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Upgraded Utilitarian: Really Beautiful Everyday Things for Your Kitchen

image source | From: 2018 Design Trends – Kitchen

About twice a year, I turn into the person that I want to be: someone who cares about how the inside of my cabinets and drawers look. I go on a massive organizing spree and replace gross things with new ones. The other day, I had new friends come over who had never been here and I found myself really hoping they wouldn’t open my silverware drawer because it’s just disgusting. It’s not only messy, but there is some flatware that is rusty and likely has some dried, crusted food on random forks and whatnot that didn’t get fully clean. I do have pretty things on my counters like the requisite boards and oil decanters and small dishes for artisanal salt from a tiny valley in Norway, but then my stupid bottle dryer full of bright plastic sippy cups ruins it all (WHICH I DIDN’T REALIZE UNTIL THIS EXACT MOMENT THAT I ACTUALLY DON’T NEED ANYMORE). Insert one of those really annoying dancing emojis that makes you uncomfortable.

Different Colored Kitchen Island Cabinets
Photo by Tessa Neustadt for EHD | From: Emily’s Modern English Country Kitchen Reveal

Lucky for all of us A. the retail world is answering our prayers with more affordable, pretty options for the kitchen and B. the EHD team has rounded them up for you (and I)…along with some more splurge-worthy ones. Oh boy, I do hope they put a pretty dish drying rack that is easy to store when not needed under the counter somewhere on the below roundups. If not, Arlyn will be let go for not reading my mind and knowing the interior content needs of my under-sink cabinet. Wish her luck.

Textured Subway Tile Backsplash
Photo by Tessa Neustadt for EHD | From: Emily’s Kitchen & Dining Room Reveal

That’s my kitchen above and admittedly those cloves of garlic, no, literally the exact same ones, are still on that pretty board with the oil (that we do use). That decanter was a splurge for the shoot, but it’s an incredible housewarming gift because it truly makes me happy and it’s not something I would have bought for myself if we weren’t shooting the kitchen for media. But if what makes you happy is to buy a $100 oil decanter that is made in the States by an artisan, then please do because supporting makers and sites that promote makers is just as important as supporting large retailers that support our economy with jobs and provide more budget-friendly versions for the average family. Woah…big statement for a post about oven mitts.

So below is the first roundup of both budget and splurges in the “kitchen and storage tool” department. Oh, and if you’re wondering where all the pretty decanters are, don’t worry, we’re working on an almost-too-pretty-to-cook-with-but-YOLO-so-use-it-anyway kitchen decor and food prep roundup, so hang tight. This post is more about those things you use every day in your kitchen that are normally just…ugly and boring, but don’t have to be.

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1. Milk Paint Maple and Brass Knife Grabber | 2. Oven Mitt | 3. Copper And Gold Sponge Holders Set Of 2 | 4. Can Opener | 5. Felted Pan Handle Covers | 6. Natural Wood Nesting Measuring Cup Set | 7. Black Measuring Spoons | 8. Norr Paper Towel Holder | 9. Hand-Turned Mason Jar and Lid | 10. All-Purpose Kitchen Storage Bowl | 11. Denim Apron | 12. Gold Measuring Cups | 13. Round Glass Spice Jar with Copper Metal Lid | 14. Large White Retro Bread Bin | 15. Beech Wood Turner | 16. Linen & Cotton Bowl Covers (Set of 6) | 17. Plastic Food Storage Container Collection | 18. Onyx & Wood Measuring Cups | 19. Beech Wood and Silicone Spatula Mini | 20. Dutch Leather Oven Mitt | 21. Copper Wire Kitchen Paper Towel Rack | 22. Double Oven Mitt | 23. Slotted Wooden Spoon | 24. Brass Spoon Rest | 25. Plastic 2pk Food Storage Container Small Grid Pattern | 26. Lovely Baking Rolling Pin Set | 27. Marble Flatware Tray | 28. Gold Whisk | 29. Gold-plated Paper Towel Holder | 30. Araucana Egg Board | 31. Ice Crusher Kit | 32. Steel & Wood Magnetic Refrigerator Rack | 33. Tower Double Sponge Holder

Out of all of those above, here is what I have or have used personally: #17—the Made By Design plasticware (I used these while I was staying at the Portland house and I have a bunch here at home that I haven’t yet unwrapped); #2—those black measuring spoons and the brass measuring cups (#12), although technically those should match if you are going to be let into the lifestyle mafia. It’s a crime, up there with letting your laundry detergent just sit on top of your washer in the plastic, labeled container it came in from the store (how dare you).

I want to buy #27 (the marble flatware organizer) and here’s why—we just had to throw away our gross plastic one because it had collected some sort of mold. Cool. It’s not because of the plastic but because our house is porous so sometimes when the wall is wet, that drawer gets moist. It was all over our flatware, too. It’s time. Right now, everything is just floating around and wood one somehow feels like it won’t help the situation, so maybe I’ll splurge on this marble one. #33…seems smart and simple to hold your sponges on the inside of your cabinet and I need one of those. Ditto with #32. If I have room for that, I’d grab it for myself.

#20 is a GREAT GIFT FOR ME if you’ve been wracking your brain about what to get me for a birthday present (39 in 10 days, folks).

#16 is part of a great new trend of “shower caps” for your glass storage containers which we might actually use when we shoot the inside of the Portland fridge. These cut down on the need for additional Tupperware (or wasteful plastic wrap or aluminum foil)…you just throw that shower cap thing on whatever your food is already in (as long as it fits in the fridge) and boom…no moving anything other or washing two different containers.

Wait. #30…I think this is an egg board for inside the fridge (which I personally think would take up a lot of real estate in there). I don’t know. Maybe it’s for deviled eggs for parties? Brian could get behind that. I love reading my own blog while writing it. The editorial team plugs in all of these roundups and if/when I have time to art direct or write, I do, but in this case it goes up tomorrow so I didn’t want anyone to have to work on a Sunday, so here I am seeing it for the first time and writing it (and commenting within the post). It’s so fun.

I would accept #18 as a gift (the measuring cup set) but I don’t need it and I have almost all of the collection with #19 (which is $2 and great). I think that #1 and #8 are smart splurges because you see them every day and #6 is strangely good for only $20. Good job, guys. I love this roundup.

Vintage White Kitchen Checker Floors Open Shelving
Photo by Tessa Neustadt | From: Brady’s Kitchen Reveal

Brady’s kitchen is DEFINITELY lifestyle mafia. I love that space so much (and he DIYed a lot of it…check it out here). I mean, does YOUR sink area look like that, with a pretty wood brush and dish soap? Oh wait, it can (if you want it to), which leads me to…

Next up is cleaning tools, because if you are using a basic bitch sponge to wash the pasta remnants from your kids’ plastic plate then you are likely missing out on the joys of being a perfect person. To help you reach perfection, the EHD team presents to you beautiful kitchen cleaning tools:

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1. Lurex Sponge in Gold | 2. Linen Patchwork Napkin | 3. Vintage-Inspired French Glass Brush Set | 4. Brush For Washing Up Bowl | 5. Compact Modular Dish Rack | 6. Footed Black Trash Can | 7. Reusable Paper Towel Roll (set of 3) | 8. Kitchen Cloth (set of 2) | 9. French Pebble Sponge (set of 6) | 10. White Waste Bin | 11. Vegetable Brush | 12. Bamboo Dish Rack | 13. Striped Towel | 14. Reusable Pot Scrubbers (set of 5) | 15. Bamboo Compost Bin | 16. Copper Sponges (set of 2) | 17. Rose Gold Trash Can | 18. 32 oz. Heirloom Dishwashing Liquid | 19. Charcoal Waffled Tea Towel | 20. Flow Drainer Tray | 21. Scouring Pad | 22. White Dish Rack with Wood Handles | 23. Full Circle Ring Vegetable Brush | 24. Plaid Towel (set of 2) | 25. Washing Up Whisk | 26. Striped Waffle Tea Towel | 27. Waste Separation And Recycling Unit | 28. Matte White Retro Metal Trash Can | 29. Saucepan Brush | 30. Big Block Kitchen Soap | 31. Drying Dish Pad | 32. Towel Rack & Infinity Linen | 33. Three Layer Sponge

I see so many things that I’m intrigued by.

#7—Reusable paper towels. Has anyone used something like this? Is it like cloth diapers where you really want to be a good person and conserve but not a good enough person to maintain the lifestyle? Do you wash these in the washer? And will I actually do it? We go through SO many paper towels here and it feels awful. Growing up, we didn’t have them but we ended up just washing so many rags a day which is wasteful in its own right (I know there are solutions to both of these, but please factor in working mom lifestyle).

#33—Muji sponge for the win. I like #1, too, and would likely use that for a shoot, but Muji’s feels like it would clean better.

#15…We’ve been meaning to get a compost bin; I can look at this one and isn’t a fortune. Our kids compost at school and Charlie asked me why we don’t have one and I felt, well, ashamed. A child that composts gets you into the lifestyle mafia REAL FAST, by the way. Any thoughts on whether we should try this indoor one or do the whole worm thing outside, please let us know.

All those garbage bins are great, although I fear that unless your kitchen is designed to work perfectly with it, the copper-toned one might grab too much attention for, you know, garbage (it also comes in some other colors, though). I would get #27 because I like the recycle bin.

Also, I’m excited to know what people are doing with what seems to be hay, #25 in the kitchen. **(Editor’s Note from Arlyn: Hahaha, yes, this looks like hay, but it’s actually a water-resistant, super durable, taut-yet-elastic brush made from rice root to scrub pans and pots…no word though on whether it makes things all scratchy, but…if you’ve ever used something like this, let us know how it is and if it’s any better/different than a normal kitchen brush or scrubber).

The good news is that Arlyn gets to keep her job because she did indeed read my messy mind and there are some great dish drainers here. **(Another Editor’s Note from Arlyn: Thank goodness, because there’s nothing worse than updating a resume). Our counter space is pretty small and since ours is mostly for sippy cups, their metal lunch tins and knives, I think we’ll grab that one from West Elm and hopefully it meets our needs. I’ll let you know. THANK YOU EHD EDITORIAL TEAM. 🙂 The only thing that I can’t seem to find are glass dish and handsoap decanters for next to the sink that are pretty and don’t look cheap. I ordered these cheap ones from Amazon that look hideous next to our raw brass faucet.

So what next? We’ve done Upgraded Utilitarian garden and tools and laundry and organization, and have some bathroom stuff and more kitchen decor in the works, but…where should we take this series next (for anyone who has given suggestions in other posts, we’re listening and taking note, we promise)?

Also, this is really making me want to organize my pantries and cupboards, like right now. Should I shoot a big “inside of my cabinets/drawers/soul reveal” at my house? Boring or fun? We are doing it in Portland because the pantries are so big and pretty, but now I need this in my life…thanks for the inspiration, Arlyn and Jess. xx


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88 thoughts on “Upgraded Utilitarian: Really Beautiful Everyday Things for Your Kitchen

  1. Hi Emily, this comment has nothing to do with this post (although I like it!). I saw your post on Instagram about parenting and I just wanted to let you know that I really miss your parenting posts on the blog. I like all your articles but those were my favorite and I would be over the moon if you brought them back.

    1. Ah, thank you 🙂 I honestly have so many drafted but they just aren’t ‘there’ yet and its such a personal thing (and i get so sensitive about them) that I want them to be just right when I post them. But thank you 🙂 more to come soon, hopefully. xx

      1. ME, TOO. We’ll get on it. All the different clever ways to hide outlets and where to put them is something i’m going to have to do pretty darn quickly for the mountain house so we’ll get on it. xx

  2. Try not buying any more paper towels – load up on cloth dish towels and small rags, and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to do!

    And you’ll realize it’s a great reason to have a cute collection of dishtowels – and we all know there are tons out there; plus you’ll USE them! I haven’t bought a roll of paper towels in 10 years. I also only use cloth napkins (lots of cute options there too).

    When we remodeled our kitchen, I had two cabinet trashcan inserts included (both double-trash cans), so I have trash/recycle, and trash/dirty linens. It does add to the laundry load, but not by much – we’re talking 1/2 load each week (and we eat home-cooked meals w/ cloth napkins 4-5 night/week). I’m also happy b/c I’m raising my girls (ages 5 and 6) this way too.

    1. OOh, thats very smart RE the laundry in the kitchen for those rags. I just remember growing up we always had a HUGE pile of gross rags in the sink probably because each kid got out a new one because we didn’t want to touch a gross one every time. Surely there would be a better system. We’ll give it a shot and report back. and KUDOS to you. xx

      1. I bought a jute basket with a lid (Indonesian looking one) that I leave on a counter corner for the dirty rags. I line it with a plastic bag and when it’s full I take it to the upstairs laundry every few days. Looks intentional and pretty and also keeps the smells out. But the trash/laundry combination is clever. And coincidentally we are installing another recycling cabinet, so I will just use the fourth can for laundry.

      2. We recently invested in two sets of unpaper towels from Food52 and it has massively cut down on our paper towel use. We keep them in a glass jar on our countertop and have a pretty white and wood rack for letting them dry before we toss them in a hamper we keep right near the kitchen. We have enough that I can wait and do a load of just those every couple of weeks (as long as you let them fully dry before putting them in the hamper they won’t smell/mildew) and I wash them with some bleach. It has made me feel really good about reducing our paper towel use (we usually go a couple of weeks without needing a new roll now) and I think that once our youngest is a bit older (he’s 2.5 and very messy) we will go even longer.

    2. I own a little kitchen shop in Vermont and my bestselling item is the Swedish Dishcloth, which is an awesome option for replacing paper towels. It’s like a thin little sponge that you can wash in the washing machine and then compost when you’re done. You get a good few months out of them and you save TONS of paper towel.

      Emily, I think you’re exceptionally good at promoting independent makers and the Etsy roundups are so great! But just a little reminder to readers to support your local kitchen shop if you have one! We all love Target and World Market (I think! We don’t have either in VT!), but a lot of these kinds of goodies can be found in independent stores. This isn’t a plug for my own store, it’s just a nudge to remind people that in a lot of places, big box stores aren’t the only option.

      OK, stepping off my locally sourced, artisanal soapbox now 😉

    3. We do a version of this–we just bought a little bathroom sized trash can made of reeds or something similar, and keep that next to our recycle bin for kitchen linens. It adds up to about half a load of laundry if we let it fill up, and since it has open sides they dry out even if they go in slightly damp.

    4. ok, i love the ideas for a special rag holding bin…but don’t they smell awful if you throw them in there wet? we constantly have dirty rags draped all over the place drying out. i swear my husband drapes them in the most prominent places (front stair railing anyone???). i need a system for that!

      1. I love the rag holding bin idea, too! Currently, I throw them in the cabinet under the sink – just free-form. Messy and weird. But having a little cute bin on the countertop for them – Wow – thanks!

        My system is to dry them out first, using two under-sink mounted ‘racks.’ Each rack has two rods, so I can dry 4 rags at a time. It works pretty well (for the drying aspect). Currently, I throw the dry ones in the cabinet, but going forward, I will remove the dry ones into the bin!

    5. I love the bin for dirty rags! We’ve really been trying not to use paper towels either and I end up throwing my dirty one at the bottom of the stairs, which ends up sitting there much longer than it should…

      1. I got rid of sponges and paper towels, and the little dishcloths I use never smell- my most HATED smell is mildew and I have a very sensitive nose- but I ring them out as much as possible, put them in the hamper with all of our other towels, (I throw them down the stairs and make the basket about 98% of the time, ha!) and then wash them in either bleach if you feel it’s necessary, or just plain white vinegar. I put about half a cup in my towel loads and they never smell like mildew. I have white ones, but if you like color the vinegar won’t hurt it. Vinegar for everythiiiing! (I buy four huge jugs every time I’m at Costco. Great for laundry and making volcanos.)

    6. To hack the double can system, I have a small laundry basket from Dollar Tree under my kitchen sink. My base cabinet has a plastic liner in it so if they’re a little damp it’s not damaging the cabinet. We wash weekly, just grabbing the basket and taking it right to the machine.

  3. Would love to see pet stuff! I bet there are some awesome things for cats and dogs. Maybe a gorgeous birdcage too!

    1. That’s such a great idea! I just got a second goldendoodle and feel like 40% of my kitchen is now pet stuff.

    2. Yes pretty pet things!! And smart ways to store them i.e. not a giant plastic bin of dog food in the laundry room or neon plastic food bowls on the kitchen floor.

    1. it’s my favorite 🙂 I’m glad your team did the sourcing work and you got to do the commentary! Just hilarious; made my morning. Plus, yeah, great stuff too!

  4. Haha! I just got the #27 Joseph Joseph Totem garbage/recycling container last week! So far I really appreciate it’s size and clean lines. Out of all the horrible, masculine looking trash cans out there, this one is by far the best looking and most practical. The recycling area is a good size, but I do wish it were a hair larger and that the trash were a bit smaller.

  5. I am a big fan of composting and urge you to do it, but I have that compost bin (#15) and would never recommend it. I loved the look of it and the idea that the bin itself is biodegradable sold me. The filter kept the smells away but because of the holes in the lid the fruit flies were HORRIBLE. Out of control even with emptying it frequently. We were using it to hold daily scraps and then emptying it into our worm compost outside. Also the handle cracked on day 1. I ordered it on Amazon before there were any reviews, but looking now I see people are having the same issues.

  6. Do you have Compost Now where you live? I’m not affiliated with the company but it solved a couple of problems for us: 1) I feel like a better human because I compost; 2) I can compost the 10,000 paper towles my children use each day!!! Our yard is super tiny so composting the traditional way didn’t work for us. But, with Compost Now, they pick up our compost each week. Super, super easy. If we ever do the large garden project that’s in my head, they will deliver back to us nutrient rich soil. Thanks for the posts; I’m a fan.

    1. I use a similar service (Urban Canopy in Chicago) and absolutely love it! I leave my bucket of compost on my porch biweekly and they pick it up and drop off a fresh bucket without needing me to be home. And since it is a commercial compost you can put in a lot more stuff than a backyard compost could handle. I try to use a simple kitchen sponge as much as possible, but any remaining paper towels go in the compost!

      1. Thank you for this! We are moving to Chicago from the Dallas suburbs and I have been trying to figure out how to do my normal routine in our new urban environment. This has helped me tremendously. <3

  7. So the thing with compost is, if you don’t empty it every day, you’ll get smells and fruit flies. And if you do empty it every day, you really only need a bowl in the fridge (no smells! no flies!). Pick a bowl, any bowl, and just make sure your compost bin is close enough to the back door that you can empty it easily.

    Start composting. You don’t need worms. It’s the easiest thing ever – pretty much can’t screw it up. It feels much better than waste and your trees will love you. (I saw this with great concern about adding anything to your very full plate. My plate is also very full and, I can attest, this is totally doable.)

    1. Our indoor compost stays smell and fly free for about 5 days. It is basically a bucket within a bucket so the inner bucket gets yucky but the outer bucket stays clean and keeps out the smells/bugs. I live in Chicago so having to empty the compost daily in winter would be a deal breaker! Totally agree that composting is super doable even for a busy person! It just becomes part of the routine like recycling.

      1. On the By the Book podcast, the hosts live in NYC and talked about how they compost in their tiny kitchens where bugs are a major concern already by putting their compostables in the freezer. Then, when they have enough they take it to their community garden. I don’t compost (yet, though you guys are making a good argument for it), so I don’t know how that works – do you have to thaw it before adding to the compost pile when it’s not already freezing outside? – but thought I’d throw that out there for anyone looking for ideas. I’d love to hear from other people if they’ve tried this too.

    2. On one of the podcasts I listen to, By the Book, the hosts live in NYC but talked about how they compost in their tiny kitchens by putting a bag in their freezer to toss compostable items into, then when the bag was full they would go empty it in their community garden compost bin. No smell or bugs even if it sat for days because the waste was frozen. I don’t compost (yet) so I don’t know if there are any downsides to that, but thought I would throw that out there for people looking for ways to collect compost inside!

  8. Would you consider a home office, but more specifically a beautiful home tech round up? I’ve seen a lot of posts about organizing stationary but I need help with our multiple screens and oodles of cords. Ideas?

  9. I also would love to know how people use more rags/napkins and less paper towels! The amount we go through is really absurd and not necessary. Plus I’m sick of looking at them sitting on my counter all the time. Specific product recommendations from anyone who has accomplished this?

    1. One simple thing that helped for me is I took my paper towels off the kitchen counter. I still have some stored under the sink with the other cleaning supplies, but even this small barrier reduces the amount I use by 90%. If I need to wipe the counters, I grab the sponge that’s by the sink. If I need to clean up cat puke, I’ll make the special “trip” to the paper towels.

      1. Yes! I did that too and it works. Just by relocating the paper towels under the sink, we (family of 5) now only use about a roll every two to three months. When something non disgusting spills, we typically get a cloth/kitchen towel (then let it dry and then it goes into the hamper to be washed). When we need to dry our hands, we use a cloth/kitchen towel (they are dried at the end of the day, put in the hamper, and then replaced each morning). The paper towels are reserved for yucky things you don’t want to get on your kitchen towels and to use with cleaning supplies.

    2. Hi! We made the switch to using a stack of basic cloth napkins (maybe 16 total?) as our ‘paper towels’ a couple of years ago and haven’t looked back. We keep a clean stack in a basket in the cupboard, use them to wipe up spills and basically anything else paper towels are used, then put the soiled cloths in a wire basket (which is showing signs of rust, so I need to find a better solution there). I empty it daily(ish) into our bigger laundry basket upstairs and wash them 1 – 2 times per week. That’s really all there is to it. We also use a different set cloth napkins for meals, and no longer need to purchase paper towels or napkins. It was truly an easier switch than I expected it to be (for my husband as well!). Best of luck finding a system that works! It’s a great feeling once you do!

    3. We use cloth diapers (I’d recommend the newborn ones, which are small but SUPER absorbent). But we also use old t-shirts (my husband wears white cotton shirts under his work clothes and when they get too old, i cut them up and turn them into rags, plus I can throw them out when they get too gross).

      I did have to train my kids to grab a RAG and not one of my beautiful cloth NAPKINS! Which are kept in very different locations.

  10. Hi Emily,

    Being the mom of many, we were always out of paper towels because of the number of messes and just the amount of waste with so many towels coming off at once. About 10 years ago, I switched from paper towels to the cheapest volume napkins. A neat stack of napkins in a convenient spot, like on my antique white scales, looks so much neater than a “roll”. A single napkin works for most small jobs and a small stack for bigger jobs. A large package is much cheaper and lasts so much longer than a three pack of paper towels

  11. So you touch on it a bit here, but how about upgraded utilitarian garbage/recycling/composting situations? As a fellow Oregonian, I know that recycling is near and dear to your heart. Maybe you can get a sponsored post together that shows a put-together and pretty home refuse station? I am forever drowning in brown paper bags (I know you’re all reusable in LA but if you can believe it, many of us still have disposable ones!) and I just have this need to effectively store and dispose of trash/recycling/bags so it doesn’t look like I like at a Bottle Drop. Especially since I don’t have much cabinet/pantry space so these babies are going to have to be visible to guests (and worse, me). If anyone can make recycling pretty, it’s you!!

  12. Let’s just pretend they’re going to shoot the inside of your cupboards and get them all purged and clean and styled. Actually I need to pretend they’re coming to my kitchen too. It’s like inviting people to dinner to make yourself clean up and finish projects.

    The kitchen accessories look like Arlyn went shopping in Scandinavia … or the American version of it. She even included a Lutheran church lady egg plate … that’s the correct name for the egg holder thingy. It might be known in other denominations too…

  13. Switching to un paper towels and reusable cloths is really easy so I always tell people they spend more time worrying about it than necessary! We’ve got a variety of different cloths that we use for different things and 2 kinds of cloth napkins. We’ve got cheap navy washcloths to use for pet messes (never for # 2 though, we keep a roll of paper towel on hand for just in cases), thin cloths for light messes or wipeups, a roll of snapable unpaper towel for heftier messes, crocheted washcloths for wiping down the counter, etc. We’ve got a wetbag that we put our used cloths in until we wash towels the next time. We rarely put WET rags into the wet bag though, I’ll hang them over the sink until dry or damp.
    We also compost but we use a cute ceramic crock with a lid and empty it every day or two into our pile out back. I hadn’t read great things about the compost bins like you posted but we’ve had no bug or smell issue using a crock.

  14. I would love to see attractive dog items! Specifically dog beds that are attractive and can’t be ripped apart (may be impossible…).

  15. Thanks for this fun post. I love beautiful kitchen stuff. I am looking forward to pantry reveals & laundry & organization ideas. We are finishing up a major kitchen/pantry/laundry remodel.

  16. I am clearly missing out on many of the joys of being a perfect person, but I don’t give much of a hoot.
    What about the environment, folks? Do you care? I read this blog with great interest and really love a lot of the design here but HONESTLY?! Do we need this much new stuff all the damn time?!
    What happens to the old perfectly useful stuff? Where does it go!? Are we really comfortable letting it go into the landfill? Is that what being perfect is about? Or is it supposed to be passed on to someone less perfect than ourselves. Do we all need marble cutlery trays now? Is that where we’re headed?! Bah, I’m just not into it!

    I’m not trying to be mean here, but Emily, do you sometimes worry about the climate change, maybe lying awake in the middle of the night, and wonder what your own contribution to it might be?

    1. Literally couldn’t agree more. I work as a sustainability coordinator and I cannot say enough that while replacing items with reusable ones is AWESOME, we should always consider the usable life of the products we currently have and ensure we aren’t sending perfectly good items to the landfill just to replace them with something more aesthetically pleasing.

      Also, have never cringed more while reading this blog than when I read the words “basic bitch sponge”.

    2. I agree that we should strive to be happy with items that still have utility, but for those of us who don’t have these items, these product roundups are super helpful and very much appreciated! I lost my home in Northern California in a wildfire last October, and my husband and I are just now moving into a rental while our house is being rebuilt, and I’ve found many cute and reasonable items in these “upgraded utilitarian” posts. Please keep them coming Emily and team!

  17. Love this roundup! I’ve been searching for things like this! I was hoping to see a nicer option for dish soap dispenser – I mean, why in the world are ALL the dish soap holders ugly and/or clear?? For the time being, I’ve resorted to using one meant for a bathroom – not great, but it’s ok for now.

    1. Yes – this! There MUST be a cute kitchen dish soap dispenser somewhere. Anywhere? Help please!

  18. The “shower cap” covers are something that was used back in the 60’s. My Grandparents had them and so did we until my Mom really got into Tupperware. My grandparents were brought up in the depression era…they really knew the value of use and reuse. Nanny always reused baggies, rubber bands and twist ties, just to name a few. Very few paper napkins or towels always cloth.
    They had an amazing vegetable garden. Thanks to composting :). I have the best memories of hours out there with them in the garden. They let me “help” and play.

  19. You know what makes me want to clean out my kitchen and get rid of grimy tool? Every time I watch Hoarders. Every. Time. My husband ALWAYS knows when I’ve been watching.

  20. Cool stuff!
    We have cloth “paper towels” (well, they’re just called that b/c you use them the same way you’d use a paper towel, but there’s nothing paper about them) that someone got me from Etsy as a gift. They snap together to make a roll, but that’s extra work, so I never do that — we just keep them tossed in a basket. (In other words, they’re handy, cute looking rags.) Not sure I agree that using rags in this way and needing to wash them with the rest of laundry is wasteful, especially when compared to the paper alternative. To each her own, but I’m also not sure I’d actually rinse and re-use the same reusable paper towel for a week, so I think those are a cool idea but I’d recommend the cloth ones for most folks, which will also be less expensive in the long run. I do find that when the paper towel roll (yes, we still use those, too!) gets left out it tends to get over-used, but if I store it under the sink, my family members are much more like to grab and use the cloth rags/faux “paper” towels.

  21. One item you / everyone should know about for the kitchen is a dish towel called Nawrap. It’s Japanese, charcoal infused and dries like you wouldn’t believe. It dries glass in an instant with no smears or lint. I have several and won’t use anything else. And they look industrial cool.

  22. I’m ready to break into having a beautiful wood cutting board on my kitchen counter! I was scrolling through, hoping for a recommendation on that. (Though I realize, it’s probably more decor than anything!). Do you have one you recommend?

  23. Thanks for all the great ideas!!! Always looking for that splurge gift for the person who has everything. Can you share info about your cookbook stand?

  24. As always, LOVE your writing style! But SERIOUSLY?!? For your 39th birthday – an oven mitt? Granted it’s a beautiful mitt, but an oven mitt?

  25. An alternative to counter top compost bins (which work fine if you empty often) are freezer bins for compost, or even just a biodegradable or plastic bag in the freezer: no bugs, smells etc. Just take it to your outdoor green bin or composting set up when a bag fills up. Easy peasy!

  26. Haha! I think you need to proof read a little better. I am sure you did not mean to use the word ‘basic bit@# sponge”. Thanks for all your updates!

  27. This is intended as thoughtful editorial criticism. This post feels like it could exist on any personal blog/lifestyle site. There is nothing that ties directly to the Emily Henderson brand for me, but I can narrow down my aversion to two things: 1) I don’t trust the recommendations because it looks like a color palette drove this selection. A counter to this was when Emily tried on and recommended Nordstrom sale clothing. That voice was authentic. You had clearly felt the weight of material, the quality of zippers. The recommender doesn’t always need to be Emily for this to work. Guest voices are welcome. 2) These aren’t special finds—I cannot get away from several of these items in my sponsored social media ad experience. (I’m a 32-yo professional, married woman without children.) Alternatively, the etsy round-ups are wonderful because they fit a clear aesthetic commonly seen on this site, and aren’t as commonly recommended on other sites.

    If the upgraded utilitarian round-up went deeper on specific types of goods it would fit in the site better to me: utilitarian sponges, composting accessories, trash cans, dish soap, …

    I know there are many metrics that will tell you whether this post is successful, and that I am only one voice, but I want to share early that this is now the second time I saw a post like this and thought, hmm, this doesn’t feel unique.

    Congrats on the site expansion, it’s an exciting time, and the hustle of the entire team is palpable and admirable. In fact, if there was an feature on how the team gets it done I would read that.

    1. Ooo so glad I decided to read the comments. I’m a big fan of wool and this is lovely!

      Thank you for the link!

  28. Hey Emily,

    Quick question – doesn’t the fancy oil decanter (which I would LOVE) get terribly dirty/greasy? Sure, it is lovely and looks amazing in photos but how does it look in real life when you’re cooking for six every night?! I keep an ordinary glass bottle on a pretty tray near my cooker and I find that I have to clean (with soap and hot water) it and the tray weekly, at least.

    Cheers, Emma

  29. Please label the items with the photo next time since it was hard to tell what a lot of these were.

  30. You will have to pry my OXO tools from my cold dead hands. I have yet to find a can opener that works better than OXO and, I won’t own a tool/pot/appliance just because of how it looks if it can’t perform.

  31. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I would love a post showing the inside of your cabinets/drawers/soul. And also those of anyone on your team. Or your friends and family. Or complete strangers. I live vicariously through the organizing efforts of others!

  32. I’ve really enjoyed these lists. Please keep them coming. They are great for finding gifts for that person who “has everything.”

    I would love to see an alternative to ugly old plastic box fans. That necessary evil of summers in Los Angeles with no AC.

  33. People are always a little off put when they come to my house and see my kids drinking from moscow mule mugs. Two summers ago, they were everywhere. I had to have them. Then I realized that I don’t like moscow mules. I got rid of almost all of my kids’ sippy cups (we have one special one for my daughter’s nightly milk only) and use copper mugs for their drinks. They can’t break them and they are beautiful. Win win win (except when new people come over and look at me quizzically).

  34. I would have loved to see the utility of the “utilitarian” post. I love many of the voices that shine through on this site and I really wish ANY OF THEM had tried the products prior to recommending them. We all wish our cleaning supplies were prettier. You know why we keep buying the ugly ones? BECAUSE WE ACTUALLY USE THEM TO CLEAN. I am wildy capable of buying pretty stuff. I wish instead of searching the internet for pretty cleaning supplies, your team would have tested some of them and recommended the ones in the middle of the Venn Diagram of “pretty” and “useful.”

  35. Hi there!

    Loving the concept of the utilitarian post. I’m always looking for ways to make everything aesthetically pleasing (while still functional). I’m wondering if you have any good ideas for litter boxes that aren’t totally and completely heinous, as well as other much needed pet supplies? Would love to know!

  36. Could you share the name of the blue/green paint color on your lower kitchen cabinets please? Thank you so much

  37. This post was hilarious Em! I died like four times. For one thing, I didn’t know it was a thing to remove your laundry soap and put in another container…haha lifestyle mafia indeed! Also funny is that my mother has half of these kitchen things, and she’s not on social media at all. She just can’t bear to have anything “ugly” in her vicinity AT ALL. She refuses to have a draining rack and prefers to instead wash her dishes by hand and use the dishwasher as a drying rack! Drives me crazy… But she does have ordinary cleaning stuff, so I’m gonna have to forward your laundry/cleaning posts to her. Thanks, Em!

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