5 Super-Smart Solutions for Super-Small Kitchen Woes

updated Nov 19, 2019
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(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

After many years of working at Apartment Therapy, I’ve seen some really, really small kitchens. And I’ve also seen some really, really smart solutions for making a little kitchen work just as well as a big one. For this post, I’ve rounded up five common small-kitchen problems, along with real-life solutions to each one.

The problem: I don’t have room to eat

Fitting a dining table into a small space can be tricky. In her 288-square-foot Brooklyn apartment shown above, Akhira got around this by making a custom bar from an IKEA Expedit shelf. Topped with a piece of acrylic, it’s perfect for dining or as a supplementary kitchen workspace.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

The problem: I don’t have enough counter space

Here in New York, I’ve seen a lot of seriously tiny apartments, some with almost no counter space at all. How are you supposed to cook when the only place to put a cutting board is on top of the stove? Well, I would be remiss to not mention that there are cutting boards designed to fit over the burners on a stove (and others that fit over the sink, too), but an even better solution, if your kitchen allows it, is a kitchen cart. Tesha added one to her 225-square-foot Manhattan apartment, which significantly increases her counter space, and helps to establish the kitchen as a distinct space within her little apartment.

(Image credit: Maria of Dr. Livinghome)

The problem: I don’t have space for all these pots and pans

Pots and pans can be the most difficult things to find space for in a kitchen, because they’re difficult to stack, and too deep to store in upper cabinets. This was particularly an issue in Maria’s tiny kitchen, where an undercounter fridge and a dishwasher ate up a lot of lower cabinet space. The solution? A hanging pot rail, which provides storage for all her pots and pans and even a few utensils, too.

(Image credit: Samara Vise)

The problem: My kitchen doesn’t have drawers

I have experienced firsthand the pain of having a kitchen with no drawers. Where do you put the silverware? My solution was to get a kitchen cart with a drawer, but if your kitchen doesn’t have space for a cart, a hanging rail with containers for silverware (like in Nick and Katie’s Boston home) is the perfect solution.

(Image credit: reader Sandra)

The problem: I want to add more storage to my kitchen, but I hate clutter

So many storage solutions for small kitchens—pot rails, knife racks, stacking things above the fridge — involve storing things right out in the open. But what if you’re allergic to clutter—or your kitchen is open to the rest of the apartment, and you don’t want to stare at pots all day? I like this trick from Sandra’s Toronto apartment: store items that you use less often in boxes above the cabinets, to free up space down below. White boxes will blend in with the wall or cabinets (if your walls and cabinets are white…if not, find a color to match!), and labels can help remind you what’s inside.