Is your kitchen so small you can flip pancakes and do the dishes at the same time? If there are more than two people in the room, does the oxygen start to get thin? Do you dream of having just a sliver of counter space to work on, but find your counter covered in dishes, clean and/or dirty, small appliances and random pantry items that don’t fit in your pantry simply because you don’t have a pantry? If you suffer from small kitchen-itis, there is still hope for you to have a neat, user friendly, charming room with a little effort and a lot of imagination.
A great way to start is to think “downsizing.” Go through the pantry, drawers and cupboards and if you find anything that you haven’t used in 6 months to a year, you probably don’t need it. Donate items to a charity or thrift store, and if any edibles are still within their shelf life, donate them to a food pantry. This step is often the hardest if you have packrat or hoarding tendencies, so start small. You might try this over a course of time and find that while you are reluctant to part with very many things the first time, you actually feel better once you do and are more ready to go through again with more of an open mind about getting rid of even more stuff.
If you are downsized as far as you can downsize and just don’t have enough room for the things you really need, a good way to approach organization is to think outside the box. Or, to be more specific, think outside the kitchen. Are there things that you don’t use very often that are taking up precious space where you need it most? If that is the case, maybe you have room in a spare closet, basement shelf or bedroom to store rarely used items. If you only make bread two or three times a year, but are constantly tripping over the breadmaker or the bread pans, it would make more sense to store them in the empty space at the back of your clothes closet for the majority of the time and use the space in the kitchen that was freed up for something you more frequently use. Use the same mentality for canned goods if you tend to stock up. Maybe you have an area under the stairs in the basement that can be turned into a pantry area for extra items, and only keep two or three items in the kitchen as you need them.
Now that there is a bit more elbow room in your small kitchen, it is time to turn it into a warm, welcoming area that encourages flights of cooking fancy. Depending on your budget and your sense of adventure, the sky is the limit here. Some simple ideas to start with include new curtains, wall hangings and decorative containers. Wicker baskets are an adorable way to store frequently used items within easy reach. A matching set of canisters can be used for a number of things. If you don’t use coffee, tea, flour or sugar, but love the look of canisters, think of using them for rice, quinoa, pasta and tea bags. A hanging basket is a great place to store fresh fruit and vegetables off of the counter. Hang a decorative shelf on the wall for a spice rack. If you get stuck for ideas, the internet and your local library provide practically unlimited ideas.
Possibly the most important way to make a small kitchen welcoming and functional is to keep it clean. While it is very easy to put off chores for another day, try to always keep the dishes done and put away, and keep the counters and floor clean. It is too easy for things to get out of hand otherwise and end up with a week’s worth of filth cluttering your counters and sink. If possible, every time you are cooking and using dishes, have some hot soapy water in the sink and wash each dish as it is used, or, if you are fortunate enough to have an automatic dishwasher, rinse and place things in it right away. This simple habit alone will be a big step towards having an always charming, friendly kitchen.
Even if you aren’t a gourmet cook now, once your kitchen is organized, clean and decorated in a style all your own, you might just find yourself turning into one. At the very least, you’ll be much more likely to enjoy trying new recipes and regularly making healthy, home cooked meals.
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