Recently, one of my lovely readers contacted me with the following question: I have a very small kitchen with almost no pantry or cupboard space … help … what do I do?
So, today I thought I would share some tips and ideas that may help if you find yourself in the same situation. This is more common than you may think, particularly if you live in a unit or apartment.
As I’ve said in a previous post, it’s not always possible to add more cupboards or an extra room so it’s more about making sure we utilise every millimetre of space that’s available so that we have room to store our possessions, while still living in a clean, uncluttered space, so here’s some ideas:
1. Declutter, declutter, declutter! No matter how big or small your home is we don’t want to store and organise things that we don’t need or use so be ruthless and get rid of the “stuff”.
2. Try to create some space in another room or area of the house. Your kitchen may be small but you might be able to place a crate on wheels at the bottom of the linen cupboard. Alternatively, you may be able to install a cupboard or shelving in the garage to store kitchen items that you need but don’t use often, things like large platters for family gatherings, a deep fryer that you may only use once every couple of weeks. Non-perishable items can also be stored in another room e.g. tinned and packaged food that doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
3. Make sure you are using the correct-sized plastic or Tupperware containers. If you only need to store 500g of flour or sugar, don’t use big containers that will store much larger quantities because they will only take up valuable space. Match the size of your storage containers to the quantity of the item you are actually storing.
4. Evaluate the quantities of all items that you keep e.g. Do you really need 12 coffee mugs or could you manage with 6 on a day-to-day basis. If you would like to keep 12, do they all need to be stored in the kitchen or could you keep 6 in the kitchen and 6 somewhere else. That may seem extreme but if space is a premium, small solutions like this can make a big difference.
5. Rely on disposable items when family and friends visit. If you only occasionally have to host a large party or gathering, instead of buying and storing large quantities of plates and bowls, you can now buy some fantastic plastic plates and bowls very cheaply. Besides, who wants to do all those dishes anyway!
6. Try to maximise vertical space. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of using every ounce of space available. Stackable shelves are great for this because they allow you to use all the “dead space” at the tops of cupboards by creating more layers. I used this technique recently when organising my plastics/tupperware cupboard.
7. Use the tops of cupboards. Some kitchen cupboards aren’t installed all the way to the ceiling, so the addition of some pretty baskets or plastic crates can provide some wonderful storage, particularly for those items you don’t use all the time.
8. Consider installing an overhead cupboard if you have the space. Think about the design and layout of your kitchen because you could possibly have a “blank” wall where another set of cupboards could be built.
9. Use the space beside the fridge. Try moving your fridge to one side of the space where it sits to create a wider space on one side, then try to use that space to create some storage solutions. I did this very thing recently and the result was amazing.
10. Use the space on top of the microwave. This is the perfect flat surface to add a beautiful basket, bowl, tray or other container to help create more space.
11. Create storage on the bench top with baskets, pretty jars or other similar items. Although you definitely won’t want to clutter your bench top, don’t be afraid to use creative storage solutions to use the space at the back of the bench top while still leaving you plenty of room and space to work. I use 3 different varieties of rice when I cook (jasmine, long grain and arborio). Rather than use valuable pantry space, I store these in gorgeous ceramic canisters by Villeroy and Boch which I picked up very cheaply at a factory outlet. My rice is kept cool and dry and is stored hygienically in air-tight containers that look fabulous on the bench.
12. Think about the size of your appliances. Do you need a full size dishwasher or would a single drawer dishwasher do the job making way for a deep storage drawer underneath. Or think about appliances that can perform more than a single function e.g. a combined microwave and convection oven could give you the freedom to get rid of one of those appliances and free up space without losing the functionality.
13. Use the space on top of the fridge. It may not be a very deep space but could be the perfect spot to store some large platters for example.
14. Do you have room near the kitchen for a beautiful cabinet? I have a gorgeous timber cabinet in my dining room which stores my Tupperware and plastic containers. The space wasn’t being used for anything else and it allowed me to use the top of the cupboard which means I never have to bend down to poke around the back of a low cupboard to find what I need. Everything is now organised, visible and accessible … perfect!
15. Install some attractive, extra shelving on spare wall space. Not only will this add some valuable storage but it can also add another decorative feature to your kitchen.
16. Install a hanging rail to hook things on like utensils, pots or containers to hold other items.
17. Extra racks or over-door baskets installed on the inside of cupboard doors. Your local hardware store or shops like Kmart, Target, Big W, Howards Storage, etc. can be like an Aladdin’s cave full of fantastic baskets that can either be screwed on to the inside of kitchen doors or simply hung over the door.
18. Get rid of your knife block and consider a wall mounted knife rack. The space you save by replacing the knife block can then be used for something else.
19. A pot rack installed so it hangs from the ceiling over the benchtop will save loads of space and potentially free up an entire cupboard. I’ve always wanted one of these and I think they look fantastic.
20. If you have enough floor space, an island bench could also provide some valuable storage as well as extra bench space. If you don’t want to go to the expense of having cabinets installed, try sourcing a mobile storage unit on wheels that can be moved around and put out of the way when not in use.
So as you can see, a small kitchen doesn’t necessarily mean you are doomed to a life in a cramped space. There are loads of little tricks that can help you create more room and make your kitchen space more workable and functional. Can you think of any other ideas?