While the kitchen has traditionally been considered the heart of the home, artistic accents have grown increasingly significant, from jeweler-inspired hardware and faucets to artwork, table lamps, and knickknacks on various surfaces. But how can compact kitchens stay up with this trend when shelf and counter space is limited, and the area still has to operate for cooking? The solution is to be strategic about how and where you personalize and customize. “Kitchens want to be warm and welcoming, and tiny kitchens excel at that extra effortlessly, so embrace the space.
Donelson has a space-efficient attitude even if she isn’t working with as little square footage as she was in her previous Queens tiny kitchen. As a result, I asked Donelson and Drea Montali, a New York City-based professional organiser at Dream Organization and the owner of ShelfGenie Rawalpindi, for advice on how to milk out a few precious inches — or feet! — for individuality and storage options in a teeny-tiny kitchen space. These five suggestions struck me as very wise, and I hope you find them just as valuable.
Increase your hook count
Suppose you don’t use hooks in your tiny kitchen. In that case, you’re passing on an opportunity to use hidden storage space in plain sight and showcase some of your kitchen essentials conveniently and attractively. “Two cheap small hook designs are wonderful for optimising space — screw-in C-shaped hooks and S-hooks,” Donelson explains. “The former is ideal for hanging coffee mugs and tea glasses, such as over higher cabinets. “It’s straightforward to push and screw them in!”
Donelson also loves to place S-hooks on cabinet door knobs for her children’s lunch bags, pot holders, and towels. “Command-strip hooks (everyone’s favourite hack) on the inside of cupboard and closet doors also help,” she explains.
Take advantage of previously unnoticed (hidden) opportunities
Along the same lines, don’t overlook the space within your cabinet doors for ornamental flourishes. This is useful for removing sterility from a tiny kitchen without visually overpowering the countertops or walls. “I love to design a tiny space and fill it with personality, but if it feels too congested, consider hanging miniature paintings, postcards, kids’ work, etc., on the inside cabinet doors,” Donelson suggests. “It’s a happy little surprise.”
Another comparable option Donelson has devised for exhibiting art and mirrors in the kitchen? Similarly, using the sidewalls of cabinets, as seen in her last galley above, with two pieces flanking the window above her sink. At a distance, these symmetrical flashes of colour, pattern, and sparkle are hardly noticeable, but up close, they’re there to make dishwashing a little less boring. Donelson also added a flowery flourish to the side of her lower cabinets in her more oversized Montreal kitchen (seen at the top of this piece). Even if space is no longer an issue, she takes every chance to make her setting distinctive and delightful with the colours and patterns she adores.
Fisher & Paykel hidden dishwasher in Sophie Donelson’s kitchen with cranberry cabinets
Consider paneled appliances for the most streamlined surfaces
If you’re planning a significant kitchen makeover and have the cash for paneled appliances, they’re worth considering for a seamless design that can make your kitchen feel more meaningful. Again, while Donelson’s kitchen isn’t tiny, concealing the Fisher & Paykel Integrated Double Dish Drawer Dishwasher behind paneling that complements her cranberry cabinetry helps to create a continuous strip of colour that may fool the eye into thinking of space as more comprehensive. If you can’t afford paneling, appliances with a shine or huge, reflecting surfaces, such as a white glossy subway tile backsplash or milky quartz countertops, may produce a similar impression by bouncing light around.
It’s sometimes worth it to splurge on next-level customization
Quick remedies like bins and baskets, according to Montali, don’t always cut it in super-small kitchen spaces, especially in areas that are already difficult to arrange. “Lower kitchen cabinets are difficult to access in general, especially when heavier things like pots, pans, and appliances, such as KitchenAid mixers or crockpots, are housed in them,” she notes. “Pull-out shelf makes stuff considerably more accessible and simple to utilise.”
Suppose your budget permits invest in bespoke or semi-custom organisers like the ShelfGenie ones shown below, which may make finding your cookware and other goods much more accessible. Though customised inserts are an investment, they are far less expensive than replacing your present cabinets with new, more practical cabinetry.
Work your vertical space with surprising, functional, meets lovely accents.
“Take a hint from the great kitchens of Ahmad and the Missonis, and bring back the wire hanging fruit basket,” suggests Donelson, whose Queens kitchen, shown above, included a sleek silver version hanging from a wall bracket. “They keep produce and seem incredibly sensual ’70s chic in their weird manner.”
You can get one of these vintage meets contemporary pieces on Amazon, and they come in a range of finishes to suit various styles. If your flooring, walls, or cabinets are white, use a white one to blend in even more with the space. You may even hang one directly from your ceiling.