The kitchen in my first apartment was tiny. Not cute-first-home-small, or efficiently-designed-tiny-home small: Hovel small.
As far as counter space, I had one square foot of it on a corner between the sink and a windowless oven that couldn’t even fit a standard-sized cookie sheet.
This is perhaps a fine setup for most college students who subsist mostly on pizza and ramen and other generally poor decisions, but I love to cook and bake, so the fact that I knocked my elbows against a wall each time I tried to chop wasn’t, in fact, cutting it.
To survive, I had to get really creative with my tiny canvas. If you, too, are struggling with an itty-bitty kitchen, this is how to maximize your space.
Invest in pieces that that take up minimal square footage but offer a ton of surface space. Swap a conventional dining table for a bar-height option with multiple shelves to hold everything from a microwave to food. This budget-friendly pick has hooks bolted to the sides for additional storage.
Use all your surfaces
All of them. Screw hooks into the bottoms of cabinets to artfully hang teacups and measuring spoons. Secure a knife rack to a wall to clear up a ton of drawer space. Hang a tiered basket from the ceiling to house any decorative (and relatively lightweight) items. Install floating shelves to display glassware and free up cabinet space.
Alter your view on appliances
You never consider that your sink is a giant hole of wasted space until you have a micro kitchen. I bought a large cutting board that spanned the width of my sink so that I could effectively extend my countertop, use the area as a trivet for hot dishes, or use the cutting board to chop veggies.
Measure the width of your sink and make sure the cutting board extends a few extra inches on each side for maximum stability.
Yes, you’re low on space—that doesn’t mean you have to be low on style. Hang or prop a large, embellished mirror on an empty wall to give the appearance of a larger room. The bigger the mirror, the better—floor-to-ceiling is preferable. It makes a huge difference. (Pun intended.)
Donate appliances and tools
Now is the time to pare down. Get rid of duplicate tools and invest in double-duty appliances. For example, you can forgo your single-purpose toaster for a toaster oven that can accomplish so much more than just crisping bread.
Do what you must
Things will look a little haphazard at times: Perhaps, like me, your coffee pot lives atop a stack of drawers you had to buy because your kitchen has no built-ins. Maybe you’re using wooden bar stools to hold bowls full of ingredients as you cook, or maybe your oven houses your baking trays when it’s not in use. Don’t be embarrassed — Own your creativity until you can stretch out in your next kitchen.
Credit: Jeremy Stamas