9 Brilliant (Decorating and Storage!) Lessons to Learn from These Tiny House Kitchens

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Carina Romano)

Few homes are as impressive as tiny houses in terms of use of space. Necessity is the mother of invention, after all. Even if you aren’t living in super tight quarters, there are plenty of notes you can take from the creative storage solutions often found in these compact spaces, particularly in the kitchen.

Here, we scoured the littlest abodes and found nine really good, smart lessons, which you can steal for your own dwelling to maximize your square footage and style.

1. The sides of your cabinets are basically mini walls.

When you really think about it, the sides of your cabinets are basically mini walls, right? So why not add some shelves or hang some tools from the sides? The setup in this tiny house from New Frontier Tiny Homes is both decorative with its rustic live-edge wood but also a perfect perch for plants, herbs, cookbooks, pantry goods, and more. On a related note, always add plants!

(Image credit: Carina Romano)

2. There’s a space for everything.

When your room is limited in space, it might be your inclination to keep things as simple and aesthetically “clean” as possible. But often what you’re left with is a home that feels a little cold and devoid of personality. The owners of this tiny 160-square-foot Philadelphia home (which they built themselves!) really leaned into the idea of open storage, adding shelves and shelving units to nearly every inch of their walls. The result is two-fold: a spot for everything they have, while also giving them the chance to display some of their favorite possessions.

3. But not the stuff you don’t actually love or need.

You simply do not need every single thing you have in your kitchen! I was reminded of this fact when I was reading this caption from tiny house dweller Tayler Stauffer. She and her husband went through multiple rounds of paring-down phases in order to figure out what they really did and did not need to take with them to their new home. Even if you’re not relocating, I’m betting you can afford to donate a few boxes’ worth of old kitchen gear. Toss or donate anything that’s broken, no longer needed, or no longer loved.

4. Space doesn’t have to limit your design aesthetic.

Repeat after me: I will not let my square footage affect how I decorate in my kitchen. Space does not equal style. Take your cues from this tiny home galley kitchen from Tiny Heirloom and bring in art, rugs, and plants. These elements help to create a kitchen that feels just as homey and welcoming as one twice its size.

5. There’s always room for a dining spot.

Here’s another smart idea from Tiny Heirloom: For anyone with no space for a dining nook or proper table, take advantage of the views from a nearby window by installing a floating breakfast shelf directly on the wall. The takeaway? Even if you think there’s no possible way you can create a breakfast nook in your tiny space, you probably can.

6. It’s also always possible to maximize your counter space.

If this tiny kitchen from Handcrafted Movement has room for a giant counter and island/breakfast nook, I’m betting your kitchen does too. While you might not want to do exactly what’s pictured here, my point is this: You can really come up with some smart and unique counter solutions if you get a little creative.

(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

7. Drawers are better than cabinets.

Fact: Drawers are always going to be better than those dark pits known as cabinets. The owners of this smart airstream kitchen added inexpensive pull-out baskets in order to turn a cabinet into a bunch of drawers. I recommend you do the same.

8. Extra seating is key.

No matter the size of your kitchen, guests are always going to hang out in there during a party. It’s just a fact of life. You may as well accept it and add some comfortable seating for people. Add a couch situation like this tiny house or even just a few bar stools.

9. Stuff should be stored so you can use it.

If you have to pull out every single spice every time you need to find the turmeric, you’re eventually going to stop looking for your turmeric. (Same for, say, your blender.) The setup of this tiny home might not look magazine-worthy, but it’s usable — and that’s what matters. Store stuff where you use it and make your most-used ingredients and tools easy to access.