5 Space-Saving Ideas to Steal from a Brooklyn Kitchenette, Ikea Hack Included

This kitchenette, which rests on the top floor of a Brooklyn brownstone, appears in our book Remodelista: The Organized Home, and every time I stumble upon the photograph, I’m reminded that this is how I want to live—surrounded by fewer, more considered possessions.

It’s not just a pretty picture, though. Despite its space limitations, this kitchenette is hard-working and highly functional. Here, 5 space-saving ideas to steal from it:

Photography by Matthew Williams, styling by Alexa Hotz, for Remodelista: The Organized Home.

Kitchenette with Dignitet Rod from Ikea for Organized Home Book by Matthew Williams
Above: Barely-there tab pulls, instead of knobs or handles, lend a seamless modern look in this compact kitchenette.

1. Utilize the dead space.

With the help of an inexpensive curtain rod, the empty space between the countertop and the bottom of the upper cabinets becomes a place to hang domestic tools. Don’t see the rod? It’s that thin metal wire that bisects the image. One of our favorite products from Ikea, the Diginet Curtain Wire (just $15.99) acts as a minimalist rail from which to hang household essentials, including coffee filters (attached with a clip), a scrubbing brush, and a basket holding kitchen tools (like a can opener and a bottle opener). The less cluttering up the counter, the better. (Go here to see how to use the Diginet in the laundry room.)

2. Consider refrigerator drawers.

Under-the-counter refrigerator drawers are more commonplace in Europe, where more frequent market-shopping means you can make due with smaller-sized refrigerators. They’re a great option for anyone, though, with a small kitchen. For our list of top picks, see 10 Easy Pieces: The Best Under-Counter Refrigerator Drawers.

3. Deploy the all-powerful tray.

If you must keep things on the kitchen counter, consider corralling them onto a tray. It’s a simple visual trick that makes everything look tidier.

Kitchenette with Dignitet Rod from Ikea for Organized Home Book by Matthew Williams
Above: This enamel tray is by Japanese brand Noda Horo. For similar versions, see In Praise of Trays: 10 Trays in Fiberglass and Enamel.

4. Source dish, glasses, and other items that can stack.

When you’re lacking shelf space, it’s imperative that to prioritize dinnerware and food containers that can be nested and stacked. And choose pieces that can do double- or triple-duty. Petite glasses work for juice, water, and wine; nested ceramic baking dishes are attractive enough to go from oven to table.

5. Choose small whenever you can.

Note the compact drying rack; it’s Ikea’s Fintorp Dish Drainer, which has since been discontinued. So many stores sell housewares, like this dish rack, made specifically for small spaces; there’s no reason to have to buy a regular-sized storage product for your tiny kitchen. (See the drainer and other storage favorites in Editors’ Picks: 10 Storage Finds From Ikea That We Own and Love.) For a stylish, small drainer, try the Brabantia Compact Drying Rack; $59 at Pottery Barn.

For more inspired small kitchen, see:

N.B.: This post has been updated with new links and prices; it was first published May 2020.

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