Saturday, December 17, 2016

how to deal with a small kitchen

When we bought our house two years ago, I wasn't really thinking about how I was going to deal with moving from kitchen that was about 15' x 24' to one that's about 8' x 12'. I just assumed I'd figure it out somehow and it wouldn't be all that different. Um, yeah.

When I was packing up to move I didn't realize exactly how much kitchen stuff I had. Even after donating a lot to the Stratford Cat Project semi-annual tag sale (several times) I still had probably 15 boxes or so marked "kitchen." (Someone would argue that I had more than that, since she helped me organize my boxes the day after I moved, but we'll go with 15.  😜) To be fair, though, a couple of those boxes had computer equipment and desk items, since my computer desk area was in the kitchen at my old house. When I got to the new house and started unpacking my boxes, I very quickly realized that storing all this stuff, even the essentials, was going to be A Problem. I did the best I could at the time, which was to put all the truly essential stuff, like the utensils and pans, in the kitchen drawers and cabinets, and all the other stuff in the closet next to the kitchen, as well as the two built-in hutches in the dining room (true lifesavers in this house!).

As time went by, I decided that I really needed to get serious about creative storage and also that I needed to shed some kitchen stuff again. It forced me to think about what I really need to function. I think most people, myself included, get carried away when we watch cooking shows or read cookbooks and magazines.  We have delusions of grandeur:  we're going to cook the most complicated and elegant recipe in the book, one that requires special equipment or ingredients, and it's going to be fabulous and our family and friends will be amazed. We also think that owning that one special piece of equipment is suddenly going to transform us into Julia Child and it's going to inspire us to cook like that every night. That's how we acquire all this shit--and that's really what it is if you only use it once. I can say that after 20+ years of cooking, that piece of equipment I had to have to make that special recipe x number of years ago didn't inspire me to do anything other than make that recipe once, decide it was too much of a pain in the ass to do again, and then toss said equipment into a cabinet, never to be heard from again. So, if you recognize yourself here, put down the immersion blender/sandwich maker/pizza machine/poached egg maker and back away. Don't waste the money unless you really know you're going to use this item regularly, or at least several times a year.

So, here's what I did to solve some storage problems in my kitchen.  These things were cheap and easy fixes.

On the left is my solution to having very little drawer and counter space:  cheap drawer handles and pot rack hooks. Everything is within easy reach and it frees up other much-needed drawer space. On the right is my magnetic knife strip.  This picture is a little older and I now have different knives, but as you can see, it's a great space-saver and looks pretty neat, too.   Oh, and then there's the lid rack. I like this, but I find it's a bit of a balancing act to get the lids to stay in place.

This is my pot rack. $20.00 at Ikea. Since my kitchen is so small, hanging it from the window trim was really my only option. It's quite handy, though, as the stove is right next to it. Figures, I took the picture without including all my pots. I guess one was in the sink that day. The counter below is my main prep area.

This is my shelf over the fridge, which holds some cookbooks, a steamer pan, seasonings and an old scale I found at a flea market. As you can see here, the fridge is recessed into the wall. The kitchen is tiny, so this is the only option if we want to have space to,  you know, cook and function. Plus, the age of the house likely made this necessary. It's actually in a closet and the closet door behind the fridge opens into the family room for easy access.

More drawer handles and pot rack hooks.

Oh, and here's a few pictures of my kitchen from when we went to look at the house. The appliances and stove hood have been changed out, but this is basically it.

The microwave is on the counter next to the window. The oven mitts are hanging from the drawer handles I attached to the right side of the top cabinet.

The pot rack is over this window and the knife strip is to the right of the fridge.

Cooking in the new kitchen has been a bit of a challenge, but mostly at holidays or other gatherings where I need to cook a lot of food. If I need extra counter space for prep, I just pull out my giant cutting board and put it on top of the stove grates. I actually find it to be much more efficient than the old kitchen. I don't have to go back and forth from end to end looking through a bunch of cabinets for the things I need. And when I'm at the stove, I just take a few steps to the left and I'm at the fridge, or turn around and I'm at the sink.  And since there's less storage space, it's forced me to down-size just a little bit. The only annoyance, sometimes, is that it gets crowded with more than one person in it. But it gives me an excuse to kick everyone out of the kitchen at holidays, which I enjoy. 😈


  1. I love that lid holder storage rack. I don't know where I could put it in my kitchen but that is a great idea that I might steal. ;) Is it officially a lid holder or was it like a magazine rack or something, just so I know what to look for? :)

    We have a place in Australia called Howards Storage World, that is where I think I might find a lid holder racky thing. It is a world without any theme park rides but I think my Mother has more fun there than she ever did at one of the other worlds. :)

    1. It's a lid holder and is designed to be installed on the inside of a kitchen cabinet door. But my sister did that once and she said it made it hard to close the door sometimes. I can't remember where I got it, and now it's driving me nuts!

      Sounds like a place I'd love to visit. Do they have a website? Although, I'm sure shipping would cost a lot. :)

  2. Brilliant!!!! Love it