Living in a tiny home or apartment doesn’t mean you have to give up your love of cooking and baking. With some creativity and smart solutions, you can whip up delicious meals and baked goods—no matter how little space you have. Here are some tips and tricks for getting the most out of a tiny kitchen.
The key to a functional small kitchen is taking advantage of every nook and cranny. Install pull-out shelves in lower cabinets to access items in the back. Use lid racks inside cabinet doors to store pans and lids vertically. Hang a rail under upper cabinets for frequently used utensils.
Purchase stackable pots and nesting bowls to maximize vertical storage. Get creative with unconventional storage spaces—use hooks on the backs of doors or install a spice rack inside a cabinet. Prioritize often-used items for the most accessible storage.
Invest in Multi-functional Appliances
Full-sized appliances take up precious real estate in a tiny kitchen. Opt for small-scale and multi-functional models instead. A combination convection/microwave oven lets you bake, roast, and reheat in one appliance. An Instant Pot pressure cooker works as a slow cooker, rice steamer, and more.
A toaster oven with a convection fan replaces a traditional oven for small-batch cooking. If giving up your full-size refrigerator is unthinkable, look for models withFrench door design for easy access in tight spaces.
Use Transforming Furniture
Murphy beds aren’t just for bedrooms! A folding table or wall-mounted drop-leaf table can be tucked away when not in use. Invest in a rolling cart with multiple levels to use as extra counter space or storage.
Installingupper cabinets to the ceiling provides out-of-the-way storage while clearing countertops below. For bar seating, opt for stools that tuck under the counter when not in use. Get creative with dual-purpose furniture too, like a storage ottoman that opens into extra seating.
Embrace Small Appliances
While you may have limited work area, small appliances can make meal prep a breeze. A single-serve blender lets you make smoothies and shakes without sacrificing counterspace. An electric kettle takes up minimal room while being able to quickly boil water.
Small appliances like mini choppers, hand mixers, and electric griddles store neatly in drawers or cabinets. For avid bakers, a stand mixer with a tilting head takes up less space than a bowl-lift model. Invest in appliances with multiple functions—like an air fryer toaster oven—when possible.
Meal Prep Smart
Get ahead during low-traffic hours in your tiny kitchen. Chop produce and proteins and portion into reusable containers for easy grab-and-go throughout the week. Freeze cookie dough, casseroles, and sauces in single-servings to quickly heat up later.
Soak beans and grains overnight in a slow cooker to skip the stovetop simmering step. Wash and prep produce right after grocery shopping. Bake a big batch of chicken breasts on a sheet pan to shred and use in multiple meals. Take advantage of a tiny kitchen’s limited workspace by tackling one task at a time.
A cramped kitchen demands thoughtful organization. Designate prep, cook, assemble, and clean-up zones based on the kitchen’s layout. Store cooking utensils near their respective appliances. Use trays and baskets to corral ingredients before cooking.
Wipe up spills and wash dishes as you go to keep the workspace clear. If possible, install a drying rack over the sink to air dry hand-washed items. For tidiness, keep small essentials like seasonings and cooking oils off the counters. A magnetic knife strip frees up drawer space while keeping sharp tools safely out of the way.
Embrace Open Shelving
While upper cabinets do provide essential storage, going without them gives the illusion of a larger space. Open shelving showcases pretty tableware and cookbooks while eliminatingf rummaging behind closed cabinet doors. Use bins, baskets or dividers on shelves to neatly organize items. Anchor taller shelving units to the wall for safety.
For quick grab-and-go access, reserve lower open shelves for everyday ingredients like oils, spices, packaged foods and snacks. If going fully open concept is too bold, try a couple of glass-front cabinets to allow visibility while concealing some mess. Proper organization is key for clutter-free open shelving.
Too often, overhead lighting casts shadows in a tiny kitchen. Layer light sources at various levels for visibility and ambience. Under-cabinetLED strips illuminate countertops for food prep and cleaning. Low-voltage pucks brighten a backsplash without glare.
Consider pendant lighting over islands and eating nooks to customize the aesthetic. Large mirrors reflect light and give the illusion of a bigger room. Ample natural light keeps a petite kitchen feeling airy—strategically place skylights or size windows to maximize sunlight. Dimmer switches allow adjusting brightness for different tasks and times of day.
Embrace Multi-functional Furniture
Tiny kitchens demand furniture that can multitask. An island on locking wheels doubles as extra counter space and a dining table. Bench seating tucks neatly under islands and tables when not entertaining.
Look for small kitchen tables with drop leaves or extension slides for extra serving space in a pinch. Opt for bar stools that can be stacked up neatly out of the way. Use the top of a tall refrigerator or armoire as an elevated work surface. With some clever solutions, one piece can fulfill many purposes in a tiny kitchen.
Take It Outside
While renovating the kitchen layout may not be possible, you can gain square footage by taking the party outside. Set up an outdoor prep station during nice weather—it could be as simple as some shelving and a cooler. Grill, fry, or saute away from the cramped indoor space.
Transportable butcher-block islands create extra surface area wherever you need it. Bring the cleaning station outdoors too with a utility sink and dish racks on the patio, deck or balcony. Outdoor kitchen accessories like a mini-fridge, storage cabinets and countertop burners free up room inside. With an al fresco cooking area, the tiny kitchen stays tidier for indoor meal prep tasks.
FAQs About Cooking in a Tiny Kitchen
How do I organize pots, pans and lids in a small kitchen?
Use vertical space and organizer racks to store pans and lids neatly. Install hooks on the back of cabinet doors to hang pans handle side up. For lids, use racks that slide onto shelves or cabinet walls to stand them upright. This avoids stacking and digging while maximizing space.
What small appliances are practical in a tiny kitchen?
Some of the handiest small appliances for tiny kitchens include electric kettles, single-serve blenders, mini food processors, toaster ovens, air fryers, single-burner induction cooktops and instant pots. Look for appliances that are compact, have multiple functions and store neatly out of the way.
How can I gain more counter space in a cramped kitchen?
Opt for an island or cart on wheels that can be moved as needed. Install drop-leaf tables or surfaces that fold up against the wall when not in use. Shelving over the sink can hold appliances to clear the counters below. Use wall-mounted rails and ledges for utensils, paper towels, spices and oils.
What type of sink works best for a small kitchen?
For a tiny kitchen, the ideal sink is shallow, compact and easy to clean. An undermount rectangular sink maximizes space while letting you wipe crumbs directly into the basin. Look for a small apron front farmhouse sink—the slight protrusion allows for a built-in drying space. If renovating, a space-saving corner sink may be an option.
How can I make a cramped, dim kitchen feel brighter?
Painting walls and cabinets in light, reflective colors will help a dark, tiny kitchen feel more open and airy. Remove upper cabinets to expose windows and brighten countertops below. Install windows or skylights to add more natural light. Layer lighting throughout at different levels—overheads, undercabinets, accent lighting. Mirrors also help reflect and amplify existing light.
What backsplash tiles work in a small kitchen?
Small kitchens appear larger with light, plain backsplash tiles installed in a straight layout. Subway tiles, penny tiles, brick tiles, or single large tiles can make the space feel bright and open. Dark grout lines also create an illusion of space between tiles. Avoid mosaic tiles or intricate patterns, which make walls look busier in a tiny kitchen.
A tiny kitchen need not hamper your culinary pursuits. With some savvy storage solutions, space-saving appliances, and multi-functional furnishings, you can cook and bake to your heart’s content. Focus on organization and eliminate clutter to maximize every inch. And don’t be afraid to take the prep work outside when your petite kitchen needs a break! With just a little creativity, you can whip up kitchen magic no matter the size.