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now w'ere cooking how to make more space in your small kitchen
by Yee-Fan Sun
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I think I just may be regressing -- in the realm of the kitchen at least. My old kitchen in Tucson was a grand cathedral-ceilinged beauty, complete with custom cabinetry galore and a great big eat-in space. With the boyís grad school years complete, we moved on to Edinburgh, Scotland, where my kitchen footprint was so meager that it was easier to wipe up the floor with a quick swipe of a damp rag than go to the bother of dragging out bucket and mop. Still, small as that kitchen was, I grew to appreciate its efficiency; there was always a spot to stash away what needed to be stashed, and with the flatís open floor plan, the lack of a dine-in area proved no great loss.

Back now in North America, in the fabulous city of Toronto, Iíve found myself with a kitchen thatís small, strangely configured, and drearily isolated from the apartmentís main living area. Thanks to the odd layout and dimensions of the room, thereís a weird empty section in the middle of the room thatís not quite big enough for adding a dining table and chairs. Meanwhile, the kitchen built-ins offer the skimpiest amount of cabinet and countertop space Iíve had yet. Itís a good thing the apartment has other perks, because this kitchen, let me blunt, stinks. It looks fine on the surface Ė refinished wood floors, new wood cabinets and modern knobs. But cooking in this kitchenís original incarnation felt awkward and cramped. This was a bad kitchen to cook in. It was not a kitchen that actually worked.

Slowly, bit by bit, Iíve been making some changes though -- adding some useful features here and there, getting organized. Though Iím a long way yet from the dream kitchen, things have been looking up: these days, Iím actually starting to enjoy prepping dinner in this little kitchen of mine. If you too have found yourself stuck with a less than capacious area in which to cook up your daily meals, fear not. Check out these tips and tricks, guaranteed to make even the tiniest of kitchen spaces more user-friendlyÖ

1 Get dedicated. Sure, we all know the kitchenís supposed to be for culinary purposes. Yet how many of our kitchens end up being a catch-all space, serving as recycling center and home office on top of the official food-related duties? First things first: when youíre dealing with a puny kitchen, move your non-kitchen stuff elsewhere. Find a new home for your junk drawer, mail pile, spare light bulbs, and newspaper recycling, and youíll find your kitchen functions a whole lot better, giving you more space to actually -- crazy thought now -- cook!

2 On the shelf. Whether you have a big empty expanse above a section of your kitchen counters or an itty-bitty spare bit of wall along your narrow galley kitchen, donít let good wall go to waste. Install a shelf! Or better, yet, two or three. Even a shallow 6Ē shelf can give you useful surplus space for stocking canned goods and other pantry basics; a deeper, sturdier shelf, meanwhile, provides extra room for housing cookware and dishes. Donít forget to look inside your cabinets either, to see whether adding an additional shelf might help with your storage issues. Most cabinets come with pre-drilled holes that make adding and moving shelves a breeze; just pick up an appropriate length and depth of shelving at the hardware store, along with some shelving pegs, and you can pop a new shelf right in.

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