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How do you make the most of your kitchen space?

how-do-you-make-the-most-of-your-kitchen-space?

Set of the Draper kitchen on Mad Men as part of a museum exhibit

I will take any excuse to share a photo of Betty Draper’s kitchen on Mad Men
Photo: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP (Getty Images)

I almost despise how much of my morning routine is built around reading the New York Times newsletter that hits my inbox daily between 5 and 6 a.m. It’s full of what I need to know (COVID updates, election results) and just as loaded with things I don’t (what late night hosts had to say about the latest Supreme Court decision). Everything goes well with a cup of coffee. And today, the newsletter included an old 2019 article from Wirecutter, the Times-owned product review website, all about how to maximize space in small kitchens. A list promising to “optimize every inch” of one’s living space? You’d have to pay me not to click.

Writer Michael Sullivan compiled the list of tactics after speaking with professional cooks, professional organizers, and colleagues with tiny kitchens. A major piece of advice is to designate “zones” within your kitchen: a prep zone, cooking zone, food storage zone, non-food storage zone, and cleaning zone. These are pretty self-explanatory; you’ll need dedicated space for maneuvering knives on a cutting board, for example, and you probably won’t want that area to share real estate with a pile of cleaning chemicals. These areas can be anywhere that your kitchen flow allows them to be; in some of my past kitchens, the food storage zone and non-food storage zone were collapsed into a single messy-as-hell cabinet, due to lack of other options. And the cleaning zone is sometimes relegated to a hall closet. But thinking about the kitchen this way is nonetheless a useful framework for keeping things tidy and efficient.

Another recommendation: take advantage of vertical space. This one is huge! If my previous kitchen didn’t have a pot rack hanging from the ceiling, for example, I don’t know what I would have done. (Stored a stack of skillets on the back deck, maybe? Buried my stock pot in the yard for safekeeping?) “Take advantage of the areas above your fridge and cupboards if you have them,” writes Sullivan, “and maximize cupboard space by using shelf risers and over-the-door hooks or baskets.”

The article is full of good advice (and yes, product recommendations, which is the whole idea). But I know our readers will be, too. What are your own clever ideas for clearing space in your kitchen? Any ideas that fellow readers can swipe from you? Let us know in the comments.

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