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With a few small solutions, your kitchen can be a much more workable space.

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I never realized how small my kitchen was until I rented a vacation house with abundant counter space. I loved being able to spread out and have room for more than one person to cook. How, I wondered, could I increase space in my kitchen without renovating? It’s all about organization.

When not in use, a stovetop can be covered with a large cutting board for extra prep space. Similarly, if you have space over your sink, it’s the perfect spot to put a drying rack, rather than on the counter.

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I have an island stove above which I hang my most-used pots and pans from a rack. You can also hang large implements on the inside of cupboard doors rather than leaving them on the counter or in a drawer.

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Use fold-down shelves in out-of-the-way areas to hold your prep when making dinner. Or, buy a small rolling cart that can be stored easily. It provides mobile counter space, while doubling as a drinks trolley, serving piece or extra storage.

Whether you have tiles on the wall or not, add a rod and attach small baskets to it. And wherever there is dead space, add shelving – narrow shelves over the countertop if there is room between the counter and top cupboards, or to the side of the fridge. They’re all alternatives to storing items on the counter.

Cupboards need organizing, too. Adding another shelf inside them creates a surprising amount of space. And consider replacing lower cabinets with pull-out drawers. The contents will be much easier to access, and you’ll spend less time searching for items. Store flour, sugars and spices in containers that fit against each other. Label the tops so you can see without pulling them out.

Drawer dividers are essential for keeping cooking tools organized. And a pull-out garbage unit will help keep your trash under control, ideally with separate containers for trash and recycling. If you have enough space, add a third container for compost.

And try turning that empty kick space under your lower cabinets into drawers. I store baking equipment and table mats in mine.

Kitchen design stores have lots of good ideas; check the internet, too. I got some great ideas at IKEA – you do not need an IKEA kitchen to implement them. IKEA store manager Janice McGowan says, “We plan solutions for everybody’s need. Our first task is as problem solvers and we are here to help.”

With a few small solutions, your kitchen can be a much more workable space. Now all you have to do is cook.

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Need some advice about kitchen life and entertaining? Send your questions to lwaverman@globeandmail.com.

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