Here’s How to Squeeze Extra Storage Space into a Tiny Kitchen Without It Feeling Cramped

published Mar 2, 2023
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Photo from Lu and Chan's New York house tour - kitchen
Credit: Jason Rampe

When your entire apartment is less than 500 square feet, you have to search for storage spots in places you never thought to look before. You may discover a floating shelf can become a makeshift vanity, and your breakfast table could be hinged to fold down when not in use. With functionality essential to your design plans, you have to be mindful of every square inch and get creative where you can, and that’s exactly what these renters did in their cook space.

Chandler Benzinger and Lucy Benzinger live in a stylish 450-square-foot apartment on the Upper West Side of New York. As a couple, the Benzingers’ style is a mix between organic, modern, and cozy. “Our main inspiration was a simple, dark color palette,” they say in their house tour. The couple’s home is filled with tons of different warm-toned woods and white accents to make the space look bright and feel welcoming. “When we moved back to New York City in the spring of 2022, finding an apartment felt nearly impossible,” the Benzingers explain in their tour. “Initially, we were looking for a one-bedroom but after looking at what we could get with our budget, we knew that we would be compromising on amenities.” That meant just one thing — moving into a studio — and naturally, the couple was nervous about the lack of space. They mapped out the entire apartment’s layout though before signing their lease and trusted that they could make it work.

Next to the bathroom, the “kitchen” may be the tiniest space in the whole apartment, so it took a lot of smart thinking to truly maximize its footprint. To build upon the tiny bit of counter space their little galley kitchenette came with, the Benzingers added a freestanding island and did something even more creative: They turned the nearby windowsill into a perch for cooking and cleaning essentials.

Credit: Jason Rampe

Now, this idea isn’t a pantry replacement by any means, but this little spot really does serve a purpose. Instead of having hanging curtains or blinds in the way, the couple left this window completely bare to let in maximum light. This decorating move also leaves the small, flat windowsill surface wide open for placing things like oil and vinegar, seasonings, and paper towel. What’s nice is this area is tucked right next to the stove, so visually, items are somewhat hidden (minus the paper towel holder) but easily accessible. This keeps the area from looking cluttered, and that’s why using the sill is so smart. If these pieces were stashed on the small island they brought into the space instead, that surface would start to fill up fast, since it’s fully out in the open.

“Neither of us expected to be living in such a small space, so our biggest challenge was figuring out how to make everything fit without it feeling too cramped inside” the Benzingers say. “We made our space fit our items, rather than our items fit our space, and it was a fun challenge.” I’d say using the window sill is the perfect example of their philosophy at work.