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Sep 30, 2009 04:16 PM

Your Favorite Tiny Kitchen ideas

My husband and I just went into contract on our first apartment (!)

I know I'm counting my chickens before they hatch, but the kitchen needs to be completely gutted and I'm secretly super excited that it means I'll have free reign to do what I wish.

The downside is, it's an extremely small galley kitchen. If you think you've seen small, think smaller. We live in SF, but this kitchen is small enough to be worthy of Tokyo. Or Lilliputia. There's some debate over whether will actually be able to install a dishwasher if it has a pull-down front, because the door might not open all the way down.

So, dear hounds, what are your favorite tiny kitchen tips? I'm already planning cabinets all the way to the ceiling and drawers down to the floorboards. I will be able to have a full size stove, but am starting a hunt for a tiny dishwasher and as shallow a fridge as possible (under 20" deep if possible).

If some of you are into home design and know good websites about tiny spaces (Apartment Therapy, etc.) I'd really appreciate a push in the right direction.

I will be measuring the space tomorrow.

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  1. I'm hoping MMRuth, who live in Manhattan, will offer some advice. She has a small kitchen, I believe.

    1. Pei,

      "I'm secretly super excited that it means I'll have free reign to do what I wish". Maybe I know your husband's email address? :)

      I lived in an apartment with small kitchen when I was in graduate school in Berkeley. I know SF apartments are small. Make sure you don't buy cookware you don't need. Combine cookware. You cannot have a 10" skillet, a 10" saute pan, 12" skillet, and 12" saute pan. You will need to just pick one. If you rarely use your oven, then use it as a storage space, espcially for cookware. Kitchen tools do not have to be store in kitchen, especially the one you don't use very often. For example, I store my my food processor, dry pasta, flour sifter.... in a cabinet outside of my current kitchen and it is not a super tiny kitchen. Always makes sure you have a open counter to work with. You don't have to have no open space in the kitchen.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        My husband's identity is top secret! :)

        Luckily, we already live in a very small apartment, so over the years we've kept things very minimal in terms of limiting equipment and keep the pantry lightly stocked. I'm looking more for ideas about what's new in streamline appliances, and websites with photos about kitchen layouts or smart new space saving cabinet designs. Another concern is wanting to update the kitchen without making things look too modern. I know a lot of the most reasonably priced cabinetry is priced low because they are too modern and trendy, made of cheap materials, and buyers realize it's not a smart long term style choice.

        Mostly, I'd just like to start browsing other people's kitchens for ideas.

        1. re: Pei

          Not specifically about tiny kitchens, but these people have great ideas about all things kitchen related:

          1. re: pothead

            On a related note, once people finish their kitchens, a lot of people post them in the Finished Kitchens Blog:


          2. re: Pei

            Hmm, well most of the small kitchen design I see is about building a lot of cabinets, small and tall refrigerator. Maybe the website below will help inspire a few ideas.


            Some people like immersion blenders because it is small and you can blend almost anything in any container. You no longer need to transfer foods from one container to another just for blending.


            I have never own one, so I am throwing this one as an idea.

          1. re: E_M

            Wow, that is incredible, and exactly what I mean. Thanks!

            1. re: Pei

              that one was also on apartment therapy a little while back. they had a kitchen month which you might find useful.

              there is also some other thread around here about small space kitchens and people's tricks but i think it was mostly geared towards renters making do.

              i've never owned so can't provide an iota of assistance when it comes to the large appliances but can offer a couple suggestions. one thing i've liked is that some people are making uses of the toe-kick area under the cabinets and the most nifty idea is that it can be a spot to hide a step ladder (very handy for cabinets going to the ceiling) or low profile cookware like cookie sheets. drawers in the bottom cabinets are really great but make sure they're not always too deep.

              one thing i've been thinking about is a modified "walk-in" pantry. it would work best with a galley kitchen and fits just on the other side of the wall that hems in your kitchen. you could mount a shallow narrow but tall bookshelf on the wall and hinge it with a second bookshelf that has casters underneath so that you can roll it open to expose a pantry and when it's closed it just looks like a tall shallow cabinet. it could be embellished with a third shelf facing outward so that there is something to look at since it could serve as a display space. i hope i'm describing it properly... it's not new tech but could be helpful. of course this means you'd need enough swing room just outside of the kitchen, but if narrow enough shouldn't be a problem.alternatively it could open up with double doors too. i guess this is sort of what i'm thinking of:

              i am all for cabinets cabinets and lots of cabinets... i prefer a clean open worktop and so no hanging pots/pans, knife blocks, etc if possible.

              1. re: pinstripeprincess

                Uncanny: the link you posted is a photo of the exact same pantry closet I grew up with. I love it. I don't know if we have enough depth anywhere to do the same thing, but I'll keep that design in mind.

                I like a really clean worktop too.

            1. instead of cupboards, you could consider a bookshelf style thing (a bit like Frasiers apartment in Frasier). I've thought of doing something like this myself, having plates and stuff in the middle, heavy pots at the bottom etc. Food would need a door though.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Soop

                I like wire shelving that mounts on hanging rails. You screw a track to the wall near the ceiling, and hang vertical rails from that. That gives considerable flexibility - not only can the shelves be moved up and down, but the verticals can be shifted.

                A plus to wire shelving that I did not originally consider - it is easy to hang pots below them. Now most of my pans are hanging.

                My only qualm is whether this type of shelving is best in an earthquake zone like SF. But in reality earthquakes are just as much a concern in Seattle.