Welcome to the Small Family Home Bloggers’ Drawers Open series, where we move throughout the various rooms of the house, apartment, cabin or camper van to give readers a glimpse inside our drawers and closets. We’re getting the hardest room out of the way first — the kitchen! It’s perfect timing as I’m moving into my eighth month of pregnancy and nothing says ready for baby like a well-organized spice drawer.

A little bit about our kitchen to start: I live in a 1913 craftsman bungalow with a very typical layout. That means open concept single-level living with one bathroom and a large kitchen! The original kitchen footprint was actually a bit larger than it is today, as the previous owners converted an old pantry into an entrance/stairwell to the basement.


When we first purchased Oak House, I wondered if we were risking our minimalist lifestyle by going from 795 square feet to 1177 square feet (where there were luxuries like closets). Nearly two years into living here and I can say with a fair amount of certainty that we own even less than we did in the smaller house, including in the 50% larger kitchen. Even after removing nine kitchen uppers (where the hood fan and art is now), we still have more storage than we need/use in this room.

Here’s our kitchen by the numbers:

  • 15 drawers
  • 2 upper cabinets
  • 2 corner “lazy Susan” cabinets
  • 4 shallow pantry cupboards
  • 1 under-sink cabinet
  • 1 over-fridge cabinet
  • 1 coffee bar
  • 1 weird spice cabinet

Let’s open some drawers, shall we?! Moving clockwise around the kitchen, here’s what’s in our…



  1. Empty
  2. Tupperware
  3. Ziploc, Saran Wrap, tinfoil, etc.
  4. Cooking utensils (spatula, whisk, vegetable peeler, etc.)
  5. Grater, measuring cups, toaster, Pyrex
  6. Cake pans, salad spinner and mixing bowls
  7. Cutlery
  8. Dish towels
  9. Kids’ placemats
  10. “Office drawer” (papers to be dealt with, paperclips, cheque book, etc.)
  11. Aluminum/plastic recycling #1
  12. Paper recycling #1
  13. Tools we use frequently (hammer, screwdriver, sandpaper, etc.)
  14. Aluminum/plastic recycling #2
  15. Paper recycling #2


Upper Cabinets

  1. Serving dishes, plates and bowls
  2. Glasses, mugs and baby bottles

Corner Cabinets

  1. Pots and colander
  2. Frying pans, slow cooker and waffle iron


Pantry Cupboards

  1. Blenders and Soda Stream
  2. Oats, cereal, baking supplies like flour and sugars
  3. Teas, essential oils, salt and pepper, oils and vinegars
  4. Cat food, canned food, crackers, pasta and rice

Under Sink Cabinet

  1. Cleaning supplies, compost bin, dishwasher detergent

Over Fridge Cabinet

  1. Cutting boards, cookbooks, chips/popcorn and kids’ art clothes

Coffee Bar

  1. Bodums, Chemex, Hario kettle, filters, digital scale and beans


Weird Spice Cabinet

  1. Ironing board and spices

While we are using most of the storage available to us (God knows what we would have put in those nine upper cabinets we removed!), we’re using it a bit unnecessarily. For example, pots and pans stored singularly as opposed to nesting inside of each other and we use an entire drawer to hold… four plastic placemats. We’re also choosing to keep all our recycling right in our kitchen until it’s time to fill our blue bins every two weeks; recyclables could easily go to the basement or outside if need be, but then those drawers would be empty #1, empty #2, empty #3, empty #4. We could definitely survive with less storage in the kitchen (drawers two through eight are all that really feels essential), but without moving walls (not happening!) I don’t think there’s much of a point to daydreaming about less storage space and a smaller kitchen.

Besides, it is definitely nice (albeit a little unnecessary) to have so much space because we can see everything we have. Not only do we have a whole drawer to house cooking utensils (not so in our Toronto house, where everything needed to be in canisters on the counter), but within that drawer, I don’t have to dig around for the scissors or the wine opener.

And the ticket to that — whether you have ample kitchen storage or none at all  — is to winnow down what you have to essentials. Here’s what I’ve done (over the years!) to get to uncluttered counters, uncrowded drawers and keep our kitchen cooking:

Figure out what your kitchen organization goal(s) is/are. For me, that’s nothing on the counter, everything that should be in the kitchen in the kitchen (no more going downstairs to get the slow cooker) and only owning what we use regularly.

Be willing to get rid of enough to realize that/those goal(s). No kitchen, no matter how tiny, is an unworkable size for the essentials, as essentials boil down to something to eat off of (plates, bowls), something to eat with (forks, knives), something to drink out of (glasses, mugs), pots/pans and a few cooking utensils. If your kitchen really is so small that you can only own four plates and two pots and a single spatula — so be it. Work within the confines of the storage you have and let go of the idea of every kitchen “needing” certain items. I promise you can mix cake batter in any old bowl if you really don’t have space for a nested set of mixing bowls.

Get rid of excess within categories. If you use plates of different sizes, bowls of different sizes, forks and spoons of different sizes, water glasses, red wine glasses, white wine glasses, beer glasses, whiskey glasses, coffee mugs, etc. on the regular (we do!) keep some of everything, but don’t keep all of everything. How many times do you have eight people over to drink white wine? Keep two or four of each type of glass and donate the rest. Sure, you need a cutting board or two — but do you need ten?

Ditch single-use items, especially anything you’ve never used! Acknowledge that owning a springform pan is not going to inspire you to make a cheesecake if you’ve never made a cheesecake (guilty of keeping my springform pan way too long!).

Stop when you’ve reached your goal(s). Do we need three different sizes of Bodum? Absolutely not, but all my stuff is off the counter, my drawers are not crowded with unused items and I don’t have to go downstairs for anything — so I’m good. You should never buy things just to fill space, but, if you have the space, you also don’t have to get rid of things just for the sake of getting rid of them.

In other news, guys, I really want to tear out this linoleum tile and refinish the fir hardwood floors that are hiding underneath. I should do this, right? But in 2020, not 2019 when I have a new baby? Would it be too much wood? I’m sort of fond of our honey oak cabinets and don’t think I can bear to paint anything else mint green.


This post was written for inclusion in the November 2018 collection of the Small Family Homes Blog Community. Read below for more writings on living small from our community of writers. Check back next month for a new topic and posts in the series. And if there is a topic you’d like to see us write about, let us know!

Small Family Home: “Tiny House Kitchen Pare Down” : How getting rid of a third of our flatware made our kitchen a more pleasant space.

Deeper Meaning Travels: “Living Small: In the Kitchen” : Ever wonder how families living in a small space, manage their homes? Living in a small space requires less “stuff.” See how our family of 4 lives ‘small’, in the kitchen.

Fourth & West: “Our Essentials: The Kitchen” : A look at our not quite minimalist kitchen inventory

Tiny Ass Camper: “Bare Necessities: Kitchen” : A peek into our cabin kitchen & what we did differently in our Casita kitchen when we hit the road again this last spring.



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