Whether you're amidst a renovation or planning for one down the line, make sure you've thought through all the moving parts of your home kitchen for the  best (and cleanest) cooking experience.
Kitchen Countertops
F.&T. Werner, Leipzig
| Credit: Getty Images; Credit: Hinterhaus Productions

Even though it’s probably not something that crosses your mind every time you cook, understanding the building blocks of your home kitchen, from its surfaces, to appliances and accessories, is pertinent for a clean, safe experience. Not only cooking, but general day-to-day living is enhanced when your kitchen is constructed and outfitted with products selected with purpose and intention. Even if you’re not currently in the process of renovating your kitchen, there’s plenty of worthwhile tidbits to keep in the back of your mind for when that exciting (and equally overwhelming) time comes.


So let’s talk about painting your walls (AKA the quintessential way to christen a new/updated home). Our advice? Don’t try to do this all from the comfort of your computer screen. You’re way better off going to your local hardware store and seeing the paint swatches IRL (the color is never quite right on an electronic screen). While you’re there, talk up one of the clerks, as they are always vats of wisdom when it comes to best practices and tricks of the trade. Once you’ve got your color, you’ll need to select a paint finish. For a kitchen environment, a high-gloss finish is recommended. It’s super durable and easy to clean, with the only drawback being that it will not hide any existing blemishes, cracks, or indentations. Basically, if you thought about taking any shortcuts on prepping your not-so-perfect, full-of-character walls...don’t. This investment of time before you paint will be worth your while because your kitchen walls will be able to withstand the day-to-day kitchen traffic and a greasy hand or two. When it comes time to clean, a simple wet rag will do the trick.


Once you’ve got your walls squared away, it’s time to divert your attention to your countertop. After all, this is the surface that you’re going to be doing all of your kitchen work on, so you’re going to want to make the most of it. If you’re one of the lucky ones who’s renovating, granite countertops are obviously the gold standard for home kitchens because they’re durable, hide a mess, and just look darn home-y. If the asking price for granite counters is too far a stretch of your budget, rest assured that your solid countertops (AKA a material that is engineered, rather than a naturally-occurring stone like granite, marble, or limestone), while less appealing to the eye, are still going to be highly durable as well as stain and scratch resistant. Just don’t rest a hot pan on one, okay?

If you’re like the rest of us and just dealing with what the cards dealt you (read: making rent each month is a victory in itself), there are plenty of clever ways to mask that solid countertop that you’re not head-over-heels in love with. Rather than spending a ton of money to rip out an old countertop for the brand new surface of your dreams, Rochelle Bilow, social media manager and new homeowner, suggests investing your money in a large wooden cutting board. Not only is this a much cheaper option, but you can arrange your workspace so that your fresh new cutting board lives atop your less-than-lovely countertop.If a large cutting board isn’t enough to hide a lousy counter space, try dispersing decorative trays (for keys and loose knick knacks), flower vases, and fruit bowls, which all add character and warmth while distracting from a rickety counter.


As important as the counters are for prepping your food, we cannot downplay the importance of your kitchen table. That’s where you are going to sit down to consume all of those lovely home-cooked meals, so it better be built to last. That being said, thick, heavy kitchen tables are expensive, and we still need to put food on that table after we’ve bought it. For a money-saving shortcut, Bilow swears by heading to Ikea or a discount furniture store, and setting your sights on the cheapest wooden table you can find. Then, give it some life, and paint on a couple layers of finishing coat to stand up to the natural wear and tear of such a high-traffic surface. Sure, it may not be the most eye-catching or impressive piece in your home, but it will surely do the trick. It’s also worth pointing out that you should keep an eye out at garage or estate sales for antique tables that only require a couple hours of sprucing up and refinishing.


As far as appliances and accessories, our first line of business is the refrigerator. Again, we realize that not everybody is planning on dropping what they’re doing and making an impulsive thousand dollar purchase on a new fridge, but when that momentous day comes in your life, think long and hard before you fall in love with that stainless steel model. Fingerprints and watermarks are practically inescapable on stainless steel, so be willing and ready to scrub down the surface frequently if the sporadic smudge will drive you insane (read: it will). Generally speaking, Bilow insightfully suggests to spend your money on functional, durable appliances, versus custom cabinets or expensive add-ons. Think tools rather than aesthetics. What are you going to be using everyday versus what can you get away with covering or making a quick fix?

By Sara Tane and Sara Tane