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Growing up, I lived in the suburbs. (Read as: a white house with oversized rose bushes that lined the path to the front door; a whole neighborhood of houses with not just kitchen counters, but kitchen islands, too.) Unfortunately, I went off to college and chose to abandon this existence to become a reporter. Now I live in the city, or as a real housewife might say: Some of us live in Brooklyn, trying to survive in this economy. For me that means a studio apartment with a tiny kitchen.
Not counting my sink or my oven, there is approximately 21 by 25 inches of counter space available for me to use — and that means I have to use it wisely. While my coffee maker is important, I only use it once a day (sometimes once every two days), so it’s the easiest big ticket item to store on my shelves. What’s the most important thing to keep on my counters, then? My dish rack for drying my dishes.
My Chef’N DishGarden Dish Rack isn’t eloquently-named, but it’s exactly what my kitchen needs. At 14 inches by 13.25 inches, it fits the space perfectly, and because of its circular shape, it allows for drying more dishes, bowls and cups than you might imagine. (It also fits in my sink easily when I want to hide it from company.) Lining the rack are tall prongs, which you can use to hang dry cups; on its inside, there are shorter prongs, which you can use to help line your dishes and bowls.
The Chef’N comes with two lime-green utensil holders, which can be picked up and moved all around the dish rack — in order to secure it in one spot, you have to situate it on top of one of the rack’s internal prongs. Their moveability is especially useful when playing a game of tetris to try and dry everything at once. And if your grand design gets too cramped, you can simply remove the utensil holders entirely.
The dish rack is also angled with a drain spout at the bottom of one side, so when you put your dishes, bowls and cups onto it, the leftover water drips directly into the sink. You can also temporarily close the spout if you want to bring the Chef’N from one side of your counter to another without making a mess.
Dish racks don’t demand glowing praise, but I digress. The Chef’N fits more dishware than I ever expected it to, doesn’t take up much space and it looks decent on my counter. The only critique I might levy against the dish rack is that it’s kooky-looking: Its white and green coloring makes it look like a surrealist sculpture and its prongs are big and rounded — everything about its design is just a little off aesthetically. But practically, everything about its design works.
Other dish racks to consider
We’ve highlighted two more dish racks — one that’s compact like the Chef’N and one that’s more traditional for your tastes. Both are highly rated on Amazon.
If you’re looking for another compact dish rack, the Sorbus Roll-Up Dish Drying Rack's design maximizes space, too — you can situate it over your sink, so counter space can be used however you see fit. It’s also 20 inches by 13 inches and it lies completely flat, so if you’re not interested in watching your dishes, plates and bowls perform gymnastics as they dry, it could be a better candidate than the Chef’N. When it’s dry, you can roll it up completely and store it somewhere out of sight. It’s important to note that it doesn’t come with a utensil holder; you simply have to sit them flat along the rack to dry. The Sorbus comes with a 4.8-star average rating from more than 2,000 reviews on Amazon.
Maybe you’re in the suburbs reading this thinking “All I have is space. I don’t need to save space.” If that’s the case, this traditional-looking steel dish rack from Simplehuman could be the perfect fit for your kitchen countertop. It’s 22 inches by 20 inches and it’s built like the dish racks you could conjure in your imagination — plus, it comes with a drip tray that has a swivel spout to keep water in the sink. In addition to holding dishes, bowls and cups, the Simplehuman dish rack has a wine glass holder that can safely hang up to four extra large Bordeaux wine glasses, according to the brand. The Simplehuman comes with a 4.7-star average rating from more than 11,000 reviews on Amazon.