Are you struggling to cook in a small kitchen? Trust me, I get it. In my house the struggle is real. My kitchen measures a whopping 7 1/2 feet by 12 feet. For those of you who are good at math, that’s 90 square feet available for cooking. And the majority of that space is taken up by appliances. Most people’s bathrooms are larger than my kitchen.
In my small kitchen, I need to prepare three meals a day for five people. It is by far the busiest room in my home.
My house was built in 1904. It’s in the middle of “town” so, no farmhouse kitchen for me. It continues to baffle me that for a 700 Sq. ft. home, in 1904, when eating out was unheard of, only 90 square feet were devoted to the kitchen. Our home has been added onto since 1904 and has been upgraded to 1,100 square feet. But, alas, there was never a feasible way to increase the footprint of the small kitchen.
So, what’s a person with a small kitchen to do? Well, I figure if a woman of 1904 could manage to crank out meals that were far better than I could ever whip up, with far fewer appliances, despite having to cook in a small kitchen, so can I.
There are a few things I’ve learned from preparing thousands of meals in my small kitchen. The awesomeness that is Pinterest has taught me a few more.
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Ideas for Organizing a Small Kitchen
The number one tip for anyone wanting to create more space in a small kitchen is to declutter. You will be amazed at how much larger your kitchen will seem once you pare down to only the items you actually use. Gather items by category and reduce them to those you need and use regularly. You can start with your cups, plates, and utensils. Next, evaluate your pots, pans, cookie sheets, muffin tins, etc. Move on to linens; discard any that have holes or unsightly stains. Finally, turn your attention to the small appliances you keep in your kitchen, these items take up valuable space. Toasters, coffee makers, blenders, food processors, rice cookers, ice cream makers, slow cookers, waffle irons, the list of possibilities is endless. Gather them all in one location and look them over. Which ones do you actually use? Eliminate as many as you can.
Clear the Counters
Counter tops are prime real estate in a small kitchen. Only keep out what you use on a daily basis and store everything else away. If you use your coffee maker every day like I do, by all means, keep it on the counter. If you have toast every morning for breakfast, you may want to keep your toaster nearby. However, try to keep the items stored on your counter tops to a minimum. By doing so, your counters will be easier to clean, and you will exponentially increase your workspace.
So you’ve decluttered and cleared your counters, now where do you put everything? Chances are if you have a small kitchen, your storage is limited or even non-existent. First, plan for your needs. Start by placing items close to where you use them. For example, store the plates and eating utensils near the sink or dishwasher; the spices close (but not too close) to the stove, and cleaning items such as dish soap, dishwashing detergent and sponges close to where you need them (usually under the sink).
Be sure to use every available inch of your cabinet and drawer space. If necessary, purchase items that will help you make the most of your limited space. At the end of this article, I will include a list of my favorite items for organizing a small kitchen. When filling the inside of your cabinets, be sure to utilize the cabinet doors for storage as well. Check out my Small House and Home Organization boards on Pinterest for some ingenious ways to maximize the storage in your cabinets.
Use your oven/microwave for storage. If you do this, be careful to remember the fact that you’ve placed items in your oven (before turning it on). My grandmother used to store her bread and cereal in her oven because she had a small kitchen. One day, she was in a hurry to get dinner going and turned on the oven to preheat it. Everything inside the oven caught fire! Thankfully, no one was hurt and the fire was put out quickly.
Also, that drawer on the bottom of your oven. What is that for, anyway? I’m not sure if I am supposed to be using it for cooking or not, but I like to store my baking pans in it.
Don’t limit your storage to horizontal spaces. Go vertical. Attach a binder clip to a magnetic strip on the wall and clip your recipes to it. You can also use magnetic strips on your walls for your knives. Take advantage of the tops of your cabinets for items you use less frequently, and install cup hooks under your cabinets for coffee mugs. Utilize hanging baskets, shelves, hanging pot racks, and tiered cooling racks to make the most of your small kitchen.
More Storage/Counter Space
Once you’ve done all that you can do with the existing storage space in your small kitchen, look outside of your kitchen for more storage options. Who says your kitchen storage has to be limited to your kitchen? (Besides Marie Kondo & Martha Stewart). See if you can empty out a closet near your kitchen and convert it into a pantry. If you do not have a closet available, you can purchase an old wardrobe or closed shelving system and use that for your pantry. Some people store bulk pantry items under their beds or in their laundry/utility room. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.
Creating extra counter space is also an option in a small kitchen. Purchase a cutting board large enough to fit over your sink or stove burners and use it as an additional countertop. Invest in a small rolling cart to use as a makeshift island or hang a wall-mounted table and fold it down when not in use.
Clean as you Go
Full disclosure: I have yet to master this simple tip. I am a really messy cook. My imaginary self is great at this, though. Once she is done slicing and dicing, she washes the cutting board and places it in the dish drainer. If she is finished with a plate, in the dishwasher it goes. The made-up version of me wipes down the counters as she goes about cooking. Oh, and she’s really good about keeping a container handy for compostable kitchen scraps.
The real me just piles dishes up haphazardly next to (or in the vicinity of) the sink, and my son later loads them in the dishwasher or washes them for me. To my credit, I make sure to give the counters a good cleaning before I go to bed each night.
Take it Outside
When all else fails and you’ve had enough of being cooped up in your small kitchen, move your kitchen outside. I absolutely love cooking on the grill! The best part is the cleanup. A quick hose down of the grill and it’s ready for another meal. Also, the experience is made more fun by (occasionally) eating off of disposable plates. No dishes to wash, yeah!
A Few of My Favorite Items for Organizing a Small Kitchen
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