6 ways to pimp your tiny rental kitchen

Guestpost by Annabel Vita on Jul 11th

Our kitchen is teensy. I can pretty much touch both walls at once, in both directions. It has no lower cabinets, and all the upper cabinets are too narrow for large plates. I can only properly reach two cabinets without a stepladder and each of the cabinets is just one big box, with no shelves. There's only a modicum of countertop. There physically isn't anywhere I can figure out to put a bin.

I love to cook and bake, so it was important to me that even though the kitchen was small, it worked well and held everything I need at arm's reach without chaos in every cupboard.
We're renters, so while I could write a million posts about things I'd do in this kitchen if I owned it (pot rack, wall mounted lid racks, more sensibly proportioned cabinets, extra shelving… etc.), here are some ideas that anyone can do — whether you own your house or not.

1. Never underestimate the power of extra shelves

All of our cabinets are these stupid massive boxes with no interior shelves. Finding some little shelves to pop inside gave us a little bit of extra vertical storage space.

Mounting a spice rack on the inside of a very narrow cupboard gave us easy access to three tiers of spices. In a tiny kitchen, every little helps.

2. Do what makes the most sense, whether it's what people normally do or not

Mugs live in cupboards or on shelves, right? No! With so few easily accessible shelves, we've ended up with mugs in a drawer. Keeping mugs in our cupboards led to a whole load of wasted vertical space. Keeping them in the drawer makes the most sense, for us. Look at your kitchen as if you were an alien. Where would an alien put the toaster?

3. Think outside the room!

Our bedroom closet has a secret — it's actually a kitchen cupboard.

The advantage of small-space living is that things can be the opposite side of the house to the kitchen but still be easily within reach.

The kitchen is one of the smallest rooms in the flat so it makes sense to use the other rooms to store kitchen items. Right now we keep this stack of lesser-used items in our bedroom cupboard.

4. Get stuff off the counter

As you can see, I'm ok with appliances and some other stuff on the countertop. (Sure, it would look clearer without but I don't see any other choice here.) But! I do agree with keeping as much small, cluttery stuff off the counters as possible.

I picked up four of those hooks from Ikea (they're actually from the Pax wardrobe range) and use them to corral onions, garlic, and kitchen roll. The onions etc. are in that small wire basket, and the kitchen roll is strung up using some black grosgrain ribbon. Oh, and gotta love a magnetic knife rack (that was here when we moved in, but I'm sure our landlord wouldn't mind if we asked to install one ourselves.

5. Remember the back of the door!

I bought this over-the-door organiser to whip the kitchen into shape. A bold labelling system (just printer paper stapled to the pockets) makes everything easy to find. It's not pretty but I love it because it's really working well so far (and it freed up a load of drawer space).

6. Remember why you have this tiny kitchen

I pretty much adore my kitchen these days. Now that I've got everything organised, I love that all I need is right within reach. And because it's so tiny, it feels crammed with things I love. But when its Lilliputian proportions get me down, I try to remember why I have such a teensy kitchen. I do this by stepping into our gorgeous living room, which is the reason we chose the flat despite the tiny kitchen. I think about how I'm paying half the rent I paid in our old place. And how much happier I am to be able to do my new, less well-paying job. I look out the window at our neighbourhood we love, but where we wouldn't be able to rent anything bigger.

Think about why you're living where you are now. Maybe you're living somewhere tiny because you're saving up for something big. Maybe you're living the urban dream. Maybe you have a tiny kitchen but a great view. All homes come with a compromise, and sometimes you just need to remind yourself why this particular compromise was the right one for you.

What are your favourite tips for living in a small kitchen?

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About Annabel Vita

Annabel Vita blogs about home at annabelvita.com. She enjoys slapdash sewing, getting her hands dirty with paint, swimming in rivers and rearranging the furniture. Again.