No part of a home attracts and fascinates me more than kitchens. They’ve gone from a utilitarian space to the center of the home, the place where you can find people congregating, pets hanging around looking for a nibble of kibble and probably a number of things that aren’t even food related. They’ve become the entryway and the launching pad, in new homes they are bigger than most any other space and they can have simple appliances or be tricked out with professional grade appliances that rival a small café/bakery. Kitchens can be deal breakers when it comes to buying a new home even if the new home owner isn’t especially into cooking. Some kitchens are set up in a dysfunctional way that even though there is lots of space, it’s not necessarily efficient. The idea of a galley kitchen makes even a novice cook cringe but there are some very small kitchens that can pump out an amazing amount of food because of the excellence of the design and the best use of the space.
The one thing that I would love to have is a bigger kitchen. I spent a number of years in the culinary field and generally still enjoy cooking but cooking in my glove compartment sized kitchen is challenging and frustrating. There are some hacks that I’ve incorporated in my own home or have seen in others and thought I would share a few suggestions that you might help you enjoy your own kitchen more.
• Flat surface space is almost always at a premium. Look around for things that are taking up prime real estate such as knick knacks, canisters of flour or sugar that you rarely use, medications that should be in a cabinet or mostly stored elsewhere and the oh so typical pile of mail hanging out on the counter top.
• Counter space is one of the most important aspects of any kitchen and I’ve seen a number of counters that are so cluttered with small appliances that aren’t being used regularly or houseplants that should probably be somewhere else. Fido or Fluffy’s pet care center shouldn’t be near food prep period and I bet there better places to store flea/tick killer, leashes, and brushes.
• A large crock on the counter that holds frequently used utensils is a good idea but if it’s stuffed so full that something comes out with the tongs or ladle when you grab them, then it’s too full. Take most items out of the crock except for 4 or 5 spatulas, whisks, or tongs, put the rest in a box or drawer. When you need the extra utensils, pull them out. Over a months’ time you’ll realize which utensils really are your go to favorites that should reside in the crock.
• Upward space is always the best way to go. Think of 2 big cities in America, New York City and Los Angeles. Early in the history of NYC, it became obvious that if the buildings were taller, more offices and apartments would fit. In LA, instead of going up, city planners built out, low and squat. Square foot wise, NYC fits a lot more in a smaller distance. Is there a large painting hanging on a wall where a few open shelves could be? Could you create more clear counter space by using an “above the sink” shelf for salt, pepper, olive oil, bulbs of garlic or other little items that allow you to wipe the counter off without wiping around a whole bunch of stuff? Instead of phone books that you rarely use on top of the refrigerator, maybe that’s a good place for nested stainless steel mixing bowls?
• Cooks books can be space hogs! Sure, they are super handy right there in the kitchen but I’ve seen them in places that would make food prep so much easier! Is there a place near the kitchen they could be stored? If you have 30 cook books, do you use all of them all of the time? You might find that you have 2 or 3 favorites that you go to all the time and the rest are for special occasions.
• Let’s think about cupboard space. Some of us have our everyday dishes, special occasion dishes, serving dishes or glassware. If you don’t have a lot of cupboard space and a quarter of it is being taken up by Grandma’s fine china that you use at Thanksgiving, may I suggest that the china find another home? Is there a hutch or a bookcase for it to live if you love looking at it? Maybe it could be stored with proper cushioning in a closet or the attic or basement? The one good thing about china, dishware and glassware that is rarely used is that it won’t absorb mold or mildew odor if stored in the basement and it’s rarely affected by the heat of being stored in an attic.
Since there are plenty more ideas to share, I’m going to leave it here but check in the next time for more tips on how to utilize every square inch of your kitchen for easier meal prep and the best of space utilization. If you have specific questions, please email me so I can include your unique situation in my next blog post!