Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Small Kitchen Solutions

Thinking about sharing some of the ways we are "fitting in" to our new Willow house. I thought I might start with the area I worried most about, when moving here. The kitchen.

The main problem with the kitchen - it's small. This is something we hope to correct with eventual renovations. But for now, it is how it is. This kitchen has less counter space than my hodge podge kitchen at the Hugo house (before we reno'd it moments before moving out:-). This worried me.

I'm sure you remember it, but a refresher from this morning:
the "main" kitchen area

Right across from "main" area is the pantry cupboard, this small counter space, and the fridge. I keep the hot pot and the straws dispenser here at all times. Is it just my kids, or are straws basically essential for every drink in your house too?

And on the other side of the room - kitchen table
It turns out my fears over lack of space were unfounded - we're getting along nicely in this space, with few "tricks" for keeping things organized. Mainly, baskets I guess - having a place for everything to be, and yet easy to grab and use. None of these things are ground breakingly unique, but maybe if you are a tad cramped for space, you can be inspired with a few ideas...(everything here was existing. I haven't done so much as hang a command hook yet. Only the "decorative baskets" are mine)

This pantry cupboard holds a lot of stuff! I've basically got a basket for everything in there. I have the top basket designated for papers & mail. So I have a place to put them and keep them off the counter. Pens, tape, etc. It's a little office space in the kitchen, where so often those items are needed

Above that pantry cupboard I keep small and used-often appliances, as well as cutting boards, cooling racks, pots and some often-used bakeware. The basket holds all of the "stuff" the blades, the dough hooks, the grease trap for the grill etc
Beside the pantry cupboard (under that tiny bit of countertop beside the fridge) is our only set of drawers. The top 3 are shallow and contain all silverware, can openers, pizza cutters etc. The bottom drawer is deeper, and holds the kids plastic cups and bowls. This is so that they can get what they want (a drink), without getting a stool and climbing up on the kitchen counters. And bowls are in there too, because they normally make/serve their own breakfasts, but not other meals. I just don't like kids climbing up on the counters.
Above that little counter space is a cupboard where I have bowls (mixing bowls etc) and baking supplies above that

On top of the fridge, I have special heirloom type stuff in the cupboard. It's not easy to get to, but I rarely use those teacups and stuff so it's ok.
In this basket I keep all measuring cups, spoons, funnels, chip clips and things like that. It's easy to reach and grab what I need.

This is my only set of lower cabinets. It's under the sink, so it's not really ideal for much. I keep a few pots there, soaps, and oil

And here is a picture of all the other cabinets I have. I keep large dinner plates on the counter, in that back corner that wouldn't be good for much, other than just décor. Clockwise from the plates, we have the glasses, above the sink is medicines, cooking sprays etc, then bowls and small/kids plates, and then beside the microwave is a virtually empty cabinet - I don't seem to know what to put in there...everything else has a good home!
To save me precious counter space, I set up a little "beverage station" in the dining room. We were recently given this Mr Coffee Keurig secondhand, and I'm really loving it! I do have one pack of "pods" with flavours, but basically I use the refillable pods. I put my own coffee in the pod-filter, brew a cup, and wash it out (I rinse the grounds down the disposal, and wash it in the top rack of dishwasher). Since I am the only coffee drinker in the house, this is perfect, and having this in the dining room saves me space in the kitchen. I think it's quite perfect! Above the microwave I have other beverage stuff that doesn't look nice out on display.

Again, saving counterspace, I am using this microwave cart we got as a wedding gift for the toaster oven. I keep all cereal stuff and bags of chips underneath. Once opened, the chips go in that open "middle" area.
And that is the kitchen! All of it! All 2 square feet of counter space and every single cabinet:-) Although not much, it's actually a very functional space, and doesn't feel cramped to me at all. Everything is easily accessible and I like that.

But the reason that is possible with so little 'actual' kitchen space, is the areas not in the kitchen.

The laundry room is essentially a short hallway in between the kitchen and the garage. The was already a place to hang brooms, and shelving on the door to the FROG. This is where I keep my rolling pin, all plastic wrap, aluminum foil and ziplocs.
And then there is the garage. The shelves in this "pantry" area make the kitchen work, truly. If not for this space, I don't know what I would do - I'd have to be rid of a LOT of appliances, I think. So, on the ground goes all the appliances, since they are heavier. Stand Mixer, Deep Fryer, Foreman Grill, and Bread Maker. I have shelves for extra dishes, pots and pans. Space for disposable plates and cups for parties, and lots of room for all the cake pans and decorating supplies that comes with making cakes, and then room for food. There is room here for all my smaller appliances like ice cream maker, normal coffee maker, etc, and basically, anything I don't use on a daily basis is just right here, easy to grab and easy to put back too.

If this house didn't already have these shelves, a similar space would have needed to be created, I feel.
And that is my functional space tour for the day! By using baskets, and additional shelving (on the back of a door for example), there is useable and useful space created out of thin air. It definitely won't be staying this way forever, but while it does - I have absolutely no complaints about this small, but efficient, space.

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