The Paris issue

Our October issue is on sale - the Paris special. Grab your copy for all-things Parisian, plus ultimate French baking recipes and more.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller before October 24, 2016 and receive 3 BONUS ISSUES - save 46%.

Gourmet on your iPad

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad.

Kitchen design tips

The scope with cramped kitchens can seem as limited as the space is tight, but some thought and a bit of design know-how can make the most of the little you have.

Take a good look at your kitchen and identify the aspects that don't work. Limited bench space and storage are the two biggest issues people tend to have in small kitchens. If a renovation is out of the question, you need to rethink how you use the available space.

Good organisation is the key to any efficient kitchen, especially when space is limited. Aim to have a place for everything and keep everything in its place. Plus, a few tricks can make a space more inviting and feel more generous. Here are my tips for arranging a tight kitchen's mise-en-place.

1. Reclaim space
First up, remove clutter. Pull everything out of the cupboards and consider what you need: sort out which items you use regularly and need to be kept close at hand, and what can be stored away. Keep benchtops as clear as possible - they will feel more expansive and make for a more efficient work space.

2. Group think
Collections of items work well. Gather your kitchen accoutrements into pleasing stacks or groups on open shelves, freeing up cabinet space for more bulky items. Everyday items such as white china and glassware look great displayed en masse.

3. Vertical challenge
If your cupboards don't reach the ceiling, find a way to use the space above - this is valuable real estate in terms of kitchen storage. The trick is to use these hard-to-reach spaces for things you use less frequently. Vases, for example, can be grouped attractively on top of the cupboards, or if you prefer items concealed, store them in baskets or boxes.

4. Room to move
Review items that can be stored out of the kitchen. This is a chance to be creative: an old armoire, a glass-fronted display cabinet, even an old wardrobe, or a shelving unit can turn storage into a styling exercise, again arranging in pleasing groups. Sometimes it's possible to park a cabinet or fridge cheekily in another room. A retro Smeg refrigerator, for example, could easily take pride of place in or out of the kitchen. If you're taking on a building project, steal space from a laundry or other adjacent room and build a recess in which to park your fridge.

5. Dual purpose
Instead of being packed away, trays, baskets, bowls and platters can do double duty. A tray can sit on a coffee or dining table holding a group of vases, candles or magazines, say, yet is still available when needed for its usual task. A trolley can be a tiny kitchen's workhorse, offering extra work or storage space, or functioning as a bar, coffee station, or servery.

6. Accessorise
Hooks, racks, inserts and so on increase space inside cabinets. Expanding shelf organisers - tiered shelves with adjustable widths to fit inside cupboards - are ideal for jars, spices, glasses and cups. Plate racks and magazine racks can hold rogue saucepan lids. Even the ceiling can be used to hang pots and pans, perhaps from a suspended ladder in French country-kitchen style. Pegboard on the wall can hold utensils and pans, or place it inside cupboards to hold utensils if you prefer to conceal rather than reveal. A large lazy Susan can ease access inside corner cupboards.

7. Think big
One large piece such as a dresser or hutch can bring order, while a mixture of small elements looks busy. A large shallow cabinet, just 19cm deep (which holds two standard food cans), built floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall will yield a massive amount of storage while barely encroaching on the floor plan. This kind of clever cabinetry is wonderfully efficient while storing, for example, rows of attractive jars (again, depending on whether you like to reveal or conceal). Kitchen heaven.

8. Surface treatments
Materials and colours can provide a little visual trickery. People usually think white is the colour of choice in small spaces, but dark colours can make walls appear to recede, giving the illusion of more space. Limit colours and materials to just one or two elements. Remember, you want the eye to read high and wide. There's an opportunity to think big and bold here, too. Patterns can stretch and expand boundaries. Think classic chequerboard tiles and modern chevrons on walls and floors. Stainless steel, mirrors, and any shiny surfaces reflect light, making a space feel more generous.

9. The final flourish
Consider placing an artwork in the kitchen or a feature piece such as a beautiful pendant light to add a touch of style.


This article is from the April 2013 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.


Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

Latest news
How to barbecue like Heston Blumenthal
Four ways with olives
GT's first hardcover cookbook is coming soon
Sweet Stone brigadeiros
The second Gourmet Traveller Chinese-language edition is here
Recipes by Stanbuli
Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
things to do this autumn

Whether it's foraging for wild mushrooms in a picturesque Victorian forest or watching a film by moonlight in Darwin, we've got you covered with 20 exciting autumn experiences from around Australia.

Read More
Gourmet TV

Check out our YouTube channel for our latest cover recipes, chef cooking demos, interviews and more.

Watch Now

You might also like...

Summer seafood recipes

Turn festive seafood into something special with flavourful ...

Summer salad recipes

It’s time to turn over a new leaf: these crisp and fresh sal...

Quick summer recipes

Perfect for midweek summer nights, these meals are ready in ...

Christmas classic recipes

’Tis the season for turkey, ham and pudding. Whether you’re ...

Adriano Zumbo's Christmas recipes

So you think you know trifle? Think again. Adriano Zumbo tur...

Holiday entertaining recipes

Dare to think outside the box this season with an elegant lu...

David Thompson's Thai recipes

Scholarship and street food come together in David Thompson’...

Strawberry recipes

Sweet, juicy and bursting with flavour, strawberries add a b...

Longrain recipes

It’s been 10 years since Longrain introduced us to big Thai ...

Barbecue recipes

Grab the tongs and novelty apron and fire up your imaginatio...

Fast spring recipes

Fast and fresh food can be ready in just 30 minutes with the...

Chorizo recipes

Where would Spanish cuisine be without the chorizo? This ver...

Recipes inspired by Julia Child

So you can't wait to watch Julie & Julia and don't have a co...

Spanish dessert recipes

The Spanish know exactly how to sweeten the post-prandial de...

Recipes from Spain's Catalonia region

Who better to extol the virtues of this rich Spanish cuisine...

get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.