DIY Solution for Hiding Clutter in a Small Kitchen

Living in a small house or apartment reduces our environmental impact, but it can have its challenges. One thing I've learned over the years is that while it's easy to think you need more space, usually you just need better space. During a recent kitchen remodel, my husband and I came up with a creative solution to two common small kitchen conundrums - the microwave and the dog bowls.

For aesthetic and space-saving reasons, we didn't want a countertop microwave (and yes, we considered not having one at all). An over-the-range option would have solved this problem, but for us it was more important to improve our indoor air quality with the higher venting capacity of a dedicated hood. By incorporating the microwave into our island, it's easy to use and accessible without being an eyesore. (We also bought one of the smallest models we could find.)

The other clutter issue to deal with was dog bowls. With limited wall space and a large golden retriever, we needed something that was easy for him to get to without being a tripping hazard for humans. By installing recessed dog bowls at the end of our island (and below the microwave), we eliminated the visual clutter and improved the efficiency of our space.

For the cabinet itself, we considered buying a shelving unit and modifying it, but it had to be an exact size to work with the rest of the island so we built our own. The cabinet is made of fir plywood with an upper shelf for the microwave and a lower shelf with cutouts for two stainless steel bowls (which can easily be popped out and put in the dishwasher). The wood is treated with a non-toxic polyurethane to protect from spills and doggie dribble.

This solution may not work for everyone, but it's a small gesture that's made it a little easier for two humans and one dog to live happily in a small house.

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(Images: Lauren Zerbey)