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My partner and I moved into our apartment without physically visiting the space (I know, I know) and were relieved when we arrived to see that it was very much still like the property we saw during our blurry video call. That being said, the kitchen was tiny, only taking up the back wall. It was all condensed together in a fridge-sink-stovetop block—the only counter space being a small oasis between the sink and stove.
While I wasn't expecting an enormous cooking space outfitted with two pizza ovens and an island, I certainly was expecting at least enough room for a toaster and a microwave. With the middle section being the only counter space, it managed to fit nothing more than the toaster and kettle—leaving a bit of room for prep space. That banished our microwave, espresso machine, and basically all the rest of our kitchen goods to the ether.
There was an awkward round dining table and then floorspace, neither of which were enticing spots for permanently holding a microwave and everything else. Befuddled and unwilling to make my afternoon bag of popcorn by sitting on the ground, I took my conundrum to Amazon.
VASAGLE ALINRU Kitchen Baker’s Rack, Coffee Bar, Microwave Oven Stand
I came across a kitchen baker's rack in just the right dimensions that seemed to have exactly what I needed in terms of storage. Altogether, it had five shelves and a wire basket and basically blended the stationary foundation of an island with the compact size and moveability of a rolling cart sans wheels.
I was initially wary of the overall look (a black powder-coated frame with antique-looking wood) because it wasn't quite my style and also didn't match the bland gray floors and cupboards that the rest of the apartment was decked out in. But, I'll admit, I was a little desperate for some structure and storage so I took the risk.
Flat-pack furniture can be notoriously complicated and often arrives missing pieces or with parts that don't align with the pre-drilled holes. Fortunately, this kitchen hutch was one of the easier items my partner and I have assembled. In about an hour, we had ourselves a stationary cart and I gleefully and dramatically crowned the top of the cart right away with our microwave and espresso machine.
The rest of the cart we easily managed to fill up. Pots, pans, and other kitchen equipment lacking a proper place are stored on the right side. I keep produce in the upper drawer, which in most cases is a surplus of garlic cloves. To the bottom left is a mini bar cart and above it I added two extra wire baskets to separate the space further. Those containers keep my spices, one-too-many bags of flavored coffee, and coffee-making equipment organized.
With the added space, I even have room to display a few little decorative things these days, from a serving board in my favorite color blue, to a sleek and modern little salt pig. To fully make the most of the hutch, I attached a Command strip to the back of a power strip and placed it on the backside to plug in all of the appliances—and even a printer. Though it can get cluttered fast, it has been a game-changing piece of decor. It has provided much-needed extra storage and surface area, but it's gone beyond that.
As an added bonus, the hutch even adds structure and boundaries to the apartment. The kitchen and living room are open plan and sometimes it just feels like a long box with furniture stuffed inside. Thankfully, through some furniture Tetris, the baker's rack helps divvy up the space along with the aforementioned awkward dining table and our couch.
It serves as a barrier and marks the area between the kitchen and everything else. Thanks to this just over $100 purchase I'm not popping popcorn on the ground and an overwhelmingly blank space—with kitchen storage that comes at a premium—has become far better equipped.