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Since college, I’ve always lived in small apartments, never more than a 1 bedroom. The smallest space my husband I lived in was a studio at 400 square feet. When you live in a small apartment, your kitchen will run out of storage space fast – this is especially true if you cook every day like us. I often looked at pictures of a minimalist kitchen online for inspiration, but it always seemed like the kitchen was bigger than my entire living space! The pictures just weren’t helpful for me.
Now that I’ve been practicing minimalism for about three years, I’ve learned how to maximize storage space in a small kitchen. I don’t feel the need to move to a bigger apartment because “I have no space”.
So how do you do this?
How To Create A Minimalist Kitchen In A Small Apartment
The first thing you have to do is declutter. A small kitchen doesn’t have the space to hold extra “what if’s”, so you must simplify it to things you use frequently.
If you are just starting the declutter process, here are the things you can get rid of first:
Plastic containers or Tupperware
Before adopting a minimalist lifestyle, I probably had over 30 Tupperware containers that were all plastic and gross, with food stuck to the edges. It was impossible to open our drawer or find a matching lid. I remember right before getting into minimalism, I bought another 30 piece plastic container set…. Needless to say, I didn’t use it.
I would say start with 6-10 good containers of varying sizes (small cups for dressing, medium sized for packing meals, and large for storing leftovers). You can adjust this number as you see fit, depending on how often you cook, have leftovers, etc. I highly recommend having mixing bowls with lids as part of the collection, since it can be used for mixing ingredients as well. Since we cook the majority of our meals, it’s important to have good reliable containers.
As far as the plastic vs. glass Tupperware debate, the majority of mine are glass because I feel it’s easier to clean, safer to use, and better aesthetically. I’ve used these glass containers for years.
Excess cups, mugs, dishes, silverware
Look in your drawers and see if you can get rid of any of these, as it will free up so much space. When my husband and I first married, we probably had about 15 cups for two people. Now we have 4 – and to be honest, we could get rid of them but they’re useful when we have guests and they’re just too cute to get rid of.
That picture above is the only area we have to hold dishes. Even though we have a small kitchen, it’s still more than enough space, thanks to our minimalist lifestyle.
As far as silverware, there isn’t a set number you should or shouldn’t have. But if you have that one spoon you avoid like the plague, maybe it’s time to get rid of it.
Getting rid of the wooden knife block clears up kitchen counter space. By only having a few, the knives can just be stored in the same drawer as the utensils. I recommend owning three: a small knife for veggies, a medium knife for chicken, and a large one for potatoes or squash. I’ve been using the same three knives for a few years now and have never felt the need for more.
Since we cook almost all our meals, it’s important to have sharp knives. In order to keep my knives in good shape, I use this small knife sharpener. I got it three years ago and still use it all the time. My knives stay sharp and I love how compact it is – perfect for a minimalist kitchen!
One time use appliances
In general, most one time use appliances are pretty useless. At one point, we owned a cheese slicer AND a cheese grater but we bought shredded cheese?? Dumped them both, obviously.
Is a bread maker necessary if you buy sliced bread? Probably not. But if you bake frequently and love your Kitchen Aid mixer, then by all means keep it. Minimalism isn’t about trying to get rid of everything, it’s about keeping things you love and enjoy.
What appliances are worth keeping?
Definitely the number one appliance I use is my slow cooker. I’d be lost without it since I probably make at least one slow cooker meal a week! When you’re busy or work full time, it makes it so easy to throw things into a pot and not think about it. Here are my favorite easy slow cooker recipes that I frequently cook in rotation at home.
I also use this handheld spiralizer to create zoodles (zucchini noodles) for pasta. My husband mostly eats a paleo diet, so he doesn’t really eat carbs. We frequently use this, and the fact that it’s small makes is an added bonus! We could’ve opted to buy one with a handle to make it easier to spiralize, but the extra bulkiness wasn’t worth it to me.
Finally, I recommend this manual food processor. I got rid of this when I first started decluttering and I actually regretted it and got another. It takes a bit longer to chop things up since it’s manual, but the fact that it’s small, compact, and easy to clean which makes it worth it to me.
Of course, you should evaluate what one time use appliances are worth keeping in your own minimalist kitchen.
Extra pots and pans
Unless you host a lot, in general it’s not necessary to have a lot of pots and pans. We have two large non stick skillets, one large pot, and one small pot. We cook basically everyday and in general, we’ve found that we don’t need more than this. If you own a cast iron skillet, then just one large non stick is fine.
In general, I avoid having multiple items that can be used for the same thing. For us, we have a swiffer with wet wipes, a broom, stain remover, and disinfectant wipes.
Once you’ve decluttered, it’s time to organize what you have in order to keep your counters free of stuff and maximize storage space.
Here some tips to help you keep your minimalist kitchen organized:
- If you don’t have a pantry, dedicate one cupboard into storing non-perishables like cans, sauces, pasta, oil, etc.
- For perishables that don’t go into the fridge, I put mine into a large serving bowl. Even though it’s sitting on the counter, it doesn’t take up much space and it looks better than all my food just sitting out. It also doubles as a nice salad bowl when you have guests.
- Keep spices in a drawer. Don’t have spices sitting out, or it makes the counters look messy.
- Dedicate a cupboard to cookware and appliances (pots, pans, slow cooker, etc). If I run out of space, it means it’s time to get rid of something.
- Digitize cookbooks.
- Use those hard to reach cupboards to store Costco items. Since I stand tall at 5’1, I keep this folding step stool in the kitchen so I can maximize my storage space
The joy of minimalism isn’t about trying to get down to as little items as possible but about being content with what I have. In fact, I own more now than I did when I first started, because I host more often and have moved less frequently. For me, I don’t find joy in only having 1 fork in my utensil drawer, but it doesn’t mean I need to have 30.
I hope these tips help you on your journey for a minimalist kitchen!