Small Kitchen Organization Ideas: See how we fit kitchen open shelves, a small kitchen island, and an area for growing herbs indoors into our small kitchen!
We bought Gilda May, our 1970 junker single wide, just before my birthday and right after my husband’s birthday in late March 2016. It took over a year to talk my husband into making this purchase, as he was quite happy in the city.
Finally in early 2016, after losing our shirts flipping houses due to the 2007-8 market crash (we held on for 8 years, but just couldn’t pull off saving those projects!), I talked him into taking this big step towards getting land for my horse, and my sanity as I am NOT a city girl!
We bought our land and moved my horse home (along with a new buddy for him!) in August of 2019. Between buying the home and the land, we put a lot of work into the inside (see this post on where we started on this project – this was a total rebuild!).
I also read up on minimalism to get our belongings down to an amount that would fit in this space – though it sure doesn’t look like we’ve heard of minimalism! While we’ll never follow a minimalistic approach (likely we’re true maximalists lol), it did help with the initial downsizing.
Please forgive our “work in progress” status, but I’m truly proud of this kitchen, and our journey into expanding kitchen efficiency! We downsized from our 1100 square foot home with a 13×13 kitchen and a separate room for a pantry to our 12×56 mobile with a total of 672 square feet – and a total of 11×11 for both kitchen and pantry!
[Update 1/22/23: we built a separate pantry and love it – there will be a post about it soon!]
The project is coming along nicely, and a lot of planning went into how we were going to organize this space and increase kitchen efficiency. Since we ripped out all of the walls and rebuilt the plumbing throughout the entire house, we were able to choose where everything would be placed, making organizing the space MUCH easier.
For the first couple of months after buying our small mobile home, I spent every morning visiting and caring for my special needs horse, every afternoon working on demolition and tearing out 100% of the insides of this single wide, and every night working out our layout plans and how we were going to fit our lives into less than 700 square feet!
Kitchen Open Shelves and an Indoor Herb Garden
Instead of furniture, we have open shelves EVERYWHERE and I love it! I’ve learned that it’s not the amount of space you have, it’s the amount of organization – everything fits as long as it has a place. I’ve also learned that being able to see your things helps you find them easier, something that’s very important to those with memory issues (brain fog is a chronic Lyme symptom). Kitchen open shelves were the obvious next step – though many don’t like having their kitchens open like this, I love it.
We have a total of 5 base cabinets and no wall cabinets in our approximately 11×11 kitchen (we made the walls thicker to add thick insulation and add strength to the structure, so our inside width is slightly more than 11 feet instead of closer to 12). There are 5 drawers, so we need every nook customized to our specific storage needs. Since I have a special needs horse (visit my PSSM blog if you’d like to read more about Jax!).
I have to store a copious amount of supplements, 44 lb bags of protein, and for both him and me I need bulk amounts of powdered herbs – not something you’d expect to find stored in a usable 11×11 kitchen! Fresh herbs are also needed, so let’s start with my small kitchen island for growing herbs indoors:
1st pic: My small kitchen island for growing herbs indoors. From this angle, you can see the fluorescent light fixture attached to the bottom of the countertop – with daylight bulbs this space is amazing for herbs and seeds! The small cabinet next to the dishwasher houses my recipe books (bottom) and our cat treats, toys, medicines, etc. (drawer).
2nd pic: The carpet attached to the bottom left leg of my small kitchen island makes a great scratching post of our cats! While it’s not beautiful, it is functional and keeps them from tearing up the furniture, without taking up extra space.
Not everyone can put in a dedicated built-in like this for growing herbs indoors, but there are countertop herb and veggie garden options that can work really well!
1st pic: More spaces for growing herbs indoors: here’s the herb shelf above the sink, and view of our kitchen open shelves with organizers everywhere!
2nd pic: The herb shelf above my coffee station, with hooks for measuring cups hanging from the above kitchen open shelves.
1st pic: Kitchen open shelves on the other side of the sink, with hooks for extra scrubbers and measuring spoons.
2nd pic: The entire run of kitchen open shelves on the sink side of the kitchen.
Now onto cabinet storage! So far I have plenty of storage space, but I’ll admit that I’d like to have more. I’m toying with the idea of canning some of my vegetables this year, and I have a couple of ideas for new storage but haven’t started those projects yet. For now, my hooks, kitchen open shelves, and cabinet organizers are doing the trick and give everything I have the space it needs.
Small Kitchen Organization Ideas for Kitchen Efficiency
1st pic: Small kitchen organization ideas for kitchen efficiency: we put a tip-out organizer under our sink, and have a lot of big, rarely used items along with our soaps, bags, spray bottles, and so much more under our sink!
2nd pic: A close-up of the organizer, bins, and rod to hold spray bottles in the background.
1st pic: Small kitchen organization ideas for kitchen efficiency: here’s the cabinet under my coffee area next to the stove – you’ll notice our theme for putting kitchen organizers everywhere continues here!
2nd pic: This is my section for store-bought and culinary herbs. I do use some of the bulk herbs for cooking as well, and I have an 18 jar spice rack on the shelf above this for my home-grown herbs.
Above: Small kitchen organization ideas for kitchen efficiency: kitchen open shelves and storage solutions on the stove side.
Everything so far has been fairly normal for any household, so is probably a bit more useful to normal folks! Now we get into my specialty areas – the things that make life bearable for a Lyme person and a PSSM horse. When we built this area between the fridge and stove, it was supposed to house all our smaller kitchen appliances and recipe books.
I had no idea I’d need storage for bulk herbs (though I was ready for the bulk horse supplement storage) – I really thought the fresh herb areas were enough when we were planning our home’s layout. Things change, and thankfully I’ve found things that help both me and my horse in ways I never thought possible, so I’m extremely thankful this smaller kitchen was able to accommodate this rather large change in our storage needs!
1st pic: Kitchen open shelves for my bulk herb and horse supplement storage. This is an extension of my coffee area, as about 15-20 of these herbs go into my morning tea everyday!
2nd pic: We have 2 drawers not pictured here, and they were needed for things other than large utensils! The magnetic hooks are plenty strong to hold these and our oven mitts, and the magnetic clips are wonderful for herb and seed packets.
In the above pictures, my herbs are in plastic and glass containers on the shelves, and the red canisters next to the microwave. The bulk bags these herbs come in are stored behind these containers (I usually buy 500 grams minimum, which fits into the larger tubs nicely, but the herbs I use a lot of I buy in 1 kg/2.2 lb bags).
My protein shakes, teas, and seeds other than chia are on the top shelf that runs over the fridge. My daily-use containers of horse supplements and chia seeds are in the large glass containers next to the microwave. I also have a scale for weighing seeds and supplements when needed.
Pictured: Bulk storage items – nice and out of the way! Under my herb and microwave corner – this is my storage area for bulk horse supplements, paper towels, and where we keep the trash can next to the stove.
The large box is my 44 lb bag of pea protein for my special needs boy, the blue container is bulk magnesium oxide, and the silver bags and white tub are his gut and vitamin/mineral supplements (from Horsetech – they have amazing supplements).
Having these things inside, rather than in the tack/feed area in an outbuilding, makes life 20 times easier, especially in the winter! We considered putting an additional corner cabinet here instead, but decided that storage for bulk items was more important.
We use magnetic hooks and clips on our fridge to hold all of our larger utensils, oven mitts, spice mixes, knives, some measuring spoons, and seeds. Using every surface is a must for smaller home living, but it’s also really convenient. Everything is within reach and in line of sight, so there’s no searching for the things we don’t use as much. I kinda wish I had done this with my other houses!
1st pic: Close-up of my seed storage section of my fridge.
2nd pic: Close-up of our 6″ deep kitchen open shelves (our kitchen open shelves are 12″ deep, these are only 6″ so the freezer can sit under them and still be opened). This is also our cats’ food and water bowl area. At this time I have no pictures of the whole freezer area, as our wood flooring (which will eventually be in the back half of our house) is currently stacked in front of the freezer!
Since this is still a work in progress, soon (hopefully!) I’ll be making an update post with finished pictures. For now, the room is functional while we continue making the outside of our home more livable for both us and the horses (they’re in a smaller area right now, and we’re working on clearing out a wooded area so they can have a nice, shady grass pasture).
As I’m writing this, the Covid-19 pandemic is spreading, and I’m so thankful to have my horse home (he might not survive lockdown without special management) and a comfortable home that’s more than meeting my needs, despite it’s very small size. Our home is paid for, we pay the same per month for our land as we did to board one horse, never mind our old mortgages, lot rent, etc.
The functionality of this home with it’s kitchen open shelves is so far beyond any other home we’ve lived in! Somehow, this small mobile has brought my life together so much more than the larger homes I’ve had in the past, and is a big part of me living my best life.
A view from my kitchen window – Jax, my PSSM horse, is the big buckskin laying down. Patch is the older gelding we took in as a pasture mate. Both are total sweethearts, and make all of this work (and trust me, it has been a LOT of work getting to this point) worthwhile!