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Bijoux and beautiful

Helen Raine tells us about making the smallest of kitchens work.

Multiple shelving can work miracles when it comes to convenience.

Multiple shelving can work miracles when it comes to convenience.

My first house in Malta was a former summer home, a one-bedroom affair with lots of character and very little space. The kitchen, complete with an antique, ceramic trough sink, was wedged into a bay window and it was miniscule. I got very good at making one-pot wonders on the stove and along the way, figured out some neat storage solutions. Here’s what your tiny kitchen needs if you want to preserve your sanity while cooking.

Let it all hang out

The ceiling is your friend if you are tight on space. I hung a square storage rack in the centre of the kitchen space and dangled everything from pans to ladles off large butchers’ hooks, just above head height. It’s worth paying a bit more to make sure all these items match so that your kitchen doesn’t end up resembling a junk shop. You can get a wide variety of rack shapes including parallel lines, circles and triangles. Pulleymaid have some good options from around €50, with €14 shipping to Malta (www.pulleymaid.com/potrack). You could consider getting one of those antique drying racks that can be raised and lowered on a pulley system. Even an old ladder will work, painted up brightly and equipped with some hooks, then hung from the ceiling.

Face the wall

If you’re short of space, every centimetre of wall space is probably given over to cupboards already, but if you have a narrow, empty strip, mount a vertical row of hooks that will hold anything from tea towels to sieves and graters. Ella James makes a cast-iron version which can go vertically or horizontally and looks so cute, you won’t want to hang anything on there at all (€45, plus €14 shipping to Malta, www.notonthehighstreet.com/ellajames). Or try the ceramic teapot spout hooks (€20 each) from the same website, which you can mount in several different locations.

A set of nice pans hung on these can even look like a feature.

Stacking shelves within cupboards will help you create more space

Open the door to extra space

The kitchen accessory gurus at www.lakeland.co.uk have a four-tier storage rack which will fit on the back of the door; hooks go over the door itself meaning there’s no need to drill it into the wood (€28 plus €10.50 shipping).

Spice it up

A spice rack can be hung on the underside of a shelf, so that you don’t lose precious cupboard space with dozens of tiny jars. ijshome.com.mt have a good one for €4.76. Amazon.co.uk has a ‘back of the cupboard door’ rack for €16.75.

Island on an island

My biggest problem in the tiny kitchen was counter top space. Most of the usable area was taken up with the sink and the stovetop. You can partially solve this dilemma with a rolling butcher’s block or kitchen island. TnTWoodworks on etsy.com have a particularly lovely handmade wooden one for €936 and will ship to Malta or try AmorFatiArtisan, also on Etsy, who are offering a recycled wood version for €291. If you need these to be movable, you can add ask them to add casters before shipping for a small fee.

Sink Hole

Another way to create additional counter space is to have a cover for the sink that you can prepare food on if you need to. Try the Prepworks ‘Over-the-Sink-Cutting-Board’ (€41, amazon.co.uk) or Garden at Home’s Gourmet Board, which has adjustable handles for any sink size (€90, www.amazon.co.uk). You can also get similar stovetop covers.

Stack the odds

Stacking shelves within cupboards will help you create more space. www.aplaceforeverything.co.uk has some good examples from €10.50 and they also offer under-shelf baskets from €17.46. Their 12cm-wide slimline kitchen storage trolley might fit into a pantry cupboard or one of those narrow gaps where the cupboards don’t quite meet the wall (€62). And you can free up more cupboard space by taking out the pans and putting them on a five tier pan stand for €26. Contact the company for shipping costs to Malta.

All washed-up

With no space for a dishwasher, washing-up was the bane of my life. Make your life easier with the wall mounted dish rack, which will give you a place to put the dishes once you’ve washed them. Try Watsons Storage on www.ebay.co.uk for a white, wooden version (€83).

Looking up

Maltese homes often have wonderfully high ceilings; make the most of the extra height with shelving above your cupboards. You can purchase a folding stepladder to ensure that you can always reach the top shelf.

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