Making This Home:
Simple Joys of a Small Kitchen

Please welcome my guest today,
Katie from Making This Home!

Bigger is supposed to be better. That’s what we’ve always heard, and if we want a better life, it’s generally understood that it means a bigger house, a bigger car, and most especially, a much larger kitchen.

I’m learning that bigger doesn’t always make life better.

This is my kitchen:

It’s the smallest kitchen I’ve ever had by at least 60 percent.  It also happens to be my favorite. My husband and I just finished building it ourselves.  We had such a limited amount of space to work with, so we really did have to make every inch count.  Here’s how our kitchen looked as we began the project:

We had to think about each thing we wanted (like a microwave) and things we didn’t truly need (like a KitchenAid mixer on the counter).

We also had to battle what society expected of us.

For example, everyone has four or five burner stoves.  How often do you use that many?  We realized we never have; we sought out a more affordable a two-burner option.

Large ovens use a lot of space.  They also take a lot of energy to heat.  (Electricity costs 3x as much in Germany compared to the US.)  So we went with something smaller.  We’re vegetarians, so the biggest thing we need to stuff in there is a casserole dish, not a turkey.

Then we decided to take our oven a step further; the one we chose was also a microwave.  I’ll admit it’s a little tough getting used to the fact that I can’t turn to the microwave when I’m baking something, though I’m adapting.  I’m following my grandmother’s footsteps and melting butter on the stovetop instead.  Turning to a life of simplicity instead of simple shortcuts feels really good.

Each time I work in this small kitchen, it feels like a celebration. It isn’t a task to feed my family.  Cooking in a small kitchen means I clean up as I go.  There’s not enough counter space to do otherwise.  Unloading the dishwasher is a snap.  Everything is easily within reach.


Everything we have in our kitchen is there for a purpose, and we use and treasure each of the items because they hold value in our lives and our meals.

I thought I would hate the lack of extras.  Instead, I love it.

I’m more aware of the simple joys in life.

I grate cheese with the sun shining on me, and I look out at the cobblestone streets of Berlin where people are biking by.  These were things I never noticed when I had a machine grating my cheese.  The greatest thing a kitchen can have isn’t a big fancy gadget.  It’s just a window to watch the world.

A small space that fulfills your needs and matches your personal character… to me that’s far greater than anything ten times the size.

Katie, author of the blog Making This Home, is an American in Berlin, Germany.  Her home is 480 square feet; the kitchen is 36.

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For more ideas on how to manage in a small kitchen, check out this post on Blissfully Domestic!

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Comments

  1. How lovely! Although I would miss not having the KitchenAid mixer out!

    Jennifers inspiring blog post..Free to Fly

  2. How interesting to adapt a kitchen perfectly suited to your needs. I personally find that a kitchen that doesn’t require a lot of steps where everything is at one’s fingersteps the easiest to work in.

    Vees inspiring blog post..A Gift for My Niece

  3. It’s nice to remember what’s truly important, even in the kitchen.

  4. How very efficient!
    Our electric prices are headed up in the next year. I am on the lookout for ways to save. I hadn’t considered some of these options. I will think about it…thanks!

    Becky K.s inspiring blog post..Shopping with Heart

  5. What a great post! I have a very very tiny kitchen too. And I’ve learned to adapt and use every inch to it’s fullest potential.
    It’s possible to do a whole lot with just a little.

  6. What a surprise to find you over here today, Katie! I’m so impressed by your kitchen makeover. I don’t think any of us can ever complain that our kitchens are “too small” after seeing how you’ve made your space work. Bravo! :-)

    Julia @ Hooked on Housess inspiring blog post..The Sets on Gossip Girl: Where the Young & Fabulous Live

  7. Brilliant! Your design allows for efficient and productive cooking. That’s so great. I loved seeing the during and after photos.

    Maureens inspiring blog post..Love the One You’re With

  8. I love your little kitchen. I especially like where you store all your dishes because it is right at the level where a child can reach them and help set the table.

    Taylor at Household Management 101s inspiring blog post..Mar 15, How To Clean Things Around The House

  9. Your kitchen turned out beautifully–you did a fantastic job! My favorite part of your post is when you say a “window to watch the world” is the best kitchen gadget. Isn’t that so true?

    kirwins inspiring blog post..Consultation with the Pantry

  10. love the open shelving at the end!

    Darlene@WorthWalkingTowards inspiring blog post..Siesta Scripture Memory Team: March 15, 2009

  11. You did a great job on your kitchen! It’s small but also open.

    My first kitchen was quite small, and I was very efficient in it! I liked the fact that one step got me everywhere I needed to go!

    Some kitchens wear the cook out :)

    Leilas inspiring blog post..Our museum and why I can’t think.

  12. I really like the comfortable efficiency of your kitchen. I am wondering, though, what are the objects on the wall to the left of the oven, and under the knife rack?

    Maureens inspiring blog post..Things Making Me Happy

  13. Oh wow! Good things do come in small packages.

    Deidras inspiring blog post..Left Holding The Bag

  14. Small is great when it’s so well designed- Melissa Thanks for sharing her with us- I will check out her site.

    teresas inspiring blog post..Popcorn Popping….

  15. Love this – it looks fabulous. I have a small kitchen too, and I love it. It’s a great idea to just use a two burner stove. Thanks for sharing!

    Rebeccas inspiring blog post..Spring Cleaning Giveaway – iPod Shuffle!

  16. I love the kitchen, mine is small but not quite that small. As I was reading this, I was thinking of all the gadgets I have in my kitchen that just take up space. I’m a Martha Stewart wanna be but I don’t think it’s in my nature.

    I have been following this blog for a little while. She has other great readings.

    Sheryls inspiring blog post.."Not Me!" Mondays

  17. very impressive.. mine is small, but a little bigger than that.. I can’t go small size on fridge since i’ve got at least 6 people to feed at any given time! and my kitchen aid is used more often than not! I can totally see it if there were just 2 of us though! Well done!

    Amydeannes inspiring blog post..Read it for free! Hunter Brown and the Secret of the Shadow

  18. Katie,

    I enjoy your comments at This Young House and your kitchen is amazing. I can just picture the lovely view of your neighborhood from your window.

    Denises inspiring blog post..The Geek Squad hits Seattle

  19. I’m so impressed. What a marvelous use of space and a conscientious weeding out of what is truly needed vs. what’s expected. Congratulations. That was a great renovation project. I loved it.

  20. Thanks for showing us your gorgeous kitchen! My kitchen is small too (although not as small as yours!) and I love it! It forces you not to buy gadgets that never get used.

    Lyndas inspiring blog post..:: Living the Simple Life ::

  21. I really like it as the kitchen is part of a room and opened out! A really good idea to take the wall down. so much bettter :-)

    annes inspiring blog post..A Small French Market in Oxfordshire….

  22. We all could make do with less. It’s a choice! Great post!

  23. Thank you all for your wonderful and kind words. It means so much!

    Good eye, Maureen. Those funny little silver things poking out to the right of the sink are a standard part of German apartments. As an American, they’re also the biggest pain in the neck until you adapt. They’re water meters that measure our use to the LITER (4.2 cups). I explain them here if you’re interested in more.

    Thank you again, Melissa and everyone.
    Katie

    Katie at makingthishome.coms inspiring blog post..Bigger Doesn’t Mean Better

  24. I have seen this before, and once again I am blown away at how this couple got so much out of this tiny space! Just incredible…
    ~Misti

    Misti of Studio M Designss inspiring blog post..Giveaway Winner!

  25. Katie, what a wonderful post. I have always enjoyed you and your blog, so it was a treat to find you here today showing us around your gorgeous little kitchen that is packed with efficiency, glamour, and love.

    Emily@remodelingthislifes inspiring blog post..Link Love Saturday

  26. What a great design! Thanks for sharing. We are living in Sicily for awhile and downsizing to a small European kitchen has been interesting. I very much agree that it gives you a new perspective on what’s really necessary. It’s nice to live more simply yet efficiently!

    JanMaries inspiring blog post..Life……One Moment At A Time

  27. I love the concept of truly only having EXACTLY what you NEED. I hate clutter and am constantly battling my husband and children’s but I want to hang on to that in case I need it someday…

    ginas inspiring blog post..Building Art

  28. What a well-written and enjoyable to read article, Katie. Loved the whole thing – your little tidbits of wisdom sprinkled throughout, and your gorgeous photos, both before and after. I hope to make it to Berlin someday to see it in person!

    christys inspiring blog post..Weekend photos

  29. Debbykay says:

    Great post! Loved how you were intentional in the redesign of your kitchen and made conscious decisions for how you want to use your kitchen space and how you opted for simple pleasures (your big kitchen windo!). I, too, have a small kitchen. The big benefit is that I have to clean as I go to keep it organized! It is amazing what a person can do in a small space and what is really necessary!

    Debbykay

    Debbykays inspiring blog post..Time in a Bottle

  30. Great post and a lot of wonderful quotes that can be taken from it. You have such a beautiful kitchen, Katie!

    Kelli@GohnCrazys inspiring blog post..Made my own Podaegi

  31. I applaude you for understanding that we don’t really need huge homes with huge kitchens!

  32. I have a kitchen that is about the same size and I was talking to my sis today who has a kitchen at least 4 times larger than mine and she asked how I keep it so organized–my counters are always clutter free. Space doesn’t always mean better. Having a small kitchen forces you to only keep what you need and what you use often. I wouldn’t want a bigger kitchen–although I wish we had a bigger dining space!

  33. What a great post, Katie. Love your kitchen!

  34. Wow! That is so awesome!! Everything looks great. And thanks for proving that a kitchen can be wonderful, no matter the size {or any room for that matter}.

    Love what you’ve done!

    Amber Filkinss inspiring blog post..Extreme Makeover–Me Edition

  35. this is the coolest kitchen! I need someone to take control of the space in my kitchen and make it functional! love this!!

    kelleys inspiring blog post..friends

  36. Your kitchen is awe-some. I love it. I can attest to the fact that more isn’t always better. I actually think less is more. Currently I’m living in the largest living space I ever had in my life and although I am grateful for my blessing, there is alot of work involved. We have a lot of space that is not used and some space that is just prime for clutter to gather because of the lack of use. I am working on decluttering those spaces and aiming for more functionality. Great job!!

    Lisas inspiring blog post..Spring is in the Air

  37. Gayle at Mountain Moma says:

    I love this post!!! I have gotten a bit burned out on blogs highlighting kitchen with budgets that are through the roof. I just glance at them and move on. It simply feeds an unhealthy appetite for a style that doesn’t allow me to put people before things. Katie’s post was a breath of fresh air.

    Gayle at Mountain Momas inspiring blog post..Cookie Party Favors

  38. Yay! I love this post! I’ve got kitchen on the brain. I love her perspective.

    emilys inspiring blog post..dare you to paint your cabinets black

  39. Oh, I’ve stumbled on Katie and Making This Home before and marvelled at her kitchen renovation! Thanks for hosting her here.

    Katie, I love the efficient use of space and the whole “open concept” plan…it feels like a kitchen many times its size. Though I’d need to tuck my stand mixer away somewhere. :-)

  40. You have a very cute living room. Wish someday, I will have a clean and well painted house like that. :)

    GLenns inspiring blog post..TNOMERALC Web Design Toys Services

  41. I’ve been following this tiny transformation and think it is fantastic!

  42. My favorite part of your kitchen is how you described “feeling” in it as you provide for your family. What a wonderful thing to SAVOR each action! LOVELY job.

    Shawn/Lifeatbuttercupfarms inspiring blog post..AGUA

  43. I had a small kitchen for 14 years. We grew up in that kitchen. Now that I live in a 2000 square foot apartment and yes, the kitchen is huge..it’s missing something.
    You capture the feeling of a small kitchen…visually and in words.

    Ronas inspiring blog post..My Current Re-Do – The Kitchen

  44. WOW! Your makeover is stunning! Taking out that wall must have opened up a whole new world to you!

    Congrats on the amazing transformation!

    Connie

    Connies inspiring blog post..GIVEAWAY: Bloggers – Win a $100 Amazon Gift Certificate!

  45. When I was a young bride of 18, our kitchen was very, very small. No microwave, a 13 sq.ft. fridge, a beautiful 1040′s vintage stove with two small ovens, two base cupboards, two upper cupboards. I don’t remember feeling that anything was lacking, it was always just right.

    Now, 35 years later, my kitchen is so much larger, my son is all grown up and his friends don’t inhabit my kitchen anymore, and I find myself longing for that lovely, tiny home I first lived in as a new wife, and yes… it took about 2 minutes to clean up!

    Blessings ~ Eileen @ Star’s Fault

    Eileen @ Star’s Faults inspiring blog post..While I Had the Gesso Out ~

  46. Okay…. mom really meant a 1940′s stove!

    The Beautiful Starry Girl

    Eileen @ Star’s Faults inspiring blog post..While I Had the Gesso Out ~

  47. That’s great! I love it! My kitchen is small by a lot of people’s standards and we could expand it, but I really don’t feel it’s necessary. I just need to redo so that it is efficient and makes the best use of the space – and brighten it up.

    Wonderful inspiration!!

    Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolatess inspiring blog post..Wordless Wednesday ~ Sleeping Dog

  48. I just want to say i love your blog i look forward to reading your blog i too am waiting to sell my house{18mths}to be exact i hope GOD has a plan because i don’t i have did all i can do .This is were my faith has to come in anyway you cheer me up no end keep up the good work i love it. DONNA

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