Big Ideas, Tiny Kitchen

Downsizing to a tiny house, author Lyndsey Lewis opened wide the possibilities for her life and a dream kitchen.

Tiny Kitchen Ideas-overall

Tiny Kitchen Ideas-overall

Thanks to her approach to small room decorating everything's close at hand in Lyndsey's house, which she says is the perfect size for her lifestyle.

Tiny Kitchen Ideas-cupboards

Tiny Kitchen Ideas-cupboards

Lyndsey enlivened her dream kitchen cabinets with playful use of colored back walls and textured glass doors.

Tiny Kitchen Ideas-sink and shelves

Tiny Kitchen Ideas-sink and shelves

Open shelving over the dishwasher helps keep the mood light and bright, as do the colorful curtains Lyndsey stitched for her dream kitchen. The large sink is handy for preparing garden produce.

Tiny Kitchen Ideas-table and banquette

Tiny Kitchen Ideas-table and banquette

Lyndsey's table, like her kitchen island, is on wheels and can be moved for parties. Baskets stashed under the banquette seating hold more kitchen necessities.

Tiny Kitchen Ideas-exterior

Tiny Kitchen Ideas-exterior

Lyndsey's little house from the front.

Tiny Kitchen Ideas-living area

Tiny Kitchen Ideas-living area

A fireplace and cozy seating are just steps from her kitchen; the ladder leads to the second-floor loft.

Tiny Kitchen Ideas-back porch

Tiny Kitchen Ideas-back porch

Lyndsey's back porch looks out over her long back yard, chicken coop and large garden; guests enjoy watching her chickens' antics.

Tiny Kitchen-Lyndsey

Tiny Kitchen-Lyndsey

Lyndsey and friend in the garden.

 

By Lyndsey Lewis
Little Rock, Arkansas

People often wonder why I choose to live in a house that measures just 609 square feet. The whole thing would fit neatly into one of those enormous McMansion kitchens!

It’s a fair question. For years, my home was a 2,000-square-foot American dream that I never seemed to have time to enjoy. I was always at my job as a hospital pharmacist, fighting traffic for 40 minutes each morning and spending my time off on housework. I even worked extra days to pay for the mortgage, utilities and lawn service—all for a house with a second floor that I never even used.

That just seemed wasteful, not to mention exhausting. So I was ready to hit the reset button, especially after hearing a radio interview with the founder of the Tumbleweed Tiny House Co., a man who was passionate about designing and building micro-houses that have surprising, quality amenities in manageable spaces.

My dream included both a garden and a short commute, so I bought a lot in an older neighborhood from which I could walk to work. It meshed nicely with the plans I chose for a modern two-bedroom cottage with a loft.  Snug, but with enough room for me and maybe even a (small) family someday.

I studied my state homebuilders’ association website for Certified Green Builders and talked with several until I found the best fit.  “Green,” of course, is just today’s term for an age-old concept: careful, thoughtful construction that preserves trees on a lot, reduces material waste, uses appropriate insulation and more.

Meanwhile, I began collecting salvaged materials for construction: a corner bathroom sink with hardware, exterior doors with original glass, a vintage phone niche and, best of all, some granite I found—free!—for my dream kitchen countertops.

Tiny kitchens are challenging, no doubt about it, and not just because they require smaller versions of major appliances, like my dishwasher. When you’re decorating a small room, you also have to plan for storage of pots, pans, utensils and serving pieces. I stash some things in big baskets in cubbies underneath the banquette seating. There’s more storage in the small cart, on casters, that serves as my island, and open shelves by the sink. Cup hooks free up more space.

White cupboards with frosted glass doors and bright colors painted inside help keep things light and airy. And of course, everything is right at my fingertips!

Truly, my tiny kitchen is the soul of my home. From here, cup of coffee in hand, I watch the sun come up.  There’s room enough to cook for family and friends, and even to entertain them at showers and other celebrations. Believe it or not, with some creative preparation, I’ve had 90 guests here.

It’s in the kitchen, too, that I now prepare and preserve my garden’s bounty. A large raised bed for vegetables in the back and the herbs and blueberry bushes planted on the street side have added a whole new dimension to my cooking. I also planted hundreds of bulbs over the winter, and used my sunny front room as a greenhouse to start seeds.

Also part of my outdoor space is the henhouse—painted to match my own “coop”—for Mary Jean and Virginia, two leghorns I adopted last spring with the approval of my Labrador retriever, Annya. The hens enjoy scratching in my backyard, and provide a regular supply of fresh eggs as well as limitless entertainment. Friends come over just to sit on the back porch and enjoy the country oasis feeling.

I’ve been in my little house a little more than a year now. It’s taken some adjustment in my thinking: I’m still working, for instance, on substituting window-shopping for the real thing. But I can vacuum the floors and wipe down all the baseboards of my tiny kitchen in less than 20 minutes, leaving me so much more time for gardening, cooking and crafting. My mortgage is a fraction of what it was and so are the utility bills, since there’s so much less space to heat and cool.

And  when people ask, “Doesn’t it feel small?” I can honestly say it doesn’t. Since I customized it to fit everything I need and use, it just feels like home.

 

Learn more about Lyndsey, small room decorating and life in her tiny house at her  blog.

 Photography by Nancy Nolan.

Elda Martinez 1 June 13, 2013 at 11:25 am

Thanks for sharing everything you say about how a big house does take most of your time and don’t have time to enjoy your time off work or to do what you like or just relax in your own home you have to be thinking about what needs to be done and you never get any rest. So a small space work out good. LOVE IT ALL , EM

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Jeanne 2 April 17, 2014 at 3:29 pm

This is wonderful! My house is @1,300 sq. ft. total on two floors. I couldn’t go with that strong vertical ladder but I could see fitting a sleeping area into a space on my first floor, with the remainder open living space.

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