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The kitchen is the heart of a home. It’s where food is prepared and often eaten. Kitchens are often the part of a home where families are most likely to gather. They’re creative spaces and necessary ones. Kitchens are also home to more specialized equipment than any other room in a home. There are constant innovations in the kitchen goods space. Some of these are essential, while others will just take up space and rarely be used. It can be hard for consumers to know what kitchen accessories are smart buys and which should be avoided.

One sign of a great kitchen accessory is versatility. For example, the 4-in-1 opener does the work of a corkscrew, bottle opener, can opener and also helps open jars with tight lids. This tool does the work of at least three other tools, but it’s still just about the size of a standard can opener. As a multi-tool that saves space, this is a definite win for any kitchen.

Another quality to look for when choosing kitchen accessories is problem solving. There are plenty of strainers and colanders on the market. Traditional strainers can be messy to work with. It’s hard to know where to put them when working with them. Many have a base that lets them stand over the drain of a sink. But the bottom of the sink is a busy place during meal prep, and whatever’s in the strainer can get splashed with soapy water or other things. A strainer with adjustable arms that stretches across the sink can be a great solution. It elevates the strainer so that it’s easy to work with, and keeps food above any used dishes already in the basin.

Other great kitchen accessories include new takes on old standbys. Silicone oven mitts are much more heat and steam proof than traditional cloth ones. Newer versions of these mitts are also easier than ever to clean. Many of them are machine washable. Another great new take on a classic tool is the self-sharpening knife. Some big names in knives are starting to design blocks that will sharpen the knives as they’re removed and then replaced. This saves time and hassle. It also ensures proper upkeep of these important tools.