Creating a Little Extra Workspace in a Small Kitchen

When my sister moved into her new apartment last year, the biggest reservations she had were about the tiny kitchen. Though the checkerboard floor and the vintage metal cabinets have a lot of charm, the space itself is much smaller than the kitchens she had in the past. Combine the lack of counterspace with years of bad paint jobs that make the cabinet doors almost impossible to truly close, and you get a room that has slowly been driving her crazy.

Now that I'm home on vacation, my sister looked to me for suggestions on how to make this small kitchen better suit her admittedly limited cooking needs. A quick glance at the second photo above is enough to reveal the main problem- the toaster oven that she uses almost daily takes up almost half of her available counterspace. Luckily for my sister, the kitchen contained an under-utilized area that we were able to convert to much needed shelving.

The strange configuration of this old building created a small nook to the left of the stove where my sister stores her trashcan and recycling. The space above that area was completely unused so we decided to put up two shelves to hold the toaster oven and the herb gaden that had been living on the dining room table. A quick trip to our local hardware store yielded the shelves (which they cut to size for us) and the brackets, and an hour later we had almost doubled the available counterspace in my sister's kitchen.

Not a big project certainly, but one that highlights that sometimes it only takes a little change to have a big impact on the way you use a space. Now that the countertop is clear and the shelf hanging was a success, we are looking to install another above the door to hold the cookbooks and cereal boxes that currently live on top of the microwave (which itself lives on top of the fridge). If anyone has other ideas on ways to add a little storage and utility to a small kitchen, we're all ears; tips on how to make the cabinet doors fucntion properly without completely stripping and repainting them would also be appreciated!

Images: Colleen Quinn