You’ve found the perfect apartment — except for its tiny kitchen. As a renter, you can’t go ripping out cabinets or knocking down walls to expand its footprint. You need to find a way to work with it.
One solution is to stock your kitchen with items that can multitask. You can’t have every specialty gadget and tool out there, so choose supplies that earn their keep by serving multiple purposes.
“I’m a big fan of less rather than more,” says Leah Daniels, owner of Hill’s Kitchen (202-543-1997, hillskitchen.com), a kitchenware store located near Eastern Market. “Don’t get something until you have a use for it. If you think you should get something just to have it, I wouldn’t.”
Here are six hardworking products that can tackle a variety of kitchen duties:
An Appliance Alternative
A standard blender takes up too much counter space. Opt for an immersion blender instead. The hand-held tool helps you whip up many of the things a bigger version would. “You can make salad dressings and smoothies or grind up soups,” Daniels said.
Hill’s Kitchen carries the Smart Stick Hand Blender from Cuisinart ($40), a basic version that can be inserted directly into a pot, pitcher or bowl for easy and efficient blending. For more chopping power
when working with such ingredients as nuts and ice, you’d need to buy a model with specialized attachments.
A Simpler Spoon
Forget about fumbling with multiple measuring spoons. Logan Circle-area retailer Home Rule (202-797-5544, homerule.com) sells the Dash 4-in-1 Measuring Spoon from Umbra ($7.99), a single tool that can dole out everything from a pinch of pepper to a teaspoon of vanilla.
“It can measure both liquids and nonliquids,” says Mazin Abdelhameid, assistant manager at Home Rule. “There are no key rings, and it fits right in the drawer.”
Pots With Purpose
While they might seem like a good deal, those packaged sets of pots and pans aren’t always the best choice for folks with small kitchens. Some pieces may get heavy use, but others could wind up cluttering your shelves.
Instead, consider a workhorse option such as the Krona 8-quart steamer/cooker set ($135), available at cookware store La Cuisine in Old Town Alexandria (703-836-4435, lacuisineus.com). Yes, it’s still a set, but the stackable pieces can tackle a variety of culinary tasks. “The deep-capacity insert can be used for pasta or potatoes, and when you pull it out, it also works as a colander,” says
La Cuisine owner Nancy Pollard. Steam veggies in the smaller insert, and grab the main stockpot to make soup or brown meat.
With its handy storage stand, the Joseph Joseph Elevate Carousel Tool Set ($50) frees up drawer space without taking up the counter territory of a bulky utensil holder. You won’t need a spoon rest, either: The weighted handles keep the utensil heads off of your counter.
“If you have things that are really good, you don’t feel the need to buy three things to do the job that one thing can do,” says Daphne Olive, owner of Dupont Circle home goods and gift retailer Tabletop (202-387-7117, tabletopdc.com), which carries the set.
A Cut Above
Choose a cutting board that serves as more than just a place for slicing and dicing.
“I find that we sell 18-by-13-inch cutting boards quite often to people who want to put them across their kitchen sinks to maximize space,” says Daniels of Hill’s Kitchen. “It creates an entire additional work surface.” Daniels suggests the largest board in Epicurean’s Kitchen Series ($34.95), a thin, lightweight option that’s dishwasher safe.
If you have an apartment-sized oven, get a stash of smaller baking sheets — they come in half- and quarter-sizes — from Chicago Metallic ($15 to $20). “I use them for roasting, to bake cookies, and to prep stuff,” says Pollard from La Cuisine, which carries the aluminized steel sheets.
Gear for Guests
Just because you’re low on storage spacedoesn’t mean you can’t entertain. It’s all about using what you have in different ways.
“Invest in oversized napkins that can double as dish towels, or vice versa,” says Amy Rutherford, owner of home-goods store Red Barn Mercantile in Old Town Alexandria (703-838-0355, redbarnmercantile.com). Her shop carries state-themed, silk-screened dish towels from Catstudio ($20) that can not only clean up messes but also potentially inspire conversation.
“Use ones from your guests’ home states as the napkins, or ones from states you’ve visited,” she says.
Glassware can do double duty by both serving up beverages and acting as table decor. Rutherford recommends reaching for Canvas’ Rio tumblers ($14.95 each).
“The low ball tumblers could be used as votive holders, while the high balls could serve as vases,” she says.
Consider it your decorating motif: “It ties the look all together if you use the rest of the glasses on the table for drinking.” B.L.