Simple (and small) Living vol. 5

sarah trio

We were able to visit with Sarah in her beautiful home last week! Today, she shares with us more ideas on how to make simplicity work for us in our kitchens…


Last week, I shared two of the ways I make the kitchen in our small home work for us: Buy One and Nest When Possible.

This week, I have five more ways to bring simplicity to your kitchen.

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Buy items that are multifunctional – You’d be surprised the number of similar items we set aside for various tasks that all accomplish similar functions. Fill your kitchen with items that serve many purposes. Mixing bowls can be serving dishes. A  wide mouthed canning jar can be used to store leftovers, serve drinks, and mix salad dressing and looks lovely filled with tulips. A cutting board can be used to serve cheeses and breads.

Get creative and start thinking of new uses for your items and then discard what is redundant. Also, challenge yourself to find multi-functional items that are lovely to look at. If you’re going to be using your mixing bowls for serving dishes hunt for the prettiest set you can find. Take your time and choose multi-functional items that you love.

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Open Shelving – I am regularly asked if I like my open shelves. I really hesitated when my husband suggested open shelving. I have often been drawn to kitchen photos with open shelves that are perfectly styled to highlight dishes and decorative items but I don’t like the look of clutter and I certainly don’t want to see cereal boxes and bags of chips on display in my kitchen. I also was worried about greasy kitchen air getting all over my things.

We installed a single shelf because of the lower ceiling height as opposed to a double. Regardless of the height limitation my opinion is that if the items are too tall for me to reach I’m not going to be using the items up there or cleaning them regularly. Our longest shelf contains all of our dishes, glasses, and a few serving pieces. Everything on this shelf, with the exception of my cake stand, get used regularly and end up in the dishwasher at least once a week. The cake stand I take down and wash every couple of weeks. I keep it there because it was my grandmother’s and I love it.


I use a microfiber dusting wand to maintain a clean dust free surface to store my dishes and once every two or three months I will move the stacks of plates and cups and scrub the shelf to keep it tidy. The shelf above my stove contains common baking ingredients. I keep glass jars of flour, sugar, rice, oatmeal, etc. up on this shelf.

When we first moved in I put art, my vase collection, and a few serving pieces up, but there were two problems with it. I didn’t use the items enough and they got sticky with greasy air and I wasn’t using the shelf to store important useful items so it felt wasteful when space was at such a premium. What I like is that these items and neutral colored so they don’t interfere with my need to keep the kitchen visually simple and they are items I use all of the time so I try to take a moment to wipe down the jars when I remove them from the shelf.


Food – I keep most of our food in two drawers and a lazy Susan cabinet in the corner of the kitchen. And of course my fridge and freezer. This isn’t a huge amount of storage for food but I’ve found a few tricks that keep things in order.

I am a firm believer in meal planning as an organizational tool but also as a way to keep my small home organized. While it may feel good to have the cupboards packed full, if I can’t use everything to put together a cohesive week of meals then I’m quickly going to run out of space. I like to sit down on Sunday evening, write up a grocery list while I’m in my house so I can see what food I already have and then purchase only what I need.


I also discard items that aren’t being used up, like the half used bag of marshmallows from last Summer’s bbq or the jug of corn syrup I bought for holiday baking.

I never used to do this, but I opt for the smaller packages of toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins because I can easily replenish from week to week and there isn’t a big area to keep them while they are waiting to be used. I still go to Costco but I buy ground beef and romaine which I know we will use up quickly and avoid jumbo sized foods that may take months to consume.


Countertops -I dislike cluttered countertops but when there isn’t a lot of space it’s easy for items to end  up permanently piled up on the countertops. I avoid using my countertop as a place to permanently store things. There are a few items that I keep out but I try to be very intentional about what is on my countertops.

Countertop clutter tends to get greasy if it’s near a stove, it makes wiping off the counters a chore because items need to be lifted and moved to properly clean. As an experiment try removing everything from your kitchen counters and putting back only what you absolutely need. Now admire how instantly clean and decluttered your kitchen looks!

open cupboard

Face Your Fears – Drastically downsizing can feel a bit scary and overwhelming because we often cling to things out of fear. I realized as I was getting rid of things that the conversation in my head was often a “what if” conversation. What if I can’t find another one of these? What if I can’t afford to replace this? What if I need this someday? Or it was a tinge of guilt about the fact that I had paid good money for it and it was wasteful to discard it.

What I realized is that most of the things I held on to were easily replaceable, inexpensive, or I could pass them along to someone who could use them or simply donate them to a good cause like the church thrift shop. If had a perfectly good item that I needed to get rid of I’d pray for opportunity to bless someone with my extra item. God was always faithful to provide a place for the excess.

In the end, after I had gotten past my initial reservations about downsizing, I realized that I love being in my kitchen and it is a deeply satisfying place to work.

Simple (and small) Living Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3 | Volume 4 | Volume 5

– Sarah

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This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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