Monday, December 28, 2020

How to Maximize Space in a Small Kitchen

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Have you ever yelled at those house hunting TV shows with a blinding fury when they gripe about how small the kitchen is and it's the size of your bedroom or larger?  Then this post is for you.  Chances are if you have what we call a "1 1/2 butt kitchen" you live in an apartment, condo or tiny home.  Space is at an utter premium and if you have been in your kitchen for the holidays, the frustration is real.  When we did our kitchen remodel, we were using the same footprint as our old kitchen because there is no new way to redistribute the cabinets.  You walk in and your triangle of stove, fridge and sink can all be accessed from one spot never moving once.  Convenient?  Yes.  Great for cooks who like to not feel like they're in a shoebox?  No.  The only thing we have to gain is cabinet and counter space and that is where you have to get creative.  I'm going to share my must haves to make the most of your small kitchen so when the holidays are over and you need a new year project, this will help you reclaim some lost space!

We had an entire cabinet dedicated to spices.  While that was fine, it also meant our vitamins and other stuff that wouldn't fit were jammed where there was room.  Usually that was in between stacks of plates and bowls in the dish cabinet.  I wanted to be able to put all of that stuff in one spot.  I also knew that digging around to find the right spices I used nightly could be irritating.  Enter these magnetic spice jars and we freed up quite a bit of space in there!  Originally, I got some steel looking one that turned and you could either lightly shake out of the 4 holes or twist a little more and dump it out of a large hole.  The problem with that was, they only worked for about 2 weeks before any microscopic residue of spice would make some of the spices inaccessible because the lid no longer turned.  While I was bummed these don't have a shaker option, I will take that over the litany of new curse words I created trying to open the previous ones.  I've got one more set on my wish list because I have a few random spices I wasn't able to fit on the side of the fridge and I'd like to free up even more space.

I originally got these to put herbs beside the window.  While that worked for a while, the gnats were a con and out they went.  Now I was stuck with these shelves and nothing to do with them.  For a while, they housed the drinks waiting to go in the fridge for the delivery people but I didn't like that long term.  Then I got the bright idea that I could move the shelves down and use them to hold things that usually took up room on the counter like bananas, potatoes, onions and garlic, etc.  It has worked out amazingly and I was able to use the space previously occupied by the bananas as a small tea center that uses vertical space to free up another section of countertop!  The other day I had 2 lbs of bananas on one (2 bunches) and one heavy cantaloupe on the other.  Neither moved an inch!

We've had this thing forever!  We got it at the Container Store but they don't make this version anymore.  Honestly, the magnets need to be a little stronger.  If I had to do it over again (and I might soon!), I would likely go with this version.  The magnets appear to be very strong just like the shelves I use and I would probably spray paint the bolts a gold or black color to go with our scheme in there.  It's a great way to keep paper towels off of the counters or not drill holes in your cabinets for an under the cabinet version. If you need a small shelf with a paper towel holder, this model looks like it would do the trick!

I usually keep all of my stuff like flour and sugar in the basement then I forget about it until Christmas time.  Actually I did have a sugar canister in that cupboard but it was polished steel and I always got my sticky baking handprints all over it and wanted a change.  My only requirement was they are stackable because if I was adding items to a limited space, I was going vertical with them.  I also wanted something with wood lids if possible.  When I found these canisters, I was in love!  I measured the height of the two biggest ones to make sure they'd fit and they would.  MINE!  There are other options for stackable canisters like these that are a West Elm kind of look.  Or if you prefer to see what's inside, you can go for these clear ones and stack all of the things!

If you cook a lot the way I do, you've likely got a lot of utensils and a utensil crock to put them in.  That can stick out further than you'd like and in a small kitchen, every inch of counterspace counts!  I got this set of seagrass wall baskets to use the large one to replace an outdated piece on the wall.  I wasn't really sure what I was going to do with the smaller one then I wondered if all of the utensils would fit in it.  They did and I LOVED the way it looked.  It freed up a few inches of space and brought a nice texture to the area.  I was also able to take our food scale, which sat on the counter taking up space, and stand it upright next to the basket.  MORE space gained!  Yesssss!

There is nothing more irritating than looking at wasted vertical space.  If you have a sweet mug collection or things you need to store in cabinets, these cabinet shelves are life savers.  There are lots of different colors and sizes to fit into your decor.  I used one in my tea/cookbook cupboard that allowed me to store my tea chest under it so I could get more storage above it.  I use one in my glass cupboard to store smaller glasses and am likely getting one more for the mug shelf so I can best utilize that space as well.

(I added the cork so they didn't bang every time you open the door.  (That's what she said.) )

Everyone knows Command Strips are your best friend and these metal hooks are no exception.  There's SOOOO much space just waiting to be used inside of your cabinet doors, it's not funny.  These Command hooks are my favorite because there is nothing I won't hang on them.  From our measuring cups and spoons to loose tea holders to potholders and anything in between.  

It frees up so much space in your cupboards or drawers.  I'm sure I'll find other uses for them too!

I always like to have large, heavy duty Command Strips on hand.  You don't just have to use them with hooks, they can also be used to hold up other items.  Here are some of the ways I've used them.  I refill bulk spices but hate running to the basement to get the bag off of the makeshift pantry shelves.  We had a small spot in our pantry that I was able to fit these baskets and put them up with Command strips.  I also used the same baskets to hold extra items that were clogging up an under the sink basket.

I also used them to put up this metal bulletin board inside the pantry door.  

It's nice to have a shopping list, holder for pens, magnetic chip clips, etc all right in one spot and not junking up the side of the fridge.

I hope this has given you some great ideas for your own or someone starting out in their own 1 1/2 butt kitchen.  Any space gained is precious space when you're working with a limited footprint!

What are your favorite space savers?

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  1. These are cool! I have a small kitchen as well. I plan on putting some things into play. My favorite thing that helped me on space are these

  2. Really cute ideas! I've always wanted to do the magnet spices but I don't have a good space for it because of the way the fridge is enclosed. One thing that has helped a lot with our lack of cabinets is using the wire dividers. I'm able to double the space for bowls/plates/platters which is awesome. I bought some stainless steel ones for another cabinet that I use as a pantry and it works like a charm to put my skillets on the bottom and the saucepans on top. And the small ones work great in my small cabinet for spices and cans. Oh for a kitchen island....

  3. All the rooms in my house are small, including (of course) my kitchen. I have only a couple small cabinets built in so I have free standing cupboards for storage which leaves me no free wall space for some of the fun ideas you have here. I have shelves and boxes and a couple of lazy susans to make the space I do have more usable. I'd love to see one of those home renovation tv show teams come do a house like mine. I wonder what they'd do with the space.

  4. I'd love to see what one of those home renovation tv show teams would do with a house like mine. I have only a couple of small built in cabinets so I have free standing cabinets against the walls to give me more space. The downside is that I have no wall space left for some of those cool wall storage ideas. I have shelves within shelves, boxes and a couple of lazy susans to make the most of the space I do have.


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