By Lisa Freedman
In some ways this spring feels many years away from last spring. And in some ways, it feels very much the same. With all of us (still) cooking and using our kitchens more than ever, we thought everyone here would be due for some cheap and cheerful kitchen upgrades. Small tweaks that might help you enjoy being in your kitchens a little more. Simple tools that will help you do a task a tad bit better.
Here are 10 kitchen upgrades we love. Some are decorative, some are functional, but they’re all perfect for spring. And each one will cost you just $17 or less.
1. A Letter Board
Whether it’s hung on the wall, propped up on a shelf, or leaning against a backsplash, a letter board is there to make you laugh, lift you up, or just remind you that you need more coffee.
Buy It: Felt Letter Board in Grey, $15 from Bed, Bath & Beyond
2. Some Air Plants
If you don’t have the best luck with greenery, consider some air plants, or Tillandsias. Not only are air plants easy to care for — just soak them in water for 20 minutes once a week — they also don’t require pots. In fact, they won’t grow in soil. Set one or two on your favorite little dessert plate, tuck one into a tea cup, and line some up on your window sill. They’ll thrive anywhere there’s sunlight and add a nice pop of life to your kitchen.
Buy It: Tillandsia Argentea Thin Air Plants, $11 for 5 from Air Plant Supply Co.
3. A Dishwasher-Friendly Wood Cutting Board
Your wood cutting board has likely been getting quite the workout this last year. Give it a break and pick up this board that’s made of a wood composite. The word “composite” is key here because it means that the board can go in the dishwasher. And that means less time cleaning your cutting board and more time admiring your new plants.
Buy It: Kitchen Series Cutting Board, $13 for an 8×6-inch board from Epicurean
4. A Better Sponge
Can’t seem to keep track of when it’s time to toss your kitchen sponge and grab a new one? Upgrade to Skura sponges, which have a special scrubby side that’s emblazoned with a unique fading monogram. As you use the sponge, the monogram will fade and, once it’s disappeared entirely, you know it’s time to reach for a new sponge.
Buy It: Skura Style Dish Sponge, $15 for four from Sur La Table
5. A Cheery Tea Towel
Don’t underestimate the power of a cute tea towel. Especially when draped over the handle on your oven door, a tea towel can do a lot to brighten up your kitchen. Don’t have any fun springy ones? Allow us to suggest these gorgeous linen ones from one of our favorite Etsy shops.
Buy It: Linen Tea Towel, $12 from MagicLinen
6. An Easy-to-Squeeze Citrus Squeezer
Do yourself (and your hands!) a favor and invest the money in a juicer that’s easy to squeeze. Once you have this in your drawer, you’ll find yourself adding lemon juice to salads, grilled fish, roasted veggies, and so much more.
Buy It: Citrus Squeezer, $17 from OXO
7. A Pretty New Mug
Your coffee mug matters almost as much as the coffee itself. Just try to have a bad morning while sipping from this floral, monogrammed mug. It can’t be done!
Buy It: Rifle Paper Co. for Anthropologie Garden Party Monogram Mug, $14 from Anthropologie
8. A Reusable Silicone Bag
These reusable silicone bags come from a design-forward brand, so they’re extra cute. More importantly? They’re incredibly well thought out. They can be turned inside-out for dishwasher cleaning, and they stand up, which makes them especially great for popping popcorn in the microwave. We also like them for storing fruit, snacks, pantry staples, and more.
Buy It: Stand-Up 36-Ounce Porter Bag, $14 from W&P
9. A Kale Stripper
Make quick work of prepping kale salads with this stripper from Chef’n. You just pull the stem through one of the holes and you’re left with the tender leaf that’s ready to be used. It’s a lot faster than doing things entirely by hand.
Buy It: Chef’n Kale & Greens Stripper, $8 from Williams Sonoma
10. Stackable Popsicle Molds
DIY ice pops have a reputation for being messy and annoying, but not with these stackable molds. They lay flat on the counter for easy filling and they pile up for leak-proof freezing sessions. They’re also adorable and endlessly customizable so you can make your favorite healthy pops with anything you want.
Buy It: Lekue Stackable Popsicle Molds, $16 for four