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6 Popular Things You Don’t Need to Buy for Your Kitchen

Just because everyone else has one doesn't make it an essential kitchen purchase.

Erica Riveraby Erica Rivera
Photo: Hinterhaus Productions, Getty Images.

When you’re designing or furnishing a kitchen, you’ll be tempted to spend big bucks on appliances, gadgets, and upgrades that you don’t really need. (Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s useful.) There’s a saying that goes: “Messy bed, messy head.” The same could be said of kitchens (but it’s not said, probably because it doesn’t rhyme). Kitchen clutter is a creativity killer, preventing you from realizing your full culinary potential. Cut these items off your shopping list to save yourself both money and hassle.

Electric Mixer

Photo: Darren Brode, Getty Images.

Photo: Darren Brode, Getty Images.

Every baker with a blog brags about their beloved KitchenAid mixer. But you know what works just as well — if not better — than that shiny, colorful toy that people pay upwards of $300 for? Your arm. You have at least one, right? And it’s strong? (If it’s not, get going on those bicep curls, man.) You, sir, are likely not doing the quantity of baking or attempting the kinds of recipes that absolutely necessitate such a space-hogging contraption. Besides, this appliance is a pain in the, err, arm to clean.

Food Processor

Photo: starush, Getty Images.

Photo: starush, Getty Images.

Like the electric mixer, food bloggers love to summon food processors in their recipes, but does the task of cleaning them counteract the ease with which they chop things? Not really. You know what does a decent chopping job? A knife! Who would’ve thunk it. While food processors can be exasperating to assemble and are subject to dangerous defects (Cusinart’s version is currently under recall for “faulty blades”), well-honed knife skills will serve you for a lifetime. Unless you make something complicated — like homemade pesto — on the regular, forget about owning a food processor.

Also: 14 Kitchen Gadgets and Gifts for the Cooks in Your Life

In-the-Door Ice Maker and Water Dispenser

Photo: JaysonPhotography, Getty Images.

Photo: JaysonPhotography, Getty Images.

At first glance, a fridge with an in-the-door ice maker and water dispenser seems practical. But before you start imagining the ease with which you will hyper-hydrate yourself, think twice. If you’re a photographer, you don’t purchase a cell phone because it has a camera; you buy a real camera. Why would you buy a fridge because it does the jobs that the faucet and freezer have been handling perfectly well for decades?

An in-the-door water dispenser is not a maintenance-free add-on. It requires regular filter changes to keep the water free of debris and the spout needs to be wiped down frequently or it will get grimy and germ-ridden. As for the ice maker, it’s a fallible system. Do you really want to put up with the potential frustration that will arise when the ice maker stops performing its only task? Are you prepared for your guests’ disappointed faces when they try to fill up a glass, only to discover your fancy fridge is inept? Can you call a repairman and ask him to repair your ice maker and keep your masculinity in-tact? If you answered no to any of those questions, there’s a free and simple solution: skip the in-the-door ice maker and use the plastic ice cub trays that come included with most refrigerator purchases. As for the water, serve from a pitcher instead; the filter is optional.

Pot Rack

Photo: irina88w, Getty Images.

Photo: irina88w, Getty Images.

It may very well be that you have an extensive cooking pot collection, but is it really showroom-worthy? Herein lies the great, big, baffling irony of pot racks: if you have beautiful pots, you probably don’t cook very often; if you use your pots, they’re likely a little beat up and don’t enhance your kitchen décor. Keep pots where they belong: behind a cupboard door. Same goes for any kitchen tool or accessory: don’t hang them on the wall like they’re art. Find an empty drawer and nestle them there. To recap: pot racks are ugly, obstruct vision, and are a head-hitting hazard if you’re of a certain height.

Dishwasher

Photo: Yurdakul, Getty Images.

Photo: Yurdakul, Getty Images.

Yes, we’re taking a stance against this seemingly indispensable appliance. Dishwashers are an unnecessary purchase, especially for those who live alone. Face it: the time it takes to rinse, load, and unload a dishwasher is equivalent to the time you’d spend hand-washing your dishes. As for monetary savings, a stainless steel, energy-efficient dishwasher is going to cost you anywhere between $350 and $800. This appliance also takes up valuable storage space. Rather than looking at dish-washing as a thankless chore, use your sudsing-up time as a multitasking opportunity. Put in your earbuds and catch up on the day’s news, watch a late-night show, or listen to a podcast. If you have company, you could also unplug and (gasp!) actually talk to your roommate, partner, or dinner guests while you wash. Like conversations held in a car, something about being engaged in a task (and avoiding eye contact) while talking encourages intimacy — and everyone knows that the kitchen is the second-best room in the house for confessions.

Garbage Disposal

Photo: snyferok, Getty Images.

Photo: snyferok, Getty Images.

Stop putting shit down the sink, whether or not you have a garbage disposal. Sinks were made to drain water, not purée leftovers. A garbage disposal is not a blender; it’s a delicate, expensive piece of machinery that will make your life hell if you get used to it and it breaks down. Aside from the “ick” factor of having to stick you hand into the dark recesses of the sink, there’s a blade wired to an electrical circuit involved. When you think about it, who invented this insanity anyway? Scrape the remnants of your dinner plate into the garbage (or a compost pile, if you’re Earth-friendly) and use old-fashioned basket strainers in the sink to catch the food bits instead. Potential hand-hacking horror avoided and up to $330 (plus repair costs) saved! You’re welcome.