7 Ways to Make the Most of a Tiny Kitchen
I recently downsized from a rowhome to a small apartment. How small? Let's just say that the kitchen is better defined as an “alcove” than a “room.” There's no dishwasher, an appliance I grew all too accustomed to over the past few years. There's no silverware drawer. And there's literally no counter space, unless you count the two inch strip that runs between the sink and the oven. Heck, when I looked at the apartment, the previous tenant had been keeping his microwave on the floor. Something about having to get down on hands and knees to heat up a Hot Pocket seems really unappealing to me, but hey, maybe that guy really enjoyed the process.
I love to cook, so I was worried about the tiny kitchen. But it's forced me to reconsider what tools I need to cook and how I prepare food, and so far, I'm loving it. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your kitchen if you're short on space:
1. Only Own What You Use
When I moved, I got rid of half of my glasses, some plates, and several rarely used kitchen appliances, among other things. As much as I loved whipping up frozen treats with my ice-cream maker, for example, it was hard to justify keeping something so large that I used maybe three or four times over the summer. And while I thought that not having a dishwasher would be a pain, it has made paring down my kitchen items easier, since before I could allow dirty dishes to pile up in the dishwasher until it was full, and now I immediately wash what's in the sink.
2. Purchase Miniature Versions of Appliances
I have a little Kitchen Aid food processor, and for my purposes, it has served me just as well as a regular-size one. The only real difference is that I have to puree my soups in batches instead of all at once. Similarly, I use a hand mixer for baking instead of a stand mixer. (See also: The 5 Best Mixers)
3. Add Extra Storage Space
As you can see in the picture above, my apartment already had a wall-mounted pot rack installed, which has allowed me to free up the minimal cupboard space I do have for plates and food. (If you don't want to buy a pre-made pot rack, Myscha has suggestions for how to craft your own in her piece on Gourmet Kitchens on a Shoestring.) I also keep non-perishable ingredients on my windowsill and on top of my cupboards, which allows me to both have extra storage space and put interesting items on display.
4. Make Areas Multi-Purpose
I thought about getting a little kitchen island for prep space, but instead I use my kitchen table for both eating and prep work. Not having the island makes the kitchen feel much less cluttered.
5. Keep It Clean
The messiness of a kitchen is heightened exponentially when there are fewer places for that mess to go. Clean as you cook, and don't let things sit out needing to be put away.
6. Buy the Ingredients You Need
I love buying pantry items in bulk to save money, but in a tiny kitchen, doing so makes my precious cupboard space fill up quickly. Be choosy about what you buy in bulk, and consider buying more fresh fruits and vegetables. They're healthy, and because you have to eat them while they're still good, they won't sit around taking up space.
7. Use the Oven for All Cooking
I got used to browning my bread in the toaster. If I wanted to defrost frozen soup, I popped it in the microwave. But just about anything that can be cooked, unfrozen, toasted, melted, or panini-pressed in a countertop appliance can have the same thing done to it in or on the oven. Sure, it's not always quite as convenient, but your oven's broiler will make your bread just as crispy as a four-slice toaster.
Do you have a tiny kitchen? If so, how do you cope?