If you’re anything like me, the kitchen is your sacred space, your lair, your go-to for creativity and delicious meals.
And your tiny house kitchen should be no different.
When designing your tiny house or looking at pre-made models, it is important to create a kitchen you’re excited about.
After all, the kitchen is often the hub of family activity, and you’ll be spending a lot of time here.
In this article, you will learn how to create a functional kitchen you will absolutely love by focusing on 5 key areas: light, storage, sinks, power source, and multifunctional furnishings.
Lighting in Tiny House Kitchen
So windows and light may not be the first thing you think of when you think tiny house kitchen design.
But think about it for a minute.
We spend time every day in our kitchens preparing meals, eating, and cleaning up.
And in a tiny house where each room needs to be multi-functional, the kitchen becomes of great importance.
One of the most desirable traits for a kitchen is that it feels right and is a pleasure to work in. Windows can give your kitchen an open feel and make it seem bigger.
One place a window is necessary is over the sink. Being able to look outside while washing dishes lightens the workload and makes for a greater sense of comfort and joy.
Depending on your tiny house needs and power source, task lighting is an amazing way to conserve energy.
Task lighting saves energy by focusing light in an area where you need it, versus all over a room.
Task lighting over the preparation area or the sink can help you quickly complete chores, such as washing the dishes.
Placing lights under the cabinets or shelves can help to utilize your space wisely.
These lights are shadow-free which is especially nice when working after dark when natural light is unavailable.
Types of Lighting
You will also want to consider what types of lights you use.
Incandescent light provides light that is warm and without glare. Traditionally, however, they use more energy and are inefficient.
Halogen lights, on the other hand, are energy-efficient and brighter, with a clear white eminence.
Fluorescent lights come in a wide range of options and are energy efficient.
Compact fluorescent lighting usually qualifies for energy star ratings and, according to the Department of Energy, uses about one-fourth the energy and lasts ten times longer than a comparable, traditional incandescent bulb that puts out the same amount of light.
Stuff. We all have it and kitchens create a lot of stuff.
A kitchen needs to have pots and pans, dishes, utensils and those wonderful convenient appliances, like coffee makers
But what do you really need and actually use?
When designing your kitchen, you need to give some thought to this. You probably aren’t going to throw lavish dinner parties so aunt Marge’s good chinaware isn’t necessary.
But the cappuccino in the morning may be a deal-breaker — so make room for that coffee machine!
This is a great time to pare down to the necessities: an organized and functional kitchen will bring you joy.
One of the benefits of a tiny house kitchen is a compact space. Everything is at your fingertips. Plan your kitchen so that things are easy to reach relative to the task.
IKEA has some great planning features that let you configure different designs.
There are also several free apps online that you can download as well, such as kitchenplanner.net.
The advantage of these programs is that they give you a good visual of how your kitchen will function and look before you build anything.
Not only do kitchens have lots of dishes, but you will also need a place to store foods. Deep drawers are often great places for doing just that.
Storing your foods in clear Mason jars will make it easy to reach in and quickly find what you need. Here’s a great resource on how to organize your pantry after you’ve set up your mason jars full of food.
Cabinets, Drawers, and Cupboards
The tiny house kitchen takes a delicate balance of cabinets and cupboards, so having storage options are of the utmost importance. Some great storage options include:
Under the countertops:
- Under the countertops are a great place to have drawers and cabinets.
- Using a dresser is another excellent option.
- In addition to using the drawers to store foods or dishes, the top can become a nice counter space.
- The kitchens of yesteryear often used dressers as methods of storage.
- Hoosier cabinets were popular kitchen furniture at the turn of the century.
I live in a small cabin and I have a Hoosier cabinet and an antique dry sink in my kitchen. They fit in with the rustic look and feel of my home, while providing storage options.
Problems With Cabinets
Over the counter, on-the-wall cabinets often do not work well in a tiny house.
They are too bulky and take up more space than open shelves. In addition, the common dark wood colors often give the impression of less space.
Glassdoor cabinets are an exception to this rule. If placed properly, they can lead to a feeling of openness.
A frosted glass cabinet that is painted a bright color on the inside looks attractive and friendly.
Cabinets work well in a tiny house under the stairs.
If your kitchen is adjacent to the stairs to the loft, then the cabinets under the stairs can serve the purpose of storing small kitchen appliances or pots and pans.
Shelves are a much better option in the tiny house kitchen, and appear to flow more with the lines of the home where the bulkiness of cabinets interrupts the eye.
Personally, this is the route I decided to go down…
My small cabin kitchen has open shelves built into an inside wall.
Since they are recessed, they do not take up floor space. The disadvantage is that everyone can see what food I have.
However, it does make it easy to find what I am looking for!
Another advantage of shelves is that they can be made very inexpensively out of random objects or scrap lumber from the build.
In perusing Pinterest, I saw shelves made from old skateboards, roping and scrap metal.
One thing to consider when designing shelf space is whether your tiny home will be mobile or stationary.
A stationary home can go with whatever shelf styles you desire.
A mobile tiny home needs to have shelves that have a ledge or railing along the rim. This would help to keep your objects from falling off the shelves.
In addition, if you only move seasonally, then you may choose to pack up your glassware and other breakables during the transition.
Hang It Up
There are a lot of great options if you want to hang up knives, spices and cooking utensils.
There are many types of metal strips that you attach to your wall. You can then just hang knives or metal utensils on the strip.
They also make small containers to hold spices and seasonings.
Pockets or pouches can make nice hanging storage for small kitchen objects, and you can utilize a pegboard to hang things from.
I am a minimalist about most things—but not sinks.
I like a nice big farm sink. Too many of the sinks in tiny houses are just too tiny.
My sink needs to be able to hold the dishes and a couple of pots and pans.
Choose a sink that is deep and will give you the most options. Your sink should ideally be at least 8–10 inches deep, that way it will fit your dishes and be deep enough to not splash over the sides.
An attached dish drain is nice on the side of your sink and can double as a place to set pots that come off the stove.
Additionally, a retractable faucet on your sink is handy for filling pots with water during food prep.
Dishwashers are also great and work well in a tiny house that does have a smaller sink. With dishwashers, you can simply rinse the dishes off, then put them into the dishwasher.
Kitchens use a lot of power, using either conventional electric, solar power or propane. Your first step will be to determine what kind of power sources you will use.
How you are going to power your home will vary a great deal based on your needs.
If you are traveling with your tiny home, you will probably want to have both alternative and conventional energy.
Many people who are traveling with their tiny home can hook up to the utilities just like an RV does.
For this, you need to have external electric and water hose hookups.
Electrical connections come in varying amperage depending on the amount of power you want to access. RV parks usually supply three choices: 20 Amp, 30 Amp, and 50 Amp.
Or, consider this.
You can have off-grid power options as a backup when conventional energy is not available.
Depending on your goals, lifestyle, and values, you may even choose to have 100% renewable energy.
Alternative energy systems are designed so that the amount of energy needed correlates to the number of solar panels.
There are pros and cons to each.
Ask yourself these questions to help you determine which is best for you.
- Will I be stationary or mobile?
- Do I wish to use environmentally sustainable forms of energy?
- Will I have an oven?
- Will I be using AC or DC appliances?
Advantage – consistent supply, works well for permanent residents
Disadvantage – monthly bill, the company may contribute to pollution
Advantage – Supply your own, socially responsible energy, no monthly bill.
Disadvantage – Initial upfront costs, not always reliable (e.g. cloudy day inhibits solar).
Many people opt for a hybrid system and design their home so that it can run off both conventional and alternative power. By choosing appliances that use low amounts of electric, it is easy to switch between delivery sources.
Electric cooking stoves take a lot of energy, especially the oven.
As a result, many people choose propane as a way to power their cooking stove.
While typically used for heating, propane is also a popular way for off-gridders to power their refrigerators.
Additionally, propane is great for saving space.
Because after you finish cooking with propane, the cooktop cools quickly, so you can simply leave your pot on the stove.
And when you’re living in a tiny house, every bit of useful space counts.
As an organic farmer, I have many chef friends who swear that cooking on propane is the best way to go.
Tiny House Kitchen Ideas
Not everyone opts for an oven. Many tiny home dwellers choose to combine a cooktop with another appliance, such as a dishwasher or a small refrigerator underneath.
Another great option is to add your washer/dryer combo to the kitchen area. This makes sense since you already have your water and power needs focused here.
Additionally, countertop areas can often double duty as tables, workspaces and even sleeping spaces for the family pet.
Tables are one of those things that serve multiple purposes.
For example, a kitchen table may be used as a countertop while preparing dinner, a workspace when writing a business proposal, or a place to sit down and have a leisurely meal.
You may consider using tile, laminate or even recycled glass for your tabletop to make it easy to clean and get ready to prepare meals.
A wall-mounted table can lay flat against the wall when not in use. It can then be lifted up and used to eat dinner, work on your laptop or do a DIY project.
Other great space-saving options include folding chairs and stools.
Folding chairs can be folded up and hung out of the way while stools can be tucked under a table so as not to take up floor space.
The fun thing about tiny houses is that each one is unique. Pay attention to these areas and you can design the house of your dreams: one that is fun, functional, and waiting to be lived in.