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12 Ways to Add Style & Storage to Your Apartment Kitchen

Apartment kitchens are notoriously difficult to deal with – they lack storage, space, personality, and (oftentimes) luxury. However, they're fully loaded with bland surfaces, lackluster materials, and often outdated appliances. Decorating and organizing a tiny kitchen is a big challenge. 

My apartment kitchen is a small sliver of cabinetry against one wall with a stove on one end and an awkwardly positioned fridge on the other. I've got about three feet of counter space – one third of which is occupied by a microwave.

I wasn't joking about the sliver of cabinetry and awkwardly placed fridge. Another challenge my kitchen poses is that it's part of a space that combines the kitchen, dining, and living room. It's teeny-tiny, yes. But looking on the lovely side: it's easy to maintain, it forces me to clean and de-clutter, it's just big enough for me (and visits from the boyfriend or a couple friends), and it's cozy. 

As I tackle the corner that is my tiny, awkward kitchen, I plan to make it not only pretty but also functional. I know the rest of you live with the woes of a renter's kitchen, too, so I'm sharing 12 of my favorite tiny kitchens and some of the ideas I'll be borrowing from them.

 1. One Color Wonder
Most of us renters are forbidden by leases to paint. So while painting the cabinets a bright, bold red is a definitely no-no... the concept can still be incorporated. Pick a color you love and go with it. Try to use it on other large surfaces: curtains, a rug, a large canvases painted in that solid color. 

Other Ideas to Steal from this Kitchen: Fresh flowers instantly perk up the counter top. A nifty shelf over the sink is great for dish soap and sponges.   A removable back splash adds personality and pattern.

2. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
It's common decor knowledge that a mirror opens up and brightens up a small space. Hanging a mirror in a kitchen seems a little unorthodox, but it's a perfect solution for a tiny, windowless cooking space. For extra quirk, hang an ornate antique mirror. For something a bit more traditional, choose a mirror that has panes or is shaped like a window.

Other Ideas to Steal from this Kitchen: A small floating shelf over the stove is ideal for spices and spoons. Hang pots and pans right next to the oven to keep them within easy reach.

3. No Color Scheme? No Problem
You don't have to pick a color or bother with color combinations if you don't want to. Choose them all. Bring in any hue that makes you happy. Green, orange, turquoise, and copper all mingle cheerfully in this space. (Plus, buying kitchen wares on clearance is much easier when no color is off-limits.)

Other Ideas to Steal from this Kitchen: Hang pots and pans right above the oven to keep 'em handy. Hang colorful floating shelves for cookbooks and oft-used plates, bowls, etc.

4. Round Peg, Square Wall
Peg board is a cheap and ingenious way to add extra storage space on empty walls. (You can't let all that flat space go to waste!) In this kitchen, it's left white to blend in seamlessly with the walls. You could also paint it for a pop of color on your walls without breaking the lease.

Other Ideas to Steal from this Kitchen: Go vertical. All the way to the ceiling. You might need a stepping stool handy to reach things, but it's worth the extra storage space.

5. Pack a Punch with Pattern
There's removable wallpaper and sticky vinyl on the market now that can be put up and taken down without ruining your walls, cabinets, or other surface. I love the idea of sticking it on cabinets to freshen them up with a color and print. 

Other Ideas to Steal from this Kitchen: More pegboard. And creating makeshift counter tops with furniture pieces like that butcher block-topped cart with the metal legs and shelves. 

6. Unconventional Shelving
Kitchen shelving doesn't have to be limited to cabinets. These floating shelves and hanging cubbies are a modern, sleek alternative to bulky cabinets and shelves – plus, they add storage without covering up the beautiful exposed brick. 

Other Ideas to Steal from this Kitchen: Keep a chair nearby. You can transfer stuff to it when you need extra counter space or it could become a makeshift bar. Hang a fun, eye-catching print on the wall if you have no window. 

7. Festive Fridge
Refrigerators are rarely exciting appliances. While magnets, photos, and notes can spruce up the surface, you also run the risk of ending up with a cluttered eyesore. Instead, cover the fridge with some nifty removable wallpaper or vinyl decals in a pretty print like these polka dots. 

Other Ideas to Steal from this Kitchen: A desk lamp with a flexible neck on top of the fridge can bring some extra light into a kitchen that lacks overhead or natural lighting. A big tray in a great color pattern can double as artwork.

8. Double Duty Dining Table
Short on counter space? Pull over the dining table. (You probably don't have a big, formal dining room for it anyway.) Positioning a dining table next to your kitchen adds counter space. And when you're entertaining, you'll have friends close-by while you cook.

Other Ideas to Steal from this Kitchen: Thin little shelves hung on the wall can display other items that you need handy. Does your kitchen table sometimes double as a craft space? Keep your paint brushes or colored pencils tucked up on a shelf.

9. Open Minded Open Shelving
If you don't have a lot of cupboard space, create some. A big, open bookcase will do the trick. Don't fret about displaying all your items that would otherwise be hidden away in cabinets. Embrace it by investing in aesthetically pleasing canisters, wire baskets, and vintage tins to keep clutter at bay.

Other Ideas to Steal from this Kitchen: Use the top of your fridge. A big basket up there is a great place for fruit. Keep a folding table nearby. You can prop it up when you need extra counter space for entertaining and then fold it up and put it away when it's just you hanging out at home.

10. Bring in the Reinforcements, err.. Raskogs
Ikea's Raskog cart is arguably the single most versatile little piece of furniture ever. And it's absolutely adorable. Buy one (or three) and put it to use. Keep your lunch items close at hand to grab on the way out the door to work. Turn it into a bar-on-wheels when friends visit. Store baking supplies close-at-hand. The possibilities are seemingly endless.

Other Ideas to Steal from this Kitchen: Put pretty pattern on the walls to add personality to your kitchen. Look into removable wallpaper options so that the landlord won't get after you.

11. Aim High
I love the storage in this kitchen because the kitchen itself so closely resembles my own. Look upward for unused space in your kitchen. Pots, pans, and crock pots will feel right at home on top of the cabinets. (Just keep the one or two you use most down below in a regular cabinet.) Put the microwave on top of your fridge – as long as your fridge isn't a towering one. 

Other Ideas to Steal from this Kitchen: Make use of the wall between the counters and cabinets, too. A magnetic knife strip is ideal for knives – flush against the wall and taking up much less counter space than a knife block.

12. Gallery in the Galley
Lastly, this tip is purely about presentation. Don't ignore your kitchen walls. Turn your galley kitchen into an art gallery with framed prints. Go fresh and modern with matching white frames. Go classic with sleek black. Or get a little eclectic up in there by mingling vintage frames with more basic ones.

Other Ideas to Steal from this Kitchen: A stepping stool – for climbing up to reach all those pots and pans you stuck on top of the cabinets or the microwave on top of the fridge.

How tiny is your kitchen? How do you make it lovely and functional? How do you make it work?

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