Moving to a smaller place...what to keep, what to put away, what to toss? (not exactly a food question...)

Next Friday my husband and I are moving to a small townhouse from our rather large house. The biggest issue is the kitchen. I designed my current kitchen and it's large and well laid-out with lots of cabinets and drawers and a great pantry. The new kitchen is about 1/3 the size with considerably less storage. We chose to do this (!) so we've gotten rid of a lot of stuff, but I'm having trouble figuring out the kitchen. If you have a small kitchen with few cabinets and drawers, and no pantry space to speak of, what do you keep close at hand, what do you put away but have access to, and what do you give away?

  • Posted by: drbabs
  • June 24, 2011


ChefJune June 27, 2011
I could "manage" without my KitchenAid mixer, but not without my food processor. (Or course, I DO have the beater attachment for my Cuisinart.) I have almost never owned a blender. I find I can do all the "blender things" in the food processor, especially these days with the wonderful hand-held blender stick.

You probably don't/won't need as many sauce pans. Try and assess how often you really use more than 2 at a time, and get rid of the rest.

I hung a pot rack from the ceiling of my 7 x 14 kitchen. It allows me to keep many more pans/pots close at hand.
susan G. June 27, 2011
Sample of odd storage place: under the sofa (living room) I have puzzles, books, games for grandchildren -- fortunately, it has 'skirts' (which I didn't want, but now they have a purpose) to hide the stash.
drbabs June 27, 2011
I want to thank you all for your generous and supportive answers. I've been referring to this often while obsessing over where to put things (and I've freecycled a bunch of stuff that was sitting unused in the basement)--unfortunately the new place doesn't have a basement or much storage space in general, but we will make it work. What a great community this is--thank you all so much!
the P. June 26, 2011
good luck with the move. here's on more idea to keep in mind: as you unpack and organize your new kitchen, consider putting items you want but don't use frequently in a different closet or storage space that you can access when you need to. for example, i don't use my kitchen-aid very often, but i certainly *want* to own it. so i keep it at the front of my bedroom closet (which has some very high shelves) and take it down the 4 times a year i use it. ditto with my juicer--i pull it out in the summer when i tend to use it more, but keep it shoved in the back of my front closet all winter long. sounds strange--but i live in an nyc apartment! this really works for me, and prevented me from having to get rid of some equipment i really want to have around.
LucyS June 25, 2011
My kitchen is TINY.

Here's what I have and what I use a lot at the moment:

- magnetic knife strip on the wall (great space saver, you can always put a couple in different parts of your kitchen if you have a lot of knives
- jar on the counter with all my spatulas, wooden spoons, tongs, slotted spoons, etc. (less used items like rolling pin and salad tongs are in a drawer)
- in the most accessible places: roasting pan, nonstick frying pan, Dutch oven, stock pot, small pot for boiling vegetables etc., cutting boards, cookie sheet, baby cuisinart for fine chopping (food processor is on my wish list but I don't have one right now)
- in slightly less accessible places: tupperwares, mixing bowls, colander
- in storage or places I have to stand on stool to reach: extra stock pots or dishes that I have more or less duplicated

This being said I really wish my kitchen were bigger so it's not exactly ideal! But these are my essentials at least. Good luck!
latoscana June 25, 2011
I downsized a few years ago and then found that I went a bit overboard. I've been adding back lately - and, since storage remains an issue, I recently got those Metro shelves and they are a kind of visible pantry. I store appliances, larger pots and pans, and non-perishables, which I store in baskets to make it less cluttered.
Melusine June 25, 2011
I just discovered the wonders of individual, stackable storage cubes -- the kind that can support 50 pounds each. I have six at the moment, tucked under the breakfast bar in place of stools. My presentable mixing/serving bowls are in a couple, my large food processor and a toaster are in two others, and the KitchenAid is resting on top of them. Since they fit within the recess under the countertop, I don't kick or trip over them. A bedroom closet shelf is holding roasting pans, a food mill and other items that are awkward to store and not used terribly often. I'm also in the magnetic knife bar and ceramic jars for utensils club, because I like having things within sight as well as reach. I also found that using deep drawers for my dishes works really well -- they're all stackable, obviously, and the cupboards are free for pantry items. I've been known to keep the microwave on top of the fridge, a French press has replaced a drip coffee maker, and my big wooden cutting board lives on the counter. Conversely, my friends who think everything that's functional needs to be put away hate the cutting board on the counter, the mixer, processor and toaster in/on the cubes and the utensil holders next to the stove. They're constantly suggesting ways to rearrange my kitchen. I just sip a mug of tea until they give up.
Droplet June 25, 2011
Just a few random things that come to mind: If you are currently using a knife block you could get one of those magnetic strips instead and mount it on a wall to free counter space; also, those hanging racks that can be installed underneath the top cabinets for daily mugs; the inside of cabinet doors is also an underused space that can accommodate small racks for spices. The staircases of some townhomes end/ start in the dining room area or close, perhaps you could turn the space underneath the stairs into a small pantry where to store things that you tend to buy in bulk in refill smaller containers in the kitchen more frequently for convenience. The last thing I can think of is to buy a refrigerator without a freezer section and a separate freezer to locate elsewhere where space isn't that precious ( I don't know if you will be having a garage). Unless of course you eat a lot of ice cream because you have to draw the line somewhere :).
boulangere June 25, 2011
When I made my most recent move, it was a great purging opportunity for literally room and bookshelf and cupboard. My current kitchen is smaller than my last one, but actually more efficiently arranged, which is surprising given that it's in an older house. I have room for my 6' stainless worktable, for one thing, with a same-size shelf underneath which let me have my most-used pots and bins of flours close to hand. At the same time, I recall in one of Jenny's recent posts that she mentioned a pot pantry of sorts. When respondents expressed envy, she explained that it was a cupboard within a bookshelf in the living room, or words to that effect. I have a cupboard in my living room that used to house board games and LP records that is now full of my oversized stock pots. Who's to know? Now, back to your question. I kept 2 Kitchenaid mixers, down from 3 - sent one off to college with the daughter. Food processor, check. Mini version, check. Microwave, of course. And I also have a wssmom rolling cart that holds mixing bowls, onions, garlic, potatoes, leavenings (because it's near the mixers, oh, and I have a 20-quart Hobart mixer). So purge down to what you know for sure you will use. And don't be afraid to use storage space creatively.
SKK June 25, 2011
Love the question - what do I keep close at hand? Learned from a chef I respect to put my utensils in jars - metal in one and none stick in the other They are visible and keep the counter streamlined. Maybe the next thing to keep close at hand is your spices and herbs. Plenty of easy ways to do that. Knives, seem to need only about 3 great knives - in a lined drawer. Pots and pans and mixing bowls - in cupboards?

Possibly the exercise in downsizing is to ask the question: What do I use every day, weely and monthly?

What a wonderful opporuntiy - smaller rather than bigger! I salute you.
susan G. June 25, 2011
On a wonderful blog,, there is a feature called "Other People's Pantries" where people contribute photos and descriptions of their food and equipment storage solutions. You may not have time for this now! but when the dust settles you might find it helpful. A significant number of people have dealt with this challenge and contributed the results..
In my own experience, much of my kitchen supplies stayed packed after my last move, and came out when I needed them, and if I could I found a place for them then. And i have developed some odd storage places... In a foodservice situation, I once managed and cooked in a kitchen with a 2 burner hotplate, a crockpot, a foodprocessor, plus a modest array of standard tools, pots and a skillet or two. Amazing how much good food we served from that kitchen!
Good luck!
healthierkitchen June 24, 2011
Good luck with the move drbabs!
wssmom June 24, 2011
I started off with a kitchen the size of a closet, and 30 years later, my kitchen now is the size of three closets. Not much storage space! I do keep most of my pans and baking sheets in the oven; and I have one of each of the cast iron skillet, saute pan, medium-sized pan, pots, etc. all of which stack neatly inside of each other in the cupboard next to the stove. (The lids remain a disaster). I purchased an inexpensive rolling cart from that holds the microwave, the toaster-oven and the Kitchenaid, and use as well stacking racks that double the storage space for the plates, bowls etc. Anything I don;t use more than once or twice a year is in the basement, and anything I don;t use more than once every two years is on the garage sale list! Dried spices I keep in a tilt-down drawer under the sink, I also use a pot rack over the sink for the bigger pots and pans and a magnetic rack for the knives, and a grid on the wall for the utensils. Hope this helps! .
beyondcelery June 24, 2011
My kitchen is large and all spread out now, but I spent the last 5 years in small kitchens, moving every year or so. When that was the case, these were my staples: food processor, hand mixer, nut chopper/spice grinder, 1 large pot (a few small ones), 1 cast iron skillet, 3 sizes mixing bowls, my knife block with knives, 1 tiny mortar and pestle, 8x8 glass pan, 2 ramekins, 1 loaf pan, 1 muffin tin, 2 cookie sheets, and 1 (stacking) cooling rack.

In boxes elsewhere: madeleine pan (still haven't found it again, sigh), mini muffin tins, very large bowls, cake pans, the rest of the ramekins, assorted cake-making tools, large glass pan, extra dishes, grilling tools, etc.

Some things came out seasonally--one of my boxes was full of "summer" items and would generally get unpacked when the nice weather emerged. And remember: smoothies and soups can be made in the food processor if you don't have a blender (or have given it away). With this system, I still regularly entertained friends about 2-3 times a month and did part-time catering/baking out of my kitchen. You'll be just fine when the dust settles and you bake your first loaf of banana bread!
phyllis June 24, 2011
It really depends on whether you cook and/or bake. I would decide if I really needed my kitchen aid orcwould a hand mixer do? Do I need both a Cuisinart and a blender. Do I need eight sauté pans and three stock pots and three sets of dishes. Multiples of almost everything. It's hard. With the kitchen it's a case of how many do you really need and how much do you use. Good luck. It's difficult.
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