Worst. Kitchen. Ever.
March 2, 2012 11:40 AM   Subscribe

Help me maximize use of available space and compensate for the ghastly layout in my terrible horrible no good very bad kitchen.

The kitchen in my new apartment is fucking heinous and all my ideas for embettering it involve large scale demolition and tea-making robots. This is a rental, so large-scale crashings and smashings are off the table.

pic 01

This is the kitchen(ette) from the living room. To the right is the hallway to the front door, to the left is the hallway to the smaller bedroom, bathroom, and closets. The hallway on the right has a 3 foot and change clearance between the wall and the kitchen island. There is a 3 foot clearance between the left hand wall/hallway to the bathroom and the left edge of the island.

Oh, and that island thingy? Is crap. It's only half as deep as it could be, and there is no demonstrable reason why.

pic 02

Here is the island from the side. On the bottom left of the island you can kind of see the outline of the cabinet inside it. It only goes halfway through. WHAT IS IN THE REST OF THE ISLAND? it is a ~*mystery*~

AND LOOK AT THAT STUPID SINK. THERE IS NOWHERE TO PUT A DISH DRAINER THINGY. I bought the narrowest one I could find and I still don't think it's going to fit.

pic 03

Closer view of the terrible kitchen. In my old place I currently have 4 large cabinets on top of my sink and 4 large ones beneath, with two drawers for silverware and other kitcheny things, and a huge open pantry against the wall. In this new kitchen I have 2 large and 2 small above, and two medium ones beneath, plus the cabinet in the island, and no pantry whatsoever. AND NO DRAWERS. How am I supposed to live without drawers?

SO. Here are my issues:

- can't put the microwave/toaster/etc anywhere in the kitchen (maybe wall mount micro above stove?)

- where the fuck do I put the goddamn silverware and other drawery items? ARGH.

- DISH DRAIN THINGY WHY YOU DO THIS. nothing is going to fit on the side of that stupid sink. (I am considering having the cabinets ripped out and having a dish draining cabinet built above the sink)

- seriously I can't even figure out how to deal with multiple kinds of recycling in this awful kitchen, much less a simple trash can

I already plan to donate/freecycle/throw away as much stuff as possible, but even then it will be a hassle to do basic stuff like store more than 2 rolls of paper towels at a time while still having actual FOOD in the house.

I'd rather not use the island as a permanent home for any appliances, as that is my only counter/food-prep space.

I am reasonably sure my landlord will allow any kind of construction that does not change the basic layout of the kitchen - as long as I pay for it myself, which I will.

posted by elizardbits to Home & Garden (49 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Polder makes a 6.5" wide dish drainer that might work.

Personally, I would measure every cabinet and head to the Container Store to look for sliding racks or other creative space-fillers to take the place of drawers. I'd also get a rolling cart or low baker's rack to make a longer peninsula from your island, turning the whole kitchen almost into a galley; the microwave, garbage cans & recycling can go inside/under it.
posted by bcwinters at 11:46 AM on March 2, 2012

Best answer: So, for supplies, IKEA is your friend. Lots of European apartments have tinytiny kitchens, and they have lots of stuff to help deal with that. For example, I cant tell how much space you have above your sink, but maybe a wall-mounted dish drainer like this one or this one. In fact, I'd basically put all my storage in a grundtal-like system -- I can't tell if you have a blank wall across from the stove, but if so I'd put them there, otherwise on the wall around the corner from that, or the back/side of the island -- there's TONS of wall space between those 3 spaces. Plus above the stove, if you don't mount your microwave there (which sounds like a great place for it, or on the island w/an extension cord?

And just get attractiveish trash cans and put them next to or behind the island. No biggie. Or get an EXPEDIT or another bookshelf and some inserts if necessary for more storage -- you said the island could take up more space. Or put a tiered pot rack tower thing (like this type) somewhere, those are really nice.
posted by brainmouse at 11:48 AM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Wow. That is a challenge. Some thoughts:

Get a step-stool and some pretty baskets, and use that space on top of the cabinets as your pantry.
Get a kitchen cart, something like this or http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/00058487/?cid=en%3Epc%3Ego%3Eproducts_search (or even better, one with enclosed shelving on the bottom) and put it in the open space next to the doorway. On top you could put your micro and/or toaster. I would also start storing silverware in open canisters or crocks -- something like this or whatever fits your personal aesthetic.
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:49 AM on March 2, 2012

Best answer: A few quick ideas...

Get nice coordinated baskets (lined straw ones are inexpensive at places like TJ Maxx) to fill in the space above the cabinets with light bulky stuff (hello paper towels) or seldom used appliances.

Put a slender bookcase or cabinet at the end of the peninsula and or on its outside. IKEA is a good possibility here.

Hang a pot rack over the island
posted by carmicha at 11:49 AM on March 2, 2012

Gah, that is horrid. Reminds me of my useless kitchen in my Brooklyn brownstone rental, which had nothing besides an ancient refrigerator, an ancient stove, a metal sink, and many cockroaches. (Don't see bugs in yours, knock on wood.)

So, here's what I'd suggest: 1. Microwave on wall over stove. 2. Bag the drain board. It actually does not take long to dry dishes by hand. I personally find it relaxing and often don't use our nice dishwasher at all. 3. Use the stupid island surface for chopping things that need to be near the sink, like veggies. You may want to put a cutting board on it, or have your cutting boards standing up ready for use inside its tiny interior storage area. 4. Think about installing a fairly long broad shelf on the area where you took the picture from -- that wall to the left. Is there any room there? You could use the shelf for more counter space. You could do those rolling wire drawers that stores sell under the shelf.

Re recycling and trash, I think under the sink is the way to go.
posted by bearwife at 11:53 AM on March 2, 2012

A few more...

Install a shelf for cannisters of cooking tools or hang a bin over the stove to accommodate them

Store spices in magnitized tins on the side of the fridge

Coral your dish cleaning devices and dishsoap into another unbreakable cannister thingy

Run a power strip or extension cord around the back of the fridge so that you can have electricity at the peninsula
posted by carmicha at 11:55 AM on March 2, 2012

OK, this is going to be a lot like moving into an apartment with a roommate who already lives there and also has substandard cleaning skills and also will break your things so you want to keep all of your dishes/silverware separate from hers. I have done this. Twice.

Not having drawers sucks, but it will be OK. Put your spoon/fork divider on the bottom shelf of one of the cabinets above your sink. Get a peg board and hooks and hang things like spatulas and ladles on the wall.

Get an in-sink dish drainer. You'll have to be pretty good about your dish maintenance to keep up with this, though.

Will the microwave fit on top of your fridge? Put the microwave on top of your fridge.

There's a lot of storage space on top of the cabinets. Get a step stool and utilize that.

Get a thingy like this. Should run you about 20 bucks at a Home Depot (you'll find them in the garage storage section). They're not so pretty, but they're really sturdy and will work as a pantry/pots and pans storage. Maybe get two of them.

It's only half as deep as it could be, and there is no demonstrable reason why.
Likely a family of borrowers lives there. You should probably just let them be.
posted by phunniemee at 11:56 AM on March 2, 2012

Best answer: Rolling island.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 11:56 AM on March 2, 2012 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I'm not sure how big your living room is, but one of these IKEA kitchen islands might help you out. It could fit parallel or perpendicular to the existing "island"

You could probably hang most of your kitchen utensils (knives, stir spoons, whatev) with a combo rack/magnetic strip on the wall next to the stove.

It does seem like the space above the stove is sized for a microwave. I would be a bit cautious about the heat from cooking right under the appliance though... usually those combos are done with a hood for the stove so the microwave is not getting hit with all that heat.

Beyond that, I dunno man, that's a pretty terrible kitchen. I think you might need to take over some of the living room space with a piece of furniture (eg the kitchen islands) that includes a few drawers/lower shelves or something.
posted by annie o at 11:56 AM on March 2, 2012

I think you really better find out what is in the other half of the island thingy.
posted by caclwmr4 at 11:57 AM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: IKEA sells cutlery caddies that can be mounted on the wall to hold silverware. Maybe next to the stove?
posted by jabes at 11:59 AM on March 2, 2012

Response by poster: I think you really better find out what is in the other half of the island thingy.

I assume it is a Hellmouth, tbh.

I can't tell if you have a blank wall across from the stove, but if so I'd put them there

Yes! Blank wall, 3 feet of clearance at the narrowest point from the island. I was thinking about some kind of narrow china cabinet, but I like your idea better!

Get a step-stool and some pretty baskets, and use that space on top of the cabinets as your pantry.

I like this idea a lot, but I'll wait to see what, if anything, the spider/cootie/etc situation is. So far it looks creeper-free but I don't want any scuttling in my cereals. I might use the space for lesser-used pots and pans, though.

Hang a pot rack over the island

posted by elizardbits at 12:02 PM on March 2, 2012

Response by poster: Re recycling and trash, I think under the sink is the way to go.

Undersink cabinets are too tiny! Also that is where the pots and pans live.

Will the microwave fit on top of your fridge? Put the microwave on top of your fridge.

YES, but. I am getting a bigger fridge and either way, putting something on top of the fridge will eliminate that small cabinet's usefulness.
posted by elizardbits at 12:13 PM on March 2, 2012

When we had a "Who designed this?*" kitchen somewhat similar to this one, we used a regular bookshelf against a wall for storing plates, cups, canned food, and other kitchen stuff, some in plastic bins sorted kind of like drawers. We got a rail set from IKEA and hung all our pots and pans on a wall, got a magnetic knife holder, and mounted spice racks on the wall as well. We ditched the microwave and put our toaster oven on top of the fridge because there was nowhere else for it to go, thermodynamics be damned. Bulk food was stored above the cabinets in the step-stool zone. Cups and glasses were on yet another bookshelf in the living room near the dining table.

We did a LOT of food prep on the same table we ate on, in the living room, and got really good at the "one cooks, one cleans" dance to be able to get that table cleared and set by the time the food was ready to eat.

Our kitchen didn't look nice, but it worked out fine for a while, and then we moved.

For your dish problem, you might want to use the island as a dish triage zone, and towel dry instead of drip drying. It sucks at first, is less efficient effort-wise but you'll get used to it.

*No one designed it, it evolved.
posted by helicomatic at 12:15 PM on March 2, 2012

Take the door off the small cabinet above the fridge. Put pretty and/or rarely used items behind the microwave. You should be able to reach them with a bit of stretching.
posted by maudlin at 12:15 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Pegboard on the wall above the stove.

Utensil caddie mounted on the side of the cabinet facing the stove.

Depending on how you cook and how often you have leftovers/takeout, it may be possible to dispense with the microwave altogether. I'm really glad I ditched mine.

If you are feeling brave, do some exploratory surgery on the back of the island.
posted by Jon_Evil at 12:21 PM on March 2, 2012

Check the number of shelves in the cabinets. My kitchen started off with one shelf per lower cabinet (i.e. two surfaces), but there were extra pre-drilled holes in the walls. So we just got some extra shelf brackets and cut another particleboard shelf in each to fit, giving us three surfaces per lower cabinet.

Did something similar with the pantry, too. You will need some tall spaces, but look at your stuff and figure out where you can take advantage of extra headspace then stick in a shelf.
posted by maudlin at 12:22 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Recycling: three-way trash can
posted by rhizome at 12:26 PM on March 2, 2012

Dang, that's a vexing kitchen. Is there any possibility of moving the fridge and putting some kind of cabinet or freestanding worksurface/drainboard surface to the right of the sink?

Maybe put a compact microwave on the island?

A folding stepstool and a second row of cabinets on top of the cabinets for lesser-used items?

Atop that wall that goes to the island, maybe set up a shallow shelf or some kind of pegboard/frame/room divider that could hold cooking utensils?

It looks like that island is a standard prefab wall cabinet that had a box built around it. If your landlord is ok with construction, you could cut another opening in the back for additional storage or to stash the recycling.
posted by zombiedance at 12:32 PM on March 2, 2012

I knew I forgot something. We went with two of these bins in one of these slidy-bin-holders for trash and recycling. The 5 gallon bags for the discontinued Rack Sack fit the bins perfectly.

Beware that some other places sell scented bags made for the Rack Sack. I recommend you steer clear of those.
posted by helicomatic at 12:33 PM on March 2, 2012

Best answer: I would put a cutting/pastry board on top of the stove (a porcelain or marble one) when stove is not in use and put the dish drainer on top of that.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:43 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Better still, IKEA's free-standing cabinets are pretty rock solid and look good, to boot. We use one of the Varde 3-drawer units as a long, deep island and workstation and it's wonderful.

And they're renter-friendly, so you can take them when you leave.
posted by yellowcandy at 1:00 PM on March 2, 2012

Best answer: There's a little foot-wide sliver of wall in my kitchen where I keep all my ladles and serving spoons and spatulas and such. I have several rows of hooks (like these, but they're only a foot wide rather than 16 inches) arranged in that foot-wide strip of vertical space. Above them, there's a magnetic knife rack.

Those hooks are super cheap at home depot, and they have the virtue of making my kitchen more fun to cook in, since all those big utensils are all right out there on the wall, easily-grabbable (which leads to a hell of a lot of sauteeing and frying when I'm drunk). If you have a narrow-but-vertically-expansive strip of wall space (like you may have to the left of the left-hand door in pic 1), an array of hooks might be a useful place for storing any kitchen-good with a hole in its handle.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:02 PM on March 2, 2012

At one apartment we had, we bought a long pipe and the pipe-fitting thingies and put the long pipe on the wall, then let our pots and pans hang from it, suspended from S-hooks. It helped.

I think if it were me, I'd take the doors of the cabinets off their hinges, pull out the shelves and little plastic stumps that invariably hold those up, and use that space for the things you need by the stove -- a big canister holding utensils, salt and pepper for cooking, maybe you can even get the microwave up there once the hinges are off. Coffee maker I think goes on ye olde kitchen island.

Then maybe get some shelving (I like industrial looking stuff but you could do wood shelves or a bunch of other things depending on your aesthetic) and use the shelving to store your food. You could get some wine crates or Container Store type bins to keep the food in, so it looks a little tidier. You could even hit Target and get some of those canvas bins in some bright colors, or if you feel more inclined, black.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:03 PM on March 2, 2012

I live in a very small home, which has a galley kitchen, about four feet long, just counter, no drawers. I have the same working space as you do, but less storage. Crazy, right?

My strategies are:

* Reduce, reduce, reduce. Out of all your pots and pans, I bet you only ever use one or two. Drop the rest off at a thrift store. Same goes for all the other cutlery and random implements. Less is more. When you get right down to it, all I REALLY need is a coffee maker. (And I could do without that, really, by making coffee on the stove with my Moka pot.)

* Get a big cutting board that will fit over your sink.

I don't recommend putting it on the stove, although many people do. I personally have had one very scary incident where the burner got turned on by accident. Thank god I was standing right there to notice the smell.

* Learn to live without a microwave, or sacrifice a section of floor space to get one of those rolling block/baker's rack/kitchen cart things. If you have a giant, turkey-baking microwave, get rid of it and buy a smaller one. Or swap it for a toaster oven, if you're a big fan of toast.

* I do a lot of prep work at my desk, which is only a few feet from the kitchen.

* I bought a free-standing cabinet/cupboard at Target, which I use as my pantry. It's in between the kitchen and my desk, which I guess means it's in my office. Since it has doors that close, it doesn't look too weird. Visitors don't know that my food is in a strange place.
posted by ErikaB at 1:04 PM on March 2, 2012

- where the fuck do I put the goddamn silverware and other drawery items? ARGH.

Also, this is an opportunity to not put silverware in drawers -- it's actually easier to deal with stored in a cool-looking pot on the counter. You don't have to fiddle with getting the forks with forks or spoons with spoons.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:05 PM on March 2, 2012

My kitchen layout is pretty much as bad as this. Happily, you have lots and lots of open wall space to put shelves. As others have said, Ikea will be your major friend in this one.

- Put the microwave on a shelf above the stove.
- Something like this solution for a dish drainer.
- One of Ikea's kitchen carts with drawers for your silverware and some extra storage. Small appliances could live on these shelves and still be accessible.
- I'd move recycling into bins under the sink and keep the pots/pans elsewhere. (Kitchen cart? Oven?) Under-sink shelving?
posted by zug at 1:36 PM on March 2, 2012

Best answer: Oh, this kitchen is even smaller than yours and packed with clever storage solutions.
posted by zug at 1:38 PM on March 2, 2012

Response by poster: If you are feeling brave, do some exploratory surgery on the back of the island.

a guy named Jon-Evil wants me to open the Hellmouth, everybody. I AM JUST SAYING.

I would put a cutting/pastry board on top of the stove (a porcelain or marble one) when stove is not in use and put the dish drainer on top of that.

Hm. Maybe one attached to the wall by the stove that I can flip up when I am not using it.

it's actually easier to deal with stored in a cool-looking pot on the counter

I'm thinking pot thing hung off the wall or attached to magnetic knife rack, even. It's not like I sort the silverware now, it's all just thrown into a drawer willy nilly.

I am liking this wheely cart with drawers idea, but all the ones I have seen IRL have been rickety and awful.
posted by elizardbits at 2:19 PM on March 2, 2012

Best answer: I'm going to 2nd brainmouse's grundtal dish dryer suggestion. In my last apartment, we had a tiny space next to the sink and were able to build a rad 3-story grundtal assemblage that held all the dishes for 2 very prolific cooks. Regardless of space, I've never had a better dish drying solution. If you got some really strong rare earth magnets, you might even be able to set it up on the side of the fridge so you wouldn't have carry wet dishes across the room. Unfortunately, this is the only picture I have of it, but hopefully you can get the idea!
posted by juliapangolin at 2:46 PM on March 2, 2012

Best answer: If you do use your stove burner area as another surface, just pop the knobs off the stove for those burners, so that they don't get turned on accidentally.

Check if the bottom drawer of the oven is a broiler or storage. In my kitchen, I keep the baking tons in there.

You can get a magnetic paper towel holder for the side/front of the fridge.
posted by xo at 2:55 PM on March 2, 2012

Holy crap, that is a nightmare. If it were my nightmare, I would:

lose the microwave. there is nothing it can do that cannot be done on the stove.

figure out some way to hang the Grundtal dish drainer from the fridge, put a plastic drainer or thick towels under it.

hang stuff over the island (pot rack?)

hang stuff on the outside of the island. (grundtal or other Ikea system). You could hang a cutting board here.

get a cutting board that fits over the sink.

get some burner covers for when you need storage on the stove.

hang some things behind the stove so I could keep wooden spoons and spatulas there.

keep crap on top of the cupboards. You could even get rubbermaid containers and keep random food items up there. Just put a whiteboard on the fridge to keep track.

Install another door on the outside of the island. (Really, it should all be shelves and no swinging cupboard doors. That's just silly.)

get a rolling storage/surface thing to go against the wall.

curse the cheap ass fool who picked up random remnants here and there in order to build the most annoying kitchen ever.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:37 PM on March 2, 2012

Response by poster: Unfortunately, this is the only picture I have of it, but hopefully you can get the idea!

I am distracted by the PIE.
posted by elizardbits at 3:45 PM on March 2, 2012

Best answer: Seconding many things said here: grundtal dish dryer on wall above sink. Magnetic knife holder and utensil rod with s-hooks directly above stove. Spice rack to left of stove. Get a good sturdy chopping board that will fit over the sink, and store it on the wall to the left of the stove. Will help keep spatters off wall. If you have a taller fridge, is there room to store cookie pans up there? If you use a tiny garbage can and remember to take out the garbage every day, you could get away with putting it in the corner between the fridge and island.

Sturdy kitchen cart with microwave and coffee pot on top, store crockpot/rice cooker/canisters underneath.

Use wire stands and stack your coffee cups and glasses two high. Ditto the wire organizers for dishes. If you open Hellmouth, you can put a cupboard door or at least a fabric cover on a rod and store some canned goods in there. For under the sink get some of the two shelf wire organizers to fit on either side of the pipes. Any time you have space under a shelf, figure out a way to stack more in. Wire organizers are wonderful.

Take off the false fronts on the sink and install this hardware from Lowes (or most hardware stores) to make a flip-down sink tray. You'd be surprised how getting all the scrubbers and the dish soap bottle off the sink can make things tidier. Keep a smaller bottle there for every day, and then refill from big bottle kept elsewhere.

You may wind up absolutely having to have a pantry, as opposed to a rolling cart. Something like this might fit your budget and kitchen. Lastly, think up. Use that space above the cupboards, put in shelves on that side wall. Put one as high as the cupboard tops, and another 18 inches below it. Hang your folding step stool on the wall below. Can your (cleaned) recyclables go into a hallway closet under the coats?
posted by BlueHorse at 4:17 PM on March 2, 2012

I'd change out that horrid faucet. I also love the idea of using a rolling cart to turn it into a galley style kitchen. The hardware from Lowe's that BlueHorse mentions is great for sponges and such. Consider stealing a bit of space from the living room and putting some shelves on the backside of the existing 'island'. You can store things in shallow baskets on the shelves. Good luck with resisting the siren song of the sledgehammer! (I hear it just *looking* at the *pictures* of that atrocity.)
posted by PorcineWithMe at 4:31 PM on March 2, 2012

Looking at the end of the island in pic 2 (and the ghost of the cabinet there) I think you could do Jon_Evil's proposed exploratory surgery by breathing on it hard. If that's all that's saving you from the hordes of hell I think you're screwed.

If I were having to deal with this, I would consider inserting a bank of drawers in that area behind the cabinet. I'm pretty sure you could get a prefabbed unit from Home Despot or the like that would fit in there with room to spare. The challenging part is going to be trimming it out so that the end of the island looks right, but that giant piece of crown molding could be replaced with something smaller giving you some leeway.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:37 PM on March 2, 2012

Response by poster: Seconding many things said here: grundtal dish dryer on wall above sink.

Just went by and took some measurements, because my friday nights are excitement and wild times. There's very little clearance from the bottom of the cabinets to the sink, so I don't see that being a good/useful dish drainy area. Prolly I will put a paper towel holder there. There is 5.5 inches on either side of the sink, though, so I might hang something from the side of the fridge.

Island is 42" H x 35" W x 29" D, so it is pretty much the perfect size for a rolly island to go in front of it on the opposite side of the cabinets. YAY.

Wall across from island is omg cannot read my handwriting but maybe 3.5 feet? Lots of room for hanging things.

Cabinets have a 2 foot clearance on top, and they're 8 feet wide so lots of less-used stuffs can go there. YAY AGAIN.

The potential microwave space is 12" H x 20" W x 12" D, which is actually bigger than my current one, so more yays.

You may wind up absolutely having to have a pantry

The table currently in my kitchen is 6 feet wide by 18" deep, so I can put that up against the wall to the right of the island of doom, and put toastery/blendery stuff there, and storage bins beneath. Next to it there is totally room for a pantry thing, or more likely another Billy bookcase.

Now I just have to figure out how to put a light inside the pitch black cedar closet of terror and probable spiders. Those stick on lights are an abomination unto nuggan.
posted by elizardbits at 5:47 PM on March 2, 2012

You mentioned that you're getting a new fridge.
Perhaps a tall, narrow one like this could fit against the wall opposite the stove.
The current fridge space could then be used for a counter top with storage above and below.

Maybe install shelves on top of the half wall that your coat is draped over in the pictures.

As long a we're flinging hundred dollar bills about willy-nilly, you could replace your toaster and coffee maker with under-cabinet models too.
posted by islander at 5:56 PM on March 2, 2012

Response by poster: Perhaps a tall, narrow one like this could fit against the wall opposite the stove.

That fridge is gorgeous but it's 2 feet deep, which will reduce the pass through space by the island to one foot, which is ..... suboptimal. It would fit perfectly by the coat closet in the front hallway though. But that seems like a solution of last resort.

I hate coffee, so no coffee maker!
posted by elizardbits at 6:04 PM on March 2, 2012

OK. First thought was something that I saw a while ago. Think it is genius. A dish drying rack that is built into the cabinet above the sink. You could modify it but, the dishes are dry and put away. Win win. (upon re-read you know that you want this)

The island might allow you some variance. Picture a solid wood, island countertop from IKEA. Now, cut the width to match the island, cut the length to fit the top. The rest of the countertop would hinge and fold down off of the island. It would take up very little room and you may well be able to cantilever supports under the island or use legs that fold under the folded under top.

The space above the stove is intended for a microwave and hood to be installed. If possible, do this to save space.

Any items that you do not use weekly, go on top of the cabinets.

Can the fridge move out of the hole that it is in? If your refrigerator door is reversible (open the door and look at the top, there should be punch-outs or pre-installed holes for reversing your door), you might be able to put it with the back facing the low wall (and may hide the back of the fridge with...something)...It would open up all of the space that the fridge occupies for cabinets, recycling, shelving or more.

If you don't move the fridge, consider building atop of the low wall. This stuff from Elfa is pretty good and has saved me a ton of space.

Good luck with your horrible kitchen!
posted by zerobyproxy at 6:07 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Damn, that layout effin' sucks. It sucks so much I used the word effin', and that ain't even a word.

Anyway, just popping by to point you to this page on Smitten Kitchen, where the blogger turned out this in a kitchen smaller than yours, for you to take courage from. She has a whole bunch of tips on how to max out a tiny space. (She's extremely pro-pot rack, for one.)
posted by Diablevert at 6:54 PM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

You could try putting your dish rack on top of the fridge. Lay down a towel, the plastic base thing and rack on top...once the dishes dry you get rid of them and then you have access to the cabinet again.

Also, get a bar-height kitchen table so it doubles as counterspace/chopping space.
posted by Jade_bug at 10:28 PM on March 2, 2012

pantry for sale on NY craigslist.
posted by misha at 10:43 PM on March 2, 2012

Nth getting a nice wide cutting board to go over the sink as a prep space. I also think taking the doors of the cabinets would go a long way toward opening up the space, but that's only ok if you can accept your kitchen space being exposed. Dish rack being integrated into the cabinet above the sink is genius if you can pull it off. Magnetic knife rack on that wall underneath, spices in their own place away from light and heat which will quickly render them rancid and/or flavorless. If you decide to keep your cabinet doors, install little wire racks on them and keep your spices there. Stick a fat jar on the counter between the sink and the stove for your cooking utensils. Make a cute flatware caddy with Weck or Mason jars and set that on the other side of the sink. Use a small metal container and keep it under your sink for trash, which just needs to be taken out regularly. Make a pegboard and install it on the side of the dinky cabinet (inspiration here)--unless you decide to extend that counter space, in which case I think you should build or commission a custom table to match the height of the current counter, give you some wall space on the side to add a peg board as well as space underneath for storage, and keep it from rolling away with the pesky wheels those islands come with.

The difference between most of the other galley kitchens referenced is that they have a third wall, allowing for some more creative use of the space. You unfortunately are swiping at air there with your kitchen, unless the wall next to Hellmouth counts (which is doesn't, because every time you open the fridge it gets blocked). I'm excited for you, though, because there are absolutely some substantial improvements to be made. Oh, and as far as equipment goes, restaurant supply stores are your friend.

P.S. is that first picture lined up just so to hide an extra little corner of real estate on the left across from the stove? Because in that case, that is a prime area for a sweet little pegboard that would be a convenient distance away from the range. And then you can add that perfect little extension to the counter across from it. It would also be a good spot for a nice chunk of chalkboard paint with a magnetic primer, which at the very least would give you an excuse to draw on your walls and stick MOAR THINGS to it.
posted by therewolf at 12:57 AM on March 3, 2012

Response by poster: P.S. is that first picture lined up just so to hide an extra little corner of real estate on the left across from the stove?

Yes! This is the wall across from stove adjacent to hellmouth. I'd love to put a pantry cabinet there but the clearance is only 3 feet from the corner of the island, so it would have to be something about 14-16 inches deep. Otherwise, I like the idea of hanging ALL THE THINGS from there.
posted by elizardbits at 8:58 AM on March 3, 2012

Response by poster: pull out the shelves and little plastic stumps that invariably hold those up

They're not like normal cabinets, for some utterly vexatious reason. They're wedged into slits in the sides of the walls and not held up by removable stumps. Removing them appears to require smashing them to tiny bits, or at least an excess of wiggling.
posted by elizardbits at 9:50 AM on March 3, 2012

Best answer: I like the idea of hanging ALL THE THINGS from there.

posted by Greg Nog at 10:23 AM on March 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: that is an awesome zombie apocalypse preparedness kit
posted by elizardbits at 10:58 AM on March 3, 2012

I have a kitchen very very similar to yours, with maybe 2 more sq ft of counter space. I was so excited by the drying cabinet from zerobyproxy up there (plus I'm part Finnish!) that I had to go and recreate it myself. I'm looking forward to having my kitchen table back.
posted by bendy at 7:37 PM on March 6, 2012

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