Smart Solutions for Small Cool Kitchens

published Jun 2, 2013
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

Often, living in a small space means dealing with a nearly minuscule kitchen. I couldn’t help but be inspired by the myriad ways in which this year’s crew of Small Cool entrants made the most of their small cooking spaces. Read on for lots of ideas for making a small kitchen work for you. 

1 / 2
Kristen’s Happily Smaller Digs (Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Go Vertical.
The classic strategy for making the most of a small space — hanging things on the wall — is especially prescient in a small kitchen. 
1. Sandy and Jeff used a pegboard to hang not just pots and pans,  but scissors, serving spoons, and lids as well. (Intrigued? Here’s a handy tutorial for making your own pegboard wall organizer.)
2. Julia chose to go vertical with a classic, the Vitra Utensilo, a wall-mounted organizer with pockets in various shapes and sizes. It’s especially appropriate in a kitchen for keeping oft-used items of odd shapes within arm’s reach. 
3. Or you could go vertical with a pot rack, like Katie did. 
4. Here’s another clever way to take things vertical: Kristen stores spices in magnetic jars on the side of the fridge, so they’re always in plain view and within reach when needed. 

1 / 2
Luz’s Lucky Location (Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Don’t forget the space above your cabinets. 
If your kitchen cabinets don’t go all the way to the ceiling, chances are that extra space on top of the cabinets is collecting dust. Why not put it to good use? (You may need to cut a piece of plywood to set over the tops of your cabinets, as sometimes the tops of cabinets are left unfinished and the surface may not be even.)
1. Besides hanging things on the wall, Xsusha added two extra layers of storage in this tiny New York kitchen by placing a shelf on top of the cabinets. 
2 & 3. Luz and John both carved out extra space by storing books above the kitchen cabinets. 

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Left: Pam’s Perfect Guest House, Right: Julia’s Solo Artist Space

…Or the space above the sink. 

A lot of kitchens leave a little extra space between the countertop and upper cabinets above the sink. Squeeze a little shelf in there (like Pam did), et voila! An extra 24″ of shelf space.
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Expand your kitchen with clever furniture placement. 
There is no curse so perplexing as that of Not Enough Counter Space. But some clever Small Coolers have managed to work around this with clever furniture placement. 
1. Emily added an industrial kitchen element which effectively doubles the amount of counter space in her small kitchen. The shelves above are a nice bonus, too.
2. Teresa expanded her small Houston kitchen with a wheeled cart and extra shelving. 
3. My favorite example of this is in Alexander’s NYC kitchen. The tall bar adds dining space and work space, and the shelves above add storage. Plus, visually the arrangement grows the kitchen from a single wall to a bona fide little room. 
4. Hani and Andrew mounted open shelving to the wall to the left of their kitchen. The shelving functions as a sort of open pantry, relieving the storage burden on their small kitchen. 

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Erin’s Masterful Multifunctionality

Experiment with creative lighting. 
Lighting can make a huge difference in small spaces, and the kitchen is no exception. Erin added sconces above the cabinets (and a picture light on the art above the sink!) to keep her small kitchen bright. 

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Cristian’s Well Defined Spaces

Add a mirror to your backsplash. 
Mirrored backsplashes: some people love ’em, some people hate ’em. I love them for their ability to make a kitchen seem brighter and twice as big. It’s a trick, sure, but it’s a good one. If your kitchen doesn’t come with built-in mirrored backsplashes, you can add one by simplying leaning a not-so-tall mirror back there, like Cristian did. 

(Images: as linked above)