Registering for wedding gifts is hard enough as it is. Scouring the universe for items to transform your current living space into your dream home is a daunting task, not to mention the fact that you’re supposed to use these gifts for the next 20 years. Committing to your partner for eternity is a big enough step–committing to a 36-piece set of expensive dishes on top of that feels flat out crazy.
But when you and your fiancé live in a small space, the job is even tougher. There is room for error, because there is literally no room. You can’t just throw an ice cream maker on your list, and store it in the basement in case you ever get a craving for homemade mint chip—every single thing that enters through your front door will be occupying valuable space. So what deserves a coveted spot on your registry? Read on for a list of items that will help you make your shared space feel organized, beautiful, and prepped for the big chapters ahead.
Stick to the essentials
The best way to approach your kitchen registry is to stick to the essentials. Sure, an air fryer could become your new favorite gadget, but odds are it will never see the light of day. This is the opportunity to stock up on the chef-approved, high-end workhorses of the kitchen.
A classic dutch oven is one of the few items that you should absolutely own, but that you likely don’t. It’s a must-have for stews, roasts, soups, chilis, veggies, grains, you name it. Staub and Le Creuset make them in a range of beautiful colors, so there’s no need to find extra storage space for these–just keep them on your stovetop.
Other must-haves for a small kitchen include a quality chef’s knife (you only really need three knives: a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a serrated knife), a cutting board that doubles as a serving platter for optimal use, and a space-saving dual use blender/food processor.
Use all walls to your advantage
Feel like you’ve maxed out all possible space in your kitchen? Look up! Register for a copper pot rack that you can mount to the ceiling or high up on your wall, and turn your pots and pans into insta-decor. You’ll free up valuable shelf space, and your kitchen will feel even more lived in and dynamic.
Choose dishes that double as decor
Every registry site, plus your mother, will tell you that this is your moment to amass a giant collection of expensive dishware for all those future dinner parties you’ll be hosting. But a quick look around your apartment, and it is hard to imagine housing said giant collection.
The truth is, it’s not necessary to register for 12 of everything (sorry, mom). Chances are you’ll only use a rotation of six or so dishes between you and your fiancé. If you do decide to get ambitious and host 12 people at once, there will be ample notice to borrow or rent additional plates.
The best method for choosing a small collection of dishes is to find ones that you’d be happy to display on open shelves. When you build everyday items into your decor plan, you end up with a beautiful kitchen and minimal need for cabinet and drawer space.
Make bold choices
What are the machines you use daily? Are you addicted to your espresso machine? Do use your toaster for breakfast every day? These are the items that deserve a permanent space on your small countertop, so they should be visually appealing and fun. Many manufacturers and brands offer these machines in vibrant colors, so stop playing it safe with black or silver. Turn these gadgets into kitchen centerpieces by opting for shades like bright red or pastel green.
Shine a spotlight on storage
In a small apartment or home, it’s all about choosing items thoughtfully so that they serve a visual and functional purpose. How can you make your home more organized, and add in elements of design at the same time? Instead of stuffing your closets to the gills and creating a safety hazard, highlight your organizational chops. Register for decor items that you can put to work: marble canisters for kitchen ingredients or tools, woven baskets for blankets and extra bedding, and storage ottomans for games or electronics.
Focus on the details
A small living room means decorating needs to be low effort and big impact. Register for the details that might get lost in a more spacious room, but make all the difference in your cozy space. Think coffee table books, leather catchall trays, and small vases. Throw in some outrageously priced candles you would never buy for yourself, and every surface will feel thoughtful and designed.
Relying on a registry site like Zola for these kinds of details is great, because you can do a lot of the decision making after the wedding is over. Register for a bunch of items that you’re drawn to but not fully sold on. Once you’ve taken inventory post-nuptials, decide what you want shipped to your apartment and what you’d rather trade in.
Breathe life into your space
One of the easiest ways to make your apartment feel more spacious? Add some plants to the mix. Nothing changes the vibe of a room like lush greenery. Register for a few planters and DIY the rest of the process. Or, if the green thumb gene doesn’t run in the family, ask for a gift card to a site like The Sill. They’ll send you a fully potted plant, complete with directions on how to take care of it in terms even the most plant challenged owner can follow.
Maximize your bar set up
A bar cart may seem like a waste of space if you’re working with a small room, but they are well worth the real estate. Register for a bar cabinet instead of a cart, and you’ll be getting a lot of bang for your (guest’s) buck. Bar cabinets are visually interesting, add polish and sophistication, and give you much needed storage by holding all of your glassware, liquor, etc., and acting as a table.
Register for a small set of wine glasses, champagne glasses, highballs, and rocks glasses. Finish it off by finding a couple of expensive looking items to sit on the bar, whether it’s a textured decanter, decorative bowl, planter, or tray. You’ve just added a new form of storage, a new piece of beautiful furniture, and a collection of useful glassware to your home.
Don’t get your wires crossed
Just because you don’t have a ton of extra space doesn’t mean you can’t get involved in the newest tech trends. Just avoid adding items to your registry that are heavy on the plug-ins and cords—they add bulk and make a full room feel messier. Amazon just released an Alexa in the form of this ridiculously adorable Echo Spot, which will take up next to no space and will possibly eradicate the need for you to ever leave your sofa. Ikea sells appliances for wireless charging, which will cut down on your cord problem and are flat out genius.
See through the clutter
Modern and high-impact, lucite furniture is such a lifesaver for tiny spaces (not to mention very on-trend). You can find tables, nightstands, chairs, shelving, and bar carts, all in this innovative material. It’s clear (pun intended) why they belong on your registry: They appear to take up no room in your space, and add a nice element of contrast to more traditional furniture.