When I moved to Portland at the beginning of 2020, I was stoked. I remember pulling up to my new home after five days of driving across the country, and my excitement was overwhelming. When I walked up the stairs of our condo and into the main room, though, it fizzled a little bit.
The kitchen was tiny.
I’m talking one counter, a sink, an oven, a few very small cabinets, and no pantry. And I’m a baker. I have so many baking things I could barely fit them into my last kitchen. And I can’t get rid of any because I use literally all of them. It was a little overwhelming, to say the least. Shockingly, with a little creativity and some space-saving hacks, we made it work — and most importantly, we can always keep the counter space free enough to food prep. And voila! My cute, tiny kitchen:
I definitely don’t love living tiny kitchen life, but I’m grateful it gave me the opportunity to be creative. And learning these kitchen organization hacks now will make my future tiny mobile home/#vanlife much easier to adjust to. Here’s everything my roommates and I did to maximize our little kitchen space — without needing to get rid of all my baking supplies 😉
Utilize Vertical Space
The walls are your friends. Utilizing vertical space is a helpful tip for any small room in your house, but especially the kitchen. Not enough space for pots and pans? Mount hooks to the wall (or ceiling!) and hang them. Hang a spice rack on your wall. Hang a magnetic knife strip on the wall so your drawers aren’t cluttered with sharp tools (ouch!). Hang mesh bags on the wall to hold fruit. Install shelves to hold dishes.
Seriously, I can’t emphasize enough how under-utilized vertical space is in every kitchen. I honestly love the visuals of a kitchen, so I don’t even like when things are closed behind cabinet doors — I’d rather have them out where I can see them (as long as it’s all cute, of course!).
Make Your Dry Goods Aesthetic
Like I mentioned, we had no pantry when we moved in here (but we made one — I’ll get to that in a sec), but I did have bookshelves and a crap ton of canning jars. Dry goods in canning jars is about as aesthetic as it gets, right? So we loaded up all my jars with rice, pasta, beans, flour and sugar, nuts, oats, popcorn kernels, and every other dry good that would fit, and those jars now sit on my bookshelves amongst my books. They’re super cute (when I can keep them organized) and a great way to de-clutter our limited kitchen space!
Things That Stack Are Your Friends
Buy things in sets, people, and make sure those sets stack. I’m talking nesting bowls, sets of pots and pans, stacking measuring cups, tupperware containers, even stackable mugs and drinking glasses. Save that cabinet space! Plus, it looks so much better when your cooking tools and dishes are all neat and organized.
Utilize That Bar Cart!
Bar carts look amazing anywhere, so they don’t have to be actually in your kitchen. And if yours isn’t already full, make it multi-purpose! Our bar cart holds the bar cart basics (namely liquor and shot glasses) but also has all our coffee tools and even a bowl of fruit on it. And let me tell you, getting that thing was a game changer — it freed up a whole kitchen cabinet! Plus, it’s super cute.
Extra Closet Space? DIY Pantry!
We were lucky enough to have a good amount of extra space in our utility closet. I honestly don’t know what we would have done without it! We bought these shelves which were super easy to set up and fit perfectly into that extra space, and we turned that into our pantry. The closet is also big enough to hold a recycling bin! Highly recommend DIY-ing a pantry for your tiny kitchen. If you don’t have extra closet space, this is another thing you could do with bookshelves or by installing vertical shelves on the wall.
Organize, Organize, Organize!
Organize your stuff and keep it organized. Especially the little things, like spices, condiments, oils, and measuring spoons. We keep all our little spices in bins so we can pull the bin out of the cabinet and look through it — it saves space by keeping everything together, and saves my sanity when I don’t have to rifle through shelves to find the garlic powder. And drawer organizers are the real MVP — I promise, you do have that potato peeler, it’s just hidden under all the other stuff in your junk drawer.
Baker’s Racks Are Magical Things
My baker’s rack truly saved me. It’s not even in our kitchen because the only place we could fit it was at the bottom of our stairs, but man oh man, that thing is handy. Mine was super inexpensive and easy to put together, and it holds literally all my baking tools, plus a huge juicer, giant stand mixer, and my Instant Pot. I’m obsessed with it. Get yourself one of these ASAP, especially if all those baking tools are getting in the way of having a truly zen kitchen.
Be Willing To Let It Go
My last and least favorite tiny kitchen tip: let it go. My roommates had an intervention with me one day about my mug collection. “Emily, you do not need all those mugs,” they said. “You have to get rid of some of them.”
So I did. I broke my attachment to my mug collection (if you know me you know that’s a big deal) and got rid of about half of them. Granted, we still have more mugs than we need, but hey, baby steps. Bottom line is, you have to be willing to let go of some of the things you have duplicates of or the things you know you probably won’t use. I promise, once they’re gone, you really won’t miss them.
Did we miss any tiny kitchen hacks? Which ones are your favorites? Let us know in the comments!
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