Clever Ways to Optimize Your Space in a Tiny Kitchen

Posted by on Jan 08, 2022

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Cooking in a tiny kitchen requires patience and ingenuity. You may not have the storage space for all of the ingredients you’d like to have on hand. You probably won’t have the counter room for every appliance you fancy. But smart planning and focusing on the essentials can accomplish most of what you need to make stewing, sautéing and baking in a small kitchen satisfying, even fun. Below are guidelines and hacks to get you there.

Appliances: Choose Smart Essentials

When you’re shopping, you may see a lot of appliances you wish you had — the gelato maker and popcorn popper — but will you regularly use them? Ariel Kanter from Serious Eats recommends avoiding single use cookware and, instead, focus on those multi-use items. 

Small options can also be good choices. For some, that may be the standing mixer that can knead dough as well as grind steak into meatballs. A high quality toaster oven can do more than brown slices of bread; it can reheat leftovers and roast meals a larger oven typically does. An InstaPot or slow cooker can make a lot of meals that typically require a stove burner. Some panini makers come with grill plates, enabling you to do a lot more than toast sandwiches. 

Cooks with extremely limited space may need to consider appliance replacements, like using a hand held immersion blender instead of a traditional counter top one.

Storing Appliances, Utensils and Containers: Look above the counters

Most cooks quickly run out of counter space in a small kitchen. You need to be creative to find more. Tasha from I Heart Planners recommends hanging utensils — like spatulas, knives and spoons — on the wall. She also found space for her slow cooker and food processor on top of her fridge. If you have the overhead space and carpentry skills, a pot rack can hang from the ceiling. 

A well designed silverware storage rack can optimize drawer space, so utensils take up only what’s needed. Nested food storage containers help contain clutter when they’re not in use. For shelves, adding small stands will increase the vertical space, making it possible to store more dishes and glassware.

Under the Sink

In most kitchens, the area under-sink space is a wasteland where random items, like garbage bags and cleaning supplies, huddle together in dreaded fear of a plumbing leak that may never happen. By mounting baskets and shelving, this area can be used for appliances, cookbooks and items that are only occasionally needed.

Food and Pantry Storage: Jars Bowls and More

Food storage in a small kitchen requires planning and focusing on essentials. For example, if you’re not regularly using corn flour, it probably doesn’t make sense to keep a five pound bag of it around. Cooks who like to keep a lot of dried goods in their pantries may want to develop a system with uniform size containers. Perhaps all of the flours and sugars are stored in mason jars to make them look visually appealing as well as practical. Plenty of space racks optimize storage space. A bowl on the counter or kitchen table can be appealing storage for fruits and vegetables. 

If you have room high up in the kitchen, a step stool will help you make the most of it. Dry ingredients that are only occasionally used can go on top of the cabinets. If you have the wall space, installing an extra shelf can increase your “pantry” storage.

Be Smart with Your Fridge

Each kitchen’s fridge and freezer is personalized. In a small room, you can't afford to waste any space. If possible, buy a smaller than usual refrigerator. Also, consider one that has at least two compartments to separate meats and other perishables. One will a built-in ice maker increases functionality. In a tiny kitchen, every inch counts.

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