Organization,  Tutorials

Organizing a Tiny Kitchen

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When I moved from a house to an apartment, I knew I was downsizing to a smaller kitchen. I don’t think it really hit me how creative I was going to need to be with storage and organization though, until moving day.

After everything had been stacked and stuffed in, I took a deep breath. I couldn’t fathom that it would all fit. But, miracle of miracles, it all did. It did take some creative solutions though.

If you’re like me, and you’re trying to find layout solutions for a tiny kitchen, then the first step you need to accept is that you ONLY have spots for things you truly use. If you haven’t touched it in the past year, then it goes. The dishes your grandmother-in-law gave you years ago and, while you appreciate them and like them, you never even took them out of the original boxes? Yeah, they can’t stay. Sorry Grandma.

Once you’ve purged, and everything you own you’ve used multiple times in the past 6 months, then it’s time to categorize and assess. What organizational systems do you need to make it all work for you?

These are the ones I landed on:

I apologize in advance for the quality of the pictures. Our ground-level apartment has plenty of windows, but not a lot of light reaches them.

1)Floating Shelves. We installed these to hold all our mugs. Originally, not all our mugs would fit. We ended up purging the most chipped/cracked ones & our least favorites until they would all fit. It worked out fine because we had too many for our small family anyways!

2) Can riser. I’m not tall enough to see all the spices on the top shelf, so I added this riser from the Container Store to make it so that all the labels were visible.

3) Command hooks. Don’t have space for all your oven mitts & pot holders in a drawer? Hand them on your cabinets/walls! Don’t have space in a cabinet for teacups? Hang them under a top cabinet! To keep from damaging the walls and cabinets, use removable hooks instead of permanent solutions like nails/screws.

4) Cast iron skillets. Cooking in cast iron has so many benefits (taste, health, just look it up!), and we use ours frequently. We had to get rid of our outdoor grill, so I knew we’d use them even more for the grilling recipes! Above my cabinets, they’re within reach, but also get to act as decor. The wood cutting board was handmade for me by my brother.

5) Tea Kettle & Coffee Pot. We actually ended up tossing our previous coffee pot because it started having trouble after we moved. Plus, we had really been wanting one with an insulated stainless steel carafe (the coffee just stays so much hotter for longer!). I found this slim model on Wayfair, and it not only fits perfectly & makes great coffee, but it looks good on the counter.

6) Rug. There really isn’t space for any decor that isn’t functional, so this rug is one of the few chances I had to pull it all together and add some homey touches.

1) Pots & Pans rack. I got this idea from watching Julie & Julia while we were unpacking! Julia Childs had all her pots and pans hanging on the wall of her kitchen, so I did some quick googling and landed on this baby at Target! I’m hoping to have some prettier pots to hang from there soon. It’s really sturdy, looks great, and created another shelf where I can store cookbooks & our toaster!

2) Island counter (similar here). This actually has a leaf that unfolds on the other side that you can use for extra seating. It doesn’t workout for us to use it for that because of the layout of the apartment, but it’s still great for adding the extra storage I needed!

1) Shelving Unit (and basket). All of the windows in our apartment are recessed, so I sacrificed a window & lighting in favor of more storage. I did intentionally place our glass things here to keep as much light coming in as I could manage. The cookie sheets couldn’t fit anywhere else, so there they stay.

2) Tension rod & S hooks. We already had both of these from the previous house (they were used for other purposes before). I repurposed them to hang all of the cooking utensils I could. They’re still accessible, and free up as much drawer space as I could manage.

I couldn’t arrange our every day dishes in any configuration that would make them all fit without these cabinet shelves from the Container Store. Total life savers!

Plastic bags are one of our most-used food storage items, so they needed to be readily accessible! This cabinet door organizer has been SO useful over the years, no matter what sort of living situation we’ve been in.

1) Shelving unit. Under the kitchen sink now needed to house the contents of our junk drawer & kitchen sink items. The only way to make it all fit & be useable was to add shelves. What’s nice about these is you can arrange the wire shelf covers however you want, to accommodate for plumbing!

2) Baskets. In place of drawers, I sorted everything into categories (lights, sponges, dish washing, hooks, etc.) for bins. I could fit so much more on these shelves once I added the baskets!

1) Rolling cart. I had to put things on this that Bash couldn’t easily get into and that wouldn’t be huge eyesores. Presto! It became the spice & alcohol cart. It’s nice because I can roll it out of the way whenever needed.

Spice Organization

My spices were all over the place when we moved. Some were neatly arranged in small mason jars and labeled (remnants of when I organized my spices before we moved to Illinois). Some were in a tupperware lazy susan my mother had given me. Some were in their original containers just housed on a shelf. To make it all fit, I had to get them all on the same page. Here’s how they’re organized now:

  • Spices I have a lot of go in the medium size mason jars. Spices I have a little of go in small mason jars. At first, I just wrote what was in each jar on the lid quickly with a chalk marker. This didn’t last though (they kept rubbing off), so I created more permanent (and cute!) labels.
  • Download & install the Rae Dunn font (for FREE!)
  • Buy clear address labels.
  • Download the free template for the address labels.
  • Go to town labeling your spices! This is so much cheaper and more customizable than buying a label maker. Plus, the font is way cuter.

My pantry only had 4 shelves (FOUR SHELVES people). Luckily, there was space in the bottom under the last shelf. I added the same shelving unit I used behind the kitchen sink, and then bought a couple of lazy susans & bins from Target (plus a can riser & shelf basket from the Container Store).

I made labels for each bin the same way I labeled my spices! It makes my little organizing heart go pitter-patter.

Written by Becca

Questions? Ask them below! Any tricks you’ve come up with for organizing your kitchen?

I’ve got more insights into our downsize from a suburban home to a city apartment on our InstagramFacebook, and Pinterest as well; check them out!

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Jess & Becca