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We appreciate a luxurious renovated kitchen as much as anyone. It’s hard to deny the calming effect of a sprawling Carrara marble island, integrated appliances, and jewelry-like hardware. But an unfussy, hardworking kitchen is much easier to achieve. And conveniently, the humble, utilitarian style—one where things charmingly don’t quite match—is as in as ever, according to a substantial (for me!) amount of likes on my Instagram of designer Nick Poe’s recent home tour

The best part is that you might not even need a handyman to install straightforward fixtures like pegboards, pot racks, and magnetic knife bars. Renters will especially be into the look, as these buys can travel from apartment to apartment; nothing is fixed. The only kicker: Open storage means very little hiding space, so you’re going to want to declutter your plastic colanders and cheap pans in favor of things that are easy on the eyes (and will likely last longer, too). Not to worry, we’ve gathered options for those as well. 

Keep Your Wares Where People Can See Them

Photo by Belle Morizio
Photo by Belle Morizio

Pegboards have been popular since they covered the walls of Julia Child’s kitchen, and there’s a reason for that: They take up zero space, as long as you have an empty wall to spare. Plus showing off your kitchen tools like wall decor says: “I’m ready to tackle The New York Times Cooking recipe of the day.” For a more discreet look, a pot rack or magnetic knife bar will also display your cookware and utensils while saving space.

There’s No Such Thing as Too Much Surface Space  

Photo by Aaron Bengochea

Truth: Most rental kitchens don’t have enough surface space. But kitchen prep tables make everything from chopping vegetables to storing cookware a breeze. The beauty of these lies in the fact that they’re freestanding; you can move them from floating in the middle of the room to against a wall—many even have wheels. As shown in the above image, Alison Roman lined up two IKEA’s Förhöja carts to create a long, counterlike effect.

No Cabinet Space, No Problem

Photo by Belle Morizio; Design by Nick Poe
Photo by Aaron Bengochea; Design by Nick Poe

Just because you’re low on cabinet space doesn’t mean you can’t build in your own storage. From a heavy-duty metal shelf reminiscent of restaurant-supply stores to a $40 magnetic landing spot built for the top of your stove, you’ll find there are plenty of places to stagger spices and hang (yes, hang!) stemware that aren’t behind cabinet doors. 

Fill It Up With Elevated Accessories

Photo by Belle Morizio; Design by Nick Poe

The beauty of concealed storage is that you can tuck away less attractive items. But in this type of kitchen, it’s all about open shelving. That means no plastic mixing bowls and ironic mugs, unless that’s really what you’re into. Think: a classic Chemex, enamel serveware, and a Spanish oil pitcher.  

If You’re Willing to Reno 

Photo by Aaron Bengochea; Design by Nick Poe.

If you’re past the renting phase but still want the look, there are plenty of permanent fixtures that can help you own the style as a homeowner, too. Subway tiles, farmhouse sinks, and butcher block countertops all contribute the same vibes.