When my Hubby and I were first married we lived in a cute little condo in the city. It had a family room and dining room and the absolute smallest kitchen in the entire world. So small in fact that if you opened the dishwasher on the one side of the kitchen, it just (barely) missed the cabinet on the other side.
Now, I know what you are probably thinking, “Yes, but you were newlyweds and a small kitchen is cozy and romantic.” But I don’t think newlyweds would pick a tiny kitchen as one of their top ten romantical hot spots.
Having a small kitchen in your first home may be all that you need when you are just starting out. And for us it was. I was new to this, living on your own thing, and my kitchen tools and supplies were minimal at best.
As my skills in the kitchen grew, so did my things and before long we were in danger of outgrowing that tiny kitchen.
It’s all About the Space
In a kitchen, the counter space is where it’s at. Let’s call it your kitchen’s prime real estate. And having just the right amount is the key to the perfect kitchen.
Too little and you are risking cooking frustration or worse, third-degree burns as you try to dice onions next to a very hot stove. Too much and you turn into a marathon runner running from station to station just to cook a meal.
More often than not a kitchen does have adequate counter space, it is just hidden under the things we feel NEED to be out on display. Our task today is to find out how to not make more space but instead to uncover the space we already have. Okay, maybe we will tuck in a tip on making a little extra space as well.
To get started some decisions will have to be made.
We will need to take a look at our kitchen counter gadgets and slowly widdling our way down until only the top priority items earn a spot out on our very valuable space.
How’s it Working for Ya?
Let’s borrow Dr. Phil’s coined phrase and reevaluate our kitchens.
Go there right now and take a walk around. Look at how you have your kitchen set up and ask yourself a few questions.
- Am I using my kitchen counters to store and hold my things?
- Do I have too many gadgets out?
- Do I have a lot of needless decorations, plants, or condiments?
- Do I have clutter that should be put away or should be kept in another room?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions and odds are if you are here you did, then good for you. That means we have a little wiggle room and more open counter space might just be in your future after all.
If, however you have clutter and lots of it, you may want to stop and head over to read tips on how to control the clutter on the counters so you can have a chaos-free space to cook.
When is the Last Time you Used that?
When I was a little girl we had this awesome ice crusher. A portable machine that we would plug in and use to grind larger ice cubes down into smaller bits. Each weekend before sitting down to our homemade pizza, my brothers and I would get that crusher out and fill our glasses up with these wonderful crushed ice bits before adding our Koolaid. There was just something about crushed ice that makes a drink taste wonderful.
That ice crusher was kept inside of a cabinet and out of the way even though it was big, bulky, and heavy. Each time we were permitted to use it, we had to lug it out. And even though we may have used it a more than a few times each week, we never once even considered LEAVING it out.
Compare that to today.
Most kitchens have a collection of gadgets out on the counters. Can openers, blenders, instant pots, toasters and coffee makers to name a few.
Think about this for a minute. What is the first thing we do when we get a new small appliance? We open it up and find a spot on our counter for it.
Let’s instead, think differently about our kitchens and the counter space we have.
Use this as a counter clearing rule of thumb.
If you do not use it at least once a day, put it away.
Gather up anything you do not use daily and find a spot that is close by and easy to get to. Use this to store your lesser used appliances until you need them. An extra step yes, but worth it to have the cooking space you need.
Continue working your way around your kitchen until you have only your top 2 or 3 appliances out. Now, I know this might be a bit frustrating at first but after a few weeks of beautiful and minimalistic counters, you might just find you love having them that way.
How to Create Space in a Small Kitchen
Where to Store Counter Appliances
Maybe storing things is not so easy to do after all, especially if you are in a tiny kitchen that is very short on cabinet space. For us, moving a few items to another room, such as our dining room, was our solution and it worked great. We found a small corner cabinet that fit perfectly and held a surprising amount. Since it was contained to only the corner it was not too much for the room.
This worked well to hold items such as a crock pot, rice cooker, and blender. It also held our good dishes for entertaining along with a few tablecloths and placemats.
For seasonal items, you may want to consider moving those things even further away. This will free up cabinet space in your kitchen for your more frequently used appliances. Remember, if you use it only a few times of the year you can safely store those things in hard to reach areas such as a basement or closet shelf in a bedroom or entryway.
Some items to store here are a roaster, seasonal items such as serving platters for the holidays, food processor, or canning supplies.
Try to keep close only the items you use the most.
Create a Little Space.
Once you have cleared up your counters you may find you still could use a bit more working space. This is where creating a bit of extra space can come in handy. And to do that we need to think a bit outside of the box.
I love a nice large cutting board. It’s so convenient to have plenty of room to not only chop all of my veggies in one spot but to also have the room to pile each up until I need them.
This cutting board is a great option. I just love the large surface area and bonus: It fits nicely over an open sink. This gives you a bit more space and room to prep and cook your meals. Once you have your vegetables prepped you can lift the board and carry to your stove keeping your mess contained to a smaller area.
Keep Knives out of the Butcher Block.
Most knives are stored in a block of wood which is a convenient and space saving idea but when you are short on counter space it is something you can do without. I love my magnetic knife bar and it still is my favorite tool in the kitchen. By keeping knives close to where I prep our meals I can quickly grab the tool I need to chop and dice without hunting or searching for it.
Look up for More Space.
I stumbled on this idea and wished so much they had these when I had my tiny kitchen. Storage ABOVE the sink I feel is pure genius. More often than not that space is wide open so why not utilize it by adding more room above your sink?
This sink option may just be for drying dishes, but there are others available that have baskets too. Baskets you can use to store cutting boards, kitchen towels, even produce.
Another overlooked area to store rarely used items is above your cabinets.
If your kitchen as that area above opened up rather than closed off you can use that space to store items as well. Try to keep things pushed back so as not to create an eyesore. Our goal here is to set our kitchens up to be efficient but to be neat and tidy too. All those elements help to create a room you love rather than one you avoid.
Yes, you can have a Garden in your Tiny Kitchen.
One thing I love to do is grow fresh herbs in my kitchen and I learned this tip a few years ago. This DIY kitchen herb garden is on the sides of my cabinets. This keeps my plants up and off of my counters where they can take up valuable space or worse get knocked over and damage.
Try to keep plants as close to your window as possible so they can enjoy the warm sunshine. A cabinet next to your sick is the perfect location for an herb garden.
Lose Weight with a Clutter-Free Kitchen?
Yes, you read that right. Studies show that a neat and organized kitchen helps to keep us healthy. By keeping food out of the way and off of our counters you can eliminate mindless eating. Keep food contained and put away so you are more intentional about what you eat and when.
But how? If your kitchen is tiny where can you keep your food?
First, get the bread off of your counter and into your refrigerator instead. If cold bread turns you off remember you can always warm it up in your microwave, oven, or toaster.
Cookes, cakes, and other sweets can also be kept inside of your refrigerator. Or, even better, keep only a small portion out and the rest in the freezer until you need them.
Some produce does better at room temperatures. Use these hanging baskets to hold apples, bananas, even citrus.
Garlic, onions, and potatoes can all be stored in vegetable bags that you can hang in a little-used corner. These bags are great to have because they allow these foods to breathe and prevent sprouts from forming so they last longer.
Go Big or go Home.
If you have the room you might want to consider adding a kitchen island. These portable kitchen counters are a dream but only if you have space for it. With more counter space for cooking that is just the beginning. You will also get a few more drawers, cabinets, even a shelf on some. If you choose one with wheels you can keep your island out of the way until you are ready to use it.
Now it’s your turn.
Now that you have read my tips on how to create space in a small kitchen, what tips do you have for cooking in a small kitchen? Share them in the comments below, I would love to hear them.