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7 Big Ideas for Little Kitchens

Short on cooking space? Our seven sanity-saving suggestions will help you make the most of what you’ve got.

Here’s a secret that chefs have always known: You don’t need a huge kitchen worthy of a magazine spread to turn out great meals. These tips will make even the smallest galley work harder. Embrace the challenge!

1. Put Your Walls to Work

If you’re low on drawer and counter space, start mounting on the walls: A pot rack, spice rack, knife strip and shelves (for cookbooks or canisters) will save room. You can even trade your fruit bowl for a set of tiered wire baskets suspended from the ceiling.

2. Expand Your Horizons

Craving more floor? The dining room is an ideal place for a portable butcher-block island or even a mini fridge. There’s no law that says onions must be chopped in the kitchen, so a well-protected dining room table can double as a prep station. Non-essential tools and appliances you drag out for holidays can be tucked into a hall closet.

3. Get Creative with Storage

If cabinets don’t extend to the ceiling, put a row of bins in the space above them. Mount mug hooks or a wine glass rack under a cabinet, and hang a caddy for aluminum foil and plastic wrap inside a cabinet door. Look here for more ideas and quick ways to give even a small kitchen a major impact.

4. Let Go of Your Stuff

All cooks should declutter and organize their kitchens regularly, not just those short on storage. Toss anything you haven’t used in a year, along with items you’ve got in multiples.

5. Choose Space-Savers and Multitaskers

Always ask yourself whether a purchase is worth the storage real estate. For many jobs, an immersion blender, which fits in a drawer, can take the place of a blender. A set of nesting prep bowls doesn’t need much room, a high-sided steamer insert can also be used as a colander and the bottom of a salad spinner can double as a serving bowl. When every inch counts, collapsible measuring cups and funnels can slide into the slimmest drawer.

6. Shop like a European

Skip the once-a-week bulk shopping trip and channel your inner Parisian: Buy bread, cheese, meat and produce every few days, based on your whims and what’s available. Think about recipes as you shop: One-pot meals will prevent a small workspace from getting cluttered with extra pans.

7. Learn from the Pros

Restaurant chefs set up all ingredients ahead of time, which is called mise en place (French for “putting into place”). They also wash, dry and put away dishes as they go. Both strategies help keep a cook in a tiny kitchen from becoming overwhelmed as he or she works.