how to max out your tiny kitchen

Reading comments, emails and blogs everyday from people who like to cook all over the country, and all over the world, I have learned that not all kitchens are the same. And some of them are less the same than others. Some are downright shocking. Apparently, there are kitchens with more than one counter. There are ovens that fit entire half-sheet pans in them–and still close! There are kitchens with not one oven, but two. Some have not just two counters and two ovens, but more than six cabinets. Some kitchens have not just two counters, two ovens and a dozen cabinets but room for an entire set of tables and chairs… just for eating!

Excuse me, but I have to sit down for a minute. …Not in the kitchen, mind you. We have no room for a chair.

Alas, for the rest of us, those that may sympathize with our 80-square foot kitchen with a mini-oven, six cabinets and a single built-in counter, I have been asked enough times what advice I’d give to people trying to cook in a tiny kitchen that I thought I’d sum up some of the advice I give them today.

the smitten kitchen counter

Five ways to max out your tiny kitchen:

  1. Get an island or custom-built extra counter — Even if you you have just two square feet of “spare” space, do whatever you can to find a table or counter that can be customized for it. Heck, I have even seen counters that fold out from the wall, like a Murphy Bed! If you can find a way to create some storage space underneath it, even better.
  2. Don’t actually keep anything on it — I am nuts about having my single counter in the kitchen clear. The idea of sacrificing even a corner of my precious counter space to a mixer or toaster or other occasionally used appliance seems crazy–these are the types of things you can put in shelves underneath.
  3. You probably don’t need half the things in your kitchen — Okay, obviously what I think you don’t need and what you think you don’t need are different, which is why I am loathe to make such a list. Let’s say that you, like Laurie Colwin in Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, decide that you can live without everything but a deep-fat fryer. You go get yourself a deep-fat fryer. But when space is key, you might consider doing away with things like that knife block, when drawer knife holders or wall magnet strips will help keep your counter clear. You don’t need a double boiler; use a bowl over a pot instead. You don’t need a sifter when a mesh strainer can sift and, you know, and also strain.<a href=" Pyrex 8-cup measuring cups can double as mixing bowls. Stuff like that
  4. Learn to cook neatly — Picture a restaurant kitchen–do you think each of those line cooks have four counters to work on? No, they learned a long time ago how to maximize their use of any station they were given, by prepping everything they need before they start cooking, keeping their counter clean and keeping what they can within arm’s reach. Learn to cook like this, and you can cook anywhere.
  5. It can totally be done — People, I don’t mean to go the martyr route here–especially because I think we know I enjoyed the process so–but I baked a wedding cake in my little kitchen, in its 3/4-size oven. I know too many people who say they can’t entertain or have dinner parties or cook the dinners they crave because they say they don’t have the space. But people cook all over the world with less space–and fewer gadgets (though I think I will sob if my Microplane ever breaks up with me) than we do everyday. With a little extra thought, I am sure you can pull off whatever crazy kitchen feat you had in mind. Even if you have to put your dishes in the tub when you’re done.

Five things that have helped us max out ours:

  1. mostly nested bowlsThese bowls — Bowls that nest well are essentially when you need to save space, but if you’re like me, the idea of buying one of those sets of ten (and then having to put it away just so) makes you groan. The Anchor Hocking ones I have fallen head over heels for come in a set of four (one, two, three and four-quart sizes) and are taller than they are wide. These are not only pretty and sturdy, they’re cheap! Win-win-win.
  2. pot rack and spicesA pot and pan rack — May I write a love song to our pot and pan rack? Okay, I won’t but I really could go on and on. For years, I had pots perilously stacked in an overstuffed cabinet and I hated it. It was loud and stuff always fell out on my toes and arrgh! Pot racks save the day. It can’t be easier to grab what you want, and the amount of space it frees up is tremendous. Best part is that you don’t even need to get ones that hand from the ceiling; ours is a half-circle that attaches to the wall. If you can find one with crossbars, even better, as you’ll be able to hang more things from it. Like spaghetti that needs to dry.
  3. Some appliances are more useful than others:
    * Immersion blenders not only save on space, they’re easier to use and easier to wash (since I know that tiny kitchens and a lack of a dishwasher typically go hand-in-hand).
    * Still want a blender? We used this Cuisinart blender/mini-prep food processor for years, before, you know, we got married and someone was nice enough to buy us a full-sized one. (Spoiled!) Though some things had to be done in batches, I still use this today when I don’t want to dirty the whole big one. I think it’s a brilliant product.
    KitchenAid* A KitchenAid, and all of its glorious attachments — Don’t make the mistake I have. Before accepting that I would one day own a KitchenAid, I ended up registering for an ice cream maker. Then we bought a pasta roller. We have several types of citrus juicers. And then we got a KitchenAid and learned we could have just bought that, and juicer, pasta and ice cream maker attachments and saved a ton of storage space.

  4. mostly whiteThink white — Okay, this is more of a Deb style tip (which is funny, as I have none) than a way to make your small kitchen functional but I am a big fan of the color white in small spaces, as it really makes rooms look bigger than they are. My KitchenAid is white, our dish rack is white, the garbage can is white and our coffee maker is white. It’s one thing to have a small kitchen; it is another one to have one that is also dark and looks cluttered. Not to mention, if one day I want our kitchen to be all black, white and leaf green (and oh, I do), all of this stuff will still work in it.
  5. Space savers — I am a tad obsessed these days with going to Bed, Bath and Beyond and finding things that save so much space, they make me jump for joy and I don’t know how I lived without them before. (Alex, as you may guess, shares my excitement, but is also a tad frightened by it.) Most recently, we’ve bought this wrap/foil/paper dispenser and hung it on the inside of the door in the pantry, a couple over-the-cabinet baskets (for sponges, container lids, you name it) and although it ended up not fitting with our sink structure, that seems to also have been been designed in 1880, this under-sink organizer would have been awesome.

Surely, I’m not the only one with a tiny kitchen. What do those of you who like to cook a lot do to keep yours from becoming a disaster area?

One year ago: Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Sauteed Apples
Two years ago: Dreamy, Creamy Scones

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266 comments on how to max out your tiny kitchen

  1. My magnetic knife wall rack thingamabob changed my life. My tiny kitchen also has not even ONE full width drawer (there are only two drawers and they are six inches wide) so my forks and spoons live in narrow but long desk drawer organizer caddies and the butter knives have to fend for themselves. I have a good amount of cabinet space, but I dream (dream!) of having a pantry. *Sigh*

  2. These are some great tips. We’re having a lot of trouble adapting from our old kitchen, which was beautiful and large, to our new kitchen which is cramped to use at best. I’m sure we’ll get used to it, but it’s been an adventure so far, and we’ve run into one another more than once, I can tell you!

    Thanks for the tips!

  3. Deb,
    As my great grandmother used to say (from her tiny kitchen in the Bronx):
    If there is room in your heart, there is room in your home!”.
    How true!
    This post was meant for me!
    My kitchen is very small for a cook who loves to entertain.
    We do have an island, but with only 2 stools. Very limited work space.
    I do the best I can.
    I store cookie sheets in my oven! and the big Le Creuset sits on the stove 24/7.
    I have done the best I can with the space I have.
    Someday, I will have a magazine, tricked out kitchen of my dreams w/ a blue La Cornue double oven!!!!!
    Stacey Snacks

  4. I love that you took photos of your kitchen. I thought of doing it too on my blog but I’ll just ruin the magic, with all the clutter, kids’ toys, baby high chair, baby food, and other stuff that I remove from the photo frame when i’m taking a picture.

    As for big kithcens – I used to cook for people with big kitchens. It takes more time to cook because you do a lot of walking, and because there is space you are tempted to spread with your equipment, which means more clean up.

    Smaller is better. More is less. Sometimes..

  5. Mary

    Wow, I thought my kitchen was small! I love the magnetic knife thingy too, only we got one at the hardware store that is bigger and stronger and holds more knives. I have inadequate drawers so I keep my biggest utensils (ladle, big tongs, spatulas, etc.) in a glass champagne cooler. I can see everything that is in it and reach everything quickly. My pots and pans fall out on my foot frequently, but our ceiling is too low for a pot rack and there is no exposed wall space. Oh for a big mansion kitchen, and a butler’s pantry like my grandmother had!

  6. Elena

    The kitchen in my last place was very similar to yours. It was built into a hallway (4′ x 8′), so I only had that one tiny wall of cabinet/sink/stove. The fridge was in another room. I used a folding table when I needed more workspace. Controlled shopping was the easiest way for me to live within the space. Pink measuring spoons are darling, but not necessary, right? Also, I was a touch compulsive about cleaning the dishes. Dinner for two made my whole place look like a disaster, so I always washed up immediately.

  7. These tips are fabulous!! Thanks Deb! My kitchen is not THAT small, but it still feels that small sometimes when my island (the single largest counter space in my kitchen) becomes cluttered with mail and other projects. One thing that I find really useful is putting cookie sheets on top of the burners on my stove (when they’re off of course) and using that area as additional cooking space. You can use this area to put the cookies on the cookie sheets (if they don’t fit in your precious counter space) or to place items that you will need later, but are in your way at the moment. The cookie sheets keep food from dropping down under the burners and requiring more clean up later. One other thing that I’ve done is reorganize my cabinets in such a way that all of the baking ingredients are in one cabinet right by the counter that I use for mixing baked goods. This way, I can just reach into the cabinet for an ingredient and put it back all without moving and without anything else landing in my precious counter space.

    I do wish I had more than one drawer though. It’s amazing how handy those are.

  8. You are a woman after my own heart!
    In our little apartment we have a long/skinny, miniscule kitchen (no room to sit down type of thing, as you mentioned), and I love to cook. Surprisingly, I am enjoying the somewhat frustrating challenge of making it work. What am I doing? I keep things clean, tidy, and severely organized. Last week I re-structured my tupperware storage to make room. Also, I found a narrow storage cabinet at a local antique store, which holds almost all of my every-day necessaries, and doesn’t take up too much of my precious floor space.

  9. Wow, and I thought my kitchen was small! You should be very, very proud of yourself for producing such wonderful food in cramped (and inventive) conditions.

    I’m loving the all-white tip. I’m desperate to re-tile our kitchen as it has black tiles and they are so oppressive.

  10. While my kitchen isn’t tiny, it’s not the greatest when it comes to functionality. There is no pantry, so i have to use my deep corner cabinet to store pantry items- and let’s just say, I was getting frustrated with it this weekend.

    I wish I had a magic kitchen fairy that could come organize my kitchen for me! LOL

    But thanks for the tips! they are very inspiring!

  11. I admire you! I tend to be SUCH a messy cook (much to my boyfriend’s dismay – he always has cleanup duty after dinner!).
    I got a bit better after a 3 week trip to Ukraine (sharing a kitchen with your future Russian mother-in-law will do that to you :p), but my old ways are creeping back in!!!

    Do you have a “The Container Store” near you? I always get great organization ideas there.

  12. Elizabeth R

    We did many of the same things you did. I agree with the hardware store version of the knife magnet holder. We also have a vintage foil dispenser, I’m glad they are making them new, because people ask us about it all the time.

    Our big things were going to the mini appliances. We downsized to a 24 in. gas stove, and this Christmas are downsizing to a 24 in. fridge. This alone gains us almost two feet, and we are building cabinet in the new space.

    Our tiny kitchen is also our eating area, so we put our table on wheels so we could both roll it out of the way and use it as prep space when we needed it. The wheels also give it a little height which helps for kitchen work. The table also has drawers built in for extra storage. We have a 2nd table that is identical in dimensions that we pull off of the porch when we have company. With tablecloths it doesn’t look like it is two mismatched tables.

  13. I had the same countertop experience in Boston for 5 years. Once I had countertop I became very territorial and protective. Nothing on it, no one around, this is my time with my counter, back off! I do let the Kitchen Aid hang with me though, I get tired of hauling it around and, the cabinets are still over crowded and falling on my feet. I think one just needs to much equipment to follow along. I fell into the recipe-requirement consumerism thing! Doomed to pay for it forever because I cannot part with the pans! Oh, no pot rack is going to save me! We are soooo far past that now.

  14. i think our kitchens are of similar size, except mine is black and falling apart (and no money for renovations) so it seems smaller than yours. ah manhattan kitchens, you gotta love ’em… i have one tiny drawer that fits half our cutlery and two pairs of chopsticks. i love my immersion blender. the dishwasher is used as a pseudo-pantry. i have a tendency to leave things out on the counter and should really be more disciplined about being tidier, as it helps clear up the space visually. when i see beautiful big -and by big i mean regular sized- kitchens in magazines i sigh and chant ‘one day one day one day some day’.

  15. Kelly S.

    I now have a moderate sized kitchen, but I lived in tiny dishwasher-less space for 5 years! And I cook and bake everything. 5 things I would recommend…1. I second the using “extra” space for counter space, best thing i ever purchased was a cabinet from ikea that fit perfectly in my kitchen, 3 drawers with a butcherblock top. i fit my “pantry” in those drowers, because well, who has closets in NY!? 2. hang what you can – magnetic knife/spoon/utensil strips, little hooks for the non-metal items, spie racks that hang on the wall 3. my panini press/grill, it makes everything and does not make tiny kitchens hot. 4. more is not better – I had 3 knives, 2 wooden spoons, 1 set of nesting bowls, etc… 5. Use the fancy dishes everyday. You have to handwash everything anyway….

  16. I’m also a big believer in getting rid of things when you buy new. Get a new spatula? Throw one away/donate it. It is a great way of keeping down the clutter.

  17. Great points!
    Oh my goodness – I could make ice cream with my KitchenAid mixer if I buy an attachment??????????? I am so excited ;) Thanks for the tips, Deb!!!

    By the way, if you pay full price for anything at BBB, you’re getting ripped off. They always send us coupons in the mail for 20% off and even though it says that the coupons expire, they never really do!!!!

  18. Tina

    Wow Deb, your kitchen is eerily similar to mine except for color. It seems wider though. I have a cart like yours on the ‘non counter’ side too. Except sadly, mine is not metal on the top, it’s wood. (not butcher block, I was cheap) It has more length but I have to be cautious about spills and make sure to keep it quite clean. The drawers underneath the cart help too. I don’t have a lot of pots, so no pot rack, but I do have this tiered cart that I use for the toaster oven and microwave. (there was no cabinet mounted rack It was supposed to just be for a microwave, but I took a big cutting board and made it into two solid shelves, with the bottom rack used for pans and such. Hooks are awesome for many things. Sadly, I have a few things in sealed tubs under the overhanging leaves of my cart because there’s not enough shelving, although I’ve considered getting a very small bookshelf to put next to the cart for those tubs. On the other side, I have my small appliances boxed and ready for when I use them. It sort of sucks to rebox things but it helps with space.

    However, knowing you made a wedding cake in a kitchen just like mine…wow! I am inspired to try some of your more ambitious baking now. And no kitchen-aid…just the hand mixer. But I can’t tell you how often I’m tempted even though I *know* there’s no spot for it.

  19. Lisa-Marie

    I echo the ‘I thought my kitchen was small.’ Ours is, but its really well fitted. its about 2.5x3m, has counters with cupboards/appliances/ the simk round 2 long sides and the bottom, and even has a very small tumble drier(with a tiny cupboard above.

    However, I am sooooo jealous of you KitchenAid mixer. It is my dream to have a shiny red one for my kitchen. They cost so much here than I won’t have one until I have a grown up job instead of being a bookshop-working student. I did spend wedding gift vouchers on a red KitchenAid blender, and it’s not an exaggeration to say I adore it.

    Your tips are awesome, even in our kitchen(which in a Scottish town is considered very small), i could use more storage and ideas for things.

  20. Jenna

    The one thing I see that takes up the most space in a small kitchen is a microwave. My advice is to GET RID OF IT. You can heat things on the stove or in the oven. People led lives before they were around, and people (like myself) still do. I know this sounds like some advice from an old fart- but I’m 24, and I haven’t had one since moving out of my college dorm room.

    Also- take that toaster off of your counter, and put it in the cabinet. Take it out only when you need it. In fact, your broiler probably can be substituted for it all together, but I know that sometimes in the morning I just need some quick and easy toast.

    My huge kitchen is one reason I am thankful to live in Chicago, and not NYC.

  21. Annie

    Well done! It reminds me of my Boston days with a 5×5 foot kitchen (this included the mini-stove, sink, and counter, though the 3/4 sized fridge was recessed). The lesson I took from those years was that constant cleanup is a must! My now-husband and I cooked frequently — and managed to both work in the kitchen at once, our skills honed through years of work as bartenders or waitstaff — although sometimes prep/ assembly work had to be relocated to the coffee table. It was a formative experience, though I can’t say that I would trade my current full-sized kitchen for that tiny galley!

  22. Hannah

    My friend and I also made an entire wedding cake in her oh so tiny NY kitchen. She has NO counters, only one tiny side table. (Let’s just say there was some interesting and creative fondant rolling techniques going on in her studio apartment) This proved to me that no kitchen is too small to create everything your heart desires, but with the caveat you wouldn’t want to do it too often. I never realized that you were creating all your wonderful dishes day after day in a kitchen just as tiny. Thanks for the inspiration!

  23. Katy Newton

    Having a kitchen designed and fitted makes the difference, I think – my kitchen is easily as small as yours, but it has a lot more countertop and a lot more storage: a window and sink on one wall, and counters round the other three walls, apart from the door, stove and fridge-freezer. When I moved in the previous owners had a kitchen that dated back to 1960 and wasn’t safe (!), so I got MFI (UK cheapo kitchen people) to plan the kitchen for me, bought the cabinets and counters and got my uncle to put it in.

    I love my tiny kitchen. Everything is exactly where I want it and I love it that I can reach everything – I hate those massive long galley kitchens, I always imagine having to run up and down like a lunatic instead of just reaching behind me to open the spice drawer. It bugs me that I don’t have a table to roll pastry out on but that’s it. I also think small kitchens encourage tidiness and organisation – I spend a lot of time working out how to use only one bowl, or at what point in a recipe I’ll wash up what I’ve used so far to make space.

  24. Carla Hinkle

    I love your tips! With the foil rack, how deep is that? I would love one but whenever I try to hang stuff on a cabinet door I can’t close the cabinet.

    My favorite thing I’ve done in my small-ish kitchen (bigger than yours, but not huge) was to not have a dish drainer. I find it mentally cluttering to see it on the counter, and it takes up space that could be useful when I am cooking.

    Of course, I do have a dishwasher! But I often have dishes that don’t need to to/don’t fit in it. If so I just let them drip-dry on the counter itself until they get put away …

  25. Manda

    I think that its not so much the size of the kitchen as how well organized it is.

    I’ve recently moved into a 12′ x 12′ kitchen, though I’ve been living in a 5′ x 7′ one for the past 3 years. The thing is though, that my new one is so poorly organized and designed that I can’t really fit anything more in it than I could before. Imagine my surprise (and unhappiness) when I discovered that I really COULDN’T buy more kitchen-toys. Though I only have myself to blame for the lack of organization.

    My mother has this huge gorgeous kitchen where everything that is below counter level is all wide, deep drawers and everything above is standard cabinets. She designed it herself and my dad built it for her. The drawers are at least 20″ high by 30″ wide and 30″ deep and she can fit an absurd amount of pots in them. We’re talking a 14 piece set with assorted singles that she’s collected as well… and all the lids.

  26. While I have never had a kitchen quite as small as yours, finding one that is actually a kitchen in Boston can also be a challenge. We lucked out with an eat in kitchen that we turned into a real kitchen, with a giant Ikea hutch that hosts 90% of our counter space.

    I feel your pain with the bitty oven, I have had two of those, and it makes baking so much more time consuming.

    I can’t wait to have my own kitchen (as in one I own), and my dream would be to have an open living space where the kitchen takes up most of the space…think Ina Garten’s new kitchen in her amazing barn.

  27. Michelle

    I am one of the lucky New Yorkers with a diswasher in my kitchen! It is wonderful to have, but by putting it in they took away all of cabinet space! The whole apartment was renovated before we moved in – except for the ancient stove, for some reason. Our solution – bought the knock-off Metro shelving (the industrial looking wire stuff) at Bed Bath and Beyond with the 20% off coupon, bought a nice thick butcher block cutting board at one the the stores on the Bowery, bored out some holes, and snapped the cutting board on top. So, I have 3 extra shelves on wheels and a fantastic cutting board. Since it just sits on top of the shelving, we can pop it off if it needs a really good scrubbing. Also, my microwave broke last week and I don’t think I will be getting a new one.

  28. Amy

    Our space savers:
    -Tea towels, oven mitts, dish rags, etc. are stored in a hanging fruit basket above our one little counter.
    -Silverware is propped up in a little basket in the cabinet, since our one teeny tiny drawer is too small.
    -We bought a cheap bookshelf with doors to act as our pantry.

    My husband is the cook, so as he’s cooking, I’m following after him putting things away, wiping up, etc. Sometimes I’m a little over-zealous with the tidying, and he’ll be like, “Where did that [insert item] go?!? I needed that for [insert reason I wasn’t aware of]!” But for the most part, our system works to at least keep our tiny kitchen from looking like a COMPLETE disaster when we’re finished.

  29. What a great post! Although my kitchen is smaller than yours, I use many of the same strategies as you, Deb. It’s all white, mostly white appliances, mini Cuisinart (which I love), etc. I am fortunate to have a mini-dishwasher! My kitchen is well laid out and there are plenty of cabinets – some that extend to the ceiling. I love the idea of keeping one counter clear…I think I might actually do more baking if I implement that idea!

  30. I love this post, and was particularly interested in the comments about KitchenAid mixers. I was going to register for one, but sort of felt bad registering for one thing that expensive…but now, I am wishing I had. I recently got a $100 gift certificate to Williams Sonoma as a birthday gift. I don’t really need any more prep bowls, utensils or other gadgets there, the only thing I really want is a KA mixer…so I am thinking of biting the bullet and putting the gift certificate toward one. It is so pricey but I see it as a great investment, considering I want to one day have an ice cream maker, pasta maker, etc., too…so it’s good to see some discussion of them here.

  31. alphie

    I think the most important thing when cooking “small” to do focus on one project at a time and clean up afterwards… my true kitchen messes and disasters come when I try to cook a weekend worth of food all at once… for all that cooking many things at once seems more efficient, the chaos that inevitably ensues does not lead to efficiency. So, I have started baking ahead of time and freezing items, rather than doing it all at once.

  32. I have battled with tiny kitchens for years, since I left New York they have gotten bigger, though I dream of a n enormous kitchen where everything has its place, cleans itself and the counter space was as long as a dining room table.
    You are an inspiration, your kitchen is smaller than my LES one-butt kitchen, but I made some great meals there.

  33. lemongrass

    I lived on a 33 foot sailboat and still managed to cook. I didn’t even have an operating oven so I got creative with a crockpot and toaster oven. My advice is to wash up as you go so you’re not accumulating dirty dishes – I had 6 sq feet of counter space, if you included the top of the stove and a sink that was only 10 inches x 12 inches by 12 in deep. I didn’t want to waste an inch of counter space with dirty dishes. It’s also good to plan the order of preparations ahead so you cut the veggies first on the (only) cutting board then the meat…less to wash!

    Like Deb says – hang your pots! And make use of wall space with magnetic knife holders and hanging utensil hooks.

    Honestly for me, the lack of food storage space and refrigerator space was much harder to deal with than the small working space. When we moved onto land I went out and bought every condiment I wanted until the fridge door was full!

  34. Katie

    I love your tips. I think everyone with a small kitchen should keep them all in mind. One thing I have done in my house is turn the coat closet (which is small – only 2 feet wide) into half coat closet and half pantry. It is working out well for us and didn’t cost much to convert. Now I have room for the food I didn’t have room for before.

  35. I, too, have a teeny-tiny kitchen and all I can say is I AGREE. WITH EVERYTHING. Especially keeping your counter space clear. We recently cleaned out an entire cabinet in our bathroom dressing area. I know, this is going to sound strange. We were able to move the towels and the blankets and now those three wide, empty shelves hold all of the kitchen items that were taking up all our counter space (because it wouldn’t fit in the minimum cupboard space we had, all of which was already busting at the seems). Now, our counters are clear and are going to stay that way! It feels like we have so much more room!

  36. scott

    i love you. i have made about 12 of your recipes, that are all AMAZING. but what i love now is that you have proven that you do not need a kitchen the size of a living room, with granite countertops, a wolf stove (although i really do dream of one), a sub zero side by side fridge, a wine fridge, a built in wine rack, and fifty million gadgets to make cooking easier. i view all of the gadgets as i do the ingredients…good quality and few of them! thank you so much for this wondeful website. i am off to make your tuna salad now!

  37. leah

    What a great kitchen post, so many wonderful ideas…I used to have a tiny galley kitchen with the dollhouse-size oven and fridge and sometimes I miss it. I made some wonderful meals in there. The new kitchen is still a galley style (a lot longer with actual storage) and I don’t think I could cook in anything larger…By the way, we had a dishwasher that we rolled in and out that hooked up to the sink.

  38. Nabeela

    I have a lot of serveware(I kind of go berserk whenever I see some on sale) and so I store them in black storage boxes from Ikea and stack them on top of each other in the guest room closet. Whenever I have guests coming, I bring them out. Doing this saves my precious cabinet space.

  39. These are great tips Thank You! I have no counter space, I make everything on our kitchen table. I have a few racks, carts that seem to help with storage – I think an island of some sort is in the near future!

  40. Ray

    I officially have to stop complaining about my wee kitchen because it’s almost exactly the same size as yours.

    I can’t help but notice that you’re giving up what looks like two square feet of precious work surface to your dish rack. I did the same until about 2 years ago when got one of these at IKEA and instantly doubled my counter space:

    It hangs on one of these:

    BTW, you have fans in Toronto!

  41. You have such a great blog, I totally forgot that you probably work in a tiny kitchen. I miss a lot about living in the city (we moved to burbs with kids), but I most definitely do NOT miss the tiny kitchens!

  42. Pahoua

    Thanks for the tip. Since I am new to your blog, I am not sure if you’ve covered this topic, but I was wondering how often and how you clean your oven–seeing that you do not have a self-cleaning one like me. I find this to be the most taxing of chores!

  43. Our kitchen looks like a long slender hallway, which is so not the most ideal configuration! I have also been saved by our pot rack, but one of my best tidbits is to move things like plates and glasses into another area, like by the table and use the cabinet space for appliances and other things that would normally be on the counter. I really have dreams of moving to the burbs and having a beautiful, huge kitchen (and bathroom!), but then I would miss living 3 blocks from bloomies. Ahhh, gotta love life’s trade-offs!

  44. I’m so glad that you wrote this post… I lived in a 420 square foot apartment with a 8′ x 6′ kitchen (no joke). The apartment building was a converted hotel: small sink, half-sized stove like yours, 12″ counter space, two overhead cabinets and one under-sink cabinet. There was no room for an extra storage cart, unfortunately.

    Then it was a weird attic apartment with about 24″ of counter space and old rotting cabinets. Because it was attic space, the apartment was open enough to to set up a picnic table with a tablecloth as a counter.

    Then it was another tiny kitchen: 3′ x 8′, with a 6″ counter and a 12″ counter. Two people could not stand there together. The only solution there was to get a low buffet and put it in another room: the buffet held all the kitchen stuff, I did most of my cooking sitting at the other-room’s kitchen table (not in the kitchen).

    And finally, where I am now: about 10′ of counter space (which sounds a lot better than it actually is – the counter is a very strange shape – but it’s better than anything I’ve had before). Every time I visit yet another friend-who-doesn’t-cook that happens to have a gorgeous, open, granite-countered, viking-stoved, well-lit with lots of storage space kitchen… I get a little sad. But then I remember how much fun I have had in all of these various kitchens, and how they help me to be grateful for where I am now. Small kitchens have personality, for sure.

  45. Liz C.

    thank you so much for this post! my last apartment’s kitchen might actually have been smaller with less storage than even yours, so i feel your pain. my current apartment kitchen definitely has more space, but i still don’t know what to do with it all and it just ends up a mess. so i definitely look forward to applying some techniques. and i think if i had a pot rack, my husband wouldn’t always put the pans in the cupboards when they belong in the drawer under the stove. =)

  46. Julie

    You never know what you have til its gone. I recently moved with my new husband to Canada from Philly with just suitcases, which meant the Le Creuset and KitchenAid stayed behind. But because this move is temporary, we couldn’t bring ourselves to replace them with inferior versions. So the only appliance we have is a mini food processor. Literally! Plus one sharp knife, one big pot, one little pot, one frying pan, and one square baking pan. Oh, and a pie dish I just bought. It’s amazing what you can do without all the things you thought you couldn’t live without! The other day I baked a cran-apple pie using a sake bottle for a rolling pin, and it came out beautiful! I feel like a pioneer woman or something! (Okay, so maybe even pioneer women had rolling pins. Maybe I will get one of those.) Anyway, thanks for showing us where the magic happens!

  47. Jessica

    I second the get rid of microwave idea. When we moved to our current apartment 3 years ago we decided to wait on a new microwave (our old place came with a built-in) and decided we just don’t need it. We do have a toaster oven on the counter, but we use it a lot more than we ever used our microwave. We also bought a dishwasher that hooks up to the sink and that provides extra counter space.

  48. Irene

    For 13 years, I lived and cooked in a large kitchen that had NO counters, only my 36″ round kitchen table. And one of those really small apartment-sized stoves that I couldn’t even fit a turkey in. But, it had built in glass-fronted cabinets from floor to head height and a large bank of windows that let in a lot of sun. And OMG – the KitchenAid!!! I just splurged and bought one on (gasp!) QVC yesterday! It was a one day holiday special, it is the new 6 qt., 575 watts of power and my friend Jon has all the attachments I can borrow. It arrives November 13 and I can’t wait to try out my holiday cookie recipes on it. No more making multiple batches on my old Kenmore one that spins the bowl and leaves everything up against the sides. Supposedly, it will also knead enough dough for 8 loaves of bread all at once!

  49. Simone

    My mom had one of those wrap dispensers and I couldn’t find it before. Thanks I’m stopping at bed bath and beyond on the way home.

  50. Once I had a kitchen that also held my bed, two chairs, a sink that only worked in the summer when the pipes weren’t frozen, a little counter made of wooden planks, and an old woodfired cookstove. Plus two cats and whatever wandering friends happened to be staying the week. The bed turned into a table with some magic and stout wooden pegs. I hosted many fine meals — by candlelight — in that little shack. I managed not just soups and stews, but weekly bread and pies, and even some six-dozen Christmas truffles in that drafty little kitchen. The strictures of my set-up almost made cooking easier: I had to plan my baking and cooking well in advance, in order to build a fire and have the stove at the proper temperature when I needed it. Planning counts for so much space.

  51. I loved this so much I tried to stumble, but of course someone already had! I agree with the cook neatly tip. It always makes me enjoy the process, and the meal, so much more. Learned this lesson again tonight. I’m with you on the microplane grater, the immersion blender, and BBB.

  52. oh, you have a tiny oven too! does yours fit regular sized cookie sheets? i had to go out and buy new ones when i moved in here. the greatest space-saving tip that i’ve found is having shelves that hang over my door. you can’t put dishes or anything in them, but it frees up a lot of counter or pantry space for tea, spices, peanut butter, that kind of stuff.

    also, my kitchenaid is possibly the best purchase i’ve ever made. my mom has one that’s almost thirty years old and still going strong.

  53. meg

    Last May I purchased my first home [whoo!] and it has a LOVELY kitchen. The previous owner custom built the cabinets for the space, and definately thought carefully and lovingly about how a person needs to work and move while cooking. I even have an amazing pantry tucked beneath my stairs with the best assortment of shelves ever. It’s a far cry from my university kitchen arrangements of the past few years: no usable counter, wasted floor space, few cupboards and only three drawers. Despite what lacked in that kitchen, we made some excellent food, and I think that my small kitchen actually opened my eyes and made me aware of the pure awesomeness of my new space.

    All of your tips are wonderful, but I think that they’re applicable in large spaces as well as small. Keeping things clean and efficient, using a bright colour on your walls, cutting back on useless or superfluous gadgets, investing in well-proportioned dishes and the like make any kitchen easier and more lovely to work in. And, if you’re baking something like the Pink Lady cake from a few weeks ago, well, I can’t see how it’s even possible to go wrong!

  54. Elizabeth

    Eesh, I cannot believe I have the nerve to complain about the lack of counter space in my kitchen. I have a ton in comparison and yet, little is actually close to my work triangle. As another poster said, sometimes less is more.

  55. I had a KitchenAid from the 70s (60s?) (it’s harvest gold) passed down to me when its motor got a little too tired for heavy bread dough… and I have it stored with friends because I just do not have room. I am shopping immersion blenders and/or hand mixers now, but I’ve been resolutely refusing to believe that soups need to be textureless and giving up on ever making pavlova.

    Pretty much, my work space is a cutting board balanced over the corner of my sink, and that works surprisingly well for me. And, yes, I do enjoy hosting dinner parties and cooking workshops in my studio apartment.

    I have 1 huge bowl, and that has my two colanders nested inside it. And my stepladder gets a lot of use, since I use all of the cabinet space, from the bottom underneath the sink to the empty space over the cabinets.

    I have a heavy-duty magnetic hook stuck to the back of my range hood, from which I dangle my measuring cups and spoons.

    And even though it is the worst possible place to store them, all of my oils and vinegars are on the window ledge by the stove – I just make sure to smell them for going off every time I use them.

    This was a fun post. Someday I’ll have to convince one of my friends to bring over a camera and take pictures of my kitchen.

  56. I live in a dorm room, and my “kitchen” is a lot like yours, except without the stove/oven…. I have (shh) a toaster oven and a hot plate, and a giant counter-height table I built…. And if I could make everything white I totally just might.

    If you can do it, between the full-sized common oven and stove and my room, I can do it… or just wait till I have a real kitchen.

  57. Nicole

    Wow, that stove looks very familiar. I live in a studio and my kitchen isn’t really a kitchen as much as a wall of a tiny stove, a tiny sink and 2 tiny cabinets. The oven drives me crazy because it has no thermostat and it’s so hard to tell if it’s pre-heated.

  58. Laura M


    If it is at all possible, my kitchen is smaller than yours. I would like to have an “island-on-wheels” as you have in yours, but there is not enough space between the wall dividing my bedroom and the kitchen and my countertop for one. Instead, I got a cheap, unvarnished wooden shelf from Ikea in which I put my “pretty” small appliances there with a sheer cloth over it so that I can keep two things on my counter: my microwave and my knife block. I, too, have a mere 6 cabinets; a 24″ oven, and only 2 working burners (the other two spontaneously combust, I’m an expert w/ the fire extinguisher). In this disastrous rental apartment kitchen, I made Mark Bittman’s pork tenderloin, quinoa pilaf, Jim Lahey’s No Knead Bread, and Martha Stewarts Outrageous Chocolate Cookies. I think there was salad, too.

    So, I completely agree with you… if you really want to, it is possible!
    It does help to have a designated “dish washer” (ie. significant other/consumer of foods).

    Laura M. ;-)

  59. Teresa

    The only problem with hanging pot racks is they don’t combine well with low ceilings and a tall husband. We hang a few things over the counter, but it’s limited.

    Our kitchen looks spacious by comparison with yours, though, and I feel immensely grateful for my full-size stove now.

  60. wow, our kitchens are the same size! i love your post!!! if you can pull off all those beautifully cooked items in your kitchen, i should never complain again!!!

    i have a vintage built in that is original to the building that I love. I have no other storage or cabinets. I have a sink, a refrig, an oven/stove, an mobile island, one window and 2 doors so the configuration in not so good. I love to cook and have tons of stuff! I have no counter space what so ever! I use the island, then the drawers… i pull them out and place cutting boards on them.

    I have decorative chair rails that are high on the wall about 62″, why they installed them at that height not sure but hey great for me! at the sink and stove I install white laminate shelves from the hardware store balanced on the rails with L brackets. Now I have a place for all my spices, oils and vinegars at the stove and then tea cups, latte bowls, teas and such at the sink. I placed hook under the shelf at the sink, where my aprons, towels hang.
    above the refrigerator, i have all my vintage trays, cookie sheets and a few old picnic baskets to hold linens. Also that is where i have wooden boxes to hold some my silver. All other linens and silver are in a dresser in the living room!

    I also have the magnetic knife holder, love it! also another great item is an old aluminum metal rail with hooks where i hang by the stove with most used utensils, others are in crockery pots that sit on the small ikea bookcase that i placed next to the stove. its in the door way but hey it works!


  61. Right now I live in a student cooperative housing unit and so I currently cook in a restaurant sized kitchen complete with 6 ovens, 2 grills, 16 burners and massive amounts of counter space. Those are all the benefits, the drawbacks are that it is perpetually a disgusting mess (what with 150 college students wandering through at all hours), half of the time half of the things don’t work, and I have to deal with 150 college students whenever I want to cook. I’ve finally become fed up with everything and so next semester I am moving into a tiny TINY apartment with a tiny kitchen (the entire kitchen/dining room is 9×12 with no cabinets, 1 counter, and 2 mini fridges rather than a full sized fridge). A major downsize but definitely worth it to me. This post is an absolute lifesaver, the small bubble of panic that was growing in my throat has now subsided. Thanks.

  62. Susan

    Bravo for you, Deb..A tiny kitchen and you cook whatever in spite of it; without whining. (at least not here, anyway) I admire your can-do attitude.
    Who wouldn’t love a spacious. tricked out kitchen? But if you can’t have it, you make do the best you can. Good tips for the small kitchen. Thanks for that.

  63. Im so glad to know that I am not the only one trying to bake and cook on a tiny stove/oven. I moved from a place that had a huge kitchen (lots of counter/storage space, big oven, etc) to one thats probably 1/3 the size and adjusting to it has been tough.
    I did buy an island/cart from ikea which is small but very handy for storing baking pans and also doubles as a wine rack!
    How do you store your spices? I currently stack them above the oven dials as I have no other room…

  64. I went from a kitchen that was over 250 square feet in Chicago. I admit, I was spoiled there. Then I went to a single counter with barely enough room to open the fridge door in an apartment in Pittsburgh. When I unpacked the boxes, I thought I was going to scream. I had to start storing stuff in the spare bedroom closet. What the heck was I thinking? My solution was to buy a bigger house. :)

  65. You surely make a tiny kitchen work! I have very few fancy kitchen gadgets and I have just learned to make do. You improvise, and I have learned I don’t need half the crap out there! Perhaps when I get married I will have a nice food processor and a kitchen aid mixer. For now, I will have to suffer with the cramped shoulders and arms from being forced to hand beat everything (including egg whites).

    PS – Another good site for storage solutions is the container store. I don’t know if they have them nationwide but they have anything and everything.

  66. Lulu

    I live in a studio, and the #1 reaction when people first walk in is “Cute place! Where’s your kitchen?” I have kitchen smaller than most walk-in closets. It’s about 50 sq ft, 4 cabinets, and a grand total of 2×1 1/2 feet of counter space. The biggest thing you can fit in the oven is a turkey breast. The microwave resides in our living area, the food processor and the blender in the coat/linen closet, and FORGET about an extra island. There is NO extra usable space. I have 3 good knives on a magnet strip, prop the foldable dish drainer on the oven to drain into the sink, cook miniature cakes, use the crack between the wall and the fridge to hold my broom, step-stool, plastic bags…. One thing I’ve definitely found useful is the use of a lazy susan for my spices. Makes finding the cumin in a stuffed cabinet a lot easier. I also love my crock-pot. It’s not small, but it’s another cooking surface, and I could put it on the dining table outside the kitchen if I’m working on something else.

    I have managed to make Thanksgiving dinner a couple of times (turkey breast only of course), although it is a strategic feat, and I have managed to feed a load of people, but it’s gotta be something simple. Because the only way to fit 2 pans on my stove is on a diagonal.

  67. i’m amazed at the stuff you turn out from your kitchen. i have a small kitchen too – it came completely bare – no oven, no refrigerator, no stove – nothing. we had to put everything in which meant that we had to find space for each of those things! it was tough. so what was (we thought) a huge kitchen – became tiny once we put in the appliances!

    and there was no room either – so we had to buy a counter top oven toaster griller, a fridge that would fit into the little 2′ of space (where i would’ve loved to put an island). so in the end, we have lots of cupboards (more than we need), but absolutely no space to put appliances! did i mention that we have only ONE electrical outlet in the kitchen – and they positioned it above the SINK?!?!? aarrggh!!!

    whats worse than a tiny kitchen? a badly designed medium one!

  68. My biggest space saver is putting all my kitchen utensils in one big jug, it saves so much drawer space, and its handy since its next to the stove. My latest trick is placing the chopping board next to the sink, as this way everything gets dumped into the sink, and tossed out, instead of moving and carrying the waste to the bin. I’m a klutz so I tend to drop things all the time on the floor.

  69. Amanda

    i gotta say, my kitchen is a great size, but lacks power points in necessary areas, such as next to the hot plates. So, when im making 7minute frosting, theres heaps of extension cords running through the kitchen. not the safest idea, but it does work wonders :D

  70. I have the dinkiest kitchen and I love gadgets. I agree that the kitchen add with attachements is the way to go (I adore the ice cream maker).

    My favorite thing is my pot rack, I got a long one from target first thing and it’s been awesome.

    I regret picking a black kitchen aid since I totally agree it shrinks the feel of the space oh well.

    I have those plastic cutting boards which I know aren’t the best for knives but they sure do save space and I can take them out of the kitchen and do prep on them if I want. I also keep my biggest pot in the oven, I use it to make no knead bread so it’s not the weirdest place and when I need the oven for something else I can usually put it on the stove, counter or ahem floor.

    I need to reorganize though I know I can get more out of my space, thanks so much for the encouragement and tips

  71. MichelleB

    Your kitchen looks great.

    Well ever since my hubby and I celebrated our 10th anniversary and he surprised me with a gorgeous diamond necklace from I surprised him with allowing a designer come in to renovate our kitchen where he likes to cook.

    It’s a small kitchen so these tips are really helpful in helping us!

  72. Your oven looks exactly like mine! It’s absolutely tiny, can’t fit more than one baking sheet at a time, really. Doesn’t tell you when it’s preheated. Runs about 25 degrees too cool (my estimate after lots of experimentation). Doesn’t have a LIGHT inside!!! And doesn’t have a window outside!!!

    But I’ve gotten used to it. It’s just so petite and homey-looking. It’s my endearing pain-in-the-ass now.

  73. Jenna

    Ready to be jealous? I have a *huge* island bench, a very spacious kitchen with bench space all around the room, two fridges, a walk in pantry and a double oven. And it’s still roomy :P

  74. Ah yes, the problems of the tiny kitchen. Luckily, we’re (my parents and I are) going to find a new house that has cabinets and shelves and SPACE GALORE in the kitchen!

    I’m jealous of Jenna. The idea itself? *swoons*

  75. mio

    I have to say that I always thought that you have the most gorgeous and delicious cookblog in all the internet and vicinity. Love your recipes, love your great food pictures, and to think that you manage to do all those delicious delicacies in such a tiny kitchen… you are a super-chef! o/ o/ o/

  76. mio

    I must add that I always imagined that you’d have one of those enourmous kitchens with two counters, two sinks and two ovens, so this came quite as a shock to me…

  77. Wow! I think your kitchen might be even slightly smaller than mine. But as a city resident (although DC not NY), I feel your pain. It is always a great struggle to keep things clean, neat and maximize every bit of space.

    Thanks for the tips, these are all spot on.

  78. This is one of the funniest, most cleverly written posts. To think that Smitten Kitchen operates from such a tiny space is almost surreal and makes me wonder what you go through to get all the great photos on your site. Perhaps your next blog should focus on photography in less-than-optimum quarters (I didn’t see a window for natural light).

    P.S. I never saw so many comments on any one post.

  79. Maria

    Joan # 90 said it all…….you truly work magic, SmittenKitchen, to create the art that you do AND obtain the photos that you do is truly a work of an artist!
    KUDOS…….you’re my new hero!!!!!!!
    I too can’t believe the comments to your post…….it’s been like therapy for the small kitchen……..=))

  80. peonies

    nice post. I used to have a tiny tiny tiny kitchen: about 6 ft x 6 ft. And now I have a huge kitchen. But the space is never enough. I think it’s all about how organized you are.

  81. mister worms

    These tips are very familiar to me :) I have 2 small kitchens.

    The weenie one in my nyc apartment has 2 wall cabinets, no drawers, a 24″ stove with oven that doesn’t work, 4 sf of counter space, counter height fridge and mini sink. I’ve cooked some ambitious things in there, but you do get to a point of diminishing returns in a kitchen like that.

    The kitchen in my house is less than 2x the size of yours, so not huge, but it makes a WORLD of difference to have a full sized fridge with freezer, a working oven, a full sized sink, etc. In that kitchen, I am really without limitations.

  82. Laura

    The little island is a great idea! I’ll have to try to find one somewhere…maybe BBB! : ) I second the cooking neatly, I usually get to a certain stopping point and then clean the mess that I have so far. It helps conserve space so much! Thanks for posting this! : )

  83. Inspired!
    I stayed awake one night thinking of how I was going to store all our new appliances we were getting from our registry. The KitchenAid and all its attachments was particuarly troubling me. The next day mom and I were driving through her neighborhood and there it was! A large wooden shelving unit with cabinets, shelves, and drawers. The sign said free. It fit like it was made for my breakfast nook, matched my cabinets and displays several dishes and the beautiful KitchenAid! My husband wants a pot rack, but I just can’t stand the “cluttered” look I think it gives. But in the end he may win since our new pot and pan set being non-stick suggested not nesting the pots. So the space is maxed out and we keep the 13 inch skillet on the stove top. More clutter! I like clear counters!!!

  84. Esmeralda

    Great post!. My husband and I sold our cozy 1400 sq ft home in the US and moved into a 260 sq ft dorm room with a communal kitchen when he was accepted to graduate school in the UK. Needless to say, we had to downsize EVERYTHING. Since we knew that our stay would be temproray, we decided not to invest in expensive kitchen gadgets. Of course, our limited storage space wouldn’t allow for that anyway. How I missed my blender and food processor- I love to make pureed soups, smoothies, nut butters, hummous, etc. My husband and I are ready to move back to the US after two years of living the high-life in the UK (ha, ha). We have decided to maintain the “less is more” attitude and lifestyle. However, I would like to buy a gadget that would allow me to make my smoothies, nut butters, hummous, etc. Any suggestions about what would be the best gadget: blender vs food processor vs immersion blender or a combo?

  85. I now realize I have no excuses.
    I moved from a HUGE kitchen to a tiny one and I felt like I couldn’t do anything in it.
    I know now that I didn’t know what tiny was and it’s me, not the kitchen, who is being ineffective.
    Thanks for the great tips.

  86. Thanks so much for this entry! I too have a tiny kitchen (so tiny, in fact, that there is NO counter space, and I do all our food prep at the kitchen table), and our biggest space saver has been using a credenza for our dishes. It’s kind of like a sturdy china cabinet that hangs out in our living room looking pretty, and we keep all our wine bottles on top of it to save more space. One thing that a lot of our Italian neighbors do to survive cooking in tiny apartments is to use a huge cutting board as a work space. They put it on the table to use as a counter when they need it, then away it goes behind a door. Oh, and I’m with you on the white kitchen looking more spacious! We even hung some cheap IKEA tracklights to brighten the whole area.

  87. My kitchen at uni is shared between seven, and it’s a decent size – but the first time I tried to put my brand-new, bought-by-my-mother baking tray in the oven, I found the shiny new tray would only fit in if I, you know, folded it in half. Currently I’m constantly borrowing trays off my flatmates, le sigh. Love the post!

  88. hmmm. Our current kitchen is quite spacious, but once we move back to Vancouver (into an inevitably small townhouse), these tips are going to be handy! Right now, I make sure to stack things within things, instead of having every item next to its neighbor. Even so, we still got WAY too many things from our wedding! I really like the pot rack suggestion!

  89. Nicole M

    Senior year of college our kitchen was so small the fridge was in the “dining room”. Now our kitchen is much bigger but still a pain to work in. It’s a galley and it’s so narrow you can’t open the oven normally and have to go at it from the side. I’ll have to see which tips I can work in to help us out because my husband is really tired of us tripping over each other, hitting each other with drawers and cupboards, that sort of thing. Thanks for the ideas!

  90. Kate

    This is a great post! and perfect timing! I’m in the process of moving into a new house. I’m overwhelmed by how disgusting and dirty the people were that lived there before me. I keep procrastinating on getting the kitchen settled. I just go into the kitchen and stare at the cabinets and try to figure out where everything should go! This was great and really got me thinking about where I can store things. All of the comments were really helpful too! I’m inspired and should have my kitchen in order tonight!!!

  91. David

    I have no choice but to clean as I go. If I am making a cake, I measure the flour, dump it in the bowl, and put it away. My kitchen can’t possibly handle anything more. I also store my pots and pans in the oven, I use the space on top of the cabinets, (always), and if it stacks, it’s mine! I also have a small bar-height table that acts as an island with stools that fit very snugly underneath.

    After all this, what could possibly be the downfall to my ridic organized kitchen? The microwave! They must have written a law that insists a microwave take up as much counter space as possible and have the shortest cord imaginable so that we poor small kitchen dwellers have no choice but to put it in the most inconvenient place!

  92. Not to be sappy, but this is really inspirational for people who think they don’t have the space to cook. Your food looks/tastes amazing, and if you can cook in a small space, others can, too. Thanks for the peek into your space.

  93. makyo

    for 6 years my husband and i lived in a one-room, 600 sq. ft. efficiency apartment. i had a sink, a mini refrigerator, a microwave and a toaster oven. and a hot plate with two burners. i had two over-the-counter cupboards, one under-the-sink cupboard, and 4 drawers. and i was *amazed* at the things i was able to make even with such limited tools. i had a cute little cookbook called “the tiny kitchen” by denise sullivan medved with a lot of easy recipes that don’t require many tools or ingredients (my favorite chapter was fish. it was a single page that said “don’t cook fish in the tiny kitchen. it smells.”)

  94. When I moved into my new (first) apartment, my (extremely nice) parents gave me a good knife and one of those gigantic Butcher-block cutting boards. The board is great because it takes up the entire counter, turning all of my work space into prep/work area. It is awesome.

  95. KT

    The first thought in my mind was, how does she get such awesome photos in that tiny place? I guess everything white helps with that, lots of fill light.

  96. You know, i was inspired to get the kitchen cart i got bc of yours. I have zero counterspace. And I have a weird sink situation where is stands on its own without any connection to the rest of the kitchen. I need to figure out a creative way to house a drying rack – as it’s balancing on 3 of its 4 legs right now… i see lots of broken dishes in my future that way :)

  97. Ann

    Inspirational! Amazing that you can churn out so much from your kitchen – I have a decent kitchen, but just moan and complain about not having this or that ratehr than getting my a$$ down and actually doing something. You rock!

  98. Cheryl

    You are amazing to accomplish so much in that kitchen. I too have a small NYC kitchen…longer and narrower and a little less square footage than yours. I was so happy to have it when I moved 3 years ago because for the previous 13 years my kitchen was even smaller. Two people could stand in it side by side as long as neither made a move! You are such an inspiration! Thanks for the tips.

  99. Is it horrible that I looked at the picture of your kitchen and squeaked about how nice it must be to have so much *gulp* “space?” I share your small-kitchen syndrome. But I think the thing is really to just know you CAN do it. You CAN make a small kitchen work and turn out lovely things. One thing I’ve done that helps me use my space is to lay a large cutting board over the divider in my sink when I’m preparing something. Insta-counter!

  100. Mary

    Me again! I have had a few more thoughts since first posting. Things that attach to the underside of a cabinet are great space-savers. I have the under-cabinet can opener and lots of hooks for holding pot holders, etc. A friend of mine had a low box made of the same formica as her counters; it perfectly covered the burners on her stove to provide extra counter space. I think it was attached with piano hinges so she could just lift it up out of the way when she needed the burners. I have a ceramic cooktop which provides a handy work surface when not hot. And a word on economy: a Kitchen Aid will pay for itself if you tend to burn out cheaper mixers as I did. If you can posssibly scrape up the initial outlay, a quality appliance is the better bargain every time. I know most people have already thought of this, but anything thin and flat, such as pizza stones, cutting boards and cookie sheets, gets stored behind the door or in the space between appliances and walls. Also, there is no door in my home that does not have some kind of a rack hanging on the back of it. Tacky but useful.

  101. Wow just when I thought I couldn’t admire you any more!!
    It is amazing what you do in such a small space. :)
    I thought my condo kitchen was small, but now I don’t think I can complain too much!

    I love the pot rack idea- they are practical AND stylish!

  102. Couldn’t agree more! I wrote an entire cookbook, and developed all 100 dessert recipes in my teeny-tiny Brooklyn kitchen. As my mom always says, When you really want to do something, you find a way to do it :)

  103. deb

    We bought it at Hold Everything for like $200 a few years ago, but the store/chain has since closed. It’s actually rather junky and I do not recommend it. It never came together perfectly… with tight seams and the shelves fitting snugly against the walls so the shelves fall a lot.

  104. Great tips, Deb! We just finally kicked our gigantic microwave to the curb, which freed up a whopping 1 foot of counter space. I can’t even tell you how much cooking life has changed with that extra bit of space. And really, I never used the micro that much anyway.

  105. Denise

    ok Deb, I PRAY my man does not see this blog because I always complain that our kitchen is too small and outdated and I can’t cook because of this. My kitchen is about 4 times the size of yours and I must say, that my face is red as I am typing this… Oh the shame….

  106. Rachael

    I clean obsessively. I match containers to their tops as they come out of the dishwasher – and yes, I’d trade that mini-dishwasher for another cabinet any day – and, at least once a weekend, I go through them all again – usually during Paula Dean’s show – and make sure they’re stacked neatly. Everything is always at my fingertips.

  107. Christie

    My kitchen is tiny but my house is pretty big. If you have the same thing going on (probably not true in NYC apartment), I would suggest that you keep big appliances that you don’t often use (mixer, grill pans, stock pots, etc) in other areas of the house – like a spare bedroom. I also LOVE my cast iron utensil holder that sits on my counter. It holds all of my important utensils without too much clutter.

  108. Coline

    Thank you Deb.

    Would it be possible to share photographs of ” space saving” ideas we have ?

    A HUGE fan of you & your work,

    Coline, Canada

  109. Kerry

    Ikea is great for some of these kinds of things! Our kitchen itself is fairly big, but totally useless for counter and cabinet space. When we moved in we discovered we had NO DRAWERS! Not one. We nicely asked my dad to build in a drawer where there used to just be a fake drawer front on our one piece of counter. So, it helps to have a handy family member or friend. And I definitely second Deb’s suggestion of an island, we have one that we use for storage and to put our microwave/toaster oven on. But what really saved our kitchen was adding in a metal shelf and a pot rack bar above our tiny piece of counter and our stove (we have no upper cabinets there). We hang most of our pots on the bar with S hooks and I can put my spice rack, cook books, sugar/flour jars up on the shelf.

  110. Daffy

    Good god, woman, you are a culinary genius to produce such magnificent dishes in such a small space, and an inspiration to us all. In our first house, we had the most primitive set-up; wooden frames around appliances with slabs of reclaimed marble from a tombstone maker mounted on top. A glass-fronted cupboard from a school held our cups and glasses, with food stashed in the old fashioned under-the-stairs larder cupboard to which we added shelves. Our butler sink was rescued from someone’s garden, with simple stainless steel tap fittings from my retired grandpa’s shed. The original quarry tiles were well-worn, but with an IKEA rug were perfect. I’ve had five houses and kitchens since, but none have the warmth, charm and simplicity of the first. Well done you for reminding us it’s about what we do, not what we aspire to….

  111. Isabelle

    When my husband and I first lived together we had a tiny, remarkable kitchen. Although it was probably no more than 7 by 6 feet square, it had an amazing amount of cupboard space that was (almost) more than we needed, and a pretty good amount of counter space too. The only downside was that if the fridge or the oven was open, you couldn’t walk through it. I remember once when I was baking cookies I leaned over to put a second batch in the oven and burned my lower back on the edge of one of the hot cookie sheets resting on the counter behind me. Our current kitchen is a bit bigger and more open, but the storage space and counter space is much tighter. Do you have any suggestions on where to store cookie sheets, other than in the drawer under the oven where they have a bunch of cake pans on them and are a pain to get out? (we don’t have one of those convenient narrow cupboards designed for them.)

  112. Tammy

    OK, I am truly shamed. I have no excuses for putting off the things I am afraid of making – breads, pastries, etc.
    I fell in love with your blog the first time I ever read it. Now, I am in awe.

  113. LizD

    I do. not. believe. how amazing you must be to produce the kind of gastronomic masterpieces that you do from a kitchen with that amount of usable space. Wow. I have a small kitchen for a big midwest house. Compared to, I think, everyone I know my kitchen is smaller but I don’t mind. For me the thing that was of premier importance was stove/oven size. I actually turned down several adorable aparmtents (back when I was single) because of those dwarf ovens. I just won’t do it! First thing I bought for my new house was a gorgeous 5-burner, gas, 5 c. ft oven range. Oh I love it so much! We actually shopped for a house that had an old stove because I knew I would want the one I now have. Not pricey, really, just finally enough burners and oven space to cook anything and everything I want!!
    But as far as storage, we too use our coat closet as a pantry, and I have an old antique buffet in my dining room (absolutely no space for so much as a foot stool in the kitchen) where I keep most of my pots and pans and many baking sheets, stockpots, etc. That has been a lifesaver in terms of space. We also have these weird cabinets (all the top ones) that aren’t even deep enough for a full size dinner plate! Ah, old houses and city apartments. :) Long on charm and short on storage space.

  114. crispyK

    Deb, thank you so much for showing us your kitchen. Now I know that I’m not the only one with a tiny kitchen. The strange thing is that my friends with huge and modern kitchens never bother to cook… Well, having a small kitchen has made me the queen of ”how to benefit the most of such little space” and of course I’ve sticked to the most useful and essential items. Nothing useless or.. unused. Thanks again.

  115. Also – we just keep our three big knives shoved in a drawer right now but I know they will probably get duller this way. Do you think there exists a small, three-knife holder to fit in a drawer?

  116. AJ

    Two words: peg board. Or maybe it’s one word. Regardless — we have a recessed area of wall about three feet wide and my genius husband hung peg-board for me, so now all the pots and pans and some other gadgets hang nicely on what was before wasted space. That and I am merciless about what I allow into the kitchen — hubbie loves specialty gadgets; me, not so much. But, yeah — peg board. Look into it.

  117. LC

    If you ever have the chance you might want to check out a store for camping/Motorhomes/RV’s for things to make the most of small spaces. My mom and stepdad lived in an RV for many years and I went in to a camping/RV store with them a couple of times. The first time I found a plastic knife rack that mounts to the wall or inside a cabinet either on the back of the door or the side with either mounting tape or screws. I’ve probably had it for close to 10 years now and love. I used the tape to mount it to the inside of the door of 1 of my lower cabinets. It holds my chef’s knife, serrated/bread knife, cheese knife, and 2 paring knives with a couple of slots leftover.

  118. This is a GREAT post. My husband and I have a very small kitchen, and while it’s frustrating, I like the charm that it has. Thanks for sharing all of your great ideas :)

  119. Jessica

    I have a nice size kitchen, but I have four doorways leading into or out of the kitchen so the current setup only has about only 24 inches of usable countertop.
    Thanks for the tips! I think I will start decluttering now!

  120. jen k

    i always thought that you had an uber kitchen that produced your uber food creations. my kitchen has almost exactly the same square footage, the same useless (except for placing a dish rack) built-in counter space, and the exact same stove. i deemed the tiny, dysfunctional kitchen to be a wrench thrown in my culinary dreams.

    you give me hope.

    …now if someone could only give me more cabinets, a beautiful pot rack, and possibly expand my kitchen to include my fridge (which is currently in the bedroom :P)

  121. Cathy

    I am in awe. And, I will never again say my kitchen is too small nor that I cannot entertain or make anything my heart desires. You are simply amazing.

  122. My friend Katie and I read your blog faithfully from the outskirts of Beijing, where we cook in very tiny kitchens.
    Not only did we start out with NO cooking equipment or cookbooks, we also have only one induction burner! At the moment, we share custody of a tiny toaster oven that burns almost everything, and a one-speed blender that makes terrifying noises. Despite this, the biggest challenge for us is actually finding ways to make Western recipes work with Chinese ingredients. This can be a lot of fun, because it inspires a lot of creative substitutions and development of alternative techniques. For example, with no pastry knife in sight, I’ve learned to freeze my butter, then grate it on the cheese grater! A bit trying at times, but our colleagues are always happy to see western-style baked goods, even if they are always burned. Keep the great blogs coming!

  123. Marie

    You have a beautiful kitchen. Yes, it is small. VERY small. Some of the best food I’ve ever had came from small kitchens. Back in the 1960’s I had a friend, newly married, whose kitchen was a smidgen larger than yours. Very few pots and pans, one good knife, etc. She served a garlic-rosemary roast chicken she’d made in a cast iron skillet. No $100 All-Clad roasting pan. A cast iron skillet. Utterly delicious. I’ve never forgotton that wonderful meal. It’s the welcoming hospitality, the generousity of the hosts and the cook, NOT the kitchen that make the meal.

    I was watching Martha Stewart recenty and she had Daniel Boulard (I think) on and he prepared a roast chicken in a cast iron skillet — just like his grandmother! And I bet his grandmother had a small kitchen, too.

    After seeing how small your kitchen actually is I must say I’m even more impressed with your making that beautiful wedding cake. What a wonderful post, Deb. Thanks for taking us into your kitchen.

  124. Marie

    P.S. A suggestion: If you have an oven get rid of your toaster. I’ve been using my oven for toasting bread for years. I save on electricity and it doesn’t affect my gas bill. But mainly, I love the taste and texture. And I’m toasting bread for just one person. I use an 8 x 8 foil lined pan, but try using your pizza stone, or cookie sheet or even just put the bread directly on the racks (if you don’t mind crumbs). I use a 400F oven for ten minutes but play around with different temps and different breads. You’ll save counter space and money.

    Of course, it’s a different story if you live in China and only have a toaster oven. I have to read more of the (above) blog from China. What a view into a very different way of life.

  125. Tori

    I feel the pain of a small kitchen. We have one counter that’s 8 feet long with a 40’s double sink in the middle. We are certainly not in need of drawers as we have a bank of 8 on one end. There are 4 cabinets in the kitchen, total.

    The distance from the counter to the stove opposite is 4 feet, alas no room for an island.

    I always thought that the ceilings were to low for a pot rack, until I realized that the alcove above the sink was open. Unlike the other apartments in our building, we have a window behind the sink. We lack a cabinet there but a handful of coffee cup hooks mounted into the ceiling above the sink works great as a pot rack. I utilize the walls for hanging cast iron pans, strainers and cutting boards.

    Next to the fridge I put in an Ikea shelf to put small appliances like the toaster, microwave, blender/food processor (like yours) and ice cream maker. I kicked all my boyfriends crap out of a small closet in our place and I use it as a pantry and a place for large sheet pans. I also use the top of the fridge for some dry goods.

    My biggest gripe is that there isn’t a place large enough to mount the magnetic knife rack I bought, I’m still holding out hope.

    People often forget that wall space can be used and in a kitchen it’s more like art work than cookwear. As long as you keep your stainless steel shiny and your copper clean it looks great and saves a lot of space.

  126. I spent a week in Sicily with my Italian friend and her family. Her parents had a nice apartment right in downtown Palermo and every room was huge, with vaulted ceilings, except the kitchen. I’ve seen closets (not walk-ins) bigger than this kitchen. And from this kitchen came the most amazing meals I’ve ever tasted. In the past I had used the excuse of having a small, outdated kitchen as an excuse for not cooking much, but after that week I vowed to never use kitchen space/quality as an excuse to not cooking the meals I really want. (It did help that the family purchased their olive oil wholesale, directly from the farmer, in a big vat that they would refill every few months outside the city!) I think it’s definitely up to the cook’s motivation and everything is possible. The amazing things coming from smittenkitchen seem all the more special because of their “small” beginnings!

  127. I’ve always said, it’s not what you’ve got in your kitchen, it’s what you do in your kitchen. I just heard about a friend of a friend who did a $250,000 renovation of her kitchen… and I’ve never heard that she likes to cook.

  128. Joanie

    I live in an apartment with a galley type kitchen, I have more cabinet space than Deb, but so much of it is unusable for me because of balance and mobility problems. I can’t get to things on the tops shelves, and in the bottom cabinets, things have to be stored right in the front in order for me to reach them. There fore my table and counter tops are used for storage. This apartment is considered handicapped , but the kitchen isn’t real well planned for that. I have added 2 sets of plastic shelves, but you can only put so much on them, and where they have to be isn’t real convenient. I have a lot of stuff on the counters and table. Fortunately we like to eat in front of the TV. lol

  129. Kitchendeeva

    We did it the expensive way and knocked out a wall 4 feet and closed off a door way, but great and inspirational tips for those who can’t do that. It’s truly amazing the things you cook (and the great photography) in such a tiny space! How DO you manage to keep the space cleaned off? I have A 3.5 x 7 ft penninsula that I can’t manage to keep the clutter off!

  130. Angel Elf

    Hi Deb;
    That is the exact same range I have in my tiny New York Appartment. My oven is 14″ wide by 16″ deep just big enough for a baking stone. My sink is just 14″ by 14″ by 6″ deep. Not even large enough to wash a sauté pan let alone a stock pot. My kitchen is about the same length and about half as wide as the photo.

  131. A brilliant post, Deb, filled with great, practical ideas! Even when kitchens are decent sized, they’re often organized so badly that much space is wasted, particularly in rental apartments. I found inspiration for organizing mine—and for a post—in The Itty Bitty Kitchen Handbook, an appropriately tiny book filled with big solutions.

  132. Nan

    I will no longer complain about my kitchen again! Well, maybe just a little…as in I would LOVE a stove that works 100% of the time! It’s amazing that you do what you do! Love the blog – still!

  133. Jen in Belgium

    Hah! I’m amazed. You cooked and freezed a wedding cake in that kitchen?! I’m speechless. Our kitchen is smaller than yours by virtue (or lack thereof) of the inclusion of a built-in table and chairs– our only dining room. Our daughter’s highchair makes it a bit more challenging. We used to have a “living rug” –my beautiful malamute– who added an extra dimension to the challenge that is Twister (remember that game?) cooking. Our freezer is in our attic as that is the only place it can fit. Nevertheless, we make it work. We love your site and your recipes and and your writing and now I’m even more inspired. “Yes, we can!”
    Now, I’m curious, when you take all of those wonderful pictures, are they only taken on the island?

  134. wes

    My kitchen is about 90 square feet, but what a difference that 10 square feet make from looking at your pictures. It used to have only one counter, but we remodelled it and I had my husband take out the pantry cabinet and turn it into a top and bottom cabinet with a countertop…yay! Like you, I have to think about any new purchases since I have to find a place to store them. I don’t have many appliances, hand-mixer, stick blender (which I love and will never replace with a full size blender), toaster, ancient food processor(that I rarely use, but was a wedding present 29 years ago), crockpot, waffle iron. Most of these are stored in the closet that is the pantry. Everything must nest. I store the cookie sheets in the drawer under the oven. Most important thing that I miss if I have to cook in someone else’s kitchen–a sharp wide bladed knife and a large enough cutting board.

  135. Jess

    Thank you for writing this! My mother in law, who is an excellent cook and hostess has a teeny weeny kitchen (galley style with one countertop.) but it has never stopped her from hosting parties and serving fabulous food. She says that having a small kitchen forces her self to be more clean and organized.

    I keep meaning to get a butcherblock/island type dealio for my rather small ktichen, thanks for inspiring me.

  136. Having a tiny kitchen with only one closet and no island I’m considering (and dreaming of) moving the refrigerator out of the kitchen and putting a table instead.

    beautiful tips,
    Thank you

  137. kittyball

    Thanks for the post. It finally got me to hang up the last bit of shelving, hooks, and other misc. organizational thingies in an attempt to restore some order to my mini kitchen. I think my kitchen is about 60 square feet, with full size appliances (which is nice) but no counter space…None. Thankfully I have a space off the kitchen for a small table, where I do all my serious work, or try to, I’m still adjusting. I’m also not against inviting myself to friends houses to use their much more expansive kitchens.

  138. Sherri

    I love the recipes but I am also pleased to know I am not alone in having a SMALL kitchen. Where in the world did you find the kitchen island that small? I have have got to get one because I have no counter space!


  139. Diane

    Although I have a nice kitchen now, I had a kitchen that I swear would have fit on a rowboat. But I’ve got to tell you, I have my grandmother’s “Hoosier” cabinet and that is all she had in her kitchen except for her stove and “icebox”. I still wonder how she kept everything there she needed for her family of 5.

  140. wow i can’t believe how much your kitchen looks exactly like the one in the first apt i lived in when i moved to nyc! although, yours was a lot newer and cleaner looking ;) this is a fantastic post and very resourceful for any home cook, so thanks!

  141. We have almost identical kitchens! Literally the same exact layout. My most recent successful spacesaver was to buy 2 little magnetic hooks and stick them to the side of my fridge. When I’m not drying dishes, my dish rack hangs neatly on the side of the fridge, back (depth-wise) far enough that it’s totally out of the way!

  142. NancyD

    I copied this idea from a friend – use magnetic cafe curtain rods as towel racks on the refrigerator(get them at Home Depot, etc.! They adjust in size, so fit where you need them on the ‘frig. I went from only using my oven handle to having three more places to hang towels and pot holders. It made a huge difference for me.

  143. I’ve always wondered what your kitchen looked like! Good tips on maxamizing space and cutting down on the inessentials.
    Another question for you (which you can choose to answer or not) how do you get such exceptional lighting in your kitchen? I’ve tried and tried to…well, crappy results.
    Any advise would be appreciated. :)

  144. don

    Think positively. Everything is within reach. I did the cooking for my family – my wife and I, four kids (the teenage years were busy) and two dogs – in a walkthrough kitchen which was the thoroughfare from the door to the rest of the house. A lot of the time my prep area was a 24″ by 18″ sheet of 1/2 ” plywood over the double sink. Everyone was expected to call out ‘coming through’ as a warning so they weren’t endangered by a sudden turn from the plywood to the stove which was behind me standing at the sink. Literally I could reach whatever I wanted by turning around for the stove or taking a short step sideways for the fridge.
    Thesupreme afternoon was Thanksgiving turkey dinner for twelve people.
    Maybe learning to cook on an open fire with a cutting board (no tables)was the right background.
    Love your recipes, your writing and your photography .

  145. Thank you immensely for this post! You have not only set me in pursuit of a pot rack and wrap dispenser, the former of which is now at the top of my Christmas list (thinking of how much cabinet space it will save necessitates a change of panties), but have inspired me to clean/reorganize the built-in bookshelf in my kitchen and clear much space off of my counters. I wish I could return the favor, but you’ve got me sorely beat on kitchen organization. Kudos!

  146. Hello , I love this site . I love to bake and make desserts esp. fudge for gifts to teachers and nurses { my husband fx’d his shoulder . fell off a ladder} if anyone has an old recipe w/ just butter, sugar, cocoa and vanilla which is cooked on the stove until thickened and grainy , I would appreciate it if you could share . Thank you , Theresa

  147. Rebecca

    I live in Chicago and my kitchen is smaller than your NY kitchen, but I still cook and bake like crazy! Oh, tiny stoves. I have one, too. It IS challenging that a cookie sheet doesn’t fit. I use a pizza pan.

    Happy cooking!

  148. Debbie M

    Wow! Great entry! Here are my tips.

    Small kitchen tips

    1. Pot rack – we nailed boards to the ceiling over the range hood so we could nail them right into the studs. Then we painted the boards white, like the ceiling. Then we screwed strong towel bars into the wood, centered (not having to worry about where the studs were). Then we hung S-hooks from those, and like you said, that freed a lot of space. (I wonder if pot racks could work in a pantry or under a sink if there’s no head-free space in the kitchen or you don’t like the look of pot racks.)

    2. Stackable, stackable, stackable. Our mixing bowls stack, like yours. Our measuring cups stack. We’ve replaced a lot of our storage containers with ones that stack and have the same lids. Then the lids can be stacked in a container (we found that something we got potato salad in was just the right size). We don’t get dishes that don’t stack well (check the bowls!). The key to stacking is to have more than one thing but not so many things that you dread having to get the middle ones out.

    3. Wire baskets for shelves you can barely reach. I can just barely reach the edge of the top shelves, and this lets me pull out a basket in which quite a lot of things can be stored.

    4. We store some implements in pitchers because we have only three drawers and only one of them is big.

    5. We store lots of things on the walls. We have a rack for pot lids. I have decorative things like cookie cutters and other small things like scissors and my apple slicer/corer hanging on the wall over the washing machine. (I feel much better about having a washer in the kitchen now that I’ve read that Jen K has her fridge in the bedroom. Yikes.) The colander hangs on the side of the cabinet next to the sink.

    6. Magnets. Our potholders are on magnetic hooks on the side of the oven. I finally found a magnetic paper towel holder to put on the fridge. We have a magnetic thing to hold a pencil and shopping list and coupons on the fridge.

    7. Using prime real estate only for well-used items. The crockpot, toaster oven, blender, and microwave are on the counter. But the mixer, food processor, and other things are on a bookcase in the dining room or in the pantry. And if I had a dishwasher, the dish drainer would probably be stored under the sink. Like Lauren, all our baking supplies are in the same place (under the main countertop), I agree that it’s great to be able to easily put away each thing after you measure out what you need. Glasses and dishes are over the main counter. All extras are in the pantry. The space under the sink is usually used for the trash and cleaning supplies, but it’s too valuable for that. I store cookie sheets and other tall thin things in some plate racks down there, plus baking pans, plus things hang from nails.

    8. I put the microwave on four matching mugs to lift it up from the counter. Now I can set plates in front of the microwave and still open the microwave door. Also, I can set (short) things out of the way under the microwave when I’m really wishing I had more space. (I love my microwave for re-heating stuff that can’t be stirred and because you can heat things in the serving dish, so there are fewer dishes to wash. To make up for this space hog, I use a fork instead of a Kitchenaid mixer–probably I don’t do the kind of cooking that normal people do.)

    9. Lazy susans in the corner cabinet means I can easily get to more things in there.

    10. Extra shelves. My “pantry” is really a broom closet, but I put shelves all around the walls and they hold quite a bit of stuff. A hall closet could also be used this way. Also, I put a bookcase in the dining room which holds cookbooks, big items like the mixer, and extra cans of stuff when we get way too good of a deal and can’t fit everything in the pantry. I have a wire rack that’s supposed to go over a door and hold video tapes, but I broke the hook parts off the top and attached it to a wall and now it holds spices and other little jars of stuff.

    11. I also have a thermometer hanging in my oven which tells me for sure when it’s preheated. (Not a space-saving technique, but it also helps reduce stress.)

  149. marie

    This is a bit late, but I recently found your site and am now printing off tons of recipes. I’m an American living in Holland, where not only are houses quite small (space is at a premium here), but even in larger houses, kitchens are often tacked on as an afterthought. I live in a studio that has a kitchen roughly as large as yours, but it came with no oven and no fridge. I bought a fridge right away, but it took me months to finally get an oven, which is about the size of a largish microwave. My 12-hole muffin pan may not fit in it, but most of my other pans do, and I’ve been so enjoying baking again.

  150. Hello –

    This is my second attempt…not sure what happened to the first comment I left.

    I really like your thoughts on small kitchen. May I talk about it on my blog?

    Please let me know…. correus at yahoo dot com.

  151. My kitchen is tiny as well! Although my previous apartment kitchen was half the size of this one. I gave my other half the task of making me a cover for the sink so I would have a bit more counter space the other day! He’s working on them today! I can’t wait!

  152. Hallo :) I’m new to Smitten Kitchen :) I also started a life blog last year, which sort of morphed into a food blog, so I got it it’s own page, and then it promptly died due to RL encroaching. (as in we found ourselves temporarily homeless, then somewhere with no oven and two burners, and then moved to the country – long story :D And I’m resurrecting it.) Anyway, for all the posting in the blog food wise, I made everything in my tiny tiny kitchen. It was totally comparable to yours. I think I had more bench space though, without the mobile island however. And a smaller fridge. And the first thing I made for the blog (that I blogged about anyway) was Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon rolls, which require MASSES of space! Like long long bench space masses of space. So I cleared everything out, put it all on the floor, and used the under-a-meter of bench space that usually housed the kettle and condiments. I totally know what it’s like to have no space in the kitchen :D Ironically, I now (for the last 5 & next 1 month) live in a house with a big open kitchen, where there’s room for a TABLE just to eat on :) And lots of bench space. And even an old Aga (that doesn’t work, but looks neat). Anyway, probably a bit of a long comment, but I wanted to say hi :) And also, WOW the wedding cake was amazing.

  153. Gremlin

    Hi there!

    I was led to your site in search for tiny kitchen ideas. I’m moving in the spring and am in Montreal, where many of the kitchens are like in NY. The kitchen I will have is literally a corner, with a sink and fridge on one side and the stove on the other i.e. not a lot of usable space, and no drawers. Anyway, I thought I’d share my ideas….

    1. for lighter items suction cup, if magnets are not an option, hooks work great.
    2. for those of you with extreme space constrictions and few pots, you can make a pot rack out of just one dangling chain with s-hooks all around.
    3. I’m designing an island with slots where I can slide my cookie sheets and bakeware, along with my cutting boards, in sideways.
    4. You can buy little shelves for plates and bowls that allow you to stack them, but still have the ones’ underneath accessible. I believe Ikea sells these.
    5. Dish racks take as much space as microwaves, try mounting one above the sink, or buy one made specifically for this purpose.
    6. I have my clean tea towels in a basket I slide under the underside of my cabinets, creating a drawer.
    7. I bought a wine rack from Ikea that can mount under the cabinet, and since it has three slots, I slide other things in there too.
    8. I also bought those spice containers that have magnets on the base and sticks to the fridge.
    9. I, unfortunately, do not have a Kitchen Aid processor o blender, but I do have a hand-blender I mount on a small space on the wall – very handy.
    10. Mugs can hang under cabinetry with hooks, so can wine glasses.
    11. Extra shelves can be placed in the lower cabinets.
    12. Since I don’t have a lot of cabinet space, I have a small shelf I place all my pantry items i.e canisters, baking goods.

    Hope this helps someone!

  154. emily

    Oh, This warms my heart because my kitchen just might be smaller than yours (and I live in Texas, where everything is supposed to be bigger!) and I, too, concluded a long time ago that my ridiculous space restrictions can not and will not prevent me from cooking to my heart’s content– even for a large crowd. My kitchen was designed in the 40’s so every time I read a recipe for say, “the best pie crust ever,” and it involves something as space-wasting as a food processor, I have to laugh. I always revert to whatever method pre-dated bulky food gadgets (not that I wouldn’t buy them all immediately and with gusto if I were to move somewhere with a larger kitchen. Let’s just be real.) Long story short, most people these days really underestimate forks. A person can do a lot with pretty basic equipment.

  155. hey deb, thats really cool of you.. my kitchen is smaller as you said, i only though of having a big and a better one.. but never tried to remodel it.! you rock dude.. thats a lot of tips and ideas in your post

  156. Ruby

    Don’t let bigger kitchens fool you. We moved into a much larger apartment with a luxurious kitchen – that is, luxurious until I began to unpack. I realised that my old small galley kitchen had 1/3 more cupboards and 1/2 more counterspace!! I must have been distracted by the still-working Victorian fireplace and brand new shiny appliances. The mantle of the fireplace has been great counter space and I’ve just learned to adapt along the way, like extra cookie cutters in the bedroom, more food staples in the linen closet and cook’s tools in the laundry room:) What I admire, Deb, is all that you do and with only a single sink!!! I cannot function without a double sink and I even have a dishwasher!

  157. Renee in Seattle

    Found your site courtesy of PW.

    Is your new kitchen in your new apartment a “one butt” kitchen, or a “two butt” kitchen? This is the measuring device we use to guage the size of a kitchen….

    I have a two butt kitchen….


  158. deb

    Ha! Depends on whose butt, I suppose. I’d say one butt, comfortable. Two butts might be a little close for comfort, but I’m sure if it is someone I like, it won’t be the end of the world.

  159. Okay, can I just say I love you?? This is my first time to your website and already I’m singing your praises!

    I really do not have a tiny kitchen, but it’s tinier than my last (hello gigantic granite island with enough storage to fit the entire Duggar family!) But I have got SO MUCH stuff that I just don’t have room for it all. My solution? Complain. Doesn’t get me very far but keeps me busy. We moved in here over two months ago and still I have stuff I have not unpacked because I have no room for it all. Reading this post made it all click for me. I don’t HAVE to display my gigantor cookbook holder. Nor my stand-up mixer. Nor my new love, my Cuisinart food processor. Because as wonderful as they all are, I don’t use them everyday. But one thing I do do everyday- complain about how small my kitchen is and how I have no room to actually cook. So… lightbulb- put it away!! Get rid of the twenty million mixing bowls that I don’t NEED, and make room to put away the stuff that’s cluttering my counters!

    Thank you for helping me see the light! ;) I was a little stubborn.

  160. Amanda

    I wish I had read this post when I lived in my last apartment! We had kitchen items stored in–literally–every room of the apartment! So there’s always that option, too.

  161. Just found your blog, it’s great! Beautiful photography that I will be tuning into frequently for inspiration. I also really appreciate this entry about maxing out kitchen space. Mine here in San Francisco is teensy weensy but it at least ensures I keep the space clean (otherwise my roommate would go insane). Cheers!

  162. Mae

    Inspirational to say the least! Thanks so much. I’m moving in with my boyfriend this weekend, and was bumped to discover the teeny tiny kitchen at our new apartment – which by the way is exactly like yours minus the hanging microwave and the width for the kitchen island. I’m a terribly messy baker, and am so glad to learn the tips. And hmm the ice cream maker mistake – just committed it a few days ago. But I don’t foresee us having the fancy kitchen aid thing anytime soon, so I guess it’s okay.

    I also love the quote by a commenter’s grandma up top, about room in the heart. Will make a note of it and post on my fridge as a reminder!

  163. The Anchor Hocking bowls have been available infrequently from Amazon since this post. There’s an issue with getting them shipped in one piece, I think. I’ve found them at Super Wal-Mart, but not in the set. They were labeled as “serving” no “mixing” bowls.

  164. I found this post to be very informative! Thanks! Just wanted to let you know that those last three links no longer to anywhere, though, and the link to the bowls is no good, either (Amazon no longer has them). Thanks again!

  165. deb

    Bummer to hear the bowls are out of stock (and that they’re called “serving” not “mixing” — wha? — when I rebelliously use them to mix almost daily). The links still work for me, however.

  166. Kyrsi


    I have been a fan for a LONG time! So love the pics of your kitchen….its so cute! You have some great ideas! I have a large kitchen (no kitchen envy girls) BUT haven’t always used my space wisely! So off I go to reorganize!

  167. Kathy

    Oh, Deb. It makes my heart grin to see how you make your small kitchen work so hard!

    I’m 31 and on my second small kitchen — and on my first all-mine kitchen. My first small kitchen was in a tiny basement apartment, where I lived for about nine months; I had a bedroom, a bathroom, a large hallway that I used for storage, and about 30 square feet of floorspace to move, and just a little cupboard space (dishes were provided). But the counter space — ah, you would never have imagined it! A double sink lay at the end of one counter, which also contained a two-burner hot-plate and a small toaster oven. (The “apartment” came furnished with those appliances, and that was how I cooked.) My dish-drying rack stood there, too. The other counter was entirely, gloriously clear. This meant that I probably had a good 25 square feet of total counter space, and let me tell you, I reveled in it. (Did I mention that I had a refrigerator that had the capacity of about two dorm-size fridges?) Even limited in these ways, I still turned out good meals, even making a pot roast with accoutrements for four friends one night.

    Now, I’m in a studio apartment with a kitchen corner. My counter-workspace is about the same size as yours, with a tiny bit of extra because the single sink is set back. I have a 3/4-size fridge, a small microwave, and my gas stove has four burners, but it’s so ancient that I have to light the oven when I bake. It’s probably just a smidge smaller than yours. My cupboards probably total 20 cubic feet of storage space, so half of my kitchen tools and equipment (like my KitchenAid that’s over 20 years old, a gift from a former roommate) are still in boxes. (And yes, I am careful and choosy about my tools; I, too, am a baker, so I have more than some folks, but still, I have only what I really need, and most of it’s pretty old. Well, I might have more round pans than one really needs…)

    STILL (again), I am loving my own, small kitchen, and I cook and bake like the dickens in it. When my boyfriend and I combine our kitchens later this year — he has much newer, prettier stuff than I do — we’ll have a mighty force to reckon with in terms of tools, once we winnow out what we will no longer need. And, because we already love to cook with one another, we will be able to make the most of any kitchen we inhabit.

    Thanks for reminding folks that a kitchen is what one makes of it. Large, appointed-to-the-hilt kitchens aren’t necessary to create meals with love!

  168. carlye

    This last August we bought our first house. I fell in love with the hardwood, the crown molding, the spacious bedrooms etc. But the kitchen…well, that’s why we got such a good deal on it. It’s super small. Mine looks SO much like yours except I have pine cabinets and cream and rust and ochre colors everywhere. YECH! My husband even tells people that the border around the wall is flayed yams. It’s a sixties-style border with what must be food? Could be flowers? Either way, it takes away a decent appetite.
    Anyway, I am so very inspired by your crisp, clean, neat and orderly maximization. It’s truly not the size that matters, huh? Hmmm. Maybe that’s just what people with small kitchens say…HA!
    Thanks for your tips. I am going to implement them asap. My husband thanks you as well! I was in need of an intervention of some kind…

  169. Kati

    I too have the smallest kitchen in the world. I can choose to have a dish drying rack or a counter. My two recent finds have been a wine rack that is mounted to the wall ( and a mug holder that attaches to the underside of my cabinets ( My next wants include a pots and pans rack and somehow create a counter/shelf that I can fold back up on the wall but fold down to cook on. Thanks for those ideas!

  170. Liane

    I can totally relate to the tiny kitchen, but I don’t even have walls to hang stuff on! My kitchen used to be a patio so it has wrap-around windows. Ok, nice trade-off, but it makes for so much less space to use for storing things.

    So, keeping sane in a tiny kitchen:

    – Making sure all dishes are clean before starting a big cooking project
    – As you mentioned, prepping ingredients before cooking so you can clean the cutting board and put it away
    – We bought standing shelves to maximize cupboard space, creating two layers instead of one. Ikea. Total life saver.
    – Shopping more often because those tiny cupboards don’t hold much food!
    – Other measures like making my own stock and freezing it, rather than taking up the cupboards with cans or boxes of stock
    – Having just enough plates/cups in the kitchen cupboards for 2-3 meals, instead of storing all the china (not that I have any) and other things in there–those items are in the credenza in the dining room
    – Nesting bowls, also nesting pots/pans (the pots and pans have the biggest cupboard, which is ok because they are my most vital kitchen asset)
    – The only appliances on the counter are the extra compact microwave and the coffee maker because we use those almost every day
    – Dish rack goes under the sink when not actively drying dishes

    And so on. I am just grateful that my oven is full size. Hang in there! :)

  171. Louisa

    when I moved in with my boyfriend I had to adjust to the tiny tiny apartment kitchen he had – as opposed to the big spacious ones I’ve always been lucky enough to have, over time I’ve learnt a few tricks but I learnt even more today reading this post – especially the clearing away countertop space, don’t know why I never thought to put away the toaster, that I use occasionally on the weekend!

  172. Still hitting “Surprise me!” and I LOVE this entry! Right now I’m working with about 600 sq. ft total here in DC, and we’ve actually got a great kitchen. We are, however, moving and I’m terrified (as in, thinking about stealing, terrified) of leaving the amazing peg board pot rack a-la-Julia Child that is currently in our little kitchen. The one you posted on here is great! I’ll definitely have to keep an eye out for it!

  173. Alisa

    Thank you for your inspiring words about small kitchens!! I’ve worked so hard to make our tiny and low-end kitchen space efficient, but still can get so envious of the high-end (multiple) ovens, endless counter space, and islands (oh, to have an island…) in some of my friends’ homes. You’ve underscored what I’ve wanted to believe for a long time: that it’s not the kitchen but how you work in it!! I have to admit that when I first discovered one of your recipes, I assumed you were working from some amazing kitchen to get such beautiful products…

    One thing that I’ve done is to make utensils and pans very accessible by building shelves above the stove. It’s definitely a bit of a folksey, cluttered look, but my whisks, wooden spoons, spatulas, and pans are all within arm’s reach. So much better than digging in drawers or cabinets to extract items that are twisted or wedged together or blocked by 15 other items in front of them!!

  174. Julianne

    I really dont envy anyone with a large kitchen often theyre cold
    and uninviting looking. I just dont like them. I have a basic small kitchen and like it.
    Small kitchens so appeal to me. REALLY theyre just cuter and more homely.

  175. Bonnie

    For extra counter space when I’m cooking, I pull out a drawer and put a cutting board on it. I keep most of my ladles, wooden spoons, spatulas, etc. in a large container on top of a narrow closet organizer shelf which I’ve wedged between my stove and refrigerator. I store napkins, trivets, pasta pot, recipe file, etc. on that shelf. It’s white like the appliances, so it doesn’t look as ghetto as it sounds. I keep cereal boxes and bread products in large baskets on top of the refrigerator. I have an over-the-door wire shelving rack on the inside of the door leading to my basement to store syrup, cocoa, packaged mixes etc. I’ve moved glasses, coffee cups and linens out of my few cabinets onto a narrow bookshelf in a hallway leading into the kitchen. I store my Keurig K cups, bananas and other “stuff” in a three-tiered hanging wire basket. Potatoes and onions are in an old wicker picnic basket on the floor. My nightmare of a sink is 1940 era porcelain one with built-in drain boards on either side of a single bowl sink. It takes up 6 of the 10 feet of my only countertop surface. Oh, and the counter top is a lovely white formica with gold speckles…charming! I’m dreaming of replacing my lower cabinets (along with that sink), with deep, wide drawers and wonder of wonders….a dishwasher. I’m hoping the drawers will enable me to access items easily, instead of crawling around on my knees reaching into dark, cavernous cabinets where everything gets lost. It will probably be like trying to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, but I’m determined to make my little kitchen think big. One kitchen design tip for those who are remodeling or building a new house….in one house I had, the builder put in an entire wall of upper wall cabinets…above and below. He installed a narrow countertop on the lower cabinets which was perfect for displaying pretty things, or for small appliances. Since wall cabinets aren’t as deep as lower cabinets, they were perfect for storing pots, baking dishes, china, glasses, etc. How I miss that kitchen!

  176. Ann

    I love this post. The house I rent now has a small kitchen but feels like a mansion compared to my old apartment which had a half sink, (bar size), half stove, and a smaller fridge. It had a counter that was not more than 4′ (my only counter space) but I baked pies in there and learned how to manage. Like everyone else – cookie sheets and pans went in the oven until I cooked and I got creative on where to store my dishes, etc. Now my kitchen is a little bigger but not functional so I bought a marble island looks like a little table for $75.00 and I do all my cooking on it. I put a pot rack above our stove we have low ceilings so it hands low but it allowed me additional storage in the cabinets. Still can’t do the knife thing on the wall – it creeps me out somehow. But I love that you do all this cooking in that tiny kitchen. It’s an inspiration. Someday – I do want my big kitchen and island but for now I like my little compact kitchen – it feels cozy.

  177. fellow new yorker… i love your blog and have been a long time reader. i just happened across this old post you did, and i have to say, i would kill for your kitchen!! i have about the same amount of counter space, but MUCH less cupboard space, and get this, my fridge does not even fit in the kitchen, or kitchenette as I like to call it. yeah, it’s in the living room. classy. i like to think it adds a nice decorative touch. or something. but the kitchen(ette) is literally the size of a closet, and not even a walk-in one. only one body can fit in there at a time, and you can’t walk one step in there. i basically just pivot around to get to the sink, stove and counter. i don’t have a pots and pans rack, although would love one, but i have been hanging ours on the walls. i also want a magnetic strip for my knives. the other thing i do to save space is mount my drying rack on the wall as well. my counter space is precious, no room for a dish drying rack! but i love to cook, and love to bake even more, so i try not to let it stop my. but it is rather uninspiring to cook in a closet. but like you said, it can be done! thanks for all your great ideas and all your great recipes!!

  178. Ashley

    Deb, love your comment about the Microplaner.
    I have toted mine across the Atlantic multiple times (I live a toggle-y existence between Seattle and Germany) and every time I bring (along with clothes and reasonable shoes) my Microplaner, my french rolling pin, my destroyed copy of Joy of Cooking, and a pair of brown silk heels. I have not used the heels ONCE (in either country) in the last 3 years – but the microplaner, well, that’s a different story.

  179. Julie

    Just discovered your blog and I’m so inspired! For years I had a tiny kitchen in a tiny Victorian apartment and I never attempted elaborate dishes/large cakes for fear of not having enough space. Boy, was I wrong?! If you could bake a wedding cake in a tiny kitchen, anything is possible! How do you keep from being completely overwhelmed?

    Things I found helpful for my tiny kitchen: collapsable drying rack for dishes (cute bamboo ones at Ikea), under the cabinet paper towel holder, and a prep table that doubled as dining table w/ folding chairs.

  180. Ali

    I so needed to read this today. For the support alone! & the tips have me thinking too.

    I’m struggling with the urge to cook & try new things, but have a tiny galley kitchen in a cottage that has no room for a table to eat on, unless you could my coffee table & the couch!

    What’s an aspiring foodie to do? :) As Tim Gunn says: “Make it work!” …while I drool over new homes that I will most likely never afford that have these divine large kitchens!

  181. denise benner

    hi deb.. my kitchen is approximately six feet by five feet..think teeny tiny galley kitchen.. i rent a studio apartment which sometimes reminds me of the equivelent of a motel room..but i prefer to call it the beach hut.. or “the hut”.. or chez moi. ok back to my kitchen.. i got a custom bakers rack from a resraurant supply by the house and put it together. it takes up the wall across from my sink, two burner stove with one working burner and an under the counter fridge..the rack goes from floor to ceiling with five shelves. on one of the shelves is a microwave..on another is a toaster oven.. i have no oven. i bought some ” s ” hooks to hang my utensils.. i have a very small portion of counter space..which i keep a small flat wolgang puck knife set..and thats it.. i use the crockpot a lot.. which fits neatly on the counter..and my shelf unit is uncluttered..i have one cutting board..also tiny..i have worked in professional kitchens most of my life and have learned as you said to make do with your small little station.. i love my little kitchen..and i have turned out some amazing meals in it.. i especially love to make your chana masala recipe in the slow cooker.. i am going to forward my recipe for plantain cups (made in a mini muffin tray ) i make them in the toaster oven and fill with all kinds of good green chili cheese or vegetarian chilli..good with margaritas and about six friends..i only have seating for thank you for all your inspiration.. from the humble kitchen of chez moi.. denise benner

  182. Jessica Davila

    Thank you for sharing your kitchen space with us. In our “cozy” apartment, our kitchen needs to serve as both cooking AND eating spaces because we have no dining room, and for that matter, no space to put a table anywhere else and I struggle with the thought of having to eat on the couch in front of the tv all the time. We found an awesome high table with matching stools that nestle nicely underneath the table, so we have been using the table as both an “island” to prepare on as well as to serve meals on. It works great for us(and the price was right at!).

  183. deb

    It’s completely right; the kind of thing that happens when your kitchen is the size of a shoebox and has no counters. Fortunately, the trashcan had a lid.

  184. My Nana cooked for 5 children, two adults, several cats and assorted hanger-on in a tiny, tiny kitchen. She taught me to bake there when I was small. I now have a big kitchen – acres of bench space, two ovens, a dishwasher, a garbage gobbler, I even have a few gadgets… and you know what? – I work on a tiny section of the bench, one oven is never used, I hardly use most of my gadgets (though I long for a KitchenAid). I have eaten the BEST food in Vietnam and it was cooked by a little woman who had a burner and two pots, which she carried from place to place on her bicycle. She had a knife and a small chopping board and a basket of ingredients. She was one of the best cooks in the world. It is amazing what you can do – if you HAVE to. I love the look of your kitchen, and I’m so pleased to have found your blog – at last!

  185. Tara TX

    Here’s an idea I stole from my Romanian neighbor (she sends over freshly baked bread often, bless her) ~ bought a yard of thick, clear plastic from the fabric shop (was on those huge rollers with other tablecloth-types). It turns my kitchen table into my baking counter. I just roll it out, sprinkle some flour and roll out my cookie dough! When done, it wipes clean and, once dry, is folded in half and rolled into a tube to be stored in a corner of my pantry. Think it cost about 6 bucks. Deb, I just “found” you and am loving reading and obsessing about all the beautiful food! Thank you!

  186. mert

    We moved from a tiny 800 sq ft house in Old Monterey, CA to a slightly bigger but better designed apartment in Germany and those Grundtal rails from Ikea have been such a great space saver. The kitchen here already had four installed, so we used our extra in our office for my art supplies. They are so versatile, you could use extras in the bathroom as well. You can add cups for holding cooking & eating utensils, a paper towel holder, a shelf, dish drying rack, etc. We have all our pots and pans hanging on them with ‘s’ hooks, plus cutting boards, and anything else that can be put on a hook (vegetable peelers, small recycling bin).

    It’s really enlightening to hear about other people’s kitchens. I have my share of complaints and obstacles to deal with but I think it’s kind of funny now, not frustrating. It’s more of a challenge to my creativity and problem-solving skills.
    Like our place in Monterey had pretty bad electrical wiring, and I took a risk of blowing the circuits every time I plugged in the blender. We also maxed out all of the 3 electrical outlets with all our appliances (microwave, toaster, coffeemaker). But here we have tons of outlets all over the place but our appliances don’t work because of the European voltage! (We have to buy special voltage transformers to use them.) Oh, the irony.

    Deb, I think your recipes are all the more amazing because of the space you have to work with. Thanks for sharing your kitchen! I am very curious about the skylight in the kitchen, any photos of it?

  187. Penny

    I remembered this post from long ago but decided to review it again, as I’m moving from a 3BR townhouse (with a rather generous kitchen) into a 520 sq-ft studio apartment (in the city, though!) with a teeny, tiny, itsy bitsy one. I was worried but now I know … I can do it! And survive! (Even without a dishwasher … sigh.) Thanks for the tips!

  188. Lori L

    Thanks for this. I have a kitchen just a tad larger than yours. I have pined for a pot rack, but wondered if the pots would get too dusty, but why would they? I use them all the time! Your article convinces me I need to get one. I also love the spices recessed into the wall…is that in your kitchen or is that a photo from somewhere else? And, yes, I love white. My old kitchen (as small as yours) was all white and I never thought of it as a color to make it seem larger. I wanted it white so I could have different colors of towels and kitchen tools so they would not have to match one single color scheme.

    1. deb

      The photos were current when this was published, but we’ve been in a newer apartment with a much tinier and even less efficient kitchen since 2009.

  189. A friend turned me on to your blog a long time ago but somehow I never saw this post, and I LOVE it! I moved to the UK when I got married, and although our house is an open floor plan and feels less cramped than this photo of your (old) kitchen, it has about half as much storage space (2 big drawers and a corner cabinet) and a tiny eurostyle dorm fridge to add insult to injury. I had to buy a kitchen cart to have space to roll out pie crust, but it came at the cost of having space for a table to eat said pie. But I can’t agree more on number 3 – to think I used to own ridiculous things like garlic peelers, HA! Love you blog, and thanks for adding fuel to my arguments why I need that Kitchenaid one day, hahaha. (Dough hooks… I dream of dough hooks…)

  190. Windy

    Nice post! Hopefully I can put some of these tips to use. My kitchen isn’t technically that small, but the lay-out drives me nuts. Japanese homes almost seem to be more about sliding doors than walls, so my kitchen has one full wall, with two partial walls interrupted by sliding doors. One of those partial walls is right next to the sliding glass doors that face my backyard (so… no wall on that side). There’s nowhere the table can go that it isn’t blocking some door, and as it’s my prep space–because the “counter” is hogged by my dish-drying rack–I can’t get rid of it. Fortunately, the full wall does have a dish rack hanging from below the cabinets. Unfortunately, it sticks out past the sink, so my fridge isn’t flush against the wall. It can’t be put flush against the partial wall, either, because that’s where the kitchen light is. So it’s set diagonally. With gaping wedges of now unusable space on either side.

    My ceiling’s also higher, which means the cabinets are hard to get into even when I’m standing on a chair. I don’t store anything up there because I might not be able to get it down again.

  191. I have a stainless steel sink counter top without the bottom cabinet. You can see the pipes and it’s not very pretty. But I can store a lot more wares under the sink in my color plastic bins than if I had a cabinet.

  192. Tovah

    My kitchen on the upper west side is exactly the same layout as this one, but the place is so small that the kitchen is one wall of our living room. In a stroke of genius, my fiancee put a tall bookcase on its side to make an island which serves as a room divider, food prep counter, pantry and large appliance storage. It’s a lifesaver. Deb, do you remember where you got the pot rack? I need to find one that doesn’t hang from the ceiling. Thanks!

  193. Taryn

    Great post. I’ve been trying to figure out how to increase the functionality of my micro kitchen. In keeping with simplicity, I dwell in a 250 sq. foot house with my large dog and a cat. Space is a cherished thing. My kitchen boasts a full size fridge and stove and one- count em- one kitchen cabinet. With no shelves in it. Counter space? I forgot such a thing existed! It takes no small amount of skill to play chef on the one by two plain between my stove and sink.

    For storage, I’ve taken to hanging EVERYTHING on the walls. For spices and such, I stained and mounted a few wine crates. For everything else, hooks have become a lifesaver. I’ll have to start engineering some sort of island that will fit in the space.

    Bravo on the wedding cake! And thanks again.

  194. This post was fantastic. I’m always looking for more space in my kitchen and I’m finding that as I age (and as my son accumulates more and more stuff), I can do without much of what I thought was essential in my (pre-motherhood) late 20s.

    As far as a kitchen island, I was able to get a base cabinet unit from someone who (lucky them!) was remodeling their kitchen. All it took was a coat of paint and a butcherblock cutting board fastened with L-brackets and that island was like GOLD. It was heavy duty, with drawers, and went with me to 2 apartments with small kitchens.

    Repurposing is a good thing!

  195. Lol I’m in the same position as you. I live in London and kitchen space doesn’t come cheap here. The thing is, I’m an obsessive collector of small kitchen appliances too, which means that every cupboard I have is crammed full of them (and not just in the kitchen!).

  196. Rochelle Eissenstat

    Looking at the foto of your kitchen showed more storage ideas for you:
    [1] You can eliminate the soffit – the “wall” above the top of your upper cabinets which make a smooth surface up to the ceiling. Behind that soffit is SPACE – take off the soffit and put an upper row of cabs up there for stuff you need less often.
    f you rent rather than own, you can mount a shelf on that soffit extending along the length and put things up there like bowls and pots.
    [2] Above your fridge is useless space, where you now have some fruit and an inaccessible small back cabinet. You can build out a cabinet above your fridge that extends FORWARD to the edge of the fridge door & extends up to the ceiling. [I can send you a foto of mine, open and closed.] This gives a huge space! HUGE! Approx. 2.5 ft cubed. I am not exaggerating. How & what can you store & access up there is as follows – divide that space in 1/2 horizontally. The lower half you access by reaching up your hand to the front of that cabinet. So divide that space vertically into 3 or 4 by vertical dividers. This allows you to store baking pans, trays, chopping boards, cereal or other large boxes, aluminum foil and other papers, plastic wraps, that you just pull out from the front. The upper half is accessed by step ladder so put longer storage items up there. [my upper space has room for a large extra portable oven among other things, for when I need to do marathon baking.]
    [3] Put at least a shelf, or a wall mounted pot rack, if not a cabinet, above the wall with the 2 doors in your foto.
    [4] For extra counter space, have a board[s] measured and made to put on top of your sink and on top of your range. Store them in the above the fridge cabinet when not in use :-).]
    [5] Install a combination ventilation fan/microwave oven above the range and use the existing microwave location for a larger cabinet or add shelf in its place.

  197. Rochelle Eissenstat

    1 more suggestion: the dishrack next to your sink is wasted space. Remove it and store it [above the fridge in my wonderfully huge above fridge or under the sink – it helps if the dish rack folds.

  198. I loved reading this, as I recently moved into a tiny kitchen. To adjust, I’ve created vertical storage on the wall opposite the kitchen (thanks to IKEA), and I stack! stack! stack! everything; ramekins on top of bowls on top of plates on top of cutting boards. It’s worked so far, but my boyfriend swears there’s going to be an accident in the near future. He’s probably right. But don’t tell him I said that.

  199. Christine Sakariasen

    I absolutely love this article. I was unfortunately on the HGTV website where they had an article on “small kitchens” and half of them were at least five times the size of your kitchen—some less, some more. Too bad I have no space for an island though.

  200. Sally

    Pegboard to hang awkward things on–strainers, ladles, tongs, even the wok. Ours is on the back of the pantry door, but they’ve repealed the law that says pegboard has to be ugly dark brown; ours is painted bright lime green. Get an assortment of hooks that *fit the size holes your pegboard has* and some of those widgets that keep the hooks from escaping when you lift something down.

    Use an open drawer as a surface to hold the big cookie sheet or cutting board.

  201. Genessa

    Love your site. I’ve been living with a closet for a kitchen with a single cupboard above the stove and a sink with less than 12″ of counter space beside for over two years. I bought a Lerberg shelf unit from Ikea to go beside the stove and stores all my everyday dishes on the top two shelves and the pantry on the rest. I mounted a dishrack over the sink to save the counter space for my bodum espresso maker which is too pretty to hide and wouldn’t fit in my cupboard under the sink anyway. I got a really long magnetic knife bar which holds my 4 essential knives but also my box grater and plastic hanging cup (also ikea) for all my smaller kitchen utensils; another magnet strip holds my most used spice jars by the stove the rest a kept in a box on my pantry shelf. My large spoons, ladles etc go in a mason jar on the back of my stove with my stick blender. I store all my baking pans, plastic containers, beloved pasta roller(I’m the second generation to own it) and my 3 fondu sets under my sink. Most of my stainless steal pots and pans fit in the drawer under stove(bonus). My treasured lecreuset pot set found at a thrift store for less than $50 :O is housed on my fridge – they came with their own wooden box rack – find of a lifetime. I don’t have a island as it would kill my space but I have a beautiful multipurpose table that is my sewing desk, dining table, work table and counter space. I’ve done a full turkey dinner, I bake pies bread and cookies, make fresh pasta and will be canning later this week with the canner my parents gave me a few years ago. I make do without a lot of things but I made my space work really successfully. I store a lot of my normal pantry items in the fridge as I live in 250 sq ft and space is very limited. I don’t have a microwave or a toaster so sometimes its a hassle to turn on the oven but I don’t have the space for anymore appliances – no matter how much I want a KitchenAid

  202. I lived in a 325sf studio in Denver for a couple years, and as much as I loved my little place I hated the fact that I literally had zero counter space. I was able to get by with a cute microwave cart I found at Goodwill (Denver has one of the best Goodwills I’ve ever seen!) and by storing a lot of stuff on hooks I mounted on the wall. I took a hit on my security deposit for that, but it was worth it to avoid having to keep everything crammed in my oven!

  203. Tonya

    Hi Deb, I have used a few of your wonderful recipes over the last month, but haven’t explored the site. Along with my husband and two kids I am about to move to move a rental apartment with a tiny kitchen. I have been so anxious about the moves generally but have been focusing on the tiny kitchen! I googled “tiny kitchen” and this popped up. This post cheered me up so much! Thank you! You are doing great work here.

  204. sharon

    we recently made under cabinet shelves and they have transformed our space! by lifting things off the counter, we don’t loose any counter space, but gain tons of storage. the shelf is about 5 1/2″ deep and we use it for bulk items in jars like nuts, dried fruit, seeds, beans, grains, etc. it has been a great space saver and looks better than our ugly laminate backsplash.

  205. Linda Waller

    Before reading some of these comments I thought I had the worlds smallest kitchen. My apartment’s kitchen is approximately 5′ X 6′. When you walk into it, my apartment size stove and oven unit is there on the right, then a utility cart for storage and the top a make shift countertop. In the corner is an apartment sized washer & dryer. Dryer is on a shelf above the washer. Then when you turn around 180 degrees without taking any steps the sink and small counter – barely big enough for a dish rack is on one side of the sink. The other side has a few inches. I use it for my crockpot or blender with a board under it so it won’t fall into the sink. To the left of this is a wall that surrounds a fireplace and chimney. I have command stripe hooks up on it for commonly used hand gadgets. Above the sink is one small cabinet where my dishes, cups & silverware are stored. Underneath the sink a cabinet with pots & bakeware cramed into it. Above the stove are 4 shelves I use as pantry space The frig is right outside the kitchen. I have lived here a long time (over 30 years). Throughout the years I have cooked mainly for myself, but have also done some entertaining. Despite it’s small size. I just refuse to buy convenience foods (chemicals) that all I have to do is microwave and eat. I also bake any baked goods (muffins, cakes, pies etc.) I want to have. All the prepared food & baked goods one can buy at the supermarket is loaded with so much preservatives (chemicals). I don’t want that in my food. So I guess that what they say about where there is a will there is a way despite the obstacles. I hope I will be able to buy a house soon. It will definitely have a much bigger kitchen.

  206. Jill

    I found SK shortly after moving to NYC a little over two years ago and you have inspired me to try some very adventurous things in my tiny kitchen! We recently moved onto an apartment that has what I affectionately refer to as the “wall of applicances” in the 10×12 living room. NO counter space, 1 full cabinet and 2 half cabinets. Mini stove, mini undersink dishwasher (LUXURY!) and apartment sized fridge. I concur with EVERY tip you’ve given – and routinely use the lid of the trash can as a place to set things… because it is super handy! We created a kitchen space by purchasing an island cart (|SearchResults|RICHREL&grView=&eventRootCatId=&currentTabCatId=&regId=) with a drop leaf off the back which can be used to extend the counter space for large projects or to pull up bar stools and eat from.
    My next purchase is an immersion blender! If you have any recommendations, I’d love to hear them!

    A few new ideas I did not see listed here:
    1. Thin Man Pantry – In my previous kitchen, we had a 11 inch gap between the wall and the edge of the fridge. We purchased a thin man pantry ( which slid in there beautifully, but now sits in front of our window in the new kitchen. I pivot it out (like swinging open a door) when I have to open the oven. 2. Wall mounted rails – We used the IKEA Bygel rails to suspend over the top of the window, like a valance, to hang pots and pans. They have other fun things for over the sink ( If you’re going for more posh, the Grundtal series is much less whimsical.
    3. Wall grid – We just put one of the small ones over our sink and love having back the edges of the sink! Sponges, towels, dish & hand soap dispensers all up! (

    Hope those ideas are helpful to others with tiny kitchens!

  207. LIZ

    The funny thing is some of the best meals I have ever had have been made in tiny kitchens! Right out of college I was in a tiny little apartment. It was my first time really having the time to experiment with new recipes and real cooking! My next place had a bit more space, and finally (after years of building a career) I now have a nice kitchen. There are some great tips here on how to maximize the space you have! Sometimes bigger kitchens aren’t necessarily more efficient.

  208. ruka

    I have a slide out storage tower and it is very useful. It create lots of Additional Storage in Limited Space. You can search google “artofcreativelife slide-storage-tower” to find out more.

  209. BJ Orden

    Your Blog is Amazing and is anything But Dated! I did not grow up knowing how to cook or what constituted healthy foods, but with the help and inspiration of my oldest daughter, Leah (she is a natural at cooking), I have gravitated to better foods and daring enough to try different ways and cooking (I now make a Mean Jail-House Chile with Serrano Hot Peppers, 25,000 Scovill Heat Units (SHU) instead of Jalapenos, only 5,000 SHUs). My major problems are Cabinets & Counter Space. I couldn’t understand why I seemed to have insufficient counter space as my kitchen is not tiny, but then I counted the Doors off my Kitchen: FIVE, so I wall off my back door and placed a portable Dishwasher there with a Butcher Block Top, and my Cabinets are totally Non-Standard as they were Built by the builder of the house in 1923! I was about to cut a hole in the Formica counter top (that I discovered was simply placed on top of the pine wood counter & Not Fastened Down) when I realized the front of the sink basins would come out further than the cabinets themselves. My Dream would be to rip out the Sink (huge cast iron on 2×4 supports, install a U Shaped continuous counter-top with a Gas Cook-Top where the Sink was, relocate and install a double basin sink in the center of the outside wall with a Greenhouse Window, and then, where the Stove was, remove the wall between kitchen & dining room and put an Eating Peninsula there with a countertop wide enough for eating on bar stools, and have cabinets hung from the ceiling with glass pained doors on either side for dishes accessible from either the kitchen or dining room, but, alas, this my only be a dream.. BJ Orden

  210. I am a cooking lover and love to cook at home. I baked cookies on Italian style, traditional Indian style thali and such more. I love kookri shows. Recently I shopped 3 burner cook top and make a top of new recipes at home.

  211. c

    Your wrap dispenser is no longer available, but a creative alternative is a six-pack carton (I use one from cider; beer or soda also would work, of course). The wraps are easy to grab, and it’s basically free! I saw the idea online somewhere.

  212. Rosalie

    As a long time kitchen gadgetaholic, I have known deep in my brain that they are only space wasters etc., like the doohickey that I had to have that would take butter and turn it back into cream…
    I was recently reminded of my affliction when the bottom drawer in my stove got stuck. Stashed in the oven: small and medium sauce pans, frying, griddle (frying pan with no sides), in another cabinet a large cake pan that works as a roaster. I have been doing just fine with these limited items.

  213. Jamie

    I read this post a few weeks ago… and it has seriously impacted the way I cook. Specifically, the advice “Learn to cook neatly.” For some reason I had it in my head that I was just a messy cook and that was that, but reading on this page that neatness was something I could *learn* prompted me to actually try, and lo and behold, it was effective. The biggest thing for me was just SLOWING DOWN. I don’t know why I was rushing in the kitchen in the first place, but I think this will lead to less mess and less accidents, and those are wonderful things! Also, LESS DISHES because I don’t chuck things into the sink without considering whether I might need them a few minutes later.

    Anyway, THANK YOU!!!

  214. sinaasappeljetzt

    Hi Deb, I was thinking about optimizing our kitchen these days and found this post very inspiring! e. g. I’m so bugged by this pot-dropping-on-foot-situation myself but somehow never thought of a rack – thank you so much for that idea! And so far I was opposed to baskets, somehow… maybe I should reconsider.
    Besides, I love the matching pot-holders and apron, beautiful :-)
    Best, Sina

  215. Karen S.

    The top you’re wearing in the second photo looks like the same fabric as the potholders hanging behind the stove. Coincidence?

    I thoroughly enjoy your blog…love your writing style, photography, and the food you make all looks delicious!

  216. Heather

    I love your blog, Deb. I, too, have a tiny kitchen. It has window and a dishwasher, but no drawers. Zero. (Strangely typical in the Netherlands, where I live.) I have a bar with hooks mounted behind the sink for hanging most of my ladles, slotted spoons and other long tools. I also have a magnetic knife holder. And my most prized piece of furniture is a cabinet in the living/dining room that has glass doors and two drawers. Table cloths, napkins, pretty dishes and all my cutlery are stored in there. I’ve really grown to love my small kitchen. I have dreams of re-jigging the layout somewhat, but even if I did have more space, I think I’d still design it “small”. Everything is at hand and it usually takes less than ten minutes to clean everything up and put it all away.

  217. I. Madre

    “La cucina piccola fa la casa grande”….“A little kitchen makes a large home.”
    Saw an older interview with Deb online recently and was inspired to search her blog for info about her kitchen set up. This expression came to mind, and I wanted to share for the benefit of anyone else who might share the sentiment.

  218. Brittany

    I keep trying to read this post and the Humira ad is making the text jump all over, it’s driving me nuts! Although I have had issues with the video ads right above the reply box for the last few days, and it’s not always Humira. They keep readjusting the page position.

  219. I.Madre

    There’s a book about setting up a tiny kitchen! Haven’t read it yet, just found mention of it today:
    The Itty Bitty Kitchen Handbook: Everything You Need to Know About Setting Up and Cooking in the Most Ridiculously Small Kitchen in the World–Your Own by Justin Spring

  220. mt

    gentle nudge/reminder/suggestion – From reading your site, i know that you later decided you didn’t like the KitchenAid citrus juicer attachment… you might want to update this thread

    1. deb

      Oh wow — I appreciate how observant you are. Thank you. I’m working on an update to this post and the other gift guides; I’ll make sure to adjust. (FWIW, I prefer a separate electric citrus juicer, which is not, I think, normal for most kitchens or kitchen needs. But that’s what I use instead.)

  221. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your website. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme? Excellent work!

  222. It’s impressive how this article has aged so well.
    It’s surprising how different colors affect how a room feels and looks, I am a touch obsessive about saving space and my partner is a bit of a horder so that is a running battle on its own.

  223. Sarah

    Ahh can’t remember how I ended up here, but my partner and I are sharing a kitchen of about this size! The sink is just as small and doing dishes is impossible. My 9×13 doesn’t fit, much less my sheet pans! The oven is new and still garbage, and the cabinets are so deep you don’t know what you have! I don’t mean to whine, but I’m glad this is only for 1-2 years of my life. I love big baking projects!! I did get a rolling mat from KAF so I can roll things out on the kitchen table. I also got a huge shelf from ikea where we put our spices. I think it was meant for a bathroom.

    I miss my dishwasher and garbage disposal. But I’ve surprised myself and how much a little organization helps me make room for more goodies!!

  224. Jackie

    Late to the party but….. My kitchen is 7×9 (63 square feet) and I love to bake but in the 20+ years I have lived in my home I have baked thousands of cookies with (mostly) no issues. Agree about the whole gadget thing and although I have two small counters organization and mis en place are key. I do find that the small space is actually helpful because nothing is too far away and, with the exception of a cooling rack over the kitchen sink that slipped and destroyed your sky high apple pie, pretty convenient. More is not necessarily better though I too dream of a pantry *sigh*.

  225. I am a tad obsessed these days with going to Bed, Bath and Beyond and finding things that save so much space, they make me jump for joy and I don’t know how I lived without them before

  226. Terry Fest

    So enjoy your commentary and easy approach to finding bliss in whatever you do in your kitchen. We are basically very spoiled for the most. part. Question for you, I have lots of different flours. Made that mistake taking on too many variations. How can you tell when flour is not fresh and should be disposed of. I know smell is one. My flours and dry goods etc. are all air tight for the most part. I do have some in freezer. I think I should just toss these as some are over a year old. Not even opened in some cases. I think it is a good subject to elaborate on. Thankx

  227. Trish

    Hi Deb,
    I know you have a tiny kitchen, and your stove looks vintage. Do you find that your apartment-sized oven fits most standard-sized pans and dishes? My vintage kitchen is not as small as yours, but it is still pretty small, and I am considering getting a smaller stove to gain more room for storage (a stove from the 30s/40s is available). Thank you!

    1. deb

      Ah, these photos are from two kitchens ago. At the time, the biggest I could fit was a 10×15 pan. I would bake anything that called for a half-sheet pan (13×18) in two quarter-sheet (9×13) pans instead. It wasn’t a huge problem, to be honest. At the time it was just the two of us, too, so I often halved recipes.