Small kitchens can be just as efficient and stylish as regular-sized ones, provided they are well-designed and equipped with clever storage solutions. We approach experts who know these compact cookspaces best – food-truck businesses, chefs, and interior designers – for tips on maximising every inch. Plus, we give you a round-up of the best compact and multipurpose appliances around, so you can do more, with less.
Having lots of built-in storage space helps keep the countertop of this small kitchen clutter-free
Churning hundreds of food portions a day from their tiny kitchens, food-truck businesses definitely know a thing or two about using a small space efficiently. we speak to Luan Ee from kerbside gourmet, and Cheryl Ong from coffee bandits, for some tips.
1. THINK THROUGH YOUR WORKFLOW
Luan Ee of Kerbside Gourmet aims to raise the quality of street food with a menu that includes burgers, pastas and stews – in a 95.8sqf rectangular galley kitchen. To use the space efficiently, she organises the kitchen into two main areas, according to their work processes. The hot cooking area, which includes the grill top, deep fryer, induction stove and baking oven, is on one side of the truck, and the bottom chiller is on the opposite side. “We grill the patties and fry the potatoes first, and then assemble the burger on the countertop above the chiller, where we keep our slaw and relishes,” she explains.
2. CATEGORISE YOUR TOOLS
Minimise walking about the kitchen by categorising tools and ingredients according to usage – keep knives near chopping boards, condiments and seasonings within easy reach from the stove, and baking tools by the counter.
3. OPT FOR BUILT-INS
Instead of using your limited counter space for appliances such as a bulky oven, opt for a built-in oven – even better if it is multifunctional and includes steaming and grilling functions!
4. REDUCE CLUTTER WITH BOXES
A cluttered kitchen not only makes it difficult to find what you need, but also looks cramped. Luan advises: “Pack the items that you would use at the same time in one designated box, so finding them will be faster. Separate items by their size, as you’ll have a hard time spotting a small item that has been packed among larger ones.”
5, SEPARATE YOUR WORKLOAD
To work around the limited space, cut down on the amount of preparation and cooking time. Food-truck business Coffee Bandits, which serves coffee and hot food, does its “final assembly” in its 135qf kitchen. “We cook our pasta (to almost al dente) and sauces separately and beforehand,” says co-founder Cheryl Ong. All that’s left to do is heat them together when the time comes to serve.
6. HAVE A DESIGNATED AREA FOR HEAVILY USED ITEMS
Coffee Bandits dedicates a corner near the serving window and cashier to its bulky coffeemaker. Similarly, you can place oft-used appliances together and where it is most convenient – such as your toaster and coffee machine near your sugars and jam. You’ll be making a mess only in one spot, and everything will be easily accessible.
7. MAKE USE OF VERTICAL SPACES
Coffee Bandits stacks its toaster oven on the microwave (pictured), whereas Kerbside Gourmet places its condiments and seasonings in tall stainless steel cubbyholes above the stove (see previous page). Other accessories that help utilise vertical space are stackable boxes, cookbook racks, and towel bars. Make use of vertical surfaces such as the empty wall space above your counter. Use wall-mounted shelves to keep items off the countertop, and corner shelves to maximise odd spaces.
8. UTILISE CORNERS
To keep countertops clear, Cheryl and her team placed their fixed equipment – such as an ice-shaving machine, microwave and toaster – away from high-traffic areas, such as the centre of the food truck, where most of the food preparation is done, and towards the corners. This is to minimise any underutilised or unnecessary pockets of space between appliances and the four walls.
Work smart with our expert tips and you'll never run out of space, or breath, in the kitchen!
9. Instead of storing bags of Lemons in the fridge, which take up space, freeze ice trays of Lemon juice and pop the frozen cubes into water before serving.
10. Add extendable poles under the sink where you can place hooks to hang rags, gloves and brushes used for kitchen cleaning.- — Philippe Limes, country manager of Helpling, an online cleaning platform in Singapore.
11. Invest in an efficient, multipurpose cleaning solution, instead of having multiple bottles for various uses.
12. “Attach magnets onto the refrigerator to support stainless steel containers, where you can store herbs, condiments and cutlery.” – Philippe Limes, country manager of Helpling.
13. Make do without a juicer! To easily juice citrus fruit such as lemons and oranges, place them in the microwave for up to 30 seconds; this helps soften thick peels and opens the juice vessels of the fruits, so you get most of the juice out quickly.
14. Buy prep bowls in various sizes that can be stacked, to save storage space.
15. “Use stackable containers to store items in the refrigerator or cabinet, to free up vertical space.” – Steve Choo, sales leader of kitchens and dining at Ikea.
16, "Customise a removable chopping board that will fit into one of the top drawers of the lower kitchen cabinet. This way, you can slide the drawer out and place the chopping board on it for additional worktop space, without losing drawer storage." — Lawrence Puah, design director of interior design firm Akihaus.
17. Kitchen shears are useful tools! They double as scissors, bottle and jar-lid openers, as well as nut and shell crackers.
18. Stick knives into a jar filled with raw spaghetti. hold the knives up the same way bulky knife holders do!
19. Peel potatoes easily by placing boiled potatoes into iced water. After a few minutes, the skin can be peeled without the need for any tools.
20. “Clean as you cook; keeping countertops clean and tidy helps you work better in the kitchen.” – Matteo Pertoldi, private chef and founder of Atipico.
21. Kill awkward corners in kitchen cabinets with lazy susans to make full use of the space. They will help you gain access to items easily, when swivelled.
22. Mount a magazine holder to the back of kitchen cabinet doors, where you can store items such as rolls of baking paper, aluminium foil and cling wrap.
Complement your cleverly designed kitchen with these kitchen appliances – they help you save space and make cooking a breeze!
23. BOSCH MAXXIMUM MIXER
This mixer will make baking prep work smoother, swifter, and help you take up less elbow room. It comes with an automatic cable rewind so that storage is quick and neat, as well as funnels and an automated feature that lifts the mixer arm. Bakers will also love the mixer’s long list of accessories, which includes a kneading hook, grater, mincer, and fruit pulper. The Bosch Maxximum Mixer retails for $1,899 at major electrical stores.
24. BRANDT TI1000B INDUCTION HOB
Induction cooktops are a popular choice for small kitchens, as their streamlined design ensures the kitchen appears neat and uncluttered. Measuring 30cm long, the Brandt TI1000B induction hob features two cooking zones, touch-sensitive controls (with a touchpad lock), and an anti-overheating technology. It’s also easier to clean; the heat stays within the cooking zone, so you can wipe the rest of the surface safely. The Brandt TI1000B induction hob retails for $1,369 at selected retailers and dealers, including Gain City Best Electric and Best Denki.
25. PHILIP SAVANCE COOKING BLENDER
Don’t bother stocking up on multiple appliances if you have this multipurpose blender; it can blend as well as cook soups, smoothies, and sauces. You’ll be able to do this with the two-litre, heat-resistant glass jar, four preset cooking programs, and a six-star stainless steel blade to cut and blend effectively – be it vegetables, fruits, or ice. The Philips Avance HR2099/90 cooking blender retails for $399 at major electrical stores.
26. BOSCH TELESCOPIC COOKER HOOD
Hoods aren’t the best-looking kitchen appliance out there, so a slim cooker hood that seems to disappear into your upper cabinet – giving you a sleek kitchen front and more vertical space – is a welcome sight. This one features three extraction speeds and energy-saving halogen bulbs. The DHI623GSG Bosch telescopic cooker hood retails for $499 at major electrical stores.
27. ELECTROLUX IMPRESSO TABLETOP MICROWAVE
At just 54cm wide, this compact Electrolux microwave allows you to do more with less. It has three cooking modes: microwave, grill, and steam. You can also use it to defrost meat, so you can free up counter space while preparing meals. The EMS3085X Tabletop Microwave retails for $459 at major electrical stores.
28. SMEGMINI REFRIGERATOR
If you don’t cook much, opt for a smaller refrigerator. Smeg’s retro-style, singledoor refrigerator is 96cm tall and 54.3cm wide, and features two adjustable shelves and a bottle shelf. Smeg refrigerators have also been awarded Good to Excellent for their energy efficiency rating by the National Environment Agency. The Smeg Fab 10 retails for $1,980, and is available at APS Lifestyle.
29. ELECTROLUX COMPACT DISHWASHER
Hate washing dishes? This free-standing, compact Electrolux dishwasher measures a mere 55cm by 52.5cm, and features a space-saving cutlery basket. Other functions include a child lock and a quick, 25-minute wash option. The Electrolux ESF2435W Compact Dishwasher retails for $849 at major electrical stores.
30. PHILIPS VIVA MINI RICE COOKER
This mini rice cooker is perfect for small kitchens – it has a two-litre capacity (approximately four cups of rice), and you can also use it to prepare soups, yogurt and stews. There are five cooking functions with adjustable cooking times. The Philips rice cooker comes with a detachable inner lid for easy cleaning. The Philips Viva mini rice cooker retails for $109 at major electrical stores