Updated: Dec 13, 2021
How to optimize your small kitchen
Small kitchen in Washington, DC
Ten years ago, when we moved from Miami back to Washington, DC, we lost about 25% interior home area, a garage, and most regrettably, a reasonably sized kitchen. We gained a lovely home in the metro area of one of our favorite cities, but with that came a narrow galley kitchen that is approximately 10 foot x 12 foot. Given that our life revolves around food and entertaining, that was not an ideal trade-off, so we immediately embarked on work around solutions that would accommodate our lifestyle of spending a lot of time in the kitchen.
The good thing about the kitchen is that it already leveraged an ideal configuration based on a triangular spacing of fridge, cooktop (gas!) and sink, which is a fundamental design requirement for proper workflow. There is reasonable counter space on either side of each of these components for staging and prepping a meal. And we have tried to minimize the amount of space occupied by equipment and condiments.
We also have adopted the habit of prepping, cooking and washing-up in phases, to keep the kitchen spaces from getting cluttered. That is not to say that the kitchen is spotless at the end of an evening of entertaining, just that we try to maintain it that way before the meal is served. We have been greeted many a morning by a kitchen stacked with debris from the previous evening’s meal.
Outdoor spaces for entertaining
On top of that, the kitchen has French doors leading to a deck that also adjoins a sunroom with French doors, allowing for circular flow through the house to the back deck. So, there is alternate access to the back deck and rear garden that bypasses the kitchen (a relief for the chef!).
To enhance the complementary outdoor spaces to be entertainment friendly, we transformed a fairly uninspiring and poorly landscaped rear garden by extending a hardscaped patio area off the deck, including a large granite table as a feature. The outdoor patio has also been adorned by a variety of outdoor cookers, which now features a versatile and fun Big Green Egg.
Overflow kitchen storage in the basement
But there is only so much equipment and plate ware that can be accommodated in a small galley kitchen, so we leveraged an unfinished area in the basement (there are no basements in Miami!) as an overflow storage area. Long and narrow like the galley kitchen, it accommodates open shelving for storage of extra appliances on one side, as well as additional fridges and reach in freezers for wine and food storage on the other side. This extra space is ‘cool’ and convenient as an overflow area of the kitchen.