You Can Fake This “Dream Kitchen” Feature in 30 Seconds—Even in a Rental

published Jul 20, 2020
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kitchen with wood cabinets and black oven stovetop

In my early 20s, I spent four years living in tiny New York apartments—each with their own shockingly small kitchen. One of the apartments had just a single drawer and two square feet of counter space. In another, my only space to store pots and pans was inside the oven itself. (These were always the features that made out-of-town guests say “Woah. How does that work?”)

If you, too, are living with a tiny kitchen, then you know how frustrating it can be. Even just adding one extra pot and pan to your arsenal can make things feel cramped and cluttered, and recipes that require endless dishes? Forget about it. Living with a tiny space forces you to get creative, and it also means that sometimes the smallest of small space solutions can make a huge difference.

In one apartment, I had no option but to place a cutting board over the sink for counter space. It wasn’t ideal, but it did the job. Turns out, though, there was another solution I could have used all those years: Placing a cutting board over a drawer. 

The next time you prep a big meal and need some extra kitchen real estate, open up a drawer (any drawer, full of anything), and rest a cutting board across the top of it. It’s the perfect place to plate food or lay out your mise en place ingredients.

(It’s important to note here that you shouldn’t put much weight on the drawer mechanism here—so do your cutting and chopping on the sturdier surfaces first. Otherwise, you risk breaking the drawer and ending up with less storage space than you started out with.)

You can also turn this hack into an extra area for washing and drying dishes, too. With an absorbent dish towel draped across the board, it’s the perfect place to let everything air-dry after your after-dinner clean up.

Between the cutting board over your sink, your drawer cutting board, and any counter space you may have started with, this will triple your work area—making complicated meals and cleanup less stressful than ever (even if they are still just a little stressful).

Looking for more tips for making the most of a tiny kitchen? As someone who has experience with the smallest kitchens you can imagine (including one where my fiancé’s head hit the ceiling), I tell you that one of the best things I ever did for my own sake was to prep ingredients for meals instead of trying to do everything at once. If I pre-cut veggies or other ingredients, it made it that much easier and stress-free to cook at the end of a day. It also made my kitchen feel much more functional in general. I can only imagine how a pull-out cutting board would have added to this feeling.

And hey, even if you can’t have your dream kitchen, you might as well have your dream tiny kitchen, right?