Small Space Living


While I’d love to have a huge kitchen with a floor to ceiling larder and more cupboards than I need (this is literally my in-laws’ kitchen), I don’t. We live in a small studio flat and while our kitchen is lovely, it’s very small.

Our kitchen has an oven/hob, dishwasher, fridge freezer, three large cupboards, four slim 30cm cupboards and a thin corner cupboard. We have no built-in drawers (why?) and very limited counter space meaning that we had to plan the space to work for us. 

After playing around with the layout for the past year, I’m finally happy with how we’ve organised it and want to share some of my tips with you. 

Prioritise what you actually need

When buying things for your small kitchen, you have to prioritise the items you’ll actually use. For example, if you’re a keen baker, this may be a fancy mixer or lots of large bowls. 

If it’s your first home, I’d recommend buying the absolute minimum and then working up from there. It took us over a year to buy a wok because we worried it wouldn’t fit in the cupboard, but it was clear how often we’d use it. 

If not, audit everything and be ruthless. If you don’t use something often or have duplicates, it’s okay to bin or donate them. It’ll free up space for the things you actually need.

This is also why you should avoid specialist tools where possible. You probably don’t need a toastie maker, blender, popcorn machine and health grill, plus they take up a lot of space. If you can, get multi-use tools and use the traditional method for things you rarely make.

Keep similar items together

This might be obvious, but until recently, we stored our drinkware and tea/coffee separate, plus they were nowhere near the kettle. 

So, I moved them to the thinner cupboard above the kettle, freeing up the larger cupboard for food. This small change impacted how everything flowed and made using our kitchen easier. 

Also, keep larger and least used items at the top and most used at the bottom for ease of use. 

Double your shelf space

Use shelf organisers to increase your shelf space and fit even more in your limited cupboard space. 

You can use shelf risers to stack multiple items in the same area such as food containers or plates. 

Shelf steps are my personal favourite because you can store tins and jars with better access and visibility to what you have. 

Utilise tops of cupboards

If you have space above any cupboards you can expand your storage options. We use these Curver plastic boxes to store items we don’t use very often like our Pyrex dishes and health grill.

Use cute, matching boxes to keep them in theme with your kitchen and look like they belong there. 

Hang things inside cupboard doors

Cupboard doors are a great place to hang utensils, chopping boards or knives which can free up space inside them for bulkier items.

Joseph Joseph has a range of kitchenware specifically designed to stick to cupboard doors. We have these kitchen knives which free up space on our counters and inside our drawers. A magnetic strip could also work if you already have your favourite knives.

We also use small self-adhesive hooks to mount our chopping boards.

Decant your dry food

Not only will this make your kitchen cupboards look like a Pinterest board, but it’ll make storing your food easier. If all of your containers are the same size, you can stack them and remove visual clutter from your cupboards, making them look bigger than they are. 

It also means you can keep some of your most-used food on the counter for ease of use and as cute decor if you want. Make sure you label your containers otherwise your partner might use risotto rice in his pesto rather than pine nuts (true story!).

Use boxes to separate multi-use spaces

If you’re living with a small kitchen, it’s likely you’ll need to use some cupboards or drawers for multiple things. Keep things organised by using storage boxes to create clear sections. 

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We’ve lived in our 32m² studio flat since December 2018 and as it was our first home together, we didn’t have too much stuff. However, while looking through ‘essential things you need for your first home’ lists, we had to be careful as we didn’t have the space that these blogs were clearly aimed at. 

When living in a small space, it’s all about prioritising, so what I think is useless might be a necessity for you. However, below is a list of some of the common household items that we’ve had no problem living without. 

1. Books

This is controversial if you’re a bookworm, but I donated most of mine when we moved in. We didn’t have space for a bookshelf and they were taking up room in drawers. 

I use Audible or borrow books from a library and friends. Of course, if you love books, then you’re never going to part with them, but if you have a few random ones you’re holding onto even though you’re never going to read them again, consider donating to loved ones or charity shops.

2. Kitchen drawers

This is obviously very niche, but when we moved in, we realised the builders hadn’t built drawers into our kitchen. Why? We have no idea.

However, with careful planning, you can adapt to any space or storage issues that come with living in a small home. You just have to think a little out of the box and look for innovative solutions.

For us, we chose to invest in Joseph Joseph kitchenware because its products are of good quality and perfectly designed for small kitchens. We use this cutlery holder in a cupboard, this cupboard mounted knife set and holder on the door and this utensil carousel set on our countertop.

3. A microwave

When you have limited countertop space, you need to pick what’s on it wisely. We didn’t have the space for a microwave and it hasn’t affected our cooking ability. 

Of course, there are a few times where we’d love to warm up a plate, pop some corn or heat up the milk. However, a microwave makes cooking certain things easier, rather than being the only way to do it.

4. Speciality appliances

As great as toastie machines are, you really don’t need one. This also goes for popcorn machines, air fryers, choppers or any other kitchen gadgets that you only use twice a year.

If you do need some appliances, make sure they’re multi-use. For example, we bought a Kenwood Multipro Compact for all our slicing, dicing and blending needs.

5. DIY tools

Whenever we have a DIY project, we borrow tools from my parents. Fortunately, they live minutes away because otherwise, we’d have nowhere to store a toolkit! 

It’s handy to have a few things but keep your kit limited. I’d recommend having a tape measure and a screwdriver bit set as a bare minimum. 

6. Lots of mugs 

If you have a small home, it’s unlikely you can seat enough people to justify having 35 mugs. If possible, keep all your cups similar so it’s easier to store and stack them.

7. Printer

I haven’t had a printer for years as most things are paperless now and when I need to print something, I use my office one. You can also use the library’s printer or a friend’s if you’re really stuck.

8. Dustpan and brush

I’ve never missed having a dustpan and brush because we have a cordless hoover which makes cleaning up quick and easy.

9. Spare bedding for guests

It might be nice to have your friends over, but if you don’t have a second bedroom, it’s unlikely to happen more than a few times a year. 

In these cases, we either ask our friends to bring their own bedding, or they can use our two blankets. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than storing another duvet and pillow for most of the year. 

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