When I see people on HGTV criticize the size of what seem to me perfectly comfortable suburban kitchens, it really grinds my gears. Us New Yorkers will never know the joy of empty cabinets, let alone entire spare bedrooms. When Rene and I first saw what is now our apartment, we thought there was no way we could live with such a small kitchen. Our kitchen – which is more of a kitchen space, really – is technically in the same room as the living room. There is about two feet of counter space, a few cabinets, and that’s it. But since we liked the location and the rest of the apartment, we decided to make it work.
A small kitchen should not deter you from cooking at home. You may not be able to sprawl out like Ina Garten, but if you keep your space well organized, you’ll be just fine. Below are some pointers for how to organize a small kitchen. These aren’t some crazy genius Pinterest hacks, rather practical tips for everyday use.
Less is More
No matter how tempting those Le Creuset dishes may be on sale, remember that small kitchens do not have the luxury storing extra stuff. You should only own items you use regularly. I recommend having only a few pots and skillets of varying sizes, a few knives (a chef’s, a serrated and a paring), and two cutting boards (a large and a small one). That’s it.
Minimize Counter Clutter
Your counter(s) should house only essentials – items you use daily. For me, these are a Brita filter, tea kettle, blender and utensil holder. Everything else should be kept out of sight. Counter space should always be ready for ingredient prep and keeping mise-en-place. The more crowded the counter is, the less likely you’ll be to break out the cutting board and start cooking.
Keep the Sink Clear
A clean kitchen is a happy kitchen (and that goes for all kitchens, not just the tiny ones). Don’t let your dirty dishes pile up for days. Wash them, or load them in the dish-washer as soon as you’re done eating. Again, the cleaner your cooking space, the more likely you’ll be to use it. Plus, the next time you need that spatula or that skillet, it’ll be clean and ready to go – instead of having to be washed right then, which will interrupt your cooking flow.
Utilize Wall Space
Items like foldable dish drying racks and magnetic knife holders do wonders for small kitchens by making use of often-overlooked wall space.
Using box organizers to contain spice jars, teas or other groups of items is super helpful. For instance, if you’re looking for a small jar of cumin, there’s no need to rummage through a whole shelf of items – just pull out the spice box. You can buy boxes that are specifically made for this purpose, or take the thrifty route like me and re-purpose aluminum cookie boxes. Stackable containers are perfect for housing beans and grains. Again, you can buy fancy canisters if you like – I prefer the plastic take-out kind.
The Kitchen Cart
Kitchen carts are the ideal solution for extra counter and storage space. At around $100-200 at IKEA, they’re affordable too. Kitchen carts have the added benefit of being mobile and can easily be transported to be hidden in another room, or be used as an island bar during cocktail parties.
What tips do you have for keeping the kitchen organized?