The kitchen is the focal point of so many homes.
During the week, it doubles as the dining room when we’re too busy to sit down for a meal. During the holidays, we congregate in the kitchen as Thanksgiving turkeys roast and gingerbread cookies go into the oven. Even during a party, it’s where guests will inevitably gather.
So, what do you do when your kitchen space is cramped? Eat out every night?
Not so fast. There are plenty of ways to make a small kitchen work for you. As with other rooms in the house, it’s just a matter of getting creative with storage and space usage.
Why a Small Kitchen is a Great Thing for Many People
Architect Rebecca Ascher tells Architectural Digest that small kitchens are perfect for many families because they’re more manageable.
“Cooking centers on three main appliances — the fridge, the stove, and the sink,” Architectural Digest’s Tisha Leung writes in her interview with Ascher. “When they are closer together, food prep is more productive. Ascher achieves a more effective work zone by making sure there’s no wasted space and prioritizing organization.”
Further, small kitchens have a tendency to improve their owners’ eating habits because they don’t leave room for bulk storage. “You’re much less likely to let food go to waste because there’s less to use up at a time, and you can always see everything you’ve bought,” Cambria Bold writes at The Kitchn. “It’s more work, but it’s also more rewarding.”
And finally, small kitchens are cheaper. As Ronique Gibson points out at Freshome, you’re going to save on your monthly utilities by having a smaller kitchen.
How to Make the Benefits of a Small Kitchen Work for You
Kitchen envy waning? Good. Now, let’s take a look at some ways to make your small kitchen and all of its benefits work for you.
Think Vertical and Open When It Comes to Storage
For most of us, the challenge of a small kitchen isn’t so much the lack of workspace; it’s the lack of storage space. Interestingly, the best remedy here is open storage.
“Decanted in clear jars and on pedestals, [kitchen items] look like a lovely still life,” One Kings Lane writes. “Also, the top of cabinets can house items you don’t use often. Stick to a tonal palette to keep it looking clean. If upper cabinets seem heavy and bulky, opt for open shelving instead. It holds just as much and opens up a cramped kitchen.”
You might have to climb the wall a bit to give everything a home in your open storage layout. Then, look for opportunities to hang many of your everyday kitchen items.
“Pots and pans take up so much space in the kitchen cabinets, so why not hang them on hooks?” Codreanu Andreea writes at Homesthetics. “Add a pegboard on blank walls for storing purpose, offering a beautiful alternative to the open shelving idea. Tension rods are other option from which you can hang different kitchen utensils, as well as wire baskets that are very useful for storing fruit and vegetables.”
If you need a little extra inspiration, have a look at the tidy hanging storage Christina at No. 29 Design created with some wall-mounted rods and a few baskets.
Modular Elements Will Keep the Space Flexible
If your kitchen is merely cozy and not Manhattan-studio small, it might be able to accommodate an island, which gives you some convenient, extra workspace. Once you’ve found an island that fits the space, Annie at the Live Simply blog recommends mounting it on wheels so you can push it out of the way when you need more floor space.
“As the kitchen remains the hub of the household, it’s the room that’s most likely to need flexibility,” she writes. “If you host dinner guests, the group is inevitably going to gather in the kitchen. And wouldn’t it be great if making room for more bodies was as easy as unlock and wheel?”
Don’t Forget About Lighting
“You can never have enough lighting in a kitchen, and I always down-light with decorative fixtures over the island and prep station,” interior designer Jenny Wolf tells Architectural Digest. After all, a dimly lit kitchen will always feel cramped, but a well-lit kitchen both feels more open and is necessary for cooking.
“Use flush or recessed fixtures, and don’t forget about under-cabinet lighting,” she adds.
By taking these three approaches to your kitchen, you will maximize the space that you do have while retaining all the cost-saving and lifestyle benefits of having a small kitchen.
Small kitchen owners: What other tips have you found to maximize storage and workspace?