Tiny house kitchens are my new obsession. They are huge right now – sheesh, there’s even a Netflix show about them.
What I love about tiny houses is the tiny kitchen that is typically included – whether it’s an actual house or trailer or van or cabin. I love small, efficient kitchens.
We know, it’s a contradiction in terms but money’s tight and everybody needs to get a little more out of their lives, while spending less and the solution for many people is to live smaller. Frugal minimalism is increasingly popular.
But, if you live in a tiny home, there’s a big challenge waiting for you, how do you make sure that your kitchen is functional and useful? Because, well, the kitchen is the most important room/space in any home. Trust us. We know kitchens.
It needs to be fit for preparing meals, cooking them and ideally even eating them too. So getting a small or compact kitchen that is both functional that adds joy to your life as well can be a challenge.
Tiny House Kitchens Ideas
Before you start designing a tiny kitchen for a tiny house; you need to ask yourself some questions.
- Are you going to want to bake?
- Will you need a conventional oven?
- Is this a solo affair or will you need to accommodate a significant other or housemate?
- What do you consider to be “essential” to your culinary needs?
- Are there any dietary peculiarities that you may need to handle differently (we wouldn’t advice making kimchi in a tiny house’s kitchen, for example)?
- How much cooking do you want to do at home?
The more questions you can come up with before you begin the design process, and the more of them that you answer. The easier it will be for you to articulate what’s important to you and cater to it.
Space constraints can be worked with, to a very large extent, when you know what you need to do in that space, but it can be very expensive and time consuming to put things right, if you don’t plan properly in the first place.
A kitchen in a tiny house can be just as cozy, warm, welcoming and comforting as one in a bigger home but it does take more planning.
Once you’ve had a good brainstorm and answered a ton of your own questions (and ours) then it’s time to consider a few other things before you start shopping for your tiny kitchen.
Tiny House Kitchens & Appliances
In a big kitchen, you can keep on adding appliances nearly forever, but in a tiny home – you need to get the question of appliances sorted first.
They will take up the most floor space and dictate, to a large extent, how the layout of the rest of the kitchen will be.
We’ve found that most tiny house owners when designing their tiny house kitchens want:
- A refrigerator (and possibly some sort of freezer too)
- A range/oven as their main cooking device
- A microwave oven to add a little versatility
Fortunately, the manufacturers of appliances are on your side when it comes to building your tiny kitchen, there are some lovely compact models of all these appliances (and, in fact, nearly appliance that you might desire in addition to these basics).
When purchasing compact appliances – you want to utilize some simple tricks to make the most of them in your tiny house:
- Wherever possible conserve the important spaces. We find that if you embed appliances into a small cubby-style area in your tiny house; it frees up walkway space.
- Don’t forget that if you can’t squeeze a full-sized refrigerator into your home; you can always build one in under your sink or use a mini-fridge and slide it in there.
- Consider countertop cooking for your range – stove top burners don’t need to take up space, if you go European style, you can build flat electric panels into the countertop – that gives you the opportunity to use the space for food prep, etc. when not in use.
- Put the microwave on a shelf and put it over a work surface. You don’t need your microwave at waist level in a tiny kitchen, get it up on the wall (though not so high that it becomes dangerous to use).
Design & Layout of Countertop Space in Tiny House Kitchens
We love to bake here at Kitchen Authority, and we recognize that some tiny house owners will too. But baking takes a certain amount of space.
If you want to get the most out of your countertop space we suggest that you go with something a little “old-fashioned” for the modern age and use pull-out cutting board surfaces. Done right, this sneaky little trick will allow you to add 30% or more to your actual work surface space. You need to get a professional to help with this though as if you get it wrong, it may interfere with the ability to open doors or drawers in other parts of the kitchen.
If you have limited workspace, we strongly suggest that you learn to bring all your ingredients and tools together before you start your meal prep – and that means you won’t need to open drawers, doors, etc. while you work – giving you the most space to work in.
Skip The Dishwasher In Tiny House Kitchens
A dishwasher may feel like an essential component of a kitchen today, but it wasn’t all that long ago that we all did our own dishes by hand. Plus, it takes up an insane amount of space in a tiny kitchen.
Buy a drying rack instead which you can fit over the sink (so, it doesn’t take away from your countertop space), it’s very efficient and makes the place look great.
Tiny House Kitchens Cabinets & Storage
You want to ensure that you get the most bang for buck out of your storage areas too.
We’re sure that you know how quickly you can accumulate “stuff” in your kitchen and that it’s hard to throw any of it away when it could, potentially, be useful in the near future.
So, we suggest:
- Tackle the cabinet doors with extras. Put some hooks in all your doors, that can be used to attach pans or towels, or anything else for that matter.
- Get under the sink and place some stick on hooks there. They can carry baskets full of cleaning products and that means you can keep the not so nice to look at stuff, out of sight without it contaminating anything else in the kitchen. We’d also place a drip tray at the bottom of the space under the sink, just in case there are any leaks.
- Go magnet crazy with the refrigerator and other metal appliances. Magnets can be used to trap useful things without taking up any extra space – the perfect tiny house solution for space conservation.
There’s often space above a cabinet, even in a tiny kitchen, and that means you’ve got some extra ledge space to sue as storage.
We’d dump all the things you use really infrequently up in that space. We’d also buy a small stool to climb up on to get things up there and bring them down again. Don’t hurt yourself trying to conserve space, that would be a very bad idea, indeed.
Make sure to get some use from the side panels on your cabinets too, they’re the perfect place to sink a few hooks and expand on your space.
Other Ways To Gain Storage Space In Tiny House Kitchens
You can really get creative if you want to add more storage space to your tiny house kitchen.
Some of the best ideas we’ve seen so far include:
- Rolling carts. We know, it sounds very 1980s airplane food, but narrow rolling carts can be really handy to fill with the stuff you only need on occasion. They can be put away elsewhere in the tiny house when you’re done too.
- Store some things vertically. Baking trays, chopping boards, etc. can all be better stored vertically than horizontally if you want to save space. We like using a metal file divider to help with this.
- Add extra horizontal storage. Wherever you have space, add some extra storage shelves, they can add to the visual appeal of the space too. The more organized you are, the easier running a tiny kitchen will become.
- Create a pot lid rail. Want to store those pot lids, easily? Use a curtain rod to create a rail at the top of a cabinet and then thread the lids on to it.
- Don’t forget the ceiling. You can create shelves, etc. on the ceiling or use hooks to add even more storage space. Old school is cool.
- Consider a pegboard. Cover a wall in pegboard and hang as much stuff from it as you can. Famous chefs have done this, so you’ll be in good company.
Tiny House Kitchens Essential Small Appliances
Everyone has a different list of essential small appliances and you may find that you need to make some trade-offs if you want to fit them all in.
We recommend that you consider a combination microwave oven with convection oven or grilling capacity. That can cut out on the need for a second appliance easily.
Then we’d want:
- A coffee maker
- A blender
- A food processor (we recommend the Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus Food Processor)
- A grinder
- An instant pot (we recommend the Instant Pot DUO80)
We think if you have those 5 things, you could live pretty much anywhere and not worry about it.
The instant pot, in particular, gives you a huge amount of flexibility in the way you cook in a small space. It’s a rice cooker, a streamer, a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, etc. all in one. That’s a ton of gadgets that you don’t need to buy but still get the utility of.
Check out our review of the Instant Pot DUO80: The Best Instant Pot That A Family Could Have.
Other Tiny House Kitchens Essentials
Again, your list may vary but you want to think about how you will get all of the things you need in your tiny kitchen space:
- Rolling pin
- Tupperware (storage boxes)
- Spatulas, whisks, potato masher, etc. all in a single stand
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Mortar and pestle
- Knives and forks
- Knife set
- Can opener
- Garlic press
- Vegetable peeler
- Cheese grater
- Cocktail set (because relaxing is good)
Eating Spaces In Tiny House Kitchens
This can be the hardest part of getting a tiny kitchen right. You really need to visualize the space carefully in order to create a space in which you (and ideally someone else too) can eat comfortably.
We like the idea of using a fold-down table that can fill the walk space when you’re ready to serve and which can be broken down when you need that space.
This is always easiest if you’ve built the kitchen to accommodate two people from the beginning.
Alternatively, you may just want to build an eating space somewhere else in your tiny home.
Final Thoughts On A Tiny House Kitchen
We love tiny homes and tiny kitchens. We think they’re good for the environment and good for your pocket too.
Getting a tiny kitchen right means planning your kitchen carefully.
Look at what you need, look at the space you have and then get really creative to build a tiny kitchen that is not just for cooking but which you will be proud to be in every day without sacrificing any culinary necessities.
We hope that you’ll find our guide useful when you build the tiny kitchen of your dreams. For additional information regarding choosing kitchen appliances for a tiny house kitchen we highly recommend Tiny House Build.