Impossibly Tiny Kitchen? 11 Ways to Make it Work!
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Do you feel like your kitchen is too tiny to cook in? No matter how small, you can make your kitchen work. I feed 10 people a day in my tiny kitchen.
Space is at a premium in my small 1,100 square foot home and I have a very tiny kitchen. I run a full-time daycare and preschool and we still live in here. Check out these small kitchen solutions I am using to make my tiny kitchen work.
I make several scratch meals a day in my kitchen from basic cooking to experienced stuff. I have cranked out hundreds of cupcakes, raised $800 selling homemade bread, and even had a dinner-making business for over a year here.
You might think I have a lavish fancy kitchen to enjoy, but I have the tiniest, most low-tech kitchen you could imagine. It’s an itty bitty micro galley tiny kitchen.
My kitchen floor is 4 feet wide. I know there are smaller kitchens in the world, but for feeding 10 people a day? It doesn’t even seem possible that I could cook so much with so little room. While I’ll admit that if Extreme Makeover Home Edition came over, I would totally take them to my kitchen first, there are a lot of ways you can work around lack of space in a work area.
Why make everything yourself when Betty Crocker will do it for you? Especially if you have a tiny kitchen? Because it tastes much better than processed food and we avoid so many chemicals, additives, and unhealthy fats, sugars, and salt. My goal is to serve food as fresh and healthy as possible for the best nutrition and health of all of us.
I love cooking for my kids and family. It makes me feel like I’m giving them a gift of love and health. My mother and grandmother always nurtured with food and I imagine them when I work in the kitchen. Even if you don’t know how to cook, there are basic cooking techniques that you can start with that will up your game. And they aren’t hard to learn!
I know good health means a good life, and it’s uber important to me. Of course, I would love to have a more user-friendly kitchen, but I don’t, so I make the best of what I have. I have learned a few things along the way.
Small kitchen organization
Keep as little on the counters as possible.
I have four small squares of counter space, so my first order of business is to keep those squares as empty as I can for tiny kitchen organization. So, I can’t have a lot of appliances or sit abouts in the kitchen. I have a kitchen aid mixer I use constantly. It’s heavy and it’s not practical to store it away. But I wouldn’t want to live without it.
It probably wouldn’t fit in any of my tiny cabinets, so it has a spot on the counter along with a cutting board and my compost bucket for kitchen scraps.
How to manage small kitchen space
I also keep my wheat grinder out for the same reason, it’s too cumbersome to move around. Next to it, I have canisters of sugar and both kinds of wheat berries I grind. My canisters are one of my most precious belongings as they were my grandmother’s and I cooked with her from them. (including her world famous biscuits) They are a must display in my tiny kitchen organization.
All four of the canisters won’t fit on the square, so one rests in the cabinet, but every time I use them, I think of her and smile. Sometimes when I get down to the bottom of the canister, I see her scratch marks from the scoops she always used and I get a little tear or 50 thinking about her thinking about me cooking by her example. I sure miss her…
One of my countertop squares is totally empty for rolling out dough or whatever and it’s also the square I set all the dishes on for meal prep and where I fill all the cups for the kids.
The fourth square has a canister of utensils that won’t fit in my tiny kitchen drawers and a set of bowls that hold counter foods like onions, bananas, avocados, or tomatoes. The bowls are on a stand so it takes up less room on the tiny counter square than just setting the foods on the counter.
I have some spice jars that go with my grandma’s canisters behind this square. I just screwed the little shelf that holds them into the wall to save a bit of space. Anything else has to be lugged in and out including my juicer, toaster, blender, and whatever else I want to use.
Cabinet space is quite limited as well so when my daughter moved out I turned her room into a pantry to store serving dishes, bulk foods, and appliances such as crockpots. You gotta do what you gotta do when you have a tiny kitchen.
If you have room, you could add an island or folding table in the kitchen to make extra workspace. If I put anything in my kitchen, I wouldn’t be able to walk in there. There is barely room for my trash can. I have to set it almost in the dining room.
I love to buy in bulk because it saves so much time and money. So, I have a lot of my staple goods in 5-gallon buckets in my pantry room. I have the top of my refrigerator and drawers under my washer and dryer filled with storage items as well. Whatever you can think of to stay organized will help you be more successful in the kitchen.
Tiny kitchen ideas
When you get ready to cook in a tiny kitchen, you have to be creative. I cook everything in multiples to save precious time. Once you get everything out to make muffins, you’re going to make a mess, so why not make a lot and only have to clean it up once. Muffins freeze great. If you’re going to double the batch, why not quadruple it?
I’m cooking for a lot of people, so you may not want to make 9 batches of pancakes like I do, but make it worth the cleanup. Get all the mess out, crank them out for an hour or two, and freeze them in meal-size portions for the days you need them. Now that’s how to cook in a tiny kitchen.
Staying organized is important when managing a small amount of workspace and a big project. Plan out what order you will prep and cook in so you can manage the use of your space.
With space at such a premium, let go of some of your single-use gadgets. For instance, I have a micro-plane and grate my garlic with it and use it for other grating instead of keeping it and a garlic press. The micro plane can do more things, so I opt for it. This is the best of my extremely small kitchen solutions.
Dirty dishes piled up take up a lot of room. Wash up the big stuff as you get done with it. The after-meal cleanup is much easier and you won’t fill all your workspace with dishes. I like to clean with luffa uses as a scrubber.
A cutting board over the sink can save space for more prep somewhere else. Make sure you have one that will adjust or one that is wide enough to straddle the sides of the sink.
Tiny kitchen storage solutions are an absolute must! You can’t keep everything and you can’t leave a mess, or you’ll end up with not enough space to store or work at all. Nesting bowls and containers are a must. Less stuff stored in a smaller footprint is the only way to fit everything you need in your kitchen.
The cups I choose for my daycare kids, the mixing bowls and cups I have, and my storage containers all have to fit in a stack or they can’t stay. There is just no room for them.
I have mixing cups hanging on the inside of my cabinet doors to save precious drawer space. Plus it makes them easier to access. I also have my mom’s biscuit cutter and measuring spoons hanging on the wall above my canisters as decorations.
We cooked together with them when I was a kid. They make me feel good and to me they are beautiful! My paper towels and jar opener hang off the bottom of the cabinet as well.
Anything I can hang saves me valuable counter or storage space. I have trivets on the wall for décor as well as my garlic braids and dried peppers for cooking. To me it’s art. I also make dried herb wreaths at the end of growing season sometimes and that makes gorgeous kitchen decor!
We grew the garlic and peppers with our own hands. I love looking at it. Before buying anything I consider what footprint it will take up. That is a big deciding factor in which one I chose. If I can get a wheat grinder that is tall and skinny, I will choose it over a wide one because it takes up less space in the tiny kitchen.
When I make a big batch of baked items to freeze, I use the dining room table as a cooling area to keep the buildup out of the kitchen. This is less effective when the kids are here and eat the side off of loaves of bread or bite off of the cookies, but it can work if you have 73 eyes or a security system installed on your dining table or something.
Don’t think you can’t cook for your family if you don’t have all the latest stuff or a huge space to do it in. I am cooking for 6-8 kids a day plus my husband and I on this tiny piece of real estate. A tiny kitchen doesn’t stop me. My mom had a cake decorating business in a kitchen even smaller than mine once. She baked dozens of cakes in it. It’s all from your perspective.
Small kitchen solutions
To me, the importance of a wholesome meal far outweighs working around the challenges of a one-butt tiny kitchen. Take some time to think about ways you can use your kitchen more effectively and you can make your life a whole lot easier. Creating in the kitchen is a beautiful art that can be enjoyed for more than just its beauty and flavors. It gives life and health. It is love.
You can make your space look larger by choosing decorations wisely. Check out how to make your space look bigger here.
If you want more information on how we preserve as much food from our garden as we can without canning, check this out. And we do it all in this tiny kitchen!
Kitchen remodel on a budget
At little sprouts, we have been making over our tiny kitchen impossible. We took out the drop ceiling, replaced the countertops, and painted the cabinets. Painting the cabinets saved us hundreds. We even saved several hundred dollars by painting the cabinet hardware. Everything we did by ourselves with the help of my wonderful Aunt Chelle and all her amazing skills.
The only expensive part of the remodel was the countertops, but the look and function it gave us were well worth the cost. We love how it turned out and only spent a few hundred dollars after the countertops were done.
Painting your cabinets and hardware is easy and it’s held up WONDERFULLY because we started with quality Amy Howard One Step Paint. I wouldn’t recommend trying it with a cheaper brand, you won’t be satisfied. Kitchen cabinets take a beating.
Your pin reminds me of me about 30 years ago when my oldest kids were toddlers and most of my kids weren’t born yet! Our small rental had a kitchen a lot like yours. I had a daycare there too, and it was pretty crowded! Those were good times, though, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything! Enjoy!
I am definitely blessed. Thank you for reaching out.
You have a large kitchen compared to mine, that’s if the above picture is your kitchen. I have a 24” stove to cook on and a refrigerator that probably 5’6”. I have one set of doors (2) on the left side of the sink and the same on the other side of the sink. I don’t have room for a dining room at all. The only thing I can put in these cabinets is can’s because boxes don’t fit (they’re too tall)
That sounds pretty small. I do run a home daycare and cook for 9 people in my kitchen, and I make it work, but it is tough. So I can relate to not having room for all you want for sure. I am grateful for what I do have though. Maybe someday we’ll get bigger kitchens! Thank you for commenting on the post.
“One butt kitchen “ ! I love it! That describes my kitchen well. It’s a long galley kitchen but only 3 feet wide. Thanks for sharing how you live with what you have. I needed the motivation.
I’m so glad it’s helpful! Enjoy the cook!
Wow, your kitchen is huge compared to mine! We have 2 upper cabinets, 1 lower and about 4’ of counter space. 1.5’ of that is in the corner, so kind of useless space, which is the same with the 1 upper cabinet, half of it I can’t even reach. Very small single sink. I am at a loss with how to even start getting it organized. We’d love to open it up, but can’t remove any of the walls. 1 wall backs the stairs to the basement, 1 is an outside wall, 1 is a load bearing which has a small doorway into the next room and the final wall is the back of a massive fireplace that goes from the basement to the roof and would cost thousands to remove. This house was built in the forties or fifties and it was almost like they built the rest of the house and then went shit! we forgot the kitchen!
It’s tough to make small spaces work for sure! I use a whole other room in the house to store things here. A lot of it is daycare stuff, but there’s a lot of food and appliances, pans, etc, in there too.
Looks like your cabinets go to the ceiling, but if there’s open (wasted) space up there, bins for infrequently used items are a great idea. I use one for cupcake liners and cake decorating supplies, since I only use them 2-3 times a year. Another holds extra can cozies (for cold drinks) and other “summer” items.
Great tips! We actually just took a fake ceiling out last weekend and are planning to use the above space for some serious storage! Great minds think alike!
I love these tips, Christina! While I now have a really big kitchen, it’s really the first one I’ve had that’s really worked. I wish I’d read something like this back when space was at a premium – it would have helped so much! Ironically, even though I now have lots of space, I still do a lot of what you share here. Just because I have space doesn’t mean I have to fill up every nook and cranny!
Right! It’s a mindset. 🙂 Thanks for checking it out!
It can be Done if you do it !!!!!!! YOUR AMAZING !!!!!
Thank you! 🙂
How do you manage cooking nutritious meals and watching the kids at the same time
It’s not easy. I do a lot of cooking in the evenings and weekends. I do a lot of make ahead meals and freeze them, like my empanadas, hot pockets, and meatballs that are mentioned. I get the kids involved in cooking with me a lot. I have also gotten a lot faster at it all because I’ve done it for so long. It’s a balancing act for sure, but it can be done. Also, I don’t keep infants and that helps A TON! Thank you for reading and commenting.
You inspire me!! I love your blog and your heart for what you do!! Thank you for being such an awesome human being and inspiring the rest of us to do the same. Can’t wait to see what else you have to share. 🙂
Thanks Rebecca! And thank you so much for reading!
Thank you for sharing your small kitchen! We have a small square kitchen with very little storage, but we make it work too. It can get a little claustrophobic at times, but we’re used to it.
It’s for sure a one butt kitchen! Thanks for reading! 🙂
We live in a 950 Sq foot apt, my kitchen is smaller than yours with less storage space. Toally agree with leaving counter space open and cooking double or triple batches.
I still cook organic in or tiny space. I use the ancient dishwasher as the place for dishes, bowls, cups, mugs, and cutting board.
Hubby keeps all his lunch food containers above the fridge, while my son I share half a cabinet.
I have a pullout plastic drawers for bags, baggies, towels, and snacks. …
Somehow we make it work
Sounds like you’re handling it awesomely!
Christina, I love that you’re cooking from scratch for your daycare kids and using your grandmother’s canisters! Yours is a small kitchen, but if you want “impossibly tiny” I’d like to show you the kitchen in the apartment my husband and I lived in for the first 8 years. The apartment was the top floor of a 1910 house that had been converted into 3 apartments, and we never figured out what that odd little corner had been before it was turned into a kitchen. Fortunately, I could commandeer space outside the kitchen for storage as you did when your daughter moved out. As someone who has “been there,” I must say your tips are wonderful! Truly practical.
Thank you so much!
What great ideas for making the most out of the space that you have.
These are great tips! I hate having things out on the counter…it makes everything look so cluttered.
I agree, and then you have to move them to work. Thanks for reading!
I love this! I’ve never enjoyed cooking, but you make me want to like it. 🙂 Those canisters on your counter top – my grandmother had a set just like them! I think I have them in a box somewhere. I’m going to find them and use them. 🙂
Those canisters are one of my greatest joys as far as material possessions. She had little scoops she used in them and when I get to the bottom of them and see her little scoop scratch marks, it always touches me. I know she would be proud of my cooking. 🙂 I’m cooking from where she cooked from. Very special. I used to not enjoy cooking, but when I realized how important nourishment is, I fell in love with nourishing people’s bodies and souls. Thanks for checking out the post!
I totally agree Christina! I have a super tiny kitchen in the apartment that I live in, in the basement of my parents home. I have baked many wedding cakes and other specialty cakes some to feed over 200 people from my tiny little kitchen! Organization is definitely key! I love all of your great ideas. I might need to try some of them out. It’s definitely time for some Spring cleaning I think. (My grandmother had that same canister set….love it 🙂 . )
ah, grandma’s canisters. Sigh. Love them. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
Congratulations on an excellent post!! You have been selected as one of our featured entries in last weeks Simple Saturdays Blog Hop!! And I can see why, I enjoyed reading (and learning) your post…I too have a very teeny tiny kitchen. I might even be smaller than yours. 🙂 Make sure and HOP on over and grab your “Featured” button to proudly display on your site, and thank you so much for participating…we hope to see you this week! ~Kat~
Thank you so much! I’m so excited!
Awesome post, Christina! I have a somewhat tiny kitchen, too, in my 1400 sf house. I also turn out many, many meals…as well as keeping ferment projects going and bread rising! I also have found that making things in bulk helps. And cleaning as I go…YES. Essential!
Thanks! It’s a challenge to do all that, but totally worth it! 🙂 Thanks so much for reading!
I totally sympathize with you!!! My studio apartment has a smaller galley kitchen than yours (about the size of many people’s bathrooms, LOL), and I have no pantry. I have 18″ of counter space on either side of the stove, and the counter above the dishwasher on the other side. I only keep 2 appliances out: my juicer and my indoor grill. The others are kept in a storage cabinet in my dining area (no room in my few kit. cabinets). Like you, I got rid of all extra, unnecessary gadgets and plastics that didn’t nest. I utilize the area above my cabinets with decorative storage boxes.
I also have a laundry “closet” at the end of my kitchen, so I put up hanging shelves on the back of the door, and that is my “pantry”. I have a magnetic hook on the side of the fridge for a few potholders, hooks in my cabinets for measuring cups and spoons like you, and I have a wire 2 tier basket (for mail or whatever) being used for my kitchen towels and such instead. I hung it on the side of the end cabinet with Command hooks since I rent.
Lots of creative ideas! Thanks for sharing.
Great tips. Our first house was a 750 sq ft 3 bedroom house…our tiny kitchen was also the dining room. Our current house is only 1200 sq ft (which doesn’t seem small to me after our old house!), but while we are fortunate that the kitchen is much bigger…we have even less counter space than we did before. lol I’ve become a pro at being a minimalist and I try to buy things that have multiple uses. Thanks for the post! 🙂
You have to get creative, don’t you? But it’s worth it. Thanks for reading!
I used to keep one of those sawhorse tables folded in my basement stairwell for overflow flat surface. I’ve also been known to grab a TV tray.
I keep a two-step folding ladder clipped to my pantry wall with two broom clips.
great tips! Thanks so much!
My kitchen is o so tiny too! The room is big, but there is not much counter/pantry space! However, that compares to nothing with my DORM! I’ve had to get pretty creative with all the food I need to have!
I bet! It’s tricky, but it can be done! Thanks so much for reading!