It doesn’t matter if you live in a teeny, tiny studio apartment or full-blown mansion, one thing is for certain: Everyone has a kitchen. And for many people, whether they’re a budding home chef or have a freezer full of microwaveable meals, the kitchen is undeniably the heart of the home.
At first thought, outfitting a kitchen sounds easy. All you need are a few pots, pans, and dinnerware, and you’re basically set, right? Not quite. When you consider all the small gadgets that are so invaluable to your day-to-day life: Can openers! Spatulas! Oven mitts!—you’ll realize it can be pretty time consuming. And that’s only the essentials—you still need to make your space feel stylish and personal.
To help, we asked a handful of design experts about the first five things any dweller should add to their kitchen. While their responses run the gamut from a practical rug to fresh (and delicious!) herbs, one thing’s for sure: These picks go far beyond the typical pots and pans.
Begin With the Basics
Whether you are undergoing a full-blown renovation or want to make your rental space feel a little more special, you’ll have to take a few extra steps before adding appliances and linens. Create the foundation of your space by selecting the right materials.
“Countertops and backsplash material [will help you] select the right paint color for your cabinets or walls,” says interior designer Darla Bankston May.
We know what you’re thinking: Choosing a countertop and backsplash tile might be important for a home, but a rental apartment is only so customizable. Thanks to contact paper and peel-and-stick decals, you can easily hack your way to a faux renovation.
Wow With Window Treatments
While curtains and drapes are essential in virtually every room, they often take the backseat in the kitchen. But not only can those window treatments keep your place private, they’ll also prevent a distracting glare as you whip up something special.
“Drapery or roman shades add beautiful depth to a kitchen,” says interior designer Marie Flanigan. “I’m especially loving Conrad Shades for the earthy, natural feel they lend to the space.”
Find a Practical Rug
The kitchen rug trend isn’t leaving anytime soon, so you might as well make sure you choose a practical style that’s easy to clean. We hate to break it to you, but sauce spills and red wine stains are inevitable.
“A machine-washable rug is essential. In a high-traffic area like the kitchen, you need a rug that you are able to wash anytime and all the time,” says Jeneva Bell, founder of Ruggable. “Adding a stylish rug is one of the easiest ways to bring new life to any room in your home, and machine-washability will ensure the mood doesn’t change when spills happen.”
Stylish and sensible? *Adds to e-cart*
Move on to Seating
An island is one of the most important features in any kitchen—and for good reason. It’s a meal prepping surface and casual table rolled into one stylish space. So, whether you want to dress up your island or give a conventional counter an island-like flair, one thing’s for sure: A set of counter stools is the gift that keeps on giving.
“Let’s face it: Everyone hangs out in the kitchen, so allow your guest to pull up a stylish chair,” says interior designer Jennifer Welch.
Completing your kitchen island on a budget? Take a gander at these surprisingly affordable options.
Finish with Greenery
Want a piece of home décor that can appeal to all the senses? Add a sprig of rosemary or basil to your space. According to Flanigan, incorporating some herbs into your kitchen does a lot more than give your recipes a flavorful flair.
“It’s beauty meets function, which is a win-win in my book,” she says.
Go ahead, pack on the style by placing a few sprigs in a bud vase.