How a Chef and Baker Share the World’s Smallest Kitchen
It’s impressive when a couple shares a tiny home together. But even more extraordinary is what Devon Loftus and her chef husband Brian Loftus have managed to pull off in their super small, 320-square-foot tiny house: cook, bake and entertain, despite having a kitchen that’s only 18 square feet! How do they do it? The couple generously shared their small but successful kitchen dwelling secrets.
Devon and Brian have shared their tiny house — located just outside of Olympia, Washington — for 10 months, and they live in it full time. (They were even featured on an episode of Tiny House Nation!) Brian is a chef, and when they were designing their tiny house, it was important for both of them to have a functioning kitchen. Since moving in, Devon has launched Moon Cycle Bakery — the first “hormone balancing sweet treat delivery service.” It’s a baked goods service that can be customized for different dietary needs…and Devon bakes all the goods from this tiny house!
Below, in their own words, some advice on how to cook, entertain and thrive in a tiny kitchen:
How to fit everything you need
We use every space possible from floor to ceiling — counterspace is prime real estate. This means we’ve added hooks to our hanging shelves and hang things such as copper mugs and our strainer from there. Brian has created a spice rack out of an old ladder and added magnetization to the back — that sits up against our refrigerator right next to our stove. Everything also has a designated place that it lives! As soon as we’re done using something, it goes back to where we got it from. Everything has a home and everything returns home!
Hanging things and making use of the height of your room helps a lot when you don’t have a ton of counterspace or storage. Also we organize with bins, bins and more bins to keep all of our food tidy in the cabinets. Mason jars have become a huge help in our kitchen, as well, because they double as storage and drinking glasses. Combining decor with multi-purposeful properties such as the spice rack or key holder adds character to the kitchen without taking up too much room.
We also get creative with the space available — our windowsill has pretty good depth, so we create a little “windowsill display” with flowers and knick-knacks once a month.
Make cleaning this spot a weekly thing
Because we don’t have a full-sized fridge, we also need to be mindful of how often we’re grocery shopping and making sure to clean out the fridge together. We use Google Calendar to set up dates and times to get groceries, prep and clean out the fridge on a weekly basis together. Google Calendar events make it feel fun and like our own little thing!
When (and what) you should sacrifice
We sacrificed 6″ of counter space for a standard 30″ oven — something that was really important to both my chef husband and I. We couldn’t buy a standardized fridge because it would’ve taken up way too much space, but again, because we chose a smaller fridge, we were able to splurge on a beautiful 30″ farm sink from Koehler, which makes doing the dishes in a tiny kitchen so much easier. It almost acts as a dual-purpose sink, too, as it’s so big we can soak anything from linens to babies in it!
Invest in tools that do more than one thing:
Our KitchenAid is our best friend because of all the attachments you can buy for it. We use it for making pasta, recipe testing for Moon Cycle Bakery and for making our own flours and ice cream. The next thing on our list is the food processor attachment! Because we were able to combine a lot of these appliances into one, it allowed us to splurge on things that we really wanted like our Breville Espresso Machine and Vitamix.
The step-by-step guide to cooking in a teeny tiny kitchen
First, we put everything away in its home so we know where it is when it’s time to start cooking. Then, we’ll grab the ingredients we need to prep for that meal and place them in their “station” so to speak. This may be putting frozen chicken that needs to defrost in our sink with cold water running on it while we chop the zucchini, peppers and mushrooms. Once things are chopped and prepped, we put them in their own bowl and off to the side until we need to grab them again.
“Cleaning up after yourself allows for a smoother cooking process, prep is everything, and less is more when entertaining…”
Make things easily accessible
Having spices such as salt, pepper, chili flakes and other herbs right next to the stove in one place allows for a quick and easy addition to meals while cooking. The oven we picked has an entirely flat graded surface, which allows us to store our pots and pans on top of the stove. For baking sheets, cupcake trays and other baking supplies, we store them in a little drawer at the foot of the stove.
CWC: Communicate While Cooking
We also need to tell each other where the other person is and where they’re headed to in the kitchen if they have, say, a large pot of boiling water or any other kind of surface that could spill. It’s kind of like being in a restaurant kitchen where you let your team know where you’re at to avoid collision!
“There is no better feeling than getting to cook for a party while simultaneously partaking in the merriment with your guests.”
The 3 commandments of tiny kitchen cooking and entertaining
Cleaning up after yourself allows for a smoother cooking process, prep is everything, and less is more when entertaining. Like no big tablescape or centerpiece is necessary, because it starts to feel too crowded and cluttered. Instead, we’ll create one big bouquet and put it in a place where it’s seen from anywhere in the house. The small space is already going to make everyone automatically feel cozier and more intimate, so some of those practices you would use during a normal dinner party such as a well-dressed table or platters of appetizers to bring from room to room, etc, are just naturally interwoven into the tiny house style of entertaining.
Don’t kick anyone out of the kitchen
Some things I’ve learned, even in our last apartment, is that people like to be around the cook. They like to see what they’re doing and be a part of the magic and fun that is involved in cooking, so don’t be afraid to invite your guests into that smaller space.
I feel like we as a society can feel that the kitchen is too messy for guests to be a part of, but that intimacy is what keeps them coming back. We would have guests over in our apartment and we’d all wind up in our tiny kitchen there, too, even though we had separate rooms!
And this is where preparing and keeping on top of cleaning comes in. If you take a second to chop and prepare all your ingredients before you cook and clean up after yourself as you go, things will stay organized and smooth and you won’t cringe if a guest decides to pop their head in and see what’s happening. Having a tiny house where guests can sit and talk to the chef as they cook is the best of both worlds. There is no better feeling than getting to cook for a party while simultaneously partaking in the merriment with your guests.
That time they entertained six people in 320 square feet:
Yes, at one point we had six people over for dinner! Our stairs leading up to our bedroom fold into each other creating the base for a large table. Behind the stairs is the table itself, which folds on top of the stairs/base revealing a round table. Our “couch” then turns into six stools and seats to sit on — so practically our entire “living room” turns into the “dining room!” When the table is up, we find that people will hang out on the stairs, the couch and up in the loft. It creates the most intimate vibe complete with laughter, cooking tips and seriously happy faces on everyone.