No one can deny that cities are convenient. Walk no more than a block and you can find a small grocer. Throw a pebble from your window, and you could probably hit a restaurant from its flight. Maybe your city is even divided into smaller communities, where unfamiliar spices and ingredients are more commonly found.
With this many options for food, it’d be a shame not to try experimenting in your own kitchen. If you’re in the city, limited space and budget likely make a condo or apartment building more ideal than a house. And those don’t always have the best kitchen space.
Make the most out of a small kitchen and still feel like a cooking wiz with these tricks!
Utilize the space above your cabinets
Where are you supposed to put your cookbooks? Genuine question. Are you supposed to put Martha Stewart right next to Tolstoy?
If you just bought a bunch of new cookbooks to learn from, a cute idea would be to place their colorful spines above the cabinets. Maybe in between some food-related bookends. You’ll save yourself some much-needed space, and they’ll be in plain view. The sight could even remind you why you bought them in the first place.
Think of your shelves and other knick-knacks as blocks in Tetris. As irregular as some of the shapes are, there is a way to fit them entirely within the space.
Look at the things already in your kitchen. Do your bottles really need to be on that high shelf when there’s a lot of room left over on the top? Or can you maybe squeeze your microwave into it without breaking anything? Would a spice bottle rack on the counter be a better home for your condiments than the shelf?
There are some trial and error to go through, but once you find the right arrangements, your kitchen’s going to look nice and compact.
Install a pot rack
‘Dangling hoops’ isn’t just an option for your earrings. Hanging your new pots and pans is the go-to way to class up your small kitchen. Conveniently, it saves you a lot of room to walk and work in.
Some landlords might not be as open to renovating apartments, though. Or you might move a lot, and so, any complicated fixture is out of the question.
In that case, there are freestanding versions available that give your pots the same vibe as a multi-tiered metal cake. Pegboards are also good, especially if you don’t have a lot of cooking equipment to work with.
Face the windows for extra task lighting
Lighting a small studio or open concept apartment tends to be a bit of a hassle. You could end up with harsh, bright light that strains your eyes. On the other hand, you could get limited lighting options and end up with weird shadow pockets. Neither of which is ideal when you’re dealing with pointy knives and fire.
Crack open a window and use light drapes. Install a new window if you can. Place your main counter and working space right by it to get the most natural light while you cook.
Consider a shelf-and-cabinet combo
There’s no comparing shelves and cabinets when you can just have them both. Both of them have their uses, after all. Cupboards in the same color schemes really help pull a kitchen together.
But, shelves just make it seem more open and spacious. Besides, it’s nifty for when the stove’s already on, and you forgot an ingredient. Those few seconds you save by having items within reach could save your food. At the very least, you can avoid that burnt taste of garlic.
Having a mix of both just means having the advantage of both. Plus, it’s best if you’re going for a more rustic, more DIY kind of look.
Combine with the dining area
‘Open-concept,’ otherwise known as an open floor plan, was a trend that swept through suburban homes to tech offices. The idea was simply to mix two or more functional spaces, in this case, the kitchen and the dining room, into one. And the perks of considering it for your small apartment is about the same anywhere else.
It can open up the rest of your living space. At the same time, it’s perfect for anyone who loves to cook for others. Whether it’s your children, still dazed from sleep in the morning, or the bubbling conversation and champagne friends brought with them – you never have to miss out on the fun while you’re cooking.
Get a floating table
An extra table is excellent for when you’re a little fussy in the kitchen. Use it as an additional counter, dining area, chopping area, or even just the space to prop up your laptop if you’re following a recipe on Youtube.
Tables are big, though. That’s why floating tables, attached against the walls or connected to your counter to maximize space, are ideal. Most of them are even foldable, so you can keep them out of sight whenever they’re not in use.
Minimize your bowls
First things first, it’s okay. We understand. It’s hard to resist the temptation of coming across a beautiful and unique piece of pottery when you’re strolling through your local farmers’ market. You never know when you’ll find something like it again, so you end up impulse buying ceramic bowls and mugs that don’t match. To add to the collection of cups and dishes at home that you barely even use.
See how this might be adding to your clutter problem? In times like these, it’s best to do the Marie Kondo method. Clear away the stuff that you don’t use, and don’t bring you joy.
Dangling pendants of light bulbs, sometimes multiple in a line, are popular fixtures in kitchens. If you’ve already got a small kitchen space, though, adding a pendant might just make the ceiling feel smaller too.
So, finding more creative places to add your light bulbs is essential for making the most of your kitchen. Install them under your cabinets for a subtle shadowy glow. Look at your kitchen and decide where you need the most light. Then, imagine how you can get it without resorting to placing a lamp over much-needed counter areas.
Make use of a double-basin sink
This seems counterproductive at first, but hold on. Double-basin sinks take up more counter space, that’s true. But, there are multiple versions of this kind of sink where the sizes of each basin varies. You can opt for a smaller and shallower second basin for more counter space. It’d be irregularly shaped, though, and the double-basin gets rid of the need for it.
Two basins side by side means dual functionality. If you like waiting for dishes to pile up before washing, you can place them in the larger pool and still have room in the smaller one for food prep. And if you don’t have space for a separate dish rack, you can add a frame over one of the basins and let your dishes dry there.
Get a storage helper
We’ve talked about how to fit all of your things in a small kitchen without feeling suffocated. But, sometimes, you just don’t have a lot of dishes to store. In that case, all you want to do is just make your kitchen feel more spacious than it is.
When you live alone, you have a set of utensils for two at most. Storage helpers let you neatly place these in your kitchen without looking completely bare.
There are baskets you can hang on a metal rod over your kitchen. And metal racks for your counter that can double as a stand for your spices.
Keep it minimal
Speaking of folks who live alone, remember that you have no obligation to have a well-equipped kitchen. Not unless you have a hobby of baking and cooking or hosting parties. Especially not if your small kitchen is attached to a starter or studio apartment.
You can keep your kitchen space neat and clean by merely avoiding unnecessary purchases. Let’s face it. Chances are you won’t need a stand mixer or a separate waffle iron in your day-to-day cooking. Save yourself the headache of trying to fit it all and just save in general.
Distract with a wallpaper
A general rule of thumb when you want to hide something, like a small space, is to veer attention away from it. Patterned wallpapers tend to be eye-catching.
Use it to accent a far wall, away from the mess of your stovetops and pans. Find a brightly colored wallpaper and brighten up the room. Let the light bounce off the walls, let it stretch across the room and make it feel larger than life.
Use tiny jars to store your spices and seasoning
Unless you’re cooking for a large family, and unless you like your food as fiery as the fires of hell, you do not need to buy your spices in large, bulky containers. Maybe it sounds like a good idea at the store when you think you won’t need to shop for cayenne for the rest of the year. And perhaps it seems like hoarding – which is the proper term for it.
Those giant jars of seasoning aren’t just colossal space eaters. Think of how garlic powder clumps at the top whenever you pepper it over a steaming pot. It’s a waste. Smaller jars might mean more trips to the grocer, but it eliminates all those other problems.
Add an island
Surprisingly, islands – those individual counters set in the center of a kitchen – aren’t limited to the large homes of wealthy people.
When more than one person is doing the cooking, it’s better to have an island than to work shoulder-to-shoulder on a limited stretch of countertops. Some islands even have shelves and containers on their base for more storage. Some even shallow bottoms where you can keep a couple of stools and turn it into a dining table.
As long as you get an island in the right size and with the proper necessities, you’re good.
There are a lot of stories and experiences to share over food or even a couple of drinks. In some communities, cooking together on the weekend is an essential part of bonding. The constraints of a smaller home shouldn’t affect your ability to cook. And city-living shouldn’t mean limiting yourself to eating out.
It only takes a few fixes here and there to open up your kitchen and, in turn, open yourself up to the joys of experimenting with food.