Watch any TV cookery programme and you’ll get a warped sense of what a kitchen should be. There are usually multiple ovens, vast islands big enough for the chef’s whole family to get in on the action – Jamie Oliver has a lot to answer for – and gleaming pots and pans arranged smugly in size order. Kitchen stations on The Great British Bake Off manage to fit in an oven, warming drawer, hob, storage jars and bulky stand mixers, while still having enough room to roll out pastry for three different flavours of tart. In the tent, they use KitchenAid mixers, which might look super stylish on a worktop, but they have a big footprint that is less than ideal for those of us with more compact (read: tiny) spaces.
With some clever organising, though, you can fit more than you think into any kitchen. We’re not promising it will make you the next Prue Leith, but you can give it a good go.
Small-worktop problems? Then embrace the shelf
I know I’m starting to sound like a stuck record on this one, but using your vertical space will free up valuable worktop. Floating shelves are your friend in this department. Put the items you use often on the lower levels and lesser-used bits stashed away higher up. If you’re worried about open shelving looking too cluttered, then put the bigger items into storage baskets (trust me, wicker can hide a multitude of sins). Wooden shelves can help break up the light, shiny surfaces and save a space from looking too clinical. There are lots of places that do shelves in custom sizes for reasonable prices – I got mine on Etsy – or wire cage-style units are often a cheaper alternative.
Hooks and racks can solve your storage issues
Look closely at the back of the Bake Off tent and you’ll see there are shiny pots and pans and utensils hanging neatly, most of which look like they’ve never been near an oven or hob. Either way, by putting bulky pans on a rail, you’ll save valuable cupboard and drawer space. Again, if your space is an awkward size, look for somewhere that does bespoke lengths. In a dinky kitchen, where wall space is at a premium, consider a ceiling rack. The same philosophy applies to utensils – knives, for example, can take up a fair bit of space in a block. Instead, opt for a magnetic rack that sits above where you do your food prep. That way you can just reach up and grab the one you want and you’ll never lose that “cuts everything but is always at the bottom of the drawer” kitchen knife again.
Up your stacking game
If, like me, your idea of stacking is piling up bowls that are not quite the same size until they reach toppling point – you know you’ve hit that when they fall out the cupboard on to your head – it might be time to consider some pieces that are designed to fit together. There are lots of clever solutions out there, from very practical utensils, bowls and storage jars that slot pleasingly into each other – Joseph Joseph are the masters at this – to decorative cup and glass stacks that make great gifts. I’ll be treating myself to Spanish design brand Doiy’s cactus glasses.
Don’t underestimate the power of an organised, accessible cupboard or drawer
I know it sounds obvious, but having everything in its place will save you valuable time when you’re food-prepping against the clock. Cut out rifling through cupboards and drawers by investing in some simple organisers. Ikea can help with inexpensive dividers, cutlery trays and small stacking shelves, so you can add in bonus levels to high cupboards. For any diminutive cooks, retro-fitting a cupboard with a pull-down storage system is a game-changer.
Choose furniture that allows light to flow
Shelves in place? Check. Pristine drawers? Check. Pan wall arrangement that rivals a celeb chef’s kitchen? Check. Now, you can think about furniture. If, like many of us, you have an open-plan kitchen and dining space, make sure any furniture doesn’t block out light and isn’t bulky-looking. Look out for tables and chairs with slimline frames – the myriad mid-century modern-inspired design options out there are a good place to start. A table that folds down to half size, console-style, is a smart option for a really tight space. The best thing about having a small table in your kitchen? It doubles up as an extra worktop for creating your showstoppers.