The first time I saw my apartment, I fell in love with the hardwood floors, the large windowsills, and the old-school feel of the building. What I did not fall in love with, however, was the cramped kitchen with minimal counter space and few storage cabinets. You’d have to see it to believe it. One of my friends remarked skeptically, “Oh, what a…cozy…kitchen. Umm…good luck.” But I like to swim upstream, so I figured could employ some small space kitchen ideas to maximize storage and counter space. Even for someone like me, who cooks less frequently than the average American, the small kitchens in some studio apartments can be challenging. With planning and creativity, though, the obstacle of small space can be overcome.
Here are my top 10 small space kitchen ideas:
Identify your least-used appliances or gadgets and store them outside of your kitchen. If you seriously think you’re going to use that turkey roaster on a daily basis, then I’m concerned about you. All of us keep things in our kitchen that we rarely use. My “bimonthly” crockpot is the perfect example. Since I have plenty of other storage space in my studio, my crock pot found a different home, next to some linens in my bathroom closet. Is it a little weird? Yes. Does it free up space in the small kitchen with minimal daily impact? You bet.
Use your fridge for more than just perishables. One day I realized that I had nearly no cupboard space while my fridge was somewhat empty. I decided it might be worth keeping some otherwise nonperishable items in the fridge. While it looks a little odd at first, an unopened box of cereal or rice-a-roni in the fridge frees more of my limited cabinet space. [This small space kitchen idea will not work if you already maintain a full fridge, of course.]
Store baking pans inside your oven. Many people already do this, but if you haven’t thought about it, why not use your oven as a place for cookie sheets, muffin tins, cake pans, or anything that you can easily stack and remove when using your oven? Just replace them when the oven has cooled down. As long as the pans stack easily and can be exiled temporarily, it’s a great storage idea.
Install wall shelves or hooks for storage. If your kitchen is already equipped with wall-attached shelves or hooks, sweet! If not, visit your local Ikea or other home furnishing store and find some easy-to-install shelves or hooks for frequently used utensils or even pots and pans. On occasion, you can find retail-style pegboards which allow you to move hooks around for ideal configuration.
Don’t neglect your windowsill. If your kitchen has a windowsill, use it. There are ways to be practical yet decorative. Why not line up your spices there? Or your cookbooks? Cooking oils and other glass-bottle liquids (the kind that don’t need refrigeration) are often translucent and brighten up a windowsill while freeing cabinet space.
Combine flair and function with a silverware caddy on your table. Most people have a drawer that they dedicate to silverware neatly placed in one of those boring plastic trays. To create drawer space, I created a funky, exposed cylinder for silverware by taking a coffee can and covering it with a sheet of this odd plushy material that I found at a dollar store. The material is hard to explain, but it’s almost like a soft, cuttable, thin carpet that you can wrap small things in. I simply cut the fluffy stuff to fit the height of the can, wrapped the circumference, and glued it on. Now all my silver sits upright in this kitschy little tin in the middle of my tiny table. It gets compliments for being goofy and fun.
Store little things inside of big things. Sounds obvious, right? It should be, but sometimes we forget that there is a lot of vacant space inside of larger objects. Take a big pasta pot, for example. Unless you use it daily, you can turn it into a catchall for small items. Everything from smaller pots to measuring cups will fit inside. But my favorite small space kitchen idea for a pasta pot is this: use it to hold clean kitchen towels and potholders. This is the equivalent of stuffing socks inside of your shows when packing a suitcase!
Attach under-cabinet devices. Whether you go low-tech (like the cheap and readily affixable paper towel holder) or electric (like the under-shelf can opener), the area below your cabinets can be exploited with this small space kitchen idea.
Suspend a wire basket from the ceiling. Often found in dollar stores, wire baskets (usually with two or three tiers) can be hung from the ceiling from a simple screw-in hook – the kind you’d hang a plant from. Tiered wire baskets, if chosen tastefully and hung in the right spot, can be a decorative touch as much as a counter space saver. What can you put in them? Fruit, bread, chips: anything fairly lightweight to which you want easy access. Just be sure the hanging basket doesn’t impede access to your fridge or cabinets.
Donate items you don’t use anymore. You might want to do this before trying any other small space kitchen ideas. If you’ve been hanging onto kitchen items you no longer use, you’ll gain storage and counter space by getting rid of these contraptions. Examples of things that people sometimes acquire, use a few times, and then ignore: popcorn makers, ice cream machines, deep friers, waffle irons, rice cookers, iced tea brewers, etc. Should you find that these specialty appliances remain unused, then remove their clunky presence from your kitchen.