Editors’ Picks: A Dozen Vintage Kitchen Tools We Swear By

What is an heirloom? Traditionally families pass on things of value to the next generation, while the stuff of daily life—juice glasses, stepladders, clothes hangers—gets dumped in donation boxes or, worse, tossed without a second thought. We say, treat these humble tools as valued objects and keep them in use.

In our latest book, Remodelista: The Low-Impact Home, we rounded up 75 beloved vintage items, many from our own childhood homes. Among these favorites are everyday kitchen implements, including the 12 examples presented here, better made than today’s versions and lovely to look at battle scars and all.

These goods are the eco-friendly answer when adding to your kitchen arsenal because they keep existing materials in circulation. All are easy to c0me by, whether as hand-me-downs or affordably priced on eBay, Etsy, and at thrift stores, flea markets, and tag sales, among other places. Of late, there are countless ways to track down just about anything you’re looking for, even for nothing: for those willing to do the legwork, there are listings of free items on Buy Nothing, The Freecycle Network, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and many other sites. Even nonprofit Goodwill now posts offerings online. But the best way to begin is by assessing your own holdings and then browsing the castoffs of family members and friends. You’re likely to come away with a collection of better-for-wear household staples that will make you happy every time you reach for them.

Photography by Justine Hand for Remodelista: The Low-Impact Home.

julie’s favorite wooden spoon—with carved hanging crook  9
Above: Julie’s favorite wooden spoon—with carved hanging crook—was passed down from her mother who held many a dinner party in Wellfleet, on the Outer Cape. Its driftwood patina comes from having been put through the dishwasher more than once.
this enameled colander—found at remodelista favorite alder & co 10
Above: This enameled colander—found at Remodelista favorite Alder & Co. of Germantown, NY—is in a spatter pattern known as graniteware. When not in use, it’s beautiful enough to be put on display. Produce washing tip that I learned from recipe developer Kemp Minifie: Rather than rinsing fruit and vegetables under a running faucet, give them a bath: Immerse and swirl them in a bowl of water, then drain in a colander. This uses less water and provides a better cleaning.