Sometimes we just have to compromise on space when we're house-shopping. There might be a lovely large family room, and a beautiful bathroom with space to spare, but the bedrooms are small. In other cases, common areas can eat up space that would've been reserved for the kitchen. In fact, the kitchen gets short-changed a lot of the time, especially in older heritage homes and newer condos. There's a "but", though! The kitchen, also known as the heart of the home, doesn't have to be big to be functional and pleasant. We've got some tips to help those with small kitchens make the most of what they've got.
- Climb the walls. This is an oft-spoken piece of advice when it comes to saving space, and for good reason. When you install more shelving, or create opportunities for storage from the ceiling, you can access a wealth of space. Celing-hung pot racks are readily available now, and do-it-yourselfers have published an encyclopedia of homemade (and very affordable) solutions that also look great.
- De-clutter. Storing knives and small appliances on the countertop can be convenient (and a great way to display that magnificent mixer!), but too much stuff on the counter can make a small space appear cluttered. It also makes for a very frustrating cook-out if the chef in your household likes to spread out. Get rid of one-use appliances (that miniature cupcake maker your mother-in-law bought you has to go), or those you don't need.
- Portable storage. If you're a gadget nut and can't bare to part with any of your stuff, a kitchen cart on wheels might be the perfect solution. There are many permutations of these wonderful pieces of furniture. Some have butcher block tops, others have granite. Some have collapsible leaves so that they can be used as a bar, then folded up and stowed for a smaller footprint. Lots come with places to hang tea towels, and others are customizable.
- Double duty. Making the most of a small space means that you have to find multiple uses for things. What about using a collapsable poultry roasting rack both for cooking and drying dishes? (Obviously the rack would be the first thing you'd wash!) Another great tip is to get (or make) a cutting board that fits across your sink, giving you that much more counter space. Also, you don't need a toaster oven and a toaster.
- Claim dead space. Lots of people don't even store anything in that cupboard above their refrigerators because it's just too hard to access. Did you know that there are fantastic pull-out shelving options designed especially for this spot? There are! They are perfect for storing seldom-used stemware, so that you can free up that shelf in your kitchen for something that has been cluttering your counter. The same thing goes with spice racks: the pull-outs will increase your quality of life exponentially.
- Light it up. Adequate lighting isn't only a practical must in a kitchen, where safety is of utmost importance, it also makes a huge difference in how big (or small) your space appears. If you haven't already, install under-the-cupboard lighting. Whether that's the inexpensive battery-operated kind, the expertly-installed built-in kind, or the middle-of-the-road plug-in kind, this is one improvement that will make your kitchen appear much bigger.
When you keep the scale of your room and its furnishings at the forefront of your mind, it's easy to determine whether or not something is appropriate. It can be a challenge, but having to keep to a strict parameter like size can often make decorating your small kitchen a lot more rewarding. Don't despair if your kitchen isn't as large as you'd like; find some creative solutions, think outside the box, and most of all, have fun with it!