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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

 
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    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.

            Aesthetics:
            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

              Andie,
              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.