I was actually surprised that my new kitchen would be considered “small” because compared to the glorified hallway I had in my old house, this room is quite cavernous! But it’s under 120 feet, so it qualified. As much as I would love to rip everything out and put in new cabinets and appliances, I have to make due with what I have. (We all can’t afford granite and custom cabinetry, ya know?) The cabinets are made of a crazy old laminate and they were kind of falling apart, so I fixed them up and put new knobs on them. I’ve noticed from watching tons of HGTV programs that light colored uppers and darker lowers is “in” now, so the cabinets are more stylish than I thought they’d be! The walls had yellow linoleum half way up them, so Dennis painstakingly pulled it off and sanded them. I painted that linoleum area teal and he put the existing chair rail back up. I painted the rest of the walls a crisp white and hung vintage-style accessories. The salt and pepper shakers are vintage and some of them belonged to my great aunt. In fact, I think I designed the whole kitchen around them!
Even though the space is much larger than my previous kitchen, it’s has kind of weird layout and there just wasn’t enough counter space for all of the appliances and gadgets I have. I use most of them on a regular basis, so I wanted to keep them out and ready to use. I bought a couple cute retro carts at Ikea, and they’re just perfect for my needs. And the cats have commandeered the bottom of the teal cart to use as a nap station, so we all win!
I had my tiny old kitchen for 10 years and people who knew me from potlucks were always shocked when they came over for the first time and saw how small it was. “You make all of that delicious food in here?” someone once asked. I’ve had health coaching clients tell me that their kitchens are too small to cook in, but that kind of sounds like “my dog ate my homework” to me, so I never accept it as an excuse. You can make just about any space work for you.
Here my tips for making a small kitchen work:
- Stay organized! Organization is key. You can buy drawer and cabinet organizers pretty inexpensively at just about any store that sells home goods. Sometimes shelf organizers can even help to double space.
- Use the backs of cabinets. Spice racks, pot lid holders and even dispensers for foil and wax paper can be found pretty easily in most home stores as well.
- Look up! You may have more vertical space than you realize. Use the tops of cabinets or even hang a ceiling mounted pot hanger.
- Use hooks and hangers. Mount them on walls, the backsplash or the sides of cabinets. In my old kitchen had a bar with hooks on the side of a cabinet that I hung my large pots from. I bought it Ikea, who also has some great accessories for hanging utensils and things like potholders and spices.
- Keep designated countertop zones. Make sure you have a designated space for chopping and prepping food and don’t use it for anything else
- Minimize countertop clutter. Have a space for everything and put it all away they’re not in use. In the case of appliances “away” sometimes means it’s still on the counter, but make sure items all have a space where they belong.
- Don’t overshop! There were many times where I came home from the grocery store and found that there was no place to put some of the food I just bought, so canned and jarred goods sometimes ended up in a bag on the floor. Learn from my mistakes! Keep staples on hand, but only buy what you need when at the store.
- Get extra cabinets if necessary. This can be a cute vintage cabinet that hangs on the wall for your spices, or something larger that sits on the floor. We had to buy an extra cabinet to sit under the counter at our old house to keep cat food in. It worked and we weren’t attached to it so we left it when we moved out.
- Keep the room clean! Don’t leave dirty dishes, groceries, or food out. Clutter and junk will make the room look smaller.
- Don’t over decorate the room. Sometimes decorations can actually look like clutter. Keep things clean and minimal and use kitchen related items as decoration. I have a cute retro colander my friend Liz gave me and I have sitting on top of my microwave with fruit in it. It’s functional and decorative at the same time.