Making The Most Of Your Small Kitchen

Every culinary academy student dreams of a owning a perfect kitchen. While the details change, that vision has a few common themes no matter who you ask. First and foremost, a chef’s ideal kitchen is big. It has room for all of your appliances, knives and ingredients and enough burner and oven space to cook on a large scale. Not everyone will one day own that holy-grail space, but that doesn’t mean your cooking area has to be cramped. Here’s how to optimize the space you do have:

Go vertical

A small kitchen footprint may limit your horizontal space, but going upward can open a new world of storage options. Additional open shelving, magnet strips, rods and hooks all stack your items vertically without taking away elbow room. Especially if your home has high ceilings, this approach may be best. Here are some underutilized vertical spaces in your kitchen:

The refrigerator
When you consider fridge storage, you’re probably thinking about the space inside, but the exterior is useful as well. Magnet hooks cling to the side of your fridge, allowing you to hang pots, pans and utensils by their handles. Only avoid using this hack if your fridge is in a high-traffic area where you may frequently bump your kitchenwear.

The wall
Open wall space is perfect for creating extra storage. You can install open shelves to show off your more aesthetically appealing plates and cups, wine racks for your cooking and drinking beverages, magnet strips for your knives and rods with hooks for utensils and mugs.

Under your cabinets
The space beneath your top cabinets can hold a lot, including racks for spices and stemwear and your microwave.

Open shelves filled with stacked white plates.Open shelving lets you show off nice dishes and save space in your cabinets.

Accessorize your cabinets

Maximizing the space within your cabinets is another way to go vertical. Stacking pots and pans only uses up so much space and makes accessing your equipment a game of Jenga. Cabinet accessories can keep your items neat and prevent you from knocking everything over when pulling from the bottom of the pile. Choose your accessories based on the equipment they’ll hold. Here are some options:

Under-shelf baskets
Under-shelf baskets hang off of your shelf, giving you additional space without interfering with the items below. They come in a variety of sizes but are ideal for mugs.

Hooks
Metal hooks with screws on one end are as versatile as your imagination. Screw them into the inside of a cabinet door and hang short utensils on them. Or, screw them to the underside of a shelf and hang pots and pans.

Racks
Racks come in different shapes and sizes depending on their purpose. Upright metal racks divide baking sheets and lids while sideways ones stack pans. Not only do these accessories save space, but they also protect cookwear from scratches.

Magnet strips
Magnet strips work both inside and outside of your cabinets. Inside, they can hold metal spice containers, making identifying and using seasoning a breeze. Outside of the cabinets, hang a magnet strip on the wall to hold your cutlery.

Add surfaces

If your kitchen footprint has some empty space but your counters are lacking, add more. Homeowners can install additional cabinets, and renters can purchase furniture designed to supplement traditional counters. If you’re looking for storage, place shelves in those little nooks that can hold your appliances.

Organizing your kitchen with these tips and tools will help you make the most of the space you do have.  And, don’t forget to follow an old chef rule: The things you use most should be within reach.

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