Lessons from My Little Kitchen 1

Lessons from my Tiny Kitchen

One photo of the kitchen on the real estate ad was enough to convince me I didn’t even want to look at the house we now own. It looked tiny, for one. And the rusty electric (I’ve always preferred gas) stove/oven combo looked smaller than the standard size.

If that wasn’t enough the cabinets were small and offered less storage space than the galley kitchen we were leaving. Oh, and they were turquoise. Bright. Turquoise. The kind that could look cute in a perfectly matching retro-themed kitchen with the turquoise KitchenAid and brightly colored spatulas. With my mismatched conglomeration of kitchen stuff, not so much.

Even the real estate agent very matter-of-factly said we would need a new kitchen.

But my always rational husband, who thought about practical details like square footage and location, insisted we at least look at it. And of course it turned out to have beautiful wood floors, solid construction, and be in a cute neighborhood in the ideal location. All of that won out over the turquoise and rusty oven.

So we bought it with plans to paint the cabinets right away, replace the oven when it broke (which would surely be soon), and update the kitchen with a more modern look someday.


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We’ve now been here for a year and the oven gave out in the middle of roasting potatoes just last week. I’ve never been so happy to see an appliance break. We’re still saving for the extra cabinets and new countertops we hope to one day add. But after a year of meals in our little kitchen, I realize I’ve come to actually appreciate a few things about it.


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1. I already have a dream kitchen.

A missionary shared at church a few weeks ago that they have the nicest house in the neighborhood because it has a floor.

In refugee camps in Turkey and shanty towns in India, mothers are scraping together whatever food they can find. Instead of debating between gas or electric stoves, they’re hoping for clean water, something 780 million people worldwide don’t have.

Instead of agonizing over the perfect cabinet paint color, mothers in Iraq are hoping that violence doesn’t force them to flee their homes before dinner tonight.

I may not have the granite countertops and stainless steel appliances that interior design magazines portray as practical necessities. But I have indoor plumbing, reliable electricity, a dishwasher, and at least three separate kitchen gadgets to choose from when I want whipped cream. By global standards, that’s a dream kitchen.


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2. This kitchen is enough for what matters.

From this kitchen we’ve made quick sandwiches to eat on the go and soups to savor on cold nights made for staying in.

We’ve fed groups of 20+ with the kids running in circles and plates balanced on one knee with a baby on the other. I’m not always sure how everyone finds a place to sit, but we eat, laugh, share, and live. And no one seems to mind that the beige countertop kind of clashes with the white black splash and the drawer hangs crooked.

We’ve celebrated marriage, new babies, and our first born’s first birthday.

We’ve hosted game nights and girls nights.

And the rust on the oven and the paint peeling off the cabinets haven’t mattered for any of it.

This kitchen is enough for good conversation around simple meals. So it’s enough for what matters.


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3. Sometimes small is better anyway.

The worst thing about cooking in a small kitchen is that cooking a simple batch of spaghetti can result in what looks like Thanksgiving dinner aftermath. The best thing is that even when every surface is covered in dishes, it doesn’t take long to clean up.

A small kitchen helps me keep things simple, both the food and the stuff.

I’ve actually come to kind of love my little kitchen, something I never thought I’d say when we bought this house. I’ll still be happy to see the rusty oven go and still dream of storing the salad spinner in the kitchen instead of the coat closet. But this little kitchen now holds a year of memories of food, laughter, sweet friendships, and simple family mornings running into each other while we wait for the coffee to brew.

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