Which kitchen appliances/gadgets do you keep on the counter?
February 11, 2013 9:12 AM   Subscribe

Which kitchen appliances/gadgets do you keep on the counter, and which do you store away in cupboards or a pantry?

My partner and I are house hunting for a real, live, grown-up house. One of the results should be vastly increased counter real estate, and it is here that we've had our fist difference of opinion.

One of us wants to designate a countertop spot for ALL THE THINGS (Soda Stream, coffee pot, electric kettle, blender, food processor, soy milk maker, toaster oven, juicer, and more!) so that they are each accessible at all times, while the other is looking forward to having uncluttered counters, even if there IS space for all of the above.

What do you keep out, and what do you store, and what was that decision based on? And since I am obviously the latter person in the description above, how do I make a case for less stuff on display?
posted by mudpuppie to Home & Garden (53 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I keep appliances on the counter that I use often, more than once a week.
Coffee maker, food processor

Everything else is stored. It is much easier to clean the kitchen counters. You will get tired of moving appliances around to wipe under them.
posted by JujuB at 9:16 AM on February 11, 2013

We keep out:

Coffee maker and grinder
Crock pot
(All of these are used at least a few times a week if not daily)

We store in cabinets:
Bread maker
Food processor
(All of these are used less than once a week)

So I think it all comes down to frequency. Why leave stuff on the counter, taking up real estate, when it's easier to just haul it out once a month?
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:17 AM on February 11, 2013

The best answer is living alone.

But yes, it's a combination of frequency and aspiration.

My working theory is this: if you put it away, you are less likely to use it. So generally people don't keep waffle irons and juicers out regularly, but guess what? THEN YOU NEVER JUICE AND RARELY WAFFLE. And life should be full of those things.

That theory, I'm sad to say, does not always hold water. I'm looking at you, juicer, totally devoid of juice for the last month. No, literally, I'm looking at it right now, and I'm annoyed about it.


* You must keep out the daily use thingies. That's toaster, coffeemaker and coffee whatevers, and whatever else your household uses most. (I used to keep the mixer out permanently, because I used it regularly. Now it's a bit tucked away, but easy to access, since I mix less.)

* You should be a little aspirational. Yes, you should use your Soda Stream and your juicer, they improve your life. So leave 'em out.

* As for the rest: how often do you really blend? I leave the blender out because it's handy when I want it and because it has a small footprint, but really, it should be tucked away. How often do you make soy milk???

The other trick is that you just hide appliances from your partner and then when they notice, they drag them out. If they don't notice, guess what, they're not using them.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 9:19 AM on February 11, 2013 [9 favorites]

Waffle iron, food processor, blender in cabinet. Coffee maker, toaster oven on counter.
posted by scratch at 9:19 AM on February 11, 2013

- Microwave - because I use it almost every day and it would be a pain in the ass to get it out every time I needed it.
- Toaster - Well sometimes it lives in the cupboard and sometimes it goes weeks on the counter because I want toast every day.

- Crock Pots
- Rice Cooker
- Blender
- Food Processor
- Bread Maker
- Air Popper (though some weeks this lives on the counter instead of the toaster depending on my mood that week)

Basically if I'm using it 2-3+ times per week I'm ok with it being out because I'm lazy and don't want to drag it out every day. Well, more accurately, I don't want to put it away every day.
posted by magnetsphere at 9:21 AM on February 11, 2013

Kettle, crock pot, coffee press on counter. Food processor, blender, hand blender, coffee grinder under counter. We do not own a toaster.

A compromise is to make non-counter items really easily accessible, either with pull-out cabinets or with open shelves. It's the "buried in the back of the cupboard" or "laden under a pile of shit in a drawer" thing that makes appliances a pain.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:24 AM on February 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

Kept out: coffee pot, stand mixer. Also a heavy granite mortar and pestle, but I'm not sure you're asking about non-electric items.

Everything else is put away.

We neither own nor wish to own a juicer, soda-stream, soy milk maker (?) or toaster oven. We toast bread and bagels under our oven's electric broiler.

Stuff out on counters is frequently in the way, and difficult to clean around. Also the clutter is aesthetically troubling, regardless of how nice the individual items might be.
posted by jon1270 at 9:26 AM on February 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have wire shelves that contain my microwave, toaster, ice cream maker, raclette, crock pot, and SodaStream. That way, I see them enough to know that I can use them anytime, but I don't have to clean around them.
posted by xingcat at 9:26 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

We keep the coffeemaker and toaster on the counters, and the blender, stick blender, coffee frother thing, and panini press are stored. Microwave is mounted over the stove, stand mixer stays nearby on the bottom shelf of the baker's rack.
posted by SeedStitch at 9:28 AM on February 11, 2013

The only appliance we have that's REALLY out (meaning visible all the time) is our Keurig coffee maker. We also have a knife block, a bowl for onions and such, a garlic keeper, a salt cellar, a pepper grinder and a few decorative items. And we have a cabinet that closes on counter-level, in which we have our toaster, coffee grinder and coffee press, so those are technically "out" in the sense that we don't have to move them to use them, but they're not normally visible.

Everything else is put away. We actually have a VAST amount of counter space (a big kitchen to begin with, plus a massive island in the center). So we could technically have a lot more stuff out. But we don't like the cluttered look, and we have tons of cabinet and pantry space, so we prefer to keep as much put away as possible. I'll admit it's a little bit of a pain with a heavy item like the Kitchenaid mixer, but that's balanced out by how infrequently we use it. It just doesn't make sense to have it out taking up space all the time.
posted by primethyme at 9:30 AM on February 11, 2013

On the counter: the coffee pot, because we use it every day and use the timer function (so wouldn't want to have to keep unplugging and resetting the clock), toaster (lightweight but gets crumbs everywhere when you move it), stand mixer (only because it's heavy).

Stored: crock pot, Sodastream (it's so light that it's easy to get out when we need it), rice cooker, Foreman grill.
posted by payoto at 9:30 AM on February 11, 2013

The only appliance on our counter is the electric kettle because I use it many times a day, every day.

The blender and food processors are behind us on top of a cabinet. We use those maybe 2-3 a month. Maybe sit down and calculate how often you actually use everything and decide based upon that.
posted by faraasha at 9:31 AM on February 11, 2013

I store anything that isn't EITHER beautiful OR used more than once week.

Stand mixer? Beautiful. Goes on the counter.
Kettle? Every day, counter.
Rice cooker? Ugly and used once a week, stored.
Toaster oven? Ugly but used once a week, counter.

Perhaps you should store all the things. Then, when you use thing, leave it out. After the first week you'll see what should go where.
posted by AmandaA at 9:34 AM on February 11, 2013 [10 favorites]

On/above the counter:

Electric Kettle
Coffee grinder


Food processor
Waffle Iron
Assorted other gizmos that I should probably take to the thrift store
posted by Cuke at 9:38 AM on February 11, 2013

We keep out:

espresso machine (used daily, usually multiple times, and also is a PITA to put away)
toaster (used daily)
hot water kettle (used constantly)
blender (rarely used, could easily be put away and not missed, but we lack cabinet space)
Kitchen Aid stand mixer (used often, too heavy/unwieldy to put away and take out frequently)

We also keep out canisters of flours, sugars, grains, because we like how they look, and we have a little corner shelf with frequently used condiments.
posted by spindrifter at 9:38 AM on February 11, 2013

On the counter: coffee maker, toaster oven, kettle (on the stove)
In the cabinet: crockpot, food processor, stand mixer, blender

Having written that out, what I notice about our choices is that the counter items are either used frequently (coffee maker, kettle), or awkward to move (toaster oven). The cabinet items are some combination of infrequently used and/or easier to move around. The stand mixer is awkward to move, but is used so rarely that it lives in the cabinet anyway.
posted by marginaliana at 9:45 AM on February 11, 2013

I keep pretty much everything out, though mostly shoved into corners. The stand mixer and food processor are in one corner (I use them once a month or so, but they're heavy and I don't like lifting them up, plus where would I put them?). The sodastream is out for sure, it gets used at least once a day, usually more. Its various flavoring bottles hang out with it against the wall. The waffle iron (which is very small and used probably once a month also) stands up on end in another corner. The toaster (used every couple weeks) and mini-blender (used virtually never) are both out all the time because they don't get in the way. 2 knife blocks, 2 utensil holder things, dish soap. I put the crock pot away because there's a spot for it and it's light.
posted by brainmouse at 9:48 AM on February 11, 2013

Keep out:

I keep both the tea kettle and the pot/strainer/lid that I use as a vegetable steamer on the stove top. The tea kettle just lives there, I have nowhere else to put the pot/strainer/lid. I use both of these items all the time. Toaster oven. I have a vase of kitchen implements that do not fit in the silverware drawer: spatulas, big wooden spoons, things like that.
I have mason jars with rice, quinoa, pasta, etc lined up against the back wall on the counter. They live there so that 1) I remember that I need to use them up before opening a new container; and 2) they look nice.

I keep one bottle opener on the counter at all times because I can never find one otherwise.

Hide away:

Everything else. Bread machine, pots and pans, blender, juicer, mixer, etc. I don't have a lot of counter space so I try to keep the clutter to a reasonable amount.
posted by Elly Vortex at 9:50 AM on February 11, 2013

I keep out my mini blender and my toaster oven, as they are used almost daily. Everything else goes in a cabinet -- and I have a LOT of kitchen appliances.

Why? Because it's a lot easier to keep the counters clean without things on them. If you spill some juice, do you really want to have to lift up a bread machine and a food processor and a stand mixer to mop it up? Do you want to have to dust around a rice cooker you rarely use? (I certainly don't.)
posted by cranberry_nut at 9:50 AM on February 11, 2013

Coffee stuff and toaster stay on the countertop, KitchenAid lives on an open shelf so it's visible (because it's so purty!) but is not on the countertop, microwave is on top of the fridge (which is not recommended if you're not both super tall), everything else goes in the cabinets. There are times when the toaster is also moved to an open shelf by the KitchenAid, but I've been eating a lot of toast lately.

Like spindrifter, I have canisters of flour, sugar, coffee, etc, and also bottles of olive oil, various salt + pepper things, and a bowl of garlic and onions on the countertop, as well as a canister of handy cooking tools that lives on the stove itself. Despite all that, the counters are mostly clear (because that's all up against the wall), and I do not like clutter; things like that take up space in a way that's more useful/less cluttery than appliances, to my mind at least.

That might be a useful thing to bring up, if your discussion revolves around tradeoffs between convenience and aesthetics: bowls of onions are both useful AND pretty! Soy milk makers, not so much.
posted by dizziest at 9:51 AM on February 11, 2013

I sort of have the same approach as what marginaliana mentions above - we leave out the appliances that both get used often and where taking out of storage/cabinet adds significantly more work. So, things like the coffee pot and grinder and the toaster, stay out – using them basically involves just pushing a button. Mixer, crockpot, food processer all stored in cabinets – using them already involves a bunch of work – taking them out of the cabinet is just one more step. If we had a ton more space, I might leave out the stand mixer since I do use it a lot.

One good argument for keeping things stored – everything out on the counter is going to get dirtier faster. Things will get dusty and spills and splatters will happen – it will be much easier to both clean the kitchen and keep your small appliances clean, if most of them are stored away.
posted by Sabby at 9:54 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Decision is based on frequency of use, size of appliance, amount of counter space vs. storage space available, and how much of a pain in the ass it is to take out/put away.

toaster oven, kettle, microwave

popcorn maker, slow cooker, blender (in storage, never used)

I don't have many appliances or much counter space. Besides appliances, I have a bunch of jars of pantry staples on the counters as well, and dried herbs/spices, and a million different kinds of tea.
posted by randomnity at 9:54 AM on February 11, 2013

I like putting things into cabinets because they stay clean there.
Otherwise the outsides get spatters of cooking-related stuff on them, so every time I clean up I have to wipe espresso-maker spray off the vertical surfaces, and spatter from the mixer, and basically every kitchen mess become several times messier. Even if I manage not to have any "events", things accumulate a light dust, meaning that the kitchenaid bowls, the food processor, or the blender, I either have to close up while it's still damp from washing or forget to put the lid on and have to wash out before I use it.
On that same theory, all the food is put away, except for salt/pepper, a sugar bowl, and a basket of fruit - no cannisters of flour, sugar, rice, teabags, coffee, etc. because the more things sit around, the more I have to clean them off.

So. Coffee station has the coffemaker, grinder, and electric kettle. There's a knife block and a radio hanging from the upper cabinets. There's a vertical stack that includes the microwave and the toaster oven. That's it. There's a convenient cabinet that houses the hand mixer, immersion blender, rice cooker, and crockpot (all used mor eoftn than once a month, some multiple times a week); and a less-convenient cabinet that has the stand mixer and the food processor (less than once a month). Also an inconvenient storage cabinet under the island that has the fondue pots, the blender (becuase I never use it now that I have an immersion blender), the spare food processor parts, the popcorn popper (a "party appliance"), all things that get used annually, at most.
posted by aimedwander at 9:59 AM on February 11, 2013

Just got my first real kitchen, and it turned out there wasn't room for everything in storage. Strange. So what I'm doing is based on trial and error, seeing what gets used on a Daily basis and what doesn't. It seems to be changing over time - we bought a panini press to go with the kitchen because we've always dreamt of one and didn't have the space. The first four weeks it was in use every day. Now it's more like once a week. So even though it's on the counter right now, it's probably destined for a more hidden existence. Kettle, juicer, toaster, food processors (one big one small), handmixer always on the counter, not a day out of use. also on the counter, oils, vinegars, condiments etc. And bread, but that is only till I find the perfect bread box. And the vintage Kenwood machine because it's heavy.
On a rail on the wall, I have little shelves for spices, and cute white pots for onions and bayleaves and handy tools. All from IKEA
Ideally, everything else goes into storage, but that isn't how it works.
Strangely, I find myself fighting with the lasagna pan very often. It needs to go into a tall cupboard, high up, but we seem to be eating lasagna all the time. The same with pitchers for water and all the coffee and tea-pots.
Maybe it has to be said that my home is inhabited by a varied but always large number of teens and young adults.
Could you get what primethyme described, a cupboard that closed on the counter? I'd love that, but it couldn't fit in here. Easy to keep clean is a big issue for me. This is the Best thing about my new kitchen, and it makes me happy every day to see the clean, relatively empty counters. For the same reason, I have natural oak counters. Wood has natural disinfectant properties.
posted by mumimor at 10:07 AM on February 11, 2013

On the counter are the things that I use very often (kettle, toaster, microwave) and the things that are too damn heavy to pull in and out of cabinets (stand mixer, meat grinder). Everything else (umm, I think that just leaves the food processor and stick blender) lives in a cupboard. Also the stand mixer is beautiful so I like to keep it out.
posted by Joh at 10:07 AM on February 11, 2013

We have three distinct counter areas: the one to the right of the stove that is relatively more difficult to access due to the position of the fridge (only one person can stand there, and they get trapped if the oven door is open) is our beverage area and holds our coffee pot (daily), electric kettle (3-5 times/week) and soda stream (once weekly, this question has me thinking I could probably store this away). Coffee grinder and other coffee stuff goes in the cabinet above. Empty Sodastream bottles ditto. This counter space is only maybe 18" wide and also holds our vase of utensils and a small salt cellar used during cooking. Knives are wall mounted on a magnetic rack on the wall here (higher than my eye level for safety from visiting little ones). I like keeping the clutter over here because you can't see this counter area from all parts of the room.

The middle section between the stove and the sink is entirely empty save the big butcher block cutting board I rarely bother to put away because I use it every day, several times a day. To the left of the sink is a drying mat with a drying rack on it that is usually full of dishes waiting to be put away, but is easy enough to fold up and stick under the sink if people are coming over or if we need more space. To the left of the drying rack is where we keep the toaster oven (used daily) and the KA mixer (used 2-3 times weekly).

Microwave lives on a bakers rack in the corner, and stored in cabinets we also have a crock pot, immersion blender and food processor, which we don't use nearly as often as the rest of the appliances.
posted by hungrybruno at 10:09 AM on February 11, 2013

On the counter:
• stand mixer
• coffee maker
• espresso machine
• coffee container
• toaster
• radio
• block of knives
• cutting block
• bottle of 12-year-old Bunnahabhain
posted by Thorzdad at 10:16 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mr onastick and I have a kitchen almost no counterspace and terrible cupboard space and we have grossly incompatible ideas about kitchen usage and kitchen storage. That said, the only appliance we keep on the counter is the coffee maker & burr grinder because we use them at least once a day and my kitchen aid stand mixer because there is no where else to put it and moving it is physically difficult. Fortunately, the microwave is attached to the wall. The toaster comes out when needed, as do the blender, stick blender, milk frother, food processor and any other appliance. All those things (well, except the toaster) need to be washed after use (well, so does the coffee pot, but we have a Chemex and sometimes just rinse it), so they wouldn't be left on the counter, anyway. They'd be disassembled, washed and then put in the drainer, and then put away.

I am of the opinion that stuff stored on the counter gets dirty and is in the way of using the counters and cleaning the counters. This is, to my mind, no less true in larger kitchens than smaller ones.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:24 AM on February 11, 2013

This really depends on how much counter space you have, how many appliances you have, and how often you use your appliances.

To best figure out how to use your space effectively, put everything away when you move in. Then pull things onto the counter as you need them. And then put them away when you're done with them.

Here's the important part: if you are sick and tired of putting something away just because you're going to use it again, that item is a candidate for the counter.

We have maybe three feet of usable counter space, in addition to a four foot kitchen island.

The only appliance that rates tier one, permanent counter status, is the electric kettle.

Tier two is a secondary shelf above the counter on which lives the rice machine, the toaster oven and the coffee grinder, which are plugged in and ready to go, though a bit harder to reach.

Tier three is under-counter space, where the stand mixer, waffle iron, soy milk maker and electric grill live.

Tier four is overhead shelves with the food processor, griddle, slow-cooker and popcorn makers.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:26 AM on February 11, 2013

On the counter: toaster and juicer.

In the cupboard: electric waffle iron, and blender-on-a-stick.

No microwaves in my kitchen, And you're right if you think, not much else, either.
posted by Rash at 10:35 AM on February 11, 2013

Toaster (weekly usage)
Wand (daily usage)
Blender (daily usage)
Food Processor (monthly usage)
Stand mixer (monthly usage)
Tool organizer (tools used every meal, 5 spatulas / tongs, etc)
Coffee Pot (daily!)
Two mortar and pestles

Top Shelf:
Crock-pot (nearly never - I prefer oven roasting at 250 in a dutch oven)
Baking pans (3 round springform pans - quad-annual)
odd baking molds (specialty shapes - annual)
Brownie pan (9 x 13) (annual)
Roasting pan and rack (twice a month)
coffee grinder (weekly - I grind and freeze weekly)
spice grinder (daily - same as coffee maker, just different contents)

pots & pans (daily usage)
cooling racks (monthly)
strainers / salad spinner (every other day)
mandolin (once a week)
pasta maker (twice a year)
cutting boards (every meal)

less frequent hand tools (potato masher, meat hammer, cutting wheel, pastry knife, etc)

silverware drawer:
peeler, thermometer (daily)

The microwave is on a cart, it is mostly used as a timer, but is occasionally used to reheat meals and make cups of hot water.
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:52 AM on February 11, 2013

Out on Counter:
- Sodastream (too tall to fit in a convenient cupboard)
- Blender (I use it frequently and like to let it air dry after washing)
- Huge cutting board
- Coffee pot, coffee grinder and jar of coffee filters (because we use it multiple times a day)

- food processor (infrequent use)
- magic bullet (small enough to put away super easily)
- crock pot (too big to sit out/infrequent use)
- a million other small gadgets and tools
posted by click at 11:40 AM on February 11, 2013

This ou want an "appliance garage" -- a part of the counter with a little door, making it all accessible but also not on display

I have

two toaster ovens (one infrared, one regular)
food processor
stand mixer
electric kettle

on the counter because those are in heavy use and a pain to bring in and out of the counter, and in the case of two because they have parts that get washed while the rest does not, if that follows? Like sometimes the blender takes up residence on the counter, but the immersion blender does not, because you wash the container for the blender blender and thus might do two putting-away tasks after using it, whereas the immersion blender is just one thing and is either in or out. If that follows.

[Looking at other answers I remember I also have knives out, and a glass box thing that lives next to the stove that has oils and salt and pepper and that sort of thing]
posted by kmennie at 11:57 AM on February 11, 2013

Cuisinart food processor, coffee apparatus, toaster.
Living someplace where I could have the food processor out all the time was a big thing to me--it's something that I like using but will not end up using if it's a big pain to get out & set up. Having it out on the counter, I can use it easily for silly little things like making a can of whole tomatoes into tomato puree for a recipe that needs that. Or making a milkshake (which I do with the food processor instead of a blender.)

So, I think it's fair to try having some things out and re-evaluate later--if you aren't using them often even when they are easy-access, put them away.
posted by needs more cowbell at 11:57 AM on February 11, 2013

I have on my counter: espressomachine, electric kettle, cutting boards, small bowl for garlic, onions, fresh herbs etc. In open cupboard opposite the counter: magimix, cuisinart & wine boxes filled with baking stuff (moulds etc), thermometers, scales, bamix etc. My counter is small and I like to be able to clean it quickly. The cupboard basically an open grid and it works out very practical in the small kitchen space that I have.
posted by ouke at 12:11 PM on February 11, 2013

Just coffee grinder, coffee maker and kettle out on the counter. I just recently put the microwave away (pretty much for good because it's too heavy to pull out on a whim) and I haven't really missed it.
posted by neilb449 at 12:26 PM on February 11, 2013

On the Counter
blender (nearly daily smoothies)
pizzazz (toasts, reheats, cooks, is generally awesome, you know you want one)
4-cup coffeepot (essential)
cereal dispenser (not an appliance but a space taker-upper)

In Cabinets
pretty much everything else

In the Pantry
microwave (but plugged in, used maybe once a week)
sodastream (too tall for inside a cabinet, used every ~3 days)

Clutter is as clutter does, and the only thing I want to see on my otherwise clean countertops is a fruit bowl and a breadbasket.
posted by headnsouth at 12:40 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Toaster oven
Coffee maker
Other coffee maker
Baby food maker
Bottle warmer
Coffee grinder
Soda stream
Receipt folder
Fruit bowl
Ice cream maker (ball shape)
Bottle drying rack

Oh dear. That is a lot.
posted by bq at 12:56 PM on February 11, 2013

I leave nothing out and revel in glorious empty counters and enough cabinet and pantry space to store all the things. Of course, my last kitchen was the size of a postage stamp so YMMV.
posted by Space Kitty at 1:00 PM on February 11, 2013

In our tiny apartment kitchen, the appliances we have on the counter are:
Hot water dispenser (used everyday, if not multiple times in a day)
Kitchenaid stand mixer, but shoved into unused corner (it's heavy and frankly wouldn't be used nearly as often if it wasn't easily accesible)

In open shelving are things used a few times a week ie. easily to get to but not using counter space:
crock pot
rice cooker

Tucked away are rarely used appliances or those that are small and easy to take out of the cabinet:
Stick blender
Waffle iron
George Foreman grill
posted by kitkatcathy at 1:15 PM on February 11, 2013

Out: toaster, coffee maker, grinder, microwave, food (mostly fruit)
In: anything seldom used (less than daily.)

Kitchen is big. 300 sq. feet or so. I like the look of uncluttered. Actual counter space fluctuates between clean and cluttered with transient paperwork, mostly.

Wife is gone most of the day. so I can arrange as needed.
posted by FauxScot at 1:23 PM on February 11, 2013

No matter what your plan is, if the "leave them on the counter" person is doing most of the food prep, he/she is likely to prevail.

My counter-tops are 27" instead of the standard 24, so there's a little more room to work when the appliances are out. There are 16 linear feet of countertop. My husband and I both cook a lot. I don't like clutter, but he doesn't mind it. I make things a little better by having the appliances all one color, and keeping the cords as unobtrusive as possible. Also, we have a very farm-like kitchen, which is relatively forgiving when it comes to clutter. A contemporary kitchen wants to have clean lines.

Out in the open:

Toaster oven
Kitchen-Aid Mixer (too heavy to move easily)
Containers of oft-used cooking utensils
Knives (magnetic strip on wall above counter)
Food processor
Blender (used 2x/month but a pain to store in our kitchen)
Small espresso maker
Coffee maker
Canister of coffee
2 cutting boards

Waffle iron
Stick blender
Salad spinner
Hand-held mixer
posted by wryly at 1:31 PM on February 11, 2013

I try to keep things colour coordinated and organized based on most use and usability of the stove or sink:

"Red" appliances nearest to stovetop & Oven:
Kitchen aid
Wooden utensils & Boards
Toaster (occasionally gets put away)

"Steel" appliances nearest to sink:
(because these items get washed immediately after use & are messy or bulky to wash)

We use a stovetop espresso machine & kettle so those are kept on the stove and can get flung away easily when we need all burners.

Everything else (soda stream, tortilla press, sandwich grill, knives, crockery, whatever) is hidden in cupboards
posted by Under the Sea at 2:20 PM on February 11, 2013

Response by poster: This ou want an "appliance garage" -- a part of the counter with a little door, making it all accessible but also not on display

Well, what do you know. The house we're in love with -- a short sale for which we're the backup bidders -- has one of these. I thought it was a really ugly breadbox and have already trashed it in my imaginary remodel, but it may have just gotten a reprieve.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:24 PM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Coffee maker, coffee grinder, microwave, and toaster are out because they are used every day. Kitchenaid Standing Mixer is out because it's super heavy and it looks nice on the counter. The rest: food processor, blender, rice cooker, breadmaker, hand mixer, crockpot, immersion blender, waffle iron, pressure cooker) are all in the corner cabinet that spins around for access. This was mostly my decision since I make most of the meals and hate the counter clutter.

I was at a friend's house recently where everything was out and every surface was covered and I had to consciously stop myself judging them as organized slackers.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 2:52 PM on February 11, 2013

Water urn (we don't have a kettle because we are hot drink fiends)
Juicer (used nightly)
Toaster (though about to be put away due to lack of use)

Stand mixer (pretty but honestly used sporadically)
Food Processor
Panini Press
Pie maker

We don't even have a dish rack, we dry things on a tea towel on the counter. If we had more things out, our kitchen would look like a nightmare due to a terrible habit we both have of coming home and dumping all the things in our hands and pockets on the counter.
posted by shazzam! at 5:00 PM on February 11, 2013

Toaster & coffeemaker are on the counter, as well as knife block, fruit bowl and other stuff, not all of which is clutter. Hand mixer is in a drawer. Crockpot, stand mixer, blender food processor, are on a wire shelf unit on wheels that has a power strip attached to it. In theory, it's easy to pull the cart out from under its counter, grab the blender, put it on top of the cart, plug it in and use it. In reality, I'll just stir it really well/ practice my knife skills, etc. It's a perverse kind of laziness.
posted by theora55 at 5:38 PM on February 11, 2013

I have a halfway solution to the "on counter" vs. "storage" problem. Two apartments ago, I built myself a set of open shelves with slots to fit specific small appliances (toaster, mini food chopper), my cookbooks, and my kitchen radio (a Henry Kloss Model One: highly recommend). The open shelves fit neatly under standard-height kitchen cabinets. On one side of the shelves, there's a magnet strip that holds my four chef's knives, almost out of sight but very accessible. Everything is neat and has its place, and it's easy to clear off my prep space in front of the shelves.

As you might guess from the fact that I have four chef's knives, I'm not of the minimalist school when it comes to domestic accoutrements. I dislike washing dishes and I dislike hauling appliances out of storage and putting them back in. I like to have everything accessible at the moment I'm cooking. That said, even I have my limits and would not want to live with a gaggle of rarely-used appliances on the counter. The blender, stick blender, hand-held mixer, spice grinder, and crock pot all get put away in various cupboards when I'm not using them. (I am not a coffee drinker, so no coffee gadgets.)

It doesn't happen to apply in my kitchen, but I like Sabby's rationale that appliances where you basically just push a button to use them make sense to leave out, whereas appliances that are more involved to use make sense to put away. The hauling in and out of cupboards feels like a small percentage of the work involved in using in the latter case, and feels "worth it." Even so, any gadget that gets used daily or several times a week should be as easily accessible as possible.
posted by Orinda at 7:12 PM on February 11, 2013

moving now and everything is packed up, but here's what used to be on the counter in my soon-to-be former apartment:
kitchenaid stand mixer
food processor
(and the microwave is mounted above the oven, so it's out but doesn't take up any counter space.)

also see this chowhound thread.
posted by sabh at 7:41 PM on February 11, 2013

Seconding, Thirding, and Fourthing cowbell's recommend on the appliance garage! Great way to have things close in a dedicated space, yet have things hidden and not causing clutter.

Avoiding the cluttered look, plenty of instant counter space, and keeping stuff clean are my major priorities. Even if you're the type of cook that never makes a splatter, having your stuff out means that dust gets in the little cracks and crevices of the machines and eventually makes them look grungy. Even if you disregard this, who wants to fart around wiping stuff down and moving things when you clean counters?

On the south wall of my kitchen I keep the toaster oven on the smaller counter next to the stove. The tea kettle is usually simmering in the winter, both for tea and for humidity. On the other side is a 18 x 24" cutting board/work surface that was made from a leftover piece of the countertop when we redid the kitchen. It was an accident, but it's WONDERFUL. I finished the edges so it looks good. It's unobtrusive and saves getting out a cutting board, unless we're cutting meat. We keep S&P, a nice bottle with olive oil, and a fruit bowl behind/next to the board. The counter curves around the corner to form the (unused) breakfast bar with a cookie jar, recharging 'station' and the usual bunch of detritus--sun glasses, mail to be sorted, chain collar, etc.

On the north side, there is a decorative gallon crock with dog biscuits (absolutely necessary!), the coffee pot, and the empty plastic container for the chicken scraps/compost. I can hide it under the sink if need be, but Mr. Horse leaves peelings etc in the sink if he can't see it immediately. So, whatever. In the window above the sink are herbs and plant cuttings. On the other side, there is a tiny, easily hideable drainboard, and the microwave.

Because we deliberately planned lots of undercounter, easily accessable storage, the crock pot, rice cooker, blender, etc are right to hand when we want them.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:54 PM on February 11, 2013

We have hardly any counter space, and our kitchen is tiny. The things on the counter are: knife block, stand mixer (nowhere to store it, and it looks nice), espresso maker (also too big to store, and we use it every day), and the toaster oven (used every day on average). Put away are: crock pot (easy to pull out), stick blender (small), and waffle iron (small). We don't own a microwave, and the ice cream maker is part of the mixer. Because we don't pay for gas we use a regular kettle. I would be annoyed having to clean around lots of appliances on the counter even if we had the space, but I think it's true that some get used more often if they are easily accessible, especially things like juicers.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:30 PM on February 11, 2013

A lot of people say they keep a knife block on the counter. I cannot recommend a wall-mounted magnetic knife strip highly enough. They are visible & accessible but off the counter & they look fantastic. My knives and cutting board are on the wall right where I do my veggie-chopping. Efficient & uncluttered ftw.
posted by headnsouth at 4:52 AM on February 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

A good compromise I've found is getting one of those nearly floor to ceiling open utility shelves (some are made of nicer looking materials than others; I got the idea from being in a very chic friends' kitchen) and using it mainly for unwieldy appliance and huge nesting bowl-type things. It feels a bit more accessible than normal storage--you can still see your mixer and wafflemaker so you avoid that thing RJ Reynolds mentions where when you don't see something you forget you have it and underutilize it--but placed in the right part of a kitchen it doesn't seem like a horrible cluttery mess. And if you want to avoid problems with dust/grease collecting (why I hate the kind of open shelving Apartment Therapy advocates), there are ways around that too (pretty "curtains" on floating rods, etc.

The "one go-to towering/monolithic open shelf" thing also for some reason evokes the feel of a pro kitchen, which I personally like.

As for what I'm personally working with, it varies by usage pattern, as others have said. In the winter I put away my blender and take out my pressure cooker and slow cooker, because the kinds of dishes I'm making and how they're prepared changes by season.

Prep stuff on the counter: immersion blender, mortar and pestle, spice grinder, and mini food processor.

Ditched the coffeemaker for a manual pourover set up a few years ago and never looked back; love having that part of my countertop real estate back (I've always kept the kettle on the stove on a back burner for tea anyway). Mixer is sort of in between; it's the most accessible thing on my utility shelf (I'd leave it on a counter but it's huge and I have almost no counter space). Salad spinner is also at the front and center of the utility shelf because it's big but gets used a lot. Stuff that is more tucked away as I use it rarely or it's heavy or both: big food processor (wish I could leave it out though), digital scale, juicer, hand mixer, air popper, ice cream maker, waffle iron, mini crock pot, pasta press. Rice cooker's also stowed away (more and more these days it stays there 'cause I've adopted the "steam rice on the stovetop" Thai method).

Microwave and toaster oven are fixtures in their own ghetto in the breakfast nook (weird, I know) because my husband uses them all the time.

Some of this is a general mood/malaise-or-no thing too, by phases. Right now I'm in a "work with your hands, eschew electrified shortcuts whenever possible" mindset, and that comes and goes usually for a year or two. Sometimes I get burned out and for about 6 to 8 months I just want to be that ladies' magazine, worknight-dinner-in-under-30-minutes type taking shortcuts and making a big mess with appliances. Just depends. I try to keep my kitchen organized to reflect which way I'm cooking.
posted by ifjuly at 11:21 AM on February 12, 2013

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