Your kitchen may be small, but it’s also mighty
Unlike the beautiful kitchens we often feature in our magazine, my apartment kitchen is far from print cover material. It’s tiny and overstuffed, completely lacks any natural light, and the dishwasher only works about 50% of the time. I’ve learned to work around its limitations including the lack of space, and have had to use quite a bit of creative thinking when it comes to storage. If you’re anything like me and are always looking for ways to make your kitchen work better for you, then check out these four tricks for maximizing your space–all of which are renter-friendly and don’t require any power tools.
Put that empty wall space to good use and hang everyday kitchen items. Take a page from Julia Child’s kitchen and try peg boards (they sell ones affixed with adhesive for those looking to avoid drilling). A magnetic knife strip is another efficient space-saver, and can be hung on the side of your fridge where there's plenty of unclaimed kitchen real estate. The side of your fridge is also a great spot for magnetic baskets that can hold spices or other pantry items, freeing up precious shelf space.
Bonus Tip: Make room by getting your recipe off the counter. Affix two binder clips or clothespins to the base of a clothing hanger, clip your recipe, or magazine onto the hanger. Then suspend your hanger from a cabinet handle. Now you'll have more counter space and literally have your recipe right in front of you. Plus, it helps avoid staining the pages with food.
While I'm blessed with deep cabinets in my tiny kitchen, they aren't actually great for storage. They're so deep that something always has to be pushed all the way to the back, where I, all of 5 ft tall, can't reach it or see it. This means some items never get used and I'm almost guaranteed to accidentally buy a duplicate. Inexpensive clear plastic bins make it easier to grab and pull down items, and is a great way to group like products together, such as baking supplies or snacks, which both maximizes space and minimizes headaches.
Get An Extension
For those lacking countertop space, you can turn both your stovetop and sink into work surfaces. Burner covers are an inexpensive way to transform your stove into a flat work area when not in use. This technique can create extra prep space for chopping or can be used for baking projects like rolling out pie dough. While you could work directly on top of glass stovetops, covers help ensure you don't accidentally scratch them, which as a renter I appreciate because I would love to get my security deposit back one day. You can also use sink covers, which extend from one edge of your sink to the other, creating more flat surfaces for you to work on. You can even buy wood covers that are specifically made for turning your sink into a cutting board. I like to store my sink and stove covers on top of my fridge when not in use.
If your cabinets don't extend to the ceiling like mine, you've just found a new storage spot. The gap between the top of your cabinets and the ceiling is obviously not ideal for everyday storage, but it is a great place* to stash things that are bulky or that you don't use often. Think platters, large serving bowls, or that bread machine someone gave you and you used once. I love collecting cake stands from secondhand stores, but don't have space in my kitchen to put them anywhere. I stick them on top of my cabinets in a pretty line, almost like I planned to decorate my kitchen this way and not just because I'm highly-specific hoarder. Using cute bins or baskets can also help make using the top of your cabinets as storage a chic look instead of a cluttered one. Lining the top of your cabinets with cookbooks is another a great way to use the space, especially if you don't have room for them on your bookshelf.
*Things do collect dust up there, so you'll have to do some light cleaning after pulling down items, but I don't really mind it.
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