You can cook like the pros without ever firing up a restaurant-caliber range—or tearing out countertops. Here are some ideas that won’t require a contractor.
Choose easy-grab cabinet hardware.
Quick access to gear and ingredients makes a kitchen run smoothly. One small but important detail: cabinet hardware. Long, rectangular pulls are easier to grip than latches, cylindrical nubs or bin pulls you have to grab from below. U-shape knobs and ring pulls let you open a cabinet with one finger (good when your hands are messy or wet).
Install a high-profile faucet.
If you’re ready to upgrade your standard faucet, you might want to invest in an industrial-style model. A high-arc faucet with a pull-down nozzle you control with your fingertips makes it easy (and fun!) to fill a tall pot and rinse dishes. The newest ones are designed for ultimate maneuverability and easy “docking.” Does your sink have holes for faucet handles? You need a faucet with an escutcheon—a plate that covers all but the center hole.
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Set up zones.
Save steps by assigning work space and storage to just about everything: baking, beverages, lunch making — whatever happens in your kitchen. That might mean separating similar items (like spatulas near the cooktop and the panini maker) — and that’s OK.
Expand your lighting options.
Pendants and under-cabinet lighting are key players in ready-to-cook kitchens. You want a bright work space, but wouldn’t it also be nice to turn down the lights when it’s time to eat? Any pendant can be controlled with a dimmer switch, but be aware: You need to choose dimmable bulbs, and your dimmer switch should be new enough to sense what type of bulb you’re using. You don’t need an electrician to install under-cabinet lights. Use an adhesive-back strip of LEDs that plugs into an outlet and operates by remote control.
Overhaul your pantry.
What’s the easiest change you can make right now? Transfer your dry goods into airtight, clear glass jars. They maximize shelf space, and you’ll always know when it’s time to restock.
Keep your gear in sight and easy to reach.
Drawers and cabinet doors can sometimes seem inefficient. Open shelves are handy for dishes; just be sure they’re used every day (or train yourself to put clean ones on the bottom) to discourage dust. If your kitchen doesn’t have open shelving, consider hanging these other out-in-the-open options: wall- or ceiling-mount pot racks, utensil holders attached to a backsplash, and pegboards with hooks.
(Better Homes and Gardens is a magazine and website devoted to ideas and improvement projects for your home and garden, plus recipes and entertaining ideas. Online at www.bhg.com.)