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Small Kitchen DIY Fixes: Submit Your Stories

Do you have a small kitchen that you tweaked to make work better? Did you come up with a creative solution that involved building something or adapting something for a new purpose? Tell us the problem that existed before and what you did to fix it -- and upload a photo that shows the final version. We may include your photo and description, credited to you, in an upcoming story on kitchen fixes on CHOW.

Here's an example of a submission (including the photo below):

Inspired by small apartment kitchens we saw on a trip to Italy, my husband and I sawed the inside out of a board, leaving only a frame. Then we dismantled a store-bought wooden dish drying rack, and inserted one side of the rack inside the sawed out board. We mounted this slatted shelf above the sink and put our wet dishes in it to dry. The water drips into the sink, and it saves precious counter space.

-- Jacquilynne, posting on behalf of CHOW

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: toodie jane

      Can you not see the photo I attached? It's just above my avatar.

    2. Back in the day when I had a smaller kitchen I noticed that my pots and pans and wine glasses were all taking up a lot of my space- there are tons of metal hanging racks around that can keep these things way off the counter and still reachable. Additionally, magnetic spice racks to attach to the fridge and magnetic knife racks keep things out of drawers.

      I also did something recently that has seriously helped me out- I tagged everything with a piece of tape and a date. When I use it I remove the tape. Anything still tagged in 6 mo is going to the Goodwill.

      5 Replies
      1. re: jpschust

        Someone else on these boards (I forgot who, sorry) had a great suggestion.

        She packed all her kitchen stuff up in boxes and put them in a closet on the other side of the house. Whenever she needed to use something, she'd go to the closet, get it out of the box, use it, wash it and put it away in the kitchen. At the end of one year, whatever she hadn't used was already boxed up and ready to be donated!

        1. re: Covert Ops

          Amen to that. I am doing the same thing with the items in my basement. I swear, it's bed, bath and beyond down there

        2. re: jpschust

          I'd be in big trouble if I did that--I have lots of things I use exclusively during the holidays, and I bet lots of others do too ;)

          1. re: foiegras

            Just make yours 1 year. . .if it isn't used in a full year, it doesn't serve any purpose, including holidays, so free yourself of it! :-)

            1. re: Covert Ops

              I've often heard this theory - and I just don't buy it. Maybe it works for others, but not for me. Just because I don't use something often doesn't mean I'll never want to use it. I AM careful about what I buy - we don't have a large house so we do have to be careful about the amount of stuff that accumulates. But, for example, I am a baker and have some pans that may only get used every couple of years or so - that doesn't mean I should get rid of them. I've always heard this theory applied to clothes as well - again for every day stuff this might be true, but I have some gowns that i don't have a lot of call for - doesn't mean I'm packing them up & donating to the salvation army.

        3. I too, am blessed with a tiny kitchen. We are in the middle of a remodel. So I don't really have any suggestions for anyone that is just looking to make small adjustments but here are the things that we did to make the most of our limited space. I also admit that we have not yet lived with the kitchen so we don't know whether these fixes will actually translate into better kitchen usage.

          1 - we decided to go with a narrow dishwasher (18") there's only two of us so we can just run it more often if need be.
          2 - we went with a narrow but taller fridge. It's a liebherr and we liked the look of it but haven't actually tried it out. we are hoping that the smaller footprint makes the space more workable and are also hoping that the height makes up for the lost width.
          3 - we had a little bit of leftover space in the lower cabinets so we made a slot for flat items like cookie sheets, shallow baking pans and trays. trying to fit those into the cabinets in the past was always a headache. i think it will be nice to have a space dedicated to them now.

          I do like the idea of leaving things out of the kitchen and only bringing what you need to use.

          1. We also have a tiny galley kitchen and are in the middle of a spruce-up/minor redo right now, pending a complete gutting and redo in about five years. So far the things that have made the most difference:

            For utlization of space:
            A complete purge of every drawer, cabinet and countertop item in the kitchen. We were ruthless about it.
            Instead of stacking my bakeware, I stood it all on its side. I know most people already do this, and I can't believe it took me 15 years of tiny kitchens to figure it out. Now, muffin tins, brownie pans, cake pans, springform pans, etc. are standing on their side in the cabinet. It's so much easier to get to everything - no more emptying out the entire cabinet to reach something stacked underneath everything else in the back.
            Purchased Stainless Steel roller racks - Our house is old and the cabinets are just big empty spaces with a door. New cabinets are pending, but in the meantime, this has really helped make the back of the cabinets accessible and again, make it possible to reach items without having to unload the entire cabinet.

            We ripped up two layers of horrible vinyl flooring to expose tongue-in-groove heart pine flooring underneath. Lucky us! When we finish the other cosmetic things, we'll refinish the floor.
            We removed the horrible fillthy ceiling fan and are replacing it with a long track lighting piece that will allow us to point lights into different areas of the kitchen.
            We are scraping and repainting the ceiling today (I'm posting while I'm waiting for the primer to dry.)
            We are repainting the walls.
            I am clearing off the countertops and storing items that have previously taken up counter space. It looks cleaner, and the lack of clutter really helps make cooking more efficient.

            12 Replies
            1. re: Andiereid

              Please tell me how you get the bakeware items to stay on their sides? Do you just use a plate holder? Can't believe I never thought of this. I use one for the corning ware lids, and pot lids. I will have to try this for bakeware in my other cabinets.(I have separate sets of bakeware for dairy, meat, and parve. Major storage headache), Thanks!!!
              I have a 4-5" wide lower cabinet next to my fridge, which is great for trays, cookie sheets, cooling racks, etc.
              Thanks, p.j.

              1. re: p.j.

                Use a rack that looks like the file sorters you'd see in an office sitting on the desk and set them in between the "tines".

                1. re: farmersdaughter

                  I have a wire rack insert to my roasting pan that I only use every 2 or 3 years when I have to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving. I turned it upside down and use it to hold my baking pans upright.

                  1. re: farmersdaughter

                    What a BRILLIANT idea!

                    I have the cookie sheets and roasters in a cabinet that's hard to get to and the darn things keep falling over. I searched the office supply places on-line and found a wire organizer that has adjustable dividers. It should work great.

                    Thanks for the tip!

                  2. re: p.j.

                    PJ, I don't have to use anything, because I have so much stuff that it completel fills the cabinet when it's on its side, but any of the below suggestions would work.

                    1. re: Andiereid

                      Hah, Andie!
                      Well, I will try the wire-rack/file-folder holder methods and see what works best for our stuff.
                      Thanks, p.j.

                  3. re: Andiereid

                    Where did you find the roller racks? (Wondering if they're online or at some chain store.)

                    1. re: Cinnamon

                      Whoops - missed this - sorry Cinnamon it's been a while, hope you still get this. I got the racks at a place in town called Space Savers, but it's a knock off of The Container Store, basically. Anyplace like that that specializes in storage should have something similar.

                    2. re: Andiereid

                      don't forget to use the same trick for all your squirrely pot lids, organized by size, of course!

                      1. re: Andiereid

                        What a beautiful feeling all thet must have given you. Thanks for sharing. I used a stapler to fix chopsticks to the shelves in the cabinet to keep the platters, piepans, and other bakeware from sliding. I've thought of using those steel bookends they sell at the stationery stores, but haven't yet put them to work.

                        1. re: mymymichl

                          Oh my... your chopstick idea is truely brilliant!

                        2. re: Andiereid

                          Finally finished the project and am posting some pictures of the finished kitchen refurb. The first two are the before in the kitchen. This thing has been a major project, but we're pleased with how it turned out. Things I'm most pleased with:
                          1. The removal of the vinyl and the refinished pine floor makes the biggest difference. Much cleaner, more classic look.
                          2. The new cabinet my husband built has made a huge difference in what I can store and the amount of junk out. I'm now able to store all the stuff that was on top of the fridge (bread, potatoes, onions) in baskets inside a cabinet, and the kitchen looks much cleaner and more streamlined now.
                          3. The new light fixture allows me to point light to different areas of the kitchen and gives good light for cooking as well as looking tons better than that horrible old fixture we had in there.

                        3. We are on the last leg of a complete kitchen/dining gut and rebuild -- on a budget (though we have a great contractor.) Ikea cabinets. The main trick was punching a hole in the attached powder room to fit a microwave/convection oven 12" into the space, so it would fit into a 12" counter-depth wall space. The box that juts out is really more discreet than I imagined, and it's over the toilet, so not in the way. Architect friend thought of it! It means we can "build it in" without taking up a bigger footprint.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: fishcake

                            We did a huge, whole house remodel/addition a few years ago. I was amazed at some of the creative things the "pros" (architect/contractor) came up with that we would never have thought of. Yours sounds just like one of those.

                          2. Our apartment kitchen is truly tiny and it doesn't have a pantry or any decent space to keep stuff - I took over half the closet in the livingroom to be my pantry and have the cans all neatly sorted out on one shelf...
                            And I store my small collection of bakeware in the warming drawer under the oven. It's not ideal because the drawer is TINY, but at least it's out of the way.

                            1. some great ideas here! just a reminder: if you can, please upload a photo so we can see the fix. Since this is for a story we're planning on CHOW, we'd love to see the results of your fix-it savvy.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: davina

                                My Smurf-sized kitchen photos are enclosed. Please note that I rent, so all these solutions were concocted because remodling to add a different fridge or better cabinets wasn't possible.

                                Let me see what tips I might be able to offer:

                                - The biggest tip is KEEP IT CLEAN. I finally realized that, as much as I am remiss to throw them away, I simply can't be keeping all the plastic grocery bags I bring home from the store or every Whole Foods soup tub. I either bring a canvas bag to the store or ask for paper so that I can reuse the bags for taking out recycling, storing mushrooms, draining fried foods, etc. When in doubt, throw it out. I did a ruthless kitchen purge this weekend and actually got 3 black trashbags out of that space, believe it or not.

                                - I got the kitchen cart/table because I didn't have enough space to work- I thought it would just be an accessory/sometimes workspace when entertaining, but it is the ONLY counterspace I use. When I have big jobs to do, I also have a behemouth plastic cutting board that can go over two burners of the stove to serve as extra space. The kitchen cart also has a wire drawer that is perfect for produce, so it's served as really useful extra storage.

                                - Think up! I have high ceilings and a ledge above my cabinets, so I store everything I need for entertaining, as well as Costco items up top. Just put them in matching cloth bins (The Container Store) and they don't look out of place. Also, matching canisters are a joy! I keep all my Indian cooking herbs in one, my Italian herbs in another, etc... this way, I don't get Cardamom pod taste in my dried goods or other herbs as can happen with small cabinets. Also, not having the little baggies and canisters of herbs is a huge help and i don't have to dig when I want to make an Indian dish. I rarely keep things in the original packaging.

                                - I have an old ironing board nook built into the kitchen that someone turned into the perfect shelving for all my spices. I love it!

                                - I have a fold-away dishrack (Grundal by Ikea) that allows me to use the tin draining board for other things/counterspace. This also has hooks on it to store oft-used utensils like tongs.

                                - I put my most-used dried herbs in magnetic canisters on the side of the fridge- right next to the stove, convenient!

                                - Many of my cabinets are vintage glass-fronted (My place was built in 1906 and my apartment was originally the servant's quarters/house kitchen to an adjacent grand flat that was split into several apartments. It has the original concrete sink under the tin drainboard. Which is awesome, I suppose, if you ever find yourself on your back in the kitchen looking for vintage touches. Otherwise, it just takes up precious under-counter space.) At any rate, I was pretty insistent on being matchy-matchy with things like my small appliances (all red) and dishware, so that the storage doubles as decorative. Note the collection of vintage Taco Bell Smurfs glasses.

                                I, to, use other tricks like the file-storage-potlid-rack and over-the-sink drainer for prepping veggies (though my sink is not in any way standard, so it doesn't stay put. My sink, in fact, has a bathtub drain. How's that for a pain?)

                                I also have no Dishwasher but found that the Scotch Brite scrubby-sponge-on-a-stick-with-soap-filled-handle makes dishes totally bearable.

                                Edit! Another tip: I had printed out, scribble-on magazine clippings and random recipes coming out every nook and cranny of the kitchen. I finally bought an in-notebook three-hole punch and notebook to keep them in. Sure, they're not organized alphabetically in plastic sleves with colored dividers, but at least they are out of the way and accessible.

                                1. re: Chowsmurf

                                  Keep it clean, AMEN! One thing a tiny kitchen has taught me: do dishes while you work. If I have any idle moment during cooking, I use it to wash whatever dishes I've already used. The dishes pile up fast and just take up space.

                                  We use plastic grocery bags for our trash, but we keep them in a handy pull-out rack under the sink. We also reuse other plastic bags and hang those on a hook inside the undersink door--and we also have three shelves under the sink, and various wire baskets to hold cleaning supplies.

                                  And "think up" is definitely the way to go! That said, living in San Francisco, we had a tremor a few weeks ago while we stood in the kitchen, and I have nightmares about a glass jar of bulk couscous tumbling five feet onto my head. But being that it's a small kitchen, it's only a step to the living room. :)

                              2. We not only have a galley kitchen, but we also live in an apartment--no chance of upgrading the stove or refrigerator unless they both break down miserably. So we've made do. Fortunately, my fiance is very handy around the house.

                                1. Shelves, shelves, shelves. We have shelves going up the side of our doorjamb (no photo of that yet); along the top of our doorjamb; he removed the doors on the cabinets so the shelves are exposed; and he recently added new shelves to the top of the refrigerator.

                                2. Hanging pot rack AND two hanging utensil racks near the stove.

                                3. Use the space near the stove for a rolling rack and toaster oven (not shown in this picture).

                                4. Pegboard!

                                5. Built a shelf between the refrigerator and sink to support some extra space and our dishrack.

                                6. And the piece de la resistance: He stained and cut a $10 piece of plywood to extend the length of our kitchen counter AND create a garbage hole. It's so incredibly convenient that I'll cry if our next home doesn't have a similar feature. Another feature: The trash can is on a shelf, so the recycling bin fits beneath it.

                                These photos show the left and right side of the kitchen; the linoleum meets in the middle. We have about 2 1/2 feet clearance between counters.


                                If you need more recent photos (they really just include more shelves) let me know.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: MuppetGrrl

                                  I have a shotgun kitchen, but luckily I also have a pantry (a former coat closet the previous owner converted.) I keep only dishes and glassware in my cupboards. All food goes in the pantry, along with cookware and pots and pans. I hung a sturdy bar with S-hooks so I can slide the pots and pans around as I need them. There is also a rung near the floor where I keep a broom and dustpan and prop bottles of water.

                                  1. re: brendastarlet

                                    we converted our Coat Closet into a pantry as well, and we keep all of our dry goods in there, along with the Dog Food and all of our bags that we reuse...it really helped us make more space!

                                  2. re: MuppetGrrl

                                    That counter top with trash-hole is brilliant!! Must go in the article!!

                                    1. Our small kitchen in San Francisco seemed even smaller and oppressive before we changed a few key things (Photos 1, 2). A few years back we had it “refaced” and covered the hideous faux oak cabinets from 1987. We were then able to move the refrigerator 12” and eliminated a weird lower half cabinet that was orphaned next to the fridge. An above-fridge cabinet was built that was deep enough to accommodate our cookie trays and other items too long previously for other cabinets. In addition, we added a cabinet large enough to hold spices and oils. The spices are kept in small bins http://www.containerstore.com/browse/... that make it easy to slide out and access the spices instead of rooting to the back of a cabinet. It took me a few tries to find the right size bins for the cabinet.

                                      One more built-in solution was to add ‘pantry slider’ units to a narrow lower cabinet next to the fridge.(Photo 3) Since we lack a real pantry (or any closet options), this was a great option. It’s surprising how many cans and jars can be stored in this cabinet.

                                      In addition, there were some easier changes we made in this small kitchen that changed it into a convenient place to cook.

                                      Moving the knives out of a drawer makes them not only handy but safer (Photo 4
                                      )Installing a microwave-hood combo installation isn’t something that everyone with a small kitchen can do, but it freed up space on the countertop and created venting that we didn’t previously have (Photo 5)

                                      I love vintage kitchen wares and kept this foil/wax paper/paper towel dispenser around until I had a place for it (Photo 6). In addition to being vintage-chic, it keeps these items off the counter and out of drawers and frees up space for other things.

                                      Despite a few round of improper hanging, one round which dented my otherwise pristine solid chrome Ice-O-Matic vintage ice crusher, these shelves serve as the pantry that we’re otherwise missing. Both the selves and the glass canisters that contain the dry-good were both found at your local bargain Swedish high design retailer. (Photos 11,12)

                                      Using other spaces:
                                      Even though we didn’t have an extra closet or other space (or garage, ha!), we were able to use the dining room area for ‘decorative’ storage of glassware, serving pieces, and cookbooks. These pieces are still accessible, but the corners of the room are dressed up with cabinetry. The cookbook storage built-on serves a multiple purpose of providing seating for guests, cookbook storage, as well as a electronics charging station behind the cabinet doors. (Photos 7,8)

                                      Making nearly everything movable allows one to reconfigure desirable spaces as needed. Putting all out cooking utensils in upright canisters (Photo 9) makes them visible and within arms reach while cooking as well as freeing up hard faugh drawer space. When more counter-prep space is needed, they can be shoved out of the way.

                                      The stainless cart (which had previous lives as in a surgery suite and a home for a TV and VCR) is a perfect place for the recycling bin as well as an infrequent third station for food prep (Photo 10). It holds canisters when off-duty but is small enough to make a great, flexible chopping station when the rest of the counter is full. Casters are key!

                                      We cook most nights of the week and have spent four years tweaking out kitchen setup. While these suggestions aren’t for everyone, we’ve found that they make our small kitchen cozy and utterly workable.

                                      (dangit, the photos won't upload... this might take a while...)

                                      9 Replies
                                            1. re: 5 and Dime Eater

                                              This looks super - where did you fnd those nice-looking stainless shelves, if you don't mind my asking?

                                              1. re: chitta chef

                                                Hi chitta chef - I just finished reading 5 and Dime's post - look's like the shelves were purchased at Ikea. I like them too - looks like i'm going to have to take a trip to my "local bargain Swedish high design retailer!"

                                              2. re: 5 and Dime Eater

                                                I LOVE your dispenser for foil, wax paper, paper towels, etc. Where did you find that?!

                                                1. re: morgblorg

                                                  They were quite common in the 50's and 60's and as a matter of fact a few weeks ago the local Thrift Store (used items) had 3. I let it slip to my sister and she got all of them. Her and her friends are into the retro items, big time.

                                                  Just keep on the lookout for them at other used item places.

                                            2. re: 5 and Dime Eater

                                              Oh... 5 and Dime, you give me such hope! I used to dream of a "huge" kitchen, but you've shown me that a beautiful and functional space can be had in a smaller space.

                                              My not-very-helpful take on the small kitchen issue is... live with the smallest kitchen imaginable for a while (I call mine the Barbie Dream Kitchen, complete with tiny Babie Dream Stove!) and then anything will seem huge! The last photo is the entry to my pantry - which is literally half the size of my kitchen (and thank God for it, and for tall metal shelving found at the local hardware store!).

                                            3. Jacquilynne -

                                              I'd like to suggest a change to the heading of this post, maybe something like, "Small Kitchen DIY Fixes: Request for Story Ideas" or something. You might get more responses. I've seen this topic for a while without opening it because I didn't realize it was an actual request, but if I come up with something I can share I'll bring in a photo.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Niblet

                                                Thanks for the idea, I've changed it.

                                              2. We have no cupboards (rental), just a pantry with shelves, so I got a pegboard and put it above the stove for the pans. It's convenient and space-saving.

                                                In case the photo attachment doesn't work: http://flickr.com/photos/fotolulu/100...

                                                1. -----

                                                  That one is interesting, Jacquilynne.

                                                  Right above the sink, I added a 6" deep board across it, that is supported on both sides from under the 2 adjacent cabinets. Along the upper portion of the window frame I added a 1(h) x 1/4 inch thick strip to hang some bbq hangers off of to hang up my spoons and turners collection.

                                                  Unfortunately I was more interested in getting the light above the sink in place than cleaning. Later, I found a way the hide the cord.


                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: RShea78

                                                    I just took a better picture. (That cord just drove me batty) ;-)

                                                  2. I took the door off the kitchen cabinet right next to my stove. I keep all the ingredients that I frequently reach for while cooking there--olive oil, oil, vinegar, sweetners, sherry, pepper flakes, etc.--so they're right there when I need them. No need to open cabinets with food-covered hands or rifle through things on the fly!

                                                    1. We figured out where we did things in our kitchen and then store the relevant tools as close as possible. Thus, knives are on a wall-mounted magnetic rack next to the area where we chop food; pasta is in a drawer next to the stove, spices and oils are in a closed cabinet near the stove, the espresso machine is near the coffee, etc. It is not perfect. There is only so much we could do given the layout of our existing kitchen but it is better than it was.

                                                      We have also gathered all our cookbooks together in a bookshelf next to the kitchen door. That way they don't get all greasy from frying pan fumes but are still close at hand. We have also put all recipes we have cut out of magazines, etc. in a 3-ring binder with clear plastic pocket pages, trying somewhat haphazardly to organize them by ingredients or meals.

                                                      Sorry I don't have any photos.

                                                      1. If you have a pantry with deep shelving and limited lighting, it's almost impossible to see small items that invariably get pushed to the back. I saw a tip where you can take 2 X 4s and fit them width-wise on the shelves and stair step them so you can stack stuff on them and see them especially same sized spice bottles.

                                                        1. our kitchen is a decent size but it has space issues relating to the fact that some rooms in the house are only accessable by walking thru it (not just thru it, around a big cabinet/counter peninsula) so that you must circuit the entire room to get thru; like the bathroom-- a huge pain when doing a dinner party to have a constant parade in both directions. on the other hand, it currently has 2 fridges, which is nice, but leaves us really short on counterspace. i frequently prep on a board over the sink, or set a mise on a board over a pulled out drawer. there was a schlocky wreath hook on the back door which is handy for hanging a knife roll, then you don't forget it in the morning, either. otherwise magnetic knife racks rule (see 5 and dime's photo). put hooks on the sides of cabinets and hang up your most used items. buy a desktop paintbrush organizer from an artist's supply and use it to store all of your spoons, whisks, wine service, thermometers, peeler, masher, anything that can go vertical-- & get a rotating one so you can spin it around and find the wee items. then you only really need 2 drawers, (one for everyday flatware, one for everything else) a good thing, because that's all i currently have.

                                                          if you have your upstairs' staircase off of your kitchen, like we do, you can put very small shelves, just wide enough for 15oz cans and the like, on the back of each tread, as the last family who lived here did--glad to see i'm not the only one with storage problems.

                                                          1. I attached spice racks to the outside of our summer house kitchen cabinets, making room inside for other things, and keeping the spices where I can easily see and get at them.

                                                            Needless to say, the ground spices and dry herbs get dumped at the end of the season and replaced with fresher ones next spring. Last summer I harvested al the fresh herbs and let them fan dry on racks for a few days. I had the best tasting herbs all winter long; they were far superior to the stale ones I can get at the markets, and lots cheaper, too.

                                                            1. This is a Finnish invention. Almost all (maybe all?) Finnish houses have this ready in their kitchens. This helped women's emansipation and saved their time for other things, not only house hold chores. (for those who don't know, Finland is an EU country close to Sweden, Finnish design might be of interest to those who like Scandinavian style)

                                                              1. I was in Costco yesterday and picked up a six-shelf stainless wheeled wire utility rack for 79.99. It pretty much solved all of my kitchen clutter problems and looks great to boot.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: chitta chef

                                                                  I just found this thread so this is really late. We have one of those racks at the end of the kitchen. I bought two cheap (but attractive!) curtain panels and put them across the rack on a tension rod. Although they mostly stay open, I can close them when guests come over. You're right. It holds everything including the microwave. Couldn't do without it.

                                                                2. Espresso machine wasn't really tall enough to get a large milk pitcher comfortably under the frothing wand. So I went to Lowe's and got some black rubber crutch tips which fit perfectly over the machine's "tiny feet" as Rancilio calls them in its instruction manual.

                                                                  Boosts the machine about an inch and a half higher, plus the rubber tips help to keep the machine from skidding when I am using force in the process of engaging the portafilter.

                                                                  1. I've taken to using small hooks in the wall to hang pans, cutting boards, graters, assorted flat stuff.

                                                                    A friend of mine had the great idea to use non essential appliances and a large set of serving bowls as bookends and in display areas.

                                                                    1. Great ideas everyone. I just moved into my boyfriend's place and it is tiny! We just installed a dishwasher and oven- the first ever in his house- but it took away all of our cabinet space. Our ceilings are low so I'm trying to make the most out of every inch. I brought my stainless steel shelf and I'm thinking about getting some hooks to hang my pots and pans off of. We have one cabinet that holds some spices, our plates and glasses. Unfortunately we both have a large assortment of kitchen items so we were out of space before we even began. If anyone else is in the same predicament, I would to hear what they did to fix it. All of the ideas I have read so far have been great. Thank you!

                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                      1. re: RebJaeBoe

                                                                        i have been thinking that although our kitchen has space and storage issues, our dining room is HUGE and it's a lot of wasted space. i'm going to buy some cheap bookshelves and move a lot of kitchen storage to the dining area instead. in the past i've morphed entry areas and porches, even the 1st 2 feet into a study into pseudo-pantries. . . maybe canned goods would be weird but serving bowls etc can look just as attractive on the shelves as books-- especially if they're cookbooks.

                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                          You may want to consider what I did, I went to an unfinished furniture store & bought 2 armoires. One was $99 & the larger was $149. All wood, very nice.
                                                                          I have used these in various rooms & you have given me the idea to move one to the dining room to use as kitchen storage. Thanks! I already have a huge wooden bookshelf in the kitchen which I use as a pantry. I have hung white tab top shower curtains from the top of the inside of the bookshelf as a curtain. It looks great & hides the cans, jars & a few appliances (rotisserie, popcorn popper, etc). Sorry no photos!

                                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                                            My sister has a baker's rack in her DR where she stores cookbooks, copper molds, etc.

                                                                        2. I have a small galley kitchen with a false ceiling -- so no potrack. Instead, in the garage (which is right at the end of the kitchen) I got overhead storage racks that are a grid. So, I store stuff on top and hang my pots. It's terrific. I also had a blank wall and I hung a rack there. Now, all the stuff that I use all the time hangs there.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: padance

                                                                            Our kitchen sits above our basement where we do laundry. I had the contractor cut a hole in the floor under the sink and install as small lid and I use it to drop dirty dishrags down. So convenient! We also did a lot of using of the walls for things like knives, etc. IKEA has some great storage stuff along those lines.

                                                                          2. My situation is quite a bit more restricted than most. I live in an apartment that I can't permanently modify with plaster walls that won't support the weight of added shelves or even pegboards. It also has almost no built-in shelving and, being a Tokyo apartment, is quite small. I did a few blog posts on the things I do for coping with living in such a cramped area. Most of the kitchen-related pictures and ideas are here: http://myso-calledjapaneselife.blogsp...

                                                                            I think advice for sub-dividing larger spaces is the most useful since getting custom storage for your particular needs is almost impossible.

                                                                            1. Here is a link to a photo gallery of our entire recent kitchen refurb process, for anyone interested. (see my earlier posts)


                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Andiereid

                                                                                Congratulations on surviving the process and doing all that work. Whew! I don't know if I would get rid of those refurbished solid wood cabinets, after all that. I guess in 5 yrs. you might be willing to do so.

                                                                                I really like your track light. Would you be willing to divulge the source/manufacturer? While I have a 4-light track over the island between our dining room and kitchen, I have never purchased a fixture for the middle of the kitchen ceiling, where a bare bulb hangs from a contractor's temp. socket. I always intended to put in a fan, and now that I have a pilot-less stove, I can do it. But I love that track light of yours! I do have under-the cabinet florescents, and a downspot over the sink/dishwasher, as well as a light in the stove hood.
                                                                                Thanks, and enjoy the renovated space in good health! p.j.

                                                                                1. re: p.j.

                                                                                  Thanks, p.j. Those cabinets are just crappy plywood homemade jobs that someone did years ago and they suck. I'll be happy to get them pulled out of there and put something nicer in. I'll also be glad to get rid of that horrible, useless tile countertop too. But at least now the wait will be more pleasant.

                                                                                  We just picked that light fixture up at Home Depot - I want to say it was right around a hundred bucks. They have a pretty nice variety of track light fixtures, actually. We're pretty happy with it - I've got lights pointing in all the spots I need it and it does a pretty good job of illuminating.

                                                                                  1. re: Andiereid

                                                                                    Thanks, Andie. I will have to take a look at HD.
                                                                                    Have a good weekend, p.j.

                                                                              2. If you consider space usage/specialization we have modified our 20 x 20 kitchen into a galley kitchen and "keeping" room. The house is a colonial reproduction built to our specs with modern ideas thrown in eg a upstairs "pantry" which the archetect intended for washer dryer use. The idea of a water over spill on hardwood flooring drove us to put the washer dryer fixtures in the cellar and utilize the pantry for just that. More than half is dedicated to other than every day plates/dishes etc - the rest to normal pantry items ie foods bought in bulk. Really large bulk food and paper items are relegated to additional shelving at the foot of the cellar stair and arranged in sections depending on usage (spices, stocks, sauces, oils, vinegar etc). It has worked well for us and allows us the extra space to take advantage of sale items in quantity that would overwhelm the real operating kitchen. The keeping room area is furnished as a sitting and dining area (for every day casual use) thus saving the more formal dining to be reserved to the great room.

                                                                                1. This is a v. minor thing that I did, but has made our small refrigerator much more organized. At my father's suggestion, we bought two stainless steel lazy susans for the refrigerator and store a lot of our condiments on them. No more digging into the back for jars, and a lot more room for other things.

                                                                                  Also, using square/rectangular food storage containers uses the space more efficiently

                                                                                  I use the drawer on the left to store cheeses - that way all the little wrapped up packages are in one place and I don't have to rummage about for them.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                    Regarding throwing things out that you don't use... for most people, that probably makes sense. For me, collecting kitchen gadgets is a hobby of mine. The weird tool I only bust out once every two years or so, I get great pleasure from doing that. So that theory doesn't work at all for me. heh, and I'm having a terrible time convincing my fiancee of that.

                                                                                    But yeah, for most people, that makes sense.

                                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                      i have a cheese drawer too!

                                                                                      most of my condiments or sauces are in the very well spaced out door and so i have no need for a lazy susan, but that would certainly help with reminding me what's in the fridge, especially in the back.

                                                                                    2. Hi. I had the smallest kitchen in the universe! I would suggest one tip - hooks. Hooks for everything, saucepans, sieves, teatowels, etc. I've also made a blog all about how cook lovely food in your own smallest kitchen. The blog is at http://thesmallestkitchen.wordpress.com

                                                                                      1. We have a small kitchen which we're currently renovating. One thing we did a while back was replace the washer and dryer which are in one part of the kitchen. We bought a front-loading washer and my husband built a counter top to place on top of them. We keep the Champion Juicer (when not in use...we also have a Vitamix which we use more often), a basket with bags of cereal, corn chips, etc in it, things like onions and apples which don't need refrigeration, and a dehydrator (when not in use) there. My husband also built a custom greenhouse window (a pre-made one wouldn't fit since our kitchen wall is so close to the property line) so we can grow herbs and get more natural light in the kitchen.

                                                                                        We often don't use enough of the right combination of dishes to run the dishwasher, so we use it as a drainer.

                                                                                        If I can find photos of the garden window and counter over the washer and dryer, I'll post them later.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: lgss

                                                                                          We had unused and unaccessible space to the back of the dishwasher. The new peninsula will have a bookcase for our overflow of cookbooks there. We had a radiator moved and switched to one that could be/is recessed into a wall.

                                                                                          1. re: lgss

                                                                                            Moving the radiator and switching the type was not DIY in and of itself but will make the bookcase, which my husband will build, possible. The photo shows the new radiator and the "footprint" of the old one.

                                                                                        2. I've been looking for a small wall mounted pot rack for a while. The ones I found I liked were a bit pricey. I ended up building one for about 30 bucks in parts. It works great in a small kitchen.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: rellimkm

                                                                                            I love it! The "brackets" are so sleek and you've hung it high which I like. I'll be pass this along to my handy husband :) Thanks.

                                                                                          2. Indeed, keeping it clean is the key. hanging things that are used often is helpful, i have my spice rack and my tool basket hung over the sink. but i wouldn't advise hanging or exposed storage for items NOT used very often...they gather grease and dust. and if you have a very tiny kitchen lose the dishwasher...not only is it greener, but it forces you to clean and reuse fewer tools and dishes. I collect cookware geared for small portions and some of them i don't use very often, these i store up out of reach, everything i use frequently is in easy reach. also remove your cookbooks from the kitchen, in a small kitchen the cookbooks are being exposed to foot particles, heat and dirt. clippings, recipe cards and loose pages, i scan into the computer and toss. I have 2 small drawers in my tiny kitchen, so I use one of those over the back of the door shoe rack things. the pockets are net and hold all the things that used to be in my JUNK drawer: batteries, fuses, menus, travel mugs. now i have a second drawer for kitchen tools, can openers, shears, cookie cutters. Get rid of as many electric gadgets as you can. I am down to just a stick blender with attachments stored in a plastic shoe box under the sink. The microwave is on top of the fridge and my lovely faithful kitchen aid is in a closet. 8( hand tools are easier to clean store and don't need electrical cords. if i had a choice i would remove my stove and replace it with just a stove top. I cook for one and there is absolutely NO sense in heating up a entire oven, even a 22" one, to cook small things. I haven't used my gas oven in 7 years and can cook anything short of a whole turkey in my 2-tier countertop model.

                                                                                            1. I use belt hangers with several hooks to hang spoons, spatulas, etc. from a tension rod across the top of my pantry.

                                                                                              1. Hi,
                                                                                                I did a diy kitchen update about 4 years ago. You can read about it on my blog at dianabuild.com if you want. What I want to share here is the solution to a cookbook shelf when you have precious little wall space in your kitchen. I built an partially inset shelf between two adjoining sets of studs in a pass through wall. This is coming into the kitchen from the breezeway. The kitchen is 12x12 with a hallway (included in the dimensions) passing through and cabinets and appliances on the other three walls. This was a really fun project!