Karen Wiggins on October 2, 2014 8 Comments You’ve made the decision to go tiny, and you are shooting for a plus-zero house. Nowhere is your contrarianism more on display than when you design your kitchen, as you go against the latest trend to have a huge cooking area where everyone can sit around and watch as you work. No, your kitchen will be for preparation and perhaps you will eat there as well, along with a friend or two. So many elements go into designing a kitchen, especially one where you are limited on space. It would be wise to brainstorm and visualize this room for awhile so you can truly master the space. Relative to your minimalistic lifestyle, decide how functional you want your tiny kitchen to be. Will you be baking? Do you need a conventional oven? Do you live with someone, and will you be working in the kitchen at the same time as your roommate or family members will be? All of these types of questions can help guide you in deciding what the best layout will be for your kitchen. If you do care about food and its preparation, than no matter how small your kitchen, it must work for you. It also must have enough room and counter space to enable you to prepare and store a wide variety of foods, spices and all of your small appliances, then have room to put them together as you whip up another masterpiece. If you do have help in the kitchen, then you are going to need enough room for two people to work side-by-side. Thus, an aisle as wide as possible should be created for two human beings to comfortably stand and chop simultaneously. Here’s a few of our favorite tips for brainstorming and designing a tiny kitchen that is functional for you and your family. 1. Think About Your Appliances Every kitchen, no matter how tiny, is going to require certain appliances for food preparation and storage. That means you need to get a refrigerator, range/oven, microwave and any other appliances to help you cook for your family. The good news, is that there are compact versions available for all of these appliances. Once you buy these scaled-down versions of your kitchen necessities, consider these tricks to maximize the space in your kitchen: Strategically Preserve Space: Have the refrigerator, oven and any other bulky appliances embedded in their own cubby area so that a central walkway is preserved from bulging appliances. If you don’t have room for a full-size refrigerator, consider a built-in or mini-fridge underneath your sink/counter area. Countertop Cooking: As for your oven, many tiny kitchens get by with just a stove-top burner built into their countertops. Others have narrow ovens, like the type that you often see in Europe. Those kitchens that feature only burners often have a microwave to supplement the ability to heat food. 2. Maximizing Your Storage Space Now that the primary appliances are in place, let’s consider how to maximize space in other prominent areas of your kitchen. Inside of Cabinet Doors: Max out your cabinet doors (particularly under your sink) by screwing in a few hooks for potholders, gloves, rags and towels. Stick-On Hooks & Rolling Shelves: Go with stick-on hooks underneath your sink to hold a basket or two for your cleaning pads, scrub brushes and the like. If you really want to max out this space, install a few rolling shelves below the sink. Keep a good eye out for any water leaks, however. You don’t want anything in these shelves to be ruined by excessive moisture or water dripping on them. Inside other cabinet doors, you can hang measuring cups on hooks. Put the Fridge to Good Use: Don’t just put magnetic calendars from the local real estate office on your refrigerator door. Alternatively, put magnets on small racks and attach them to your fridge to store small, but commonly-used items. This allows you to instantly increase your storage space, without cluttering up your counter-tops. Photo Source: SitkaProjects / Flickr 3. Unique Storage Space Ideas There are many ideas for saving space when you need to store all of your kitchen necessities. No matter how many ideas we list here, there will always be ways that people figure out how to save space and increase their storage space. Below are a few unique kitchen storage ideas that our readers have shared with us over the years. Perhaps they can be useful to you as well. Consider A Narrow Rolling Cart: These handy metal movers can be used for everything from spices to utensils to staples such as sugar, salt and flour. A rolling cart with a counter top can become a nice decorative item with dishes on one level below the top and pots, pans and casserole dishes on the bottom level. Vertically Store Bakeware: Use a metal file divider to store your baking sheets and cutting boards vertically. Instead of letting these pile up in a cabinet somewhere, storing these vertically allows you to always know where they are, grab them easily and take up less space. Insert Horizontal Storage Shelves: Since you have a small kitchen, it’s likely that you don’t have much shelving to store essential kitchen necessities. Instead of hastily stacking stuff on top of each other, you can maximize your space by inserting more shelving within your already built-in shelf spaces. Not only will this greatly increase your storage space, but you will also be more organized. Use a Curtain Rod for Pot Lids Need to put those pesky pot lids somewhere other than on top of the pots? Erect a curtain rod and slide it inside your cabinet. This allows the knob of your lid to rest on the rod, keeping it handy, safe and organized. Utilize Your Ceilings: Put that ceiling to good use. Many beautiful metal pieces are made to hang pots and pans these days. You’ve probably seen these featured in restaurants and showcase kitchens, why not use it in your tiny kitchen as well? Instead of trying to store your big pots and pans underneath your counter-tops, let them hang out in the open. This will save you space and make it easy to reach when you need it. Use a Pegboard: If it’s good enough for Julia Child, it’s good enough for you. Consider using pegboard on one wall to store your most frequently used items. This could include anything from pots and pans, to strainers, utensils and other gadgets. 4. A Few Words on Cabinets Depending on the height of your ceiling, which in many tiny houses is not 9’, don’t forget that ledge space on top of your cabinets. Assuming you can reach up there, try to use that extra space to store items you don’t need as often. You can also use the sides of your cabinets for extra storage as well. Screw a few hooks in the side to hang utensils, or other frequently used items. If you lack cabinets, think about installing shelves for multilevel storage. Decide what you will put on those shelves before you drill holes so you ensure you have enough vertical space in between each of them. 5. Eating in the Kitchen If you are planning on eating in your kitchen, then you’ll need to plan ahead and visualize what will work best for you. Try a fold-down table to eat on or use as an extra counter as you prepare food. You can quickly set it up when you need it, and break it down when you don’t. This gives you the opportunity to move around easily while preparing your meal, yet still have a place to eat when it comes time to break bread. With these design elements in mind, you should have a nice walkway for work to continue as two people prepare at the same time, as well as plenty of storage space and even a convertible table on which you can share your outstanding meal with your special someone. About AuthorAn avid jogger with a knack for solving crosswords, Karen is a culinary chef taking a break from the long hours of her catering business to raise her two boys. Aside from baking the best double-chocolate brownies you've ever tasted, she currently spends her free time writing about the joys of cooking and reviewing a variety of appliances you may find in the kitchen.Comments Cynthia Nolder says November 5, 2014 at 5:09 pm Really liked the article-I live in an efficiency, & having 2 roller carts have been very beneficial! There isn’t even space for a table & chairs. There are in my tiny front room. -C Reply cherie says February 14, 2015 at 8:26 pm I liked this article. Any suggestions on how to make a tiny kitchen for an older couple? I see issues with several things like cookware hanging that someone can’t reach…basically a design where there is no reaching and no bending over too far? I am only 5′ so I can barely reach the first shelf of the wall cabinets-this is an issue I have yet to resolve and I can no longer get up on the ladder…any suggestions would be helpful as I am moving into a tiny place in the spring. I am designing my own kitchen of course. Reply Joy Bradford says April 20, 2015 at 5:29 pm I already rent a old,old,old tiny house. 300 sq. ft. Also I am on the lowest Soc.Soc. income they give. I’m only 63, and have had 3 heart attacks and 2 stents. Last year I had heat exhaustion and I’m not able to take the heat like I want too. (I love to garden and I’m in a Rose Club.) I am telling you all of this for a reason. My 25 yr. old son, has come to live with me. We were given a 20×10 shed in pretty bad shape, but I have managed to get it insulated. Get some electric outlets put in and run wire to them and 2 over head lights. Also ran electric underground wire to hook up to the electric box on the house. That’s it so far. It has double doors at one end that don’t fit properly. I sm. window at the other end. longways ends. I wanted so bad to turn it into my work shop to do crafts, painting drawing watercolors coloered pencils etc. have self to put all my things in order and handy to get to. But now I want a place for my son to have instead of sleeping on the couch his own closet and a place for his things and a plce to go meditate and relax, Guess what, I wount be able to pay for the electric. I want an a/c put in there cuz it is on the west side and it gets so hot in there and those silly mud dubbers just get into everything. The floor is 1″ plywood but there is a big split down the middle. I could just cry, Not much $$$$$ and don’t know where to start, what would you suggest I start, Also we dnt have a washer and dryer. I had a portable washer that hooked up to the sink it was so cool, but after so long they die. i was looking at the dulble ones on your site wow would’t one of those be nice. ty for any help you can send my way. Sister Joy. Bless y’all… Reply Echo says June 30, 2016 at 2:24 pm does your son work? if so then he can help pay the costs of rent and utilities. if he doesn’t work then why not? even a small part time job would help greatly. as for the a/c and the mud daubers? window screening covering the vents works good to keep them out. i too am on SSD, i live in a 26ft travel trailer. i am parked in a mobile home park. for me i pay $300 a month and that includes utilities and trash pick up. that’s better than a lot of campgrounds. if your tiny home is moveable look around and see if you can find someplace with a better price. my son is hoping to buy a home with enough yard so that i can park my trailer there. Reply Echo says June 30, 2016 at 2:16 pm if you are thinking of designing your own tiny house the very best advice i can give is to go to an rv dealer and tour the rv’s they have on the lot. those that have been designing rv’s have been doing it for years and they are well versed in small spaces. plus they can really be lighter in weight and easier to haul. i live in a 26ft travel trailer, my appliances, sink and prep area measure 7ft. i have a small pantry on the opposite wall that holds a lot of food stuffs. i have a bedroom w/queen bed, with 3 small closets, 2 small bedside cabinets. and no freaking ladder to go up. i have a jackknife sofa with a closet at the end of it and 3 overhead cabinets. in all i have 8 cabinets for storage. tiny houses are cute but before you sink a ton of money into one look at the rv’s. you can find really nice used ones for less money. Reply Gordon says July 4, 2016 at 11:48 am Necessity is the mother of invention. Just because you have limited resources does not mean you can not be inventive to improve your living situation. The happiest people in the world are the ones who have the least and rely on each other. Reply Sister Sister says August 22, 2016 at 7:50 am First of all tell your 25 year old son to get a job.Tell him to get 2 if necessary. Many people have done it to get back on their feet. If you can type get a computer job at home. I don’t hear you say anything about design help. All I hear is “handout” help. Bring in some money and then you can get suggestions on inexpensive ways (DIY) to get your tiny house set up. Good luck. Hope it goes well for you. Reply Roger Lehet says November 26, 2016 at 2:15 pm I am currently building an 18 foot tiny that will tour the entire country for a year going from show to show including 6 Mother Earth News shows, several Tiny House shows including the Colorado Springs event, our 3rd year with them. I am asking manufacturers and distributors if they want to donate anything in trade for massive advertising as ALL of this will be on video from the building of the trailer to the construction of the house and daily life on the road. In the last 3 years we have done 47 shows and driven 80,000 miles I am also becoming an outside rep for several of the suppliers of the products we have made arrangements with. thanks for reading Reply Leave a Reply Cancel reply Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.