A tip for small kitchens

suzygardenerAugust 8, 2006

Need extra counter space when you're entertaining in your small kitchen? When I have a buffet-style dinner in my home I use a piece of plywood cut the size of my sink which I have covered with contact paper (like you would use to line your kitchen cabinets.) This allows me to use the space over my sink for serving my guests. It really adds a lot of space in small kitchens! :)

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Good tip! We have a 'laundry closet' in our kitchen, which houses our front-load washer and dryer. When we're entertaining, I leave the bi-fold doors open, put a tablecloth/fancy piece of material over the washer and dryer, and use the top surface as a buffet or bar area (whichever we need). The tablecloth/material covers the top and front of the machines, which not only serves a purpose but looks good, as well.
I think this is the start of a good thread...thanks!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2006 at 2:53PM
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We've used the top of our W/D, too, when we've entertained larger crowds. We have a sink next to them in the laundry room and have filled it with ice and bottled drinks rather than having them take up counter space.

The one thing I find that made the biggest difference in usable space is getting rid of things I rarely, if ever used. For instance, I don't drink coffee and DH only drinks a cup or two on the weekends, but we had around two dozen coffee mugs. All but a few of our favorites got sold at last year's garage sale. I've never missed them. Same goes for quite a few other things, like plastic containers of all shapes and sizes. Now I only have square or rectangle ones with lids, the ones that fit together so they don't get scattered about in the drawer.

I cleaned out the baking and spice cabinet, too. Lots of seldom used items like birthday candles and cupcake papers taking up space, not to mention about half a dozen cans of poultry spice. Does anyone else buy one every year for the turkey, then forget to throw out the old one?


    Bookmark   August 8, 2006 at 8:11PM
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I cut back on the dishes, too, when I realized that I had more mugs than I'd ever have room for visitors all at once.

This 'new' house has a smaller kitchen, but lots of storage in the basement. So I packed up the good china, the extra set of glasses, extra mugs, the punchbowl, party dishes etc, labelled them in great detail and put them within easy reach on a basement shelf.
I think the trick is in the labelling, so that you don't forget what you have, and you can find it again easily when needed.
Also helpful are those semi-transparent storage tubs that let you see what's inside. As opposed to cardboard boxes, they reclose easily which means less of a dust or moisture problem when storing things long-term.

Here is a link that might be useful: My wee smurf house

    Bookmark   August 8, 2006 at 9:31PM
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I lived for seven years with most of my things in cardboard boxes we moved so much. Now I'm unpacked even to store things. We have owned three nice, but small houses, under 914 sq ft.each. I loved all three of them for differen reasons. The size of a house doesn't make a home the love in it does.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2006 at 10:03PM
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Need extra counter space when you're entertaining in your small kitchen? When I have a buffet-style dinner in my home I use a piece of plywood cut the size of my sink which I have covered with contact paper (like you would use to line your kitchen cabinets.) This allows me to use the space over my sink for serving my guests. It really adds a lot of space in small kitchens! :)

Wow, that's a great idea..I think I will remember this come Thanksgiving and Christmas!

    Bookmark   August 9, 2006 at 8:42AM
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What do you do with Grandma's china? It takes up two cabinets, and I would like to put most of it in storage except for 6 place settings, but it just seems disrespectful :)

    Bookmark   August 9, 2006 at 6:13PM
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Aaaah, Grandma's china. We have it packed up in those soft-sided 'china cases' and stored in our workshop (thank goodness for outbuildings!). When the holidays or special occasions roll around, we trot it up to the house, and voila! We figure as long as it's within easy walking distance and we use it during the year, we're okay....and grandma (in this case DH's dear, departed mom) would be happy.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2006 at 7:29PM
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Grandma's china goes in those zip dish wrappers and on shelves in the basement. When they're needed, bring them up, they are clean and ready to use. I tell myself that Grandma would have done the same if the dish wrappers had been around at her time.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2006 at 7:30PM
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Grandma's china went to the battered women's center, along with a lot of the other kitchen gear from her apartment.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2006 at 10:04PM
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Grandma's (actually "non-biological Grandma" in my case, a very good family friend) china spent the last thirty years stored in the basement except when it got hauled out for the holidays because Grandma also had a very small kitchen, so I figured the same would work for me. However, I had the opportunity to pass it on to another person who would use it far more often than I do (I'm more of a chunky stoneware - or paper plates and potluck! LOL - kind of gal) so I chose to give it a new home. Grandma would appreciate its being used to create family memories more than its being stored in my house and used a couple of times a year.

We had wasted space under an awkwardly-designed breakfast bar that we did not use, so I slid a metal-shelved cart underneath it. We use it to store our most-often-used pots and pans, and when we need additional counter space we can roll it out from its "parking space". My largest cutting board fits the top quite well, I'm keeping my eye out on eBay for a cheap scrap of Corian that I can have a friend cut to fit the top perfectly. We have gotten an astounding number of positive comments about that silly little $20 cart!

If I'm not actively cooking then a big cutting board goes on top of the stove for additional counter space when I have folks over. Our stove is old and pretty ugly (slated for replacement; sometime before too awfully long I'm going to Just Do It) and I'd prefer to hide the rusty burners and chipped grates.

One of my favorite cabinets in my kitchen took advantage of a few inches of otherwise wasted space and is for cookie sheets and cutting boards stored standing up. I can store a lot in that cabinet and it's a lot easier to get at everything than having it stored flat in conventional cabinets (they don't fit under the shelf if stored on their edges in the one regular cabinet).

    Bookmark   August 9, 2006 at 11:47PM
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Like johnmari, I store my baking sheets, muffin pans, etc. on their sides, rather than laying flat. I have them in the base of my sink cabinet. Since my sink cab is a 'reverse-base" with a storage drawer on the bottom and the doors above, I don't have to bend down too far to access stuff. They all fit on the left-hand side very nicely (and the PVC drain pipes hold them upright!). I lined the bottom of the cabinet with cushioned shelf liner for protection.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2006 at 8:28AM
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My circa 1940 Occidental stove has a cover that folds down to make a serving area - very cool, and great for parties!

We just had it serviced and the repair guy said there's no reason it won't be good for another 60 years. They really don't make 'em like they used to!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 1:48PM
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No, Postum, they definitely don't make them like they used to. I had a repairman out last year to tinker with our failing 13yo Tappan stove (a bottom-of-the-line POS in the first place) and he said it would cost more in parts and labor to fix the thing and bring it back to 100% than it would to buy the stove I'd actually LIKE to have ($800ish). The parts were just absurd... an oven handle that might have cost $1 at the factory was $38 from the cheapest source we could find! I plan to Freecycle it and someone who likes to tinker and scavenge could probably get it into better working order.

I do think it would be a HUGE hoot to buy all vintage appliances that have been modernized - there's a booming business in that, especially refrigerators - but not for this house. My mother would plotz though. :-)

Anyway, I remember that the house that I lived in as a teenager had a stove with a cover that came down over the burners.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 6:15PM
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Very cool stove, postum. I vaguely remember an aunt having one with a cover for the burners.

Mari, those carts are so nice and versatile. Marilyn (Fammsimm) has one she uses for a garden cart. She got it on sale, too. I think I may have to snag me one.

My 16 yr. old kitchen has a narrow cab next to the sink that I store my baking sheets in vertically. It was meant to hold dish towels and has a pull out rack for them but I never found that convenient. I do hang pot holders from the rack.

It's worked ok all these years, but in the remodel I'm going to store them flat. Storage isn't an issue and I don't want any more of those long, thin cabs. We're installing a Sharp MW drawer on one end of the island and there will be a cabinet under it. I've told the cabinet places that are doing bids to design this cab with two roll out shelves (for glass pans) and a slide out shelf (flat like a bread board) about 6 inches down from the inside top of the cabinet. I will store the cookie sheets and parchment paper on it. This will be directly across from the range for easy access. So far the cab places have thought it was a clever use of normally unused space. : )


    Bookmark   August 11, 2006 at 10:16PM
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I use Grandma's china....I just know she is smilin'!!!!
I have most of 4 sets of "somebodies" china...I trot it out for most meals. This coming Sunday we will mix it all up to serve 15 adults and 3 munchkins. We will be having a tea party to celebrate a 4th and a 35th birthday!!!(Aunt and niece) They are both looking forward to a "pretty" party. DB who is a redneck says "We are having a WHAT?????" Since he is a sentimental redneck, he will be pleased as punch to use his Mom's dishes!!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2006 at 6:14PM
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This is a great thread! Lots of great ideas and suggestions. Here's what I do to save space in my kitchen.

-I store dish towels and cloths in wire bicycle baskets, rather than using up valuable drawer space (I only have 3 drawers in my kitchen!) The baskets are hung on the side of a small wooden cabinet I picked up at an auction. The cabinet also acts as my "pantry" and stores my canned goods and spices. On top of the cabinet is a wooden apple crate where I keep my potatoes.

-Although I have 8-foot ceilings, I found I could still have a pot rack. It hangs about 6" from the ceiling and the pots are still over my head. It hangs just above the cabinet mentioned above, and uses what would be wasted space.

-The cabinet above my refrigerator was holding items I NEVER used. I hated knowing that space was being wasted, so I removed the doors. After getting rid of the items I didn't use, I put my cookbooks on display on the bottom shelf. A small curtain conceals the upper shelf which holds seldom used items (holidays dishes, etc.)

-I moved a low, long dresser into the kitchen. It holds the microwave and breadbox on top, along with cooking utensils and other small appliances we use often. The drawers hold napkins, glass baking dishes, tablecloths, etc.

-A small hutch sits next to the "buffet" and holds my collection of milkglass and my nice dishes. I don't use these dishes, so I'm thinking about giving them away. That will free up more usable space.

-I removed the doors on the highest cabinets. I can't really use them b/c of the height and they aren't very tall so not much will fit in them. Removing the doors made the kitchen feel larger and provided a place to display my teapot collection.

-I also removed another cabinet door. This is where I keep my everyday dishes and glasses. It made the kitchen feel more spacious by not having a wall of cabinets and added more interest to the room.

Although there is a lot of STUFF in my kitchen, I'm learning to simplify and keep only the things I use on a daily basis. If I use it once or twice a year, I can probably borrow it when needed. Many items are behind closed doors, so it doesn't appear cluttered (at least not to me!) It's warm and inviting and my favorite room in the house.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2006 at 10:38AM
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No one's posted here in a long while, but I have to share my nifty trick :)

I have a ridiculously tiny, but enormously charming 20's kitchen. All the cabinets are original, including a rather large swing-out flour bin. Now, who on earth uses that much flour today? We don't, that's for sure!

Finally, one month after we moved in, it occured to me that we could use this bin to hold our baking sheets and cutting boards. It works so well. Everything is easy to find now.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 1:14PM
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Ahhh, the swing out flour bin.........I have one of those that came with my kitchen and it works perfectly for storing dry pet food. If I ever remodel I am going to make sure I have something like that installed.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2006 at 2:46AM
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I got my husband to put an extra shelf in every wall and floor cabinet that I wasn't using to store "full head" items. Gives me the equivalent of three more cabinets to pack with "precious" things that never see the light of day!!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2007 at 4:16AM
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Check out this online store for combo washer dryer. This website offers you many kinds of washer and dryer in 1 unit. This can help you to save living space. Wonderful for your small home, town house, condo and apartment....

Here is a link that might be useful: Combo washer dryer

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 3:02PM
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