Frustrated with your tiny kitchen? Organize your tiny kitchen using 5 steps that will make your space stunning and functional-today.
For more inspiration, check out the other posts in my DOWNSIZE AND ORGANIZE series!
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More than once, I’ve been tempted to buy that kitschy, yellow and black “Crime Scene” tape on the Halloween sales racks. The scary scene wouldn’t be a fake blood trail in my front yard to frighten young candy seekers.
On the contrary, I’d like to drape the alarming banner across my kitchen cupboards.
Although we’re recent Empty Nesters, the wild and crazy days before our kids left home are fresh in my memory. My kitchen, in particular, took the brunt of overnight parties, swarms of hungry Lacrosse players, and overflowing trash bins.
My husband and I insisted our two children do their fair share of kitchen chores when they lived under our roof, even if we had to remind them like clockwork. Years after their half-hearted cleaning efforts and cupboards full of plastic event cups, it was time for a kitchen intervention.
Organize Your Tiny Kitchen
On top of our family transition, we also decided to downsize dramatically, shrinking our kitchen counter and storage space by half.
We traded our McMansion for a tiny rental property, forfeiting a roomy kitchen for a galley. While I’m loving the simpler life and low-maintenance upkeep, trying to organize my tiny kitchen has been a challenge.
If you’ve encountered any of these kitchen conundrums, you’re my tribe:
- No pantry
- Cupboards only a giant could reach
- A dark, under-sink wasteland of pipes and flimsy plywood
- Counter space as limited as your FAFSA payout
Make It Stunning
Just because space in your kitchen is precious, there’s no need to feel powerless to transform this area. Chances are, if you’re avoiding your kitchen, you’re more likely to neglect healthy eating and even spend more on duplicate items or take out.
It is hard to choose and/or prepare healthy menu items when we cannot even access the ingredients or the tools in order to do so.Augusta Health
Rather than setting a goal of just organizing or cleaning your kitchen, I’m going to challenge you to think bigger. Make your kitchen stunning.
Take some time to really imagine how you wish this space would function. Have you dreamed of making fresh, fruit smoothies every morning? Wish you could entertain without embarrassment? Would you simply love to see the back of your refrigerator?
Before you take another step that might end up in organizational frustration, give yourself permission to dream big.
Look for inspiration in a friend’s home or online. Of course, you won’t be copycatting. Just looking for ideas to give you a nudge in the right direction.
I recommend Youtuber At Home With Nikki’s Kitchen Organization video, if you’re not sure where to start.
Just 5 Steps
Follow these steps, in order, to turn your kitchen fantasies into reality. After all, it’s about time you enjoy this room that gives you and those you care for so much love.
1. Make a Plan
Together with anyone else who uses the kitchen regularly, take some time to sketch out a plan for your room. You don’t have to be an architect to measure off a rough estimate of the space on graph paper.
Map the approximate size and location of your refrigerator, stove, microwave and dishwasher, along with anything else that can’t be relocated.
Next, fill in counter and cabinet space. You may even find it helpful to organize your tiny kitchen on paper in a completely different location, like a coffee shop.
Step back from the mess for a moment and think about what’s not working, as well as how to make those dream activities happen.
- Does an inconvenient spice cabinet make baking tedious?
- Are outdated appliances taking up precious counter space?
- Do you wish your pet had a spot in the corner to keep you company?
Once you have a clear vision for how you need this space to function, everything else will be much easier. Including-getting rid of unused or unecessary items.
2. Take One Space At a Time
Hopefully, you are moving on to the second step full of energy and inspiration. You may be tempted to empty every cabinet and drawer and take no prisoners.
I applaud your excitement, but take a couple deep breaths first. Avoid staying up til 2 am clearing a path to your coffee pot by taking this one space at a time.
Start small. Maybe with a silverware or utensil drawer. Take absolutely everything out and wipe the space down. Refer to your plan and be brutal about what gets to go back in the drawer.
Nothing broken, bent, or rusty! Keep a list handy for new items you need to purchase. While you’re at it, ask yourself when was the last time you used that nutcracker or lemon zester.
The joy of having space and knowing exactly where everything is far outweighs the thrill of accumulation, I promise!
Once you’ve completely revised one, small space-celebrate it and move on to another area. Chances are, your tiny kitchen organization will take more than one day. Avoid confronting a mess and risking overwhelm by taking one space at a time.
3. Designate a Spot For Extras
My mom grew up during the Depression. Because she knew what it was like when food was scarce, my mother couldn’t resist the urge to stock up. Canned goods were her weakness.
Her tiny kitchen cupboards were crammed with an impressive display of beets, spinach, and chili beans, among other staples.
Having all this food at her disposal probably brought my mother comfort. The rest of the family got tired of having cans land on our foot when we opened the overstuffed cabinets.
Keeping extras on hand eliminates trips to the grocery store and can be a big money saver. The secret to making this work in your tiny kitchen is designating limited space for extras.
If you have a basement or storage area that works, great. Otherwise, make good use of cabinets over the refrigerator to store those 5 for the price of 1 ketchup bottles or case of your son’s favorite pickles.
Once that space is full, stop. No more stockpiling!
I promise, you will soon become much more choosy about taking advantage of “too good to pass up” bargains. If finding a deal is your gift, keep a few yourself and share or donate the others.
4. Delay Purchases
At some point in your tiny kitchen organization, the process will become tedious. That’s the time to really dig in and get things done. Unfortunately, this is also the time you’ll be most tempted by all the shiny bins and sparkling containers.
Avoid bringing home bags of cute items and forking over your cash until you’ve finished purging and organizing. It won’t take much longer until you see the end of this process.
That’s when you’ll have a really clear idea of what kinds of bins and boxes you need and their exact measurements. Once you’ve done the work-enjoy!
Check out my favorite Dollar Tree organizers for budget-friendly inspiration.
5. Give It Time
Once you’ve finished organizing your tiny kitchen, step back and admire your work. You deserve a big pat on the back! Just remember, keeping your kitchen neat and tidy is an ongoing process.
Should you find other members of your household aren’t as excited about your new systems, ask for their input. Give yourself a couple of weeks to tweak your changes until they become intuitive.
Don’t become discouraged if some of your old habits start to creep back in. Simply remind yourself why you wanted to organize your tiny kitchen in the first place, and get back on track.
With these 5 simple steps, you’ll stop running from your kitchen like it’s the scene of a crime, and instead get a little lift each time you open your cupboards.