Ideas for Tiny Kitchens

This article is about making a small kitchen functional: It is for renters or people using an existing kitchen. If you are remodelling a kitchen from scratch, this article is not geared for that, but you still might glean a few good tips out of it.

We have such a small kitchen that if two people try to cook in it at the same time, you are in each other’s way. Counter space and storage space are two major issues.

If you’ve ever gone to one of those motor home retailers and taken some tours, you will see the incredible ways they get a lot of kitchen function out of a very tiny space.

Before you go shopping to outfit a small kitchen, take some measurements: Exactly how much space do you have? Will the microwave fit? Decide what appliances you really need on the counter. Do you use a bread machine 3 x’s a week? A crockpot? I know I use a microwave every day so that’s priority number one. Does your refrigerator door open in the right direction? I’m right handed and live with a lefthander, so we have to consider that. You can hang the door to open either way on most refrigerators.

Decide how many dishes and storage containers you really need. Pare down those items that you use rarely, and either get rid of them or store them outside of the kitchen area.

One local store that caters to kitchen storage ideas is IKEA. Tour their showrooms for ideas on how to get the most out of your kitchen. Sit down with anyone else that uses the kitchen and discuss priorities. Do you make 80% of your meals in a microwave? Do you bake? Do you use a wok? Figure out your cooking habits and give them priority.

Use your wall space: You can increase your storage space by hanging hooks and nails, and shelves up on the walls. Hang your pans, potholders and utensils and get them off the counters.

If you have a built in dishwasher and never use it, convert it to a storage area. Don’t let any space go unused. Hang some baskets from the ceiling or the wall, to store onions, peppers, and garlic.

Don’t forget cabinet locks, if there are babies or toddlers in the area. Get down on your hands and knees and see things from their perspective. Do not leave appliance cords dangling. Use some velcro or twist ties to secure the excess cordage.

To save cabinet space, think ‘nesting’. Get storage containers, dishes, glasses and utensils that nest together. There is always that one bowl that doesn’t fit anywhere. Get rid of it! It will drive you crazy every other day when you put dishes away. Start taking it to potlucks and sooner or later you will forget to take it home.

Ten quick space saving tips:

  1. Get rid of square pegs that don’t fit into the plan of round holes.
  2. Put the things you use the most at eye level. Put things you use once a month or less in the harder to reach spaces.
  3. If you haven’t used an appliance in a year, you probably don’t need it.
  4. Look for compact utensils.
  5. Remove drawer clutter.
  6. If you do dishes daily, you need fewer dishes, and fewer dishes take up less space.
  7. Consider putting an extra freezer or refrigerator in the garage. That way you can still save money by buying in bulk, yet not take up space in the kitchen.
  8. If you never use the oven you can use it for storage. Just be sure to hang a sign on it or take the oven knob off so no one turns it on to pre-heat it, without first looking inside.
  9. Magnetic paper towel holders and cup hooks can help in tight spaces.
  10. To optimize space, clean up one mess before you start another.

You will need to be especially neat and tidy with a small space, as clutter will look worse than in large spaces, as you don’t have room for unnecessary items cluttering up the surfaces. A place for everything, and everything in it’s place. If you can afford it, there is always the option of extending your home! We used Touchstone in Berkhamsted, and they did a fabulous job of converting our loft. Next on the list is the kitchen!

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