Whether you’re a master chef or prefer take out, you’re going to need a kitchen in your tiny house. And your decisions about what you include, and what to omit, is never more important than in your kitchen. Whether you decide on a galley style, an “L” shaped, or a “U” shaped kitchen; making the most of this space that you’ll use several times a day will literally mean the difference between loving and hating your tiny space.
I started with a piece of graph paper, a ruler, a pencil, and a clear sense of my goals. I LOVE to entertain and cook. So, I knew my kitchen wouldn’t be minimal. It would be as large and functional as possible. Now that I have lived in my tiny house for over a year, I have come to further appreciate my kitchen’s functionality and flexibility. I’ve cooked the best meals, and had the best conversations of my lifetime, in my little kitchen.
And now that I am building another tiny house, I recognize that there are some things about my first design that will never change; regardless of the house’s size, occupant, or use.
DESIGN IS KEY
Understanding cooking and entertaining habits is the key to cooking success. If your prep space is too small, you’ll end up constantly spilling ingredients and stacking dirty dishes. If your floor space is too small, one small bump between butts could lead to spilt milk or worse; a knife dropping on your foot! Having a layout that will accommodate more than one person to help with prep work will make short work of even the biggest meals.
SAFETY. SAFETY. SAFETY.
If you have a gas stove, make sure you know how to turn off the gas quickly and easily. Burn cream and knife covers are also handy when considering any kitchen contents list. Foodborne illness can easily be addressed with dedicated chopping mats; one for chicken, one for beef, one for fish, and one for vegetables. And, don’t forget to keep the fire extinguisher handy and make sure you know how to use it BEFORE you need to!
GARBAGE CAN LOVE
Above all, when cooking, the two things that you’ll access more than your refrigerator; is your garbage can and/or compost bin. And, since floor space is a premium in tiny kitchens, you’ll need to plan for a VERY handy and accessible area for them both. For instance, a space under the countertop will fit the bill. I have a curtain that I can pull back when I’m cooking, and when I’m done I close it so my guests won’t have to see the ugly grey 13 gallon can.
PARED DOWN UTENSILS
If you’re like me you probably already have at least three of every single kitchen utensil imaginable. And while a garlic press is pretty handy, you can easily peel and chop one just as easily with a tiny knife. You don’t need six spatulas, and four wooden spoons, because you’ll be washing dishes as you go. (Right?) Keeping utensils in a countertop bucket or bin is a great way to ensure you won’t buy more than you need or have room for. And, don’t forget the blade covers for your knives to help protect both your fingers and the delicate blade.
POTS AND PANS STORAGE
Vertical storage is your best asset in a tiny house. Don’t waste your precious drawers or cupboards, or cubbies, by storing pots and pans in them. And, ergonomically, accessing pots and pans hung near to the stove is so much easier! No bending or risking a bumped head on your way back up from under the countertop. And, if you’re washing your pots and pans with very hot water you can just hang them to dry, right where they’re stored.
Tiny houses aren’t for everyone. And tiny kitchens aren’t for everyone either. And even though my eight-foot wide by seven-foot-long kitchen is considered huge by tiny house standards, even it required a plan to maximize every square inch. You’ve chosen the path to a more simple life because you’re looking for an intentional lifestyle full of creative space, and freedom. Identifying your cooking goals, knowing your culinary style, and designing a kitchen to accommodate your inner chef are the next steps!
It took me over two years to locate, curate, and refurbish my collection of vintage appliances. Installing the sink base and oven was an exhausting and emotional experience. I have one tile on my kitchen wall that shifted out-of-center after installation, leaving me so frustrated that I have therefore named him; “Little Bastard”. My countertops had to be cut three times. Finding the perfect red dishes and minimal but cute accents, was truly an extensive shopping labor of love.
But, in the end, my tiny kitchen is BY FAR my favorite room in my tiny house.
This article was first published in Issue 56 of the Tiny House Magazine. You can purchase your copy HERE.