthy

    My bread machine can go. Have not used it in much longer than I care to admit, so it will leave!! Thanks for all the other thoughts.

  9. I use coffee maker constantly but down sized it to a 4 cup,microwave husband use s it along with a small toaster problem is too many pots skillets. Bowls,and small electric appliances,stored in cabinets

  10. I did most of this during the recent sale and showing of my home. Made a huge difference not to have everything on the counter. Now the microwave over the stove is a must keeper. Do most of my cooking in it. I would rather get rid of the oven and just have a cooktop. Toaster isn’t going as it’s much more efficient than firing up a broiler to brown toast and it’s timed as well. Use it constantly too. The Ninja has to stay in the corner – I’m on a health kick and use it often. Hung up the kitchen tools on a rod and S hooks to get rid of the container they used to spill out of and get dusty. Knife block? Hmmmmm I’ll consider that one. Moved the coffee maker onto the adjoining dining area buffet space recently along with the coffees and teas and fixings. Not only freeing up counter space but cabinet space as well. A “coffee bar” if you will. I’m only a tea drinker so it’s for guests anyway. Don’t have the other items but trying to figure out where the banana hanger is going to go.

  11. Fran Blank Reply to Fran

    Keep the toaster! Making toast in a skillet or on a tray under the broiler simply makes more dishes to wash. Forget it. The toaster is clean and efficient and takes little room on the counter. My kitchen is relatively neat – but clutter free? No. I cook from scratch and preserve vegies and fruit from our gardens. I also dehydrate a lot of our food, make pickles, jams and jellies. My kitchen is loved and seriously used and lived in. I want comfort not a sterile space. I suppose if all you do is reheat prepared food and open cans a sterile kitchen suits you. No thanks. I think the new mantra “clutter free” is being taken to a ridiculous level.

  12. It uses more electricity to heat up the broiler for 2 pc. of Toast and it takes forever. Skillet means more dishes. Microwave is used for more than just heating up food( Defrosting if I forgot to take something out the freezer.), and putting it in the living room is just plain stupid
    Knives are in the Drawer. The rest of the mentioned gadgets I’m not using anyway.

  13. I have two grind/brew coffee makers on mh counter (caf for me, decaf for him); keep thinking about replacing with Keurig but can’t get past the cost of K-cups vs. beans. The biggest thing on my counter is my mixer, which weighs a ton, doesn’t get used often, but I can’t thnk where to put it where it doesn’t have to be lifted into place. All my drawers are pull-outs (very handy). Electric can opener — maybe I can put that in one of the drawers. I’ll try it. The toaster has to stay. I have a little “file organizer with drawer” for notepads, restaurant coupons, address stickers that I got at a yard sale. Very handy and better than a basket. Paper towel holder may be replaced when I find a hanging one that I like. The article is thought provoking.

    • I read that the inventor of the Keurig is now full of regret, because of the HUGE environmental cost of those K cups. They are all just one-time use, and non-recyclable.

  14. I love uncluttered countertops. They are an invitation to cook and create. They announce that the rest of the house is clean. They lift your mood and make you smile. But here is my answer to countertop clutter–a very large pantry. The walk-in kind. The kind the butler had. Building contractors rarely have this feature on their radar and we kitchen caregivers need to change that. A good pantry should have large expanses of shelving that can accommodate your tallest appliances and yet be shallow enough to prevent losing canned goods. It should hold all of your serve ware without too much stacking or crowding. It should hold turkey roasters, lobster pots, canning supplies, large canisters for staples, an adequate bread box, a potato bin, an onion bin, and anything you can’t live without that you don’t want out in plain sight all the time.

  15. Cynthia buddemeyer Reply to Cynthia

    I will make it very simple, I do not like small appliances.

  16. I can easily move the blender, cookbooks, canning jars, vases and large pots to another area. This will free up cabinet, counter AND drawer space. Thanks for the inspiration!

  17. I’ve always loved a clear counter top. I prefer oven broiled toast and don’t like toasters which seem to invite bugs in our humid area. I love my variety of sizes, clear glass Fido jars with the wire clamp for oatmeal, cereal, crackers or anything else you keep in canisters. They are kept in the cabinet. (except Flour which we use rarely and so it goes in the freezer). I had a few pangs of guilt when I threw out the useless jar opener that took up quite a bit of drawer space, but I’m over it now. Keeping the microwave in the wall and the coffee pot in the utility room since I don’t drink it and don’t care for the smell.
    Great article. It may not all apply to everyone but it’s useful and helpful information.

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