Downsizing: Kitchen Edition

February 18, 2020

When Big Country and I decided that it was time to downsize to a townhome and sell our 3,000 sq. ft. 2-story with its large eat-in kitchen, I accepted the notion that I would have to scale down my kitchen. However, when the townhome we were planning to buy fell through in the same week our house sold, and everything started moving fast, we had to take a step back and look into renting a place for a while. I was not mentally prepared for this small of a kitchen.

Let’s be honest, I recognized it was a first-world problem, so I pulled on my big-girl panties and decided to view it as the clarifying experiment that it has become; making the hard call between need and want.

First, let me show you my old kitchen. Pretty spoiled, right? Several people could work together in that space while others sat at the table and visited. We gathered around that 4′ x 5′ granite island, overflowing with every kind of food, literally hundreds of times over the years for community meals with family and friends. So many memories! And so many dishes to wash!

Now, let me show you my new kitchen space in our rental. As my friend Nic put it: “You are normal people now.” Fair enough!

Now, obviously, the lighting and photography in the old kitchen is much more professional but you still get the idea. There will be no gathering around a big granite island in this kitchen. And two people in here can make things feel tight. I lost about 3/4 of the space I had. I’m down to one rather small counter workspace and seven cabinets up and three cabinets down. And even though I know that I will have to do things a little differently, I still want to host gatherings so what’s a girl to do? Kitchen downsizing is hard!

When we put the deposit down on this place, my brain went straight to “how am I going to make this tiny kitchen space work?” The first thing that popped into my mind was putting a large pantry shelf on the one empty wall. I picked this shelf up at our local Lowe’s for $80 along with some S hooks and it has been brilliant! Seriously! It may not be the tidiest solution, but look how much I fit on this rack. And it’s strong enough to hold all my heavy kitchen equipment.

You can pick up the S-hooks I use to hang items from the rack at any hardware store but make sure to get the larger ones. I use these handy hanging mesh bags I picked up to store my garlic, potatoes and onions and some versatile cotton string bags to hang my aprons. (And also my hats, gloves and scarves in my tiny coat closet). Being able to see through them makes all the difference. I didn’t have a drawer for my storage bags and such but this storage solution worked out great. And this Etsy find for my knives is a definite win! It mounts magnetically on my fridge, keeping my knives out of reach of little hands but easily accessible. Take a look at JB’s Wood Turning Store here!

Moving on to the insides of my cabinets, I had two main issues. How to optimize the upper cabinet space for my smaller sized baking supplies and how to store all my cookie sheets, muffin tins and cutting boards in a way that made it easy to grab just one? These expandable, stackable organizers and game-changing bakeware organizer racks are definitely going with me to my next kitchen.

Kitchen downsizing is difficult because you are forced to make those hard calls on what is mission critical but Big Country and I really are making this work, hosting Christmas for 18 and a birthday celebration for 20 and several smaller gatherings over the past few months. Connecting your community through food is such a beautiful gift. Don’t let the size of your home or kitchen hold you back. I promise that your true people will be grateful, not critical. And here is a reality check; people around the world have even smaller and less equipped entertaining spaces and yet find ways to come together to celebrate the beauty of doing life together. Let your home be the place where that happens!

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