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Clueless with a tiny kitchen - please help!

(46 Posts)
shovetheholly Wed 03-Jun-15 09:17:51

My kitchen is tiny. I was hoping to do an extension, but it doesn't make any sense in our area, where house prices are flatlining. My house is a very ordinary semi in quite a lower middle class area, and there is a definite ceiling to its value. I am reluctantly forced to admit that to add a single-story extension that didn't add a bedroom would likely be throwing a lot of money down the drain. A double-story extension would not get planning permission.

Moving is not an option right now because despite having quite a lot of savings, we can't find a house that really offers us much more in our price range. Part of the issue is that there is a big gap between different postcodes (due to school catchments?) and not much variety in the housing stock. I look at houses that are £150k more than my current one, and think that they don't really offer much more space, really.

We have therefore decided to make the most of it and stay and save to move in a few years. sad

The kitchen is very, very small. There is only really space to have full-width cupboards down two sides - otherwise you can't get two people in there. Please give me your tips about how I can maximise storage space without making it look absolutely crammed full of cupboards.

YaTalkinToMe Wed 03-Jun-15 09:22:49

Have a look at pinterest, I always find lots of inspiration for things there.

shovetheholly Wed 03-Jun-15 09:25:42

I have got a pinterest board for it! But I am struggling to find "real" small kitchens, by which I mean spaces with four walls - that are not just a part of a larger more open plan space.

YaTalkinToMe Wed 03-Jun-15 09:26:07

A few ideas, for the smaller stuff, I have to get off to work.

strongandlong Wed 03-Jun-15 09:27:41

What are the dimensions of the kitchen? If you could upload a plan it would be easier for people to make suggestions.

I had a tiny kitchen in our last house, but some careful planning (and serious culling of unnecessary equipment) meant that it worked really well...

shovetheholly Wed 03-Jun-15 09:36:51

I will take some photos and measurements tonight! It is SUCH a horrible kitchen, you will all be horrified.

DH keeps talking about knocking through to the dining room, which would be an option. However, our lounge/dining room are already open plan, so we might be getting a bit close to the edge of what is possible structurally.

shovetheholly Wed 03-Jun-15 09:39:06

Thank you yatalking!

I am actually not bad at organising small spaces. It's the larger-scale layout of the whole thing that has me freaked out. I find it very difficult to imagine what spaces will look or feel like.

strongandlong Wed 03-Jun-15 09:44:21

I love thinking about this kind of thing, so I'm looking forward to the plan and pics smile <saddo>

I wouldn't want a totally open plan living/dining/kitchen. Also, that will reduce the area available for cupboards, so might make the space issues worse.

We are about to reinstate the wall between our living room and dining room, and then knock through the kitchen and dining room. It will make much more sense for how we want to use the house.

strongandlong Wed 03-Jun-15 09:47:38

Apartment Therapy often features genuinely small kitchens. Worth a look around the archives...

shovetheholly Wed 03-Jun-15 10:18:29

strong - interesting, that knock through is what DH is suggesting we do (only he suggests folding doors between the rooms). However, I had been told that a kitchen/diner decreases value, because estate agents give a price according to the number of rooms?? I think we could produce an amazing space opening it up, but I am wary about the financial side of things.

I hate thinking of houses in terms of value and not as a home. But DH bought the place on his own, and frankly was a bit of a wally, paying about £20-30k too much for it at the height of the market in 2008 (groan). To make matters worse, it was an ex-rental house in a right state that needed absolutely everything doing. And it is quite literally, on the wrong side of the tracks to be worth the price he paid. House values here have totally flatlined here since 2008. So I need to make the £10-15k or so we have to invest in it work very hard for us. (We simply cannot go on with the kitchen in its current state - it is impossible)

I would love your input!

IssyStark Wed 03-Jun-15 12:35:58

I feel your pain! We're in a similar position re moving: we could pay another £100-150K and not get much more except higher ceilings for the price. We'd have to go up by £200-250K to get anything really larger.

We also have a tiny kitchen which I planned out on graph paper to fit in as much as possible and it really did make a difference compared to what was there before (ex-HA kitchen dating from the 70s so not well-planned). Is still too small to get all my kitchen stuff in (the good plates, magimix, jam pan etc all live either in the dining room or upstairs in the loft). As the kids are getting bigger, I am seriously considering blocking off the living room from the dinning room (and re-instating the living door from the hall) and then opening up the dining room to the kitchen, and possibly extending slightly over the patio. Opening up the kitchen to the dining room would mean we could block up the back door and get some more units there. Doing that, without the extension at my rough costings (which would also mean moving radiators and electrics) would fit within your budget as long as you didn't go mad on the kitchen units!

I don't think having a kitchen diner would reduce the price, in fact it is more likely to increase the price. However, certainly according to MN, lounge/diners are less fashionable now. I would be wary about making the whole ground floor open plan (unless it is very small) because it can be difficult to heat and also annoying if you want to listen to the radio while cooking as the kids are watching the telly.

IssyStark Wed 03-Jun-15 12:46:27

To give you an idea of how tiny our kitchen is (it's roughly 2.5m by 2m), this is what it looked like when we moved in in 2005

MonstrousRatbag Wed 03-Jun-15 12:53:43

Whatever you do, one room will have to combine two uses. I think a kitchen/diner makes a lot more sense for most people than a sitting/dining room.

Whichever way you split it, is there space for a cupboard or sideboard in the dingin area to take some of the things you would otherwise store in the kitchen?

We got a now discontinued Ercol display cupboard a bit like this for a very good price at the outlet shop to store crockery, vases etc that we couldn't accomodate in the fitted kitchen cupboards.

I had a kitchen smaller than that in my first flat. I got a kitchen designer in and she was well worth it. She came up with a lot of solutions I would never have thought of.

shovetheholly Wed 03-Jun-15 13:45:23

Issy - I'm so glad that I'm not the only one! I love your comment about 'higher ceilings for the price' - that sums up how I feel exactly. My house is a 1920s semi, and the kitchen is fairly similar to yours size-wise, possibly slightly larger but certainly not by much. A lot of room is taken up by a back door and two windows on different aspects - groan! I take my hat off to you for cooking for a family in that space! Go girl!

Monster - that's an interesting way to think about the problem of dual usage! I hadn't seen it that way, but of course you are right. I am definitely going to invest in a kitchen designer, as I really do not have a clue and desperately need handholding. This is the first kitchen I have ever done. sad

I am coming round to the idea of a knock through. I'll try to post some pictures later on or tomorrow, but honestly, my house is so bog standard that it doesn't take much imagination to envisage it.

It is a conventional semi layout of its era. You enter through the front door into a wideish hallway, with stairs up on your right, and an awkwardly-shaped space underneath that could be a pantry or some kind or utility space for the washing machine. To the left at the front is the sitting room. To the left at the back is the dining room. Straight ahead is a tiny kitchen.

The sitting room and dining room have been knocked together already. Done before DH moved in, and it works for us quite well. I am thinking of putting in some naice Scandinavian bifolding doors so that you could turn them back into separate rooms if you wanted to, e.g. when the entire family descends on us for Christmas and we have to sleep someone downstairs. I would like to replace the nasty UPVC back window in the dining room with much larger doors so I can see and feel connected to my garden outside (which is my pride and joy).

The wall between the dining room and kitchen is not load bearing and could be knocked out, and an RSJ inserted. That would make a big L shape, with doors onto the hall. So if you were sitting watching TV in the living room, the kitchen would be largely out of sight, to the right and behind.

Heating is not an issue because we have a log burner plus pretty powerful radiators plus external wall insulation all round the house. This is because I am a southern softie and not at all able to cope with the northern climes!

shovetheholly Wed 03-Jun-15 13:48:30

Oh and monstrous - I do like your Ercol unit! I currently house all the excess kitchen stuff in a horrible Ikea unit that is bright red and a disgusting badly-veneered sideboard from Argos. Both DH purchases in his student era. blush

When I said our house is an embarrassment, I meant it!

GatheringRequirements Wed 03-Jun-15 15:12:11

we have a tiny kitchen too,we knocked down the wall between kitchen and dining as we can't afford an extension just yet,I'll post some pictures this evening

shovetheholly Wed 03-Jun-15 16:32:45

Thanks gathering - that'd be really helpful!

Dugongdog73 Wed 03-Jun-15 17:42:45

We did that too - knocked the wall down between the kitchen and dining room so could have a long row of cupboards and worktop along one wall and kept the other side of the kitchen the same. It made a huge difference and people thought we'd had an extension!

BangingTheDrums Wed 03-Jun-15 17:50:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MonstrousRatbag Thu 04-Jun-15 14:16:19

Sorry about my typos-whatever you do, don't have a dingin space. Wouldn't help sell your house at all.

As for Ercol, we assumed it was beyond our price range and were all set to buy something cheaper we didn't like when DH checked the outlet website. Ta dah! for the same amount of money as the cheapy cupboard we could get an Ercol display cabinet!

The outlet is in Buckinghamshire and there is an online list and picture gallery. I can highly recommend it. You've got to arrange pick up and everything is sold as seen, but the descriptions are fair and accurate, so you what what flaws you are getting. You also have to move fast, but Ercol stuff is beautifully made, so it is a good way of getting quality furniture at a big mark-down.

You could use low cupboards/bookshelves/an island as a way of demarcating the dining and kitchen, perhaps. Could you fit a loo in under the stairs? A downstairs loo is incredibly useful. But then so is having a place to put the washing machine.

shovetheholly Fri 05-Jun-15 13:10:59

Hello all!

Some pictures of my truly horrible kitchen (apologies for the mess - I haven't had time this week to tidy so there is washing up all over the place etc) and my dining room with DH's Argos/Ikea furniture that needs to go.

What doesn't come over in the pictures is just how horrible a job the fitters have made of the kitchen. Everything is bodged - the cupboards are dented and wonky and falling to pieces. I promise I'm not just being fussy - if you walked in and actually saw the tiling and the cupboards, you'd be shocked (every one of my friends has been).

The options are basically
a. tart up and move
b. knock through the two rooms into one
c. extend and have a bigger space

YaTalkinToMe Fri 05-Jun-15 15:15:28

My thoughts are...
How long ago was it refit (I dont think you have said, could you get fitters to sort out the shitty workmanship).
A. You said you doing this with your budget at the moment is not really beneficial, so could you tart up on a budget so you are happier with it? Replace doors/tiles for example.
B and C How long do you plan on staying? You need to weigh up the cost of this/value it adds or deceases (I think this is important to you as you have mentioned it in posts), happiness and enjoyability either of these would bring whilst you are there if cost does not add to overall house value.

Could you add extra storage in dinning room for time being, if the overall cost is an issue? A bit of a faff for now but if you are planning to move shortly and changes wont increase value, better to save the money towards a deposit of house you want?

rambunctious Fri 05-Jun-15 15:19:20

I have a teeny tiny kitchen, and went to Howdens who measured and planned. They did a really good job of maximising the space.
I would recommend having a professional take a look.

noddyholder Fri 05-Jun-15 15:24:57

We are living somewhere atm with the tiniest kitchen ever! I have got a builder to put up shelves on every wall where there is space I keep all everyday stuff on these. Any special or big things I have put away eg platters and stuff that only comes out at Xmas. I have a small dresser from gumtree in the dining bit of living area and all wine glasses and crockery bar the basics are on that. I keep loads in the fridge even if it doesn't need to be there. Shelves high up eg above door for heavy pans etc Don't over shop. I keep alcohol in a box in the garden!

shovetheholly Fri 05-Jun-15 16:35:44

Yatalkin - love your username! It was fitted by the previous owners, who were landlords, about 10 years ago. I feel very sorry for their tenants. Everything has been done as cheaply as possible, and there is a standard of finish that no private house owner would accept were they paying for the job. Tarting up is not possible - the cabinets are literally falling apart. You know the bottom lip? It's falling off! Doors continually come off, despite being repeatedly fixed. The photo really doesn't show how bad it is!

In terms of staying, I guess that's the dilemma. We could easily afford to move now. In fact, it would probably be the sensible thing to do. But we like it here. It is not at all posh, but our neighbours are lovely and we like the area.

I have done some rough costings, and I think I might be able to bring the extension plus kitchen in at more like £30k. A knock-through would be about £15k I think (not sure though). I doubt either would make the money back but the extra space might add a bit more value than the knock through?

rambunctious and noddy - I think you're right that there could be all kinds of problems that are soluble with good planning and design and creative use of other spaces!

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