Small Spaces 101: Five Essentials for a Tiny Kitchen

When looking for our first apartment, sometimes we have to make sacrifices in amenities so that we can check off the things we truly need. On my latest hunt for an apartment with my boyfriend, one sacrifice we had to make was settling for a small kitchen. As people who love to cook, this was a tough transition! Luckily, I found a few key essentials we’re considering for our tiny kitchen, to not only help make up for the lack of space but also to stay within our moving budget! If you are in a similar situation, check out the list below for items recommended for tiny kitchen apartments.

1. Kitchen cart

While more and more modern kitchens contain islands that allow extra counter space and storage, these pieces often take up too much space in a small kitchen. Another potential issue with islands is that they often don’t match your appliances and cabinets that come with the rental unit. Kitchen carts on the other hand come in different sizes and styles, often have wheels so they can be rearranged when needed, and usually have smooth surfaces to act as additional counter space!

Here are three kitchen carts to check out, ranging from smaller and lower priced ones to larger and more expensive based on your budget:

If your kitchen is super tiny and you only need a cart when you entertain, this folding cart from The Container Store is for you. On sale now for only $44.25.

Kitchen cart - folding

This sturdy, solid wood $59.99 IKEA cart is another winner for tight spaces.


A step up is size and price is this IKEA kitchen cart in birch for $99.99.  It adds two handy drawers to the design.

forhoja cart


2. Dish rack

Chances are that if you have a tiny kitchen, you may not have a dishwasher. If this is the case for you, you’ll need a drying rack, which could take up all of the counter space that you have! Luckily there are a few types of dish racks that are designed specifically for this scenario.
Here is one that spreads over your sink. This Amazon find for $21.98 has great reviews from users.

dish rack

3. Side dining table and two chairs

Unfortunately, not all kitchens come with enough square footage to store even a small dining table and chairs. One alternative to this could be a dining table that folds up against the wall to open up more space when not in use. This  All Purpose Fold Down Table from Amazon for $162.85 takes no floor space at all, but will require a bit of wall space.

fold down table

4. Metal/grid organizers for utensils

With smaller kitchens, storage space can be limited, and you may need to prioritize having your bigger appliances and food in drawers, leaving out smaller kitchen utensils. Luckily there are these organizers, where you can hang your kitchen supplies against the wall. Hello free counter space and drawers!

This pegboard from Hauzz for $81.47 will hold pretty much all your first apartment pots and utensils.

pot rack

5. Hanging baskets for storage

I’ve always admired these little baskets from IKEA, They can hold everything from utensils to office supplies to potted plants! Best of all is that they are affordable at only $16.99 each! Not allowed to drill holes in the wall? Invest in a tension shower rod and hang these baskets from the tension rod. This idea also works if you need more storage in your shower for toiletries!

kitchen hanging baskets

I hope these additions to your kitchen allow you to either bring out your inner chef, or at least help make prepping meals for the week a little easier. Happy cooking!

Other posts about equipping your kitchen:

New cook’s kitchen essentials

Kitchen essentials -fiddly things you may forget

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Author My First Apartment
Anna R.

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Anna R. is currently a research assistant in a biology lab in the Bay Area and is interested in pursuing a Ph.D in Genetics. When she’s not daydreaming about food and browsing recipes on Pinterest, she likes to spend her free time dancing, paddle boarding and swimming. She’s been through a number of different housing situations and is eager to share her experiences with other MFA readers!

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