If you’re lucky, you have a pull-out cabinet in your kitchen with a built-in trash can (or at least enough room under your sink to hide your trash can). Most of us, however, are forced to put this particular vessel out in the open, as necessary as a chef’s knife or pots and pans — and yet decidedly less glamorous.
The good news is that there are options out there that won’t be an eyesore in your space — and enough of them that it should be fairly easy to find one that fits the style and size you need. “Trash cans are not as ugly as they used to be,” says Jessica McCarthy, creative director at the online decorating platform Decorist. “Companies are trying to create trash cans you can leave out in your kitchen and have them be somewhat attractive.” We spoke with McCarthy and six other design pros to find the best-looking garbage solutions.
Best-looking multi-compartment kitchen trash cans
Minimalist options from Dutch brand Brabantia came recommended by three of our designers. With legs that evoke mid-century modern furniture — and make cleaning up underneath easier — this model stands flush against a wall to save space and comes in a variety of neutral shades that blend in with different kitchen designs. “I love the Brabantia Bo because it doesn’t even look like a trash can,” says Alessandra Wood, director of style at Modsy. “Its beautiful design seems more like a plant stand and fits into any modern home.” The trash can contains two compartments, which keep your recycling or compost separate from your trash.
This more compact, step-pedal version of the Bo can be tucked into a nook in a smaller kitchen.
We’re not surprised that innovative English brand Joseph Joseph, makers of our favorite colander and salad bowl, designed a trash bin that’s both highly functional and actually attractive. Separate compartments for garbage, recycling, and food waste keep everything organized, and McCarthy likes that “it has breather vents [to prevent odor] and bag hooks so you can keep your bags in the garbage can.” Along with the vents, a replaceable charcoal filter helps control smells. The recycling bucket is removable for mess-free emptying.
Known for their streamlined kitchen accessories, Simplehuman’s trash bins are also favorites among decorators and designers. Taryn Williford, lifestyle director at Apartment Therapy, loves the Simplehuman dual trash can, which she actually calls the best thing in her kitchen. “I’m trying to be more conscious of my waste, and the fact that I can have my trash and recycling sorted behind one slim-lined stainless-steel bin really soothes both the aesthetic and functional parts of my brain — and that’s not always easy to do,” she says. “I also have Simplehuman’s compost caddy, which hangs off the side of the trash can, so it’s really a three-in-one ecofriendly solution for me.” Wood is also a fan of Simplehuman. “They feel like just another one of the kitchen appliances.” For her part, McCarthy opts for the voice- and motion-activated model so you can open it by waving your hand or saying “open can.” It’s a high-tech feature that’s very useful if your hands are full or dirty.
Best-looking step-pedal trash cans
If you’re not ready to splurge on a voice-activated trash can, step-pedal models offer the same hands-free access. The slim Brabantia NewIcon model fits into most kitchens and can, as Wood says, “create a design moment for trash.” She likes that “it’s not trying to hide that it’s a trash can, but rather makes it part of the design.” Homepolish interior designer Liz Lipkin says, “I’d go so far as to call this one ‘cute.’” It comes in 12 colors, ranging from traditional stainless steel and soft almond to metallic mint and bright yellow.
For smaller spaces, this five-liter Brabantia may be better proportioned.
“Ideally, your trash can is built into your cabinetry and hidden away from view, but we aren’t all that lucky,” says Shelby Girard, head of design at Havenly. This simple, unobtrusive model from Kohler is one of Girard’s and Lipkin’s top picks. “From the matte white finish to its clean lines and concealed hinges, this style feels very elevated, and that’s saying a lot for a trash can,” says Lipkin. Bags fit securely and discreetly around the removable inner bucket.
Originally designed in 1939 by a Danish metalworker for his wife’s hair salon, the Vipp pairs elegant design with seamless usability. According to Lipkin, “All Vipp styles feature a step pedal, an air-tight closure, and a rubber base that won’t scratch your floor.” While the classic white version is part of the MoMA collection, in matte black it’s a little more modern.
Ideal for compact kitchens, this mini Vipp feels vintage-y.
When McCarthy talks about brands thinking more about trash cans as aesthetic pieces, she brings up Simplehuman’s range of metallic options as an example. While some of the finishes are sold out across the internet, you can still find options that are likely to blend right in with your kitchen accents or hardware. In particular, the bronze one still available on Amazon is a hard-to-come-by color.
With sleek sides, a flush lid, a rounded bottom, and an adorable circle-shaped pedal, Williford says this would be her go-to if she was in the market for another trash can (and had the cash) — in particular the pretty matte-black color. “If stylish is the first, second, and third thing on your list of priorities, it really is a stunner,” she says.
Best-looking lift-top kitchen trash cans
Similar to the step-pedal model above, this lift-top Simplehuman can has a low-profile design that’ll work with most décor styles and won’t overpower tiny kitchens. Alexa Battista, a public-relations specialist at Wayfair, likes that it’s a “traditional style, but with a slim and sleek look that’s a bit more modern.” Its narrow design will fit into tight spaces.
McCarthy loves the touch-top version of the eight-gallon Brabantia bin and says she’s thinking of getting one for her own kitchen.
Best sliding trash can
If you’re committed to having your trash can out of sight, out of mind, Julia Turshen, chef and author of Simply Julia, recommends getting this model that slides in and out of a cabinet (as opposed to just sticking it in there). When she lived in New York City and had limited space, this was actually the best solution for her. “I appreciate that it slides out easily, rather than needing to be picked up, pulled out, and put back into its hiding place,” she says. “I also like that it’s small, which means it fills quickly, which also means it forces you to consider how much waste you’re producing.”