First-Kitchen Essentials and How to Set Up Your Dream Kitchen

There’s a certain amount of truth to the saying, “The heart of the home is in the kitchen.”

Think of your kitchen, and this applies to kitchens of all shapes and sizes, like any other room in your home, except this one provides nourishment for you and your family. It’s where loved ones come together during the holidays and special gatherings.

Maybe that’s why setting up one’s dream kitchen can be so intimidating, especially if it is your first kitchen. But it doesn’t have to be.

When designing your dream space, start as you would any other room by making a checklist/wish list of what you need (ideal layout, storage space, appliances, furniture – all the way down to the kitchen utensils and products).

As Canada’s premium one-stop shop for all things kitchenware-related, zestspot gets asked a lot about must-have essentials and setting up the perfect kitchen. Here’s our ultimate guide to setting up your ideal first kitchen without forgetting a single detail. 

First Kitchen Essentials for Condos

Let’s face it, kitchens in condos, outside of the penthouse, are typically on the smaller side. Storage is key when setting up your first condo kitchen. Being able to store all your essential kitchen supplies for your first apartment effectively, without clutter, will require dedicated attention to kitchen storage and organization. 

Kitchen Set-up Design

How to organize your kitchen when you have size limitations or restrictions? Creative storage solutions will become your new best friend. Here are a few things to consider for better kitchen organization and storage, along with practical kitchen setups:

  • Don’t crowd your appliances and/or cooking surface area. In terms of layout, ideally, you’ll want to create a triangle between your sink, stove, and refrigerator vs a straight line, since this will be your main area of “operations”.
  • Invest in pull-out pantry drawers. Forget about drawers that span all the way to the back of the cabinet. These pull-out drawers make it significantly easier to use and store pantry items without having to bury your hands in the back to find what you’re looking for and will help avoid you forgetting about items, accidentally double purchasing them and/or having expiry dates lapse.
  • Don’t be afraid to put your kitchenware on display. Open cabinets and shelves are perfect for small spaces. The more open the elements of your kitchen are, the larger your space will feel. This is one of the best ways to set up kitchen cabinets for small kitchens. 


Chriss Hupalo Kitchen Essentials
Images courtesy of Zestspot

First Kitchen Essentials Checklist

The easiest place to start – cookware! You’ll need pots and pans to cook up your favourite homemade recipes. If you’re on a budget, start with the absolute basics, but consider quality over quantity and grow your collection as you go.

One good quality frying pan and a deep soup pot are the best places to start. Then, you can expand to saucepans, woks and more based on need. It’s also a good idea to do some research and decide “what type of cook” you are to determine if non-stick, cast iron or steel are best for your culinary needs. If you’re still developing your culinary skills, a basic 10-piece cooking set is a great place to start since you’ll get all of your essentials.


Chriss Hupalo Kitchen Essentials
Images courtesy of Zestspot

Once cookware is selected, time for all the other must-have kitchenware tools that will help bring your recipes to life:

  • Spatula
  • Grater
  • Whisk
  • Cutting board
  • Tongs
  • Ladle
  • Oven mitts, and so on…

Doesn’t seem as daunting when you break it all down.

Now onto knives, probably one of the most important tools in your kitchen toolbox outside of cookware. Whether you choose to purchase them individually or in a set, make sure the quality over quantity rule applies. You’ll thank us later, we promise. Among your essential first purchases should be: a chef’s knife, then you can branch out to a paring knife, butcher knife, and bread knife.

Chriss Hupalo Kitchen Essentials
Images courtesy of Zestspot

Are you a baker? Even novice counts. Then you’ll want to may want to stock up or invest in on a few bakeware essentials such as a glass or ceramic casserole dish, sheet or cookie pan. These are always a great place to start.

And last but never least – tableware. Whether dining for one or a family of four, chefs will agree the presentation is half of the battle when trying to appeal to diner’s stomachs. The right tableware helps set the mood and theme. Here’s what you’ll need: plates, bowls, glassware, mugs, and cutlery that matches the look and feel of your kitchen – after all, it’s your space. It’s always a safe bet to start with sets of four to six for casual place settings and up to 12 for more formal place settings. Don’t forget, you can always expand according to storage space and need later on.

Turning a First Kitchen to a Dream Kitchen

It’s time to finally upgrade your space into the dream kitchen you’ve always wanted – congratulations!

This doesn’t mean you have to throw out everything you’ve accumulated to date. If you’ve been following the rule of quality versus quantity and added to your kitchenware essentials over the years, you’re in the perfect position to start elevating your space and can focus on the bigger picture.


Start by asking yourself some simple questions: what’s your budget? Do you have a preferred colour-palette? What are the elements that you want in your dream kitchen? For example, kitchen island, breakfast bar, walk-in pantry, surround sound system or other tech, lighting etc…

Start by organizing these big elements of your kitchen first and then working your way down to the individual components. Keep in mind that more space doesn’t mean that you need to clutter it. Smart storage and organization is going to be key no matter the size of your kitchen.

Pair these with the same essential kitchen supplies for your first kitchen condo and you’re ready to go!

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