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Living in a small space can present a unique set of challenges.
I've lived in my Brooklyn studio rental for about a decade. I know lots of people use the word "small" when they talk about their apartment, but mine is almost comically small. As in, I'm an adult with the size bed many people have in their dorm room. I have such little counter space, I can't have a toaster and a slow cooker on it at the same time.
It's pretty dire.
The funny part of it all is that I write about food as my job and even do Instagram cooking tutorials from that tiny kitchen, so I've had to find a way to make tools and gadgets fit many roles. Air fryers that are also toasters and slow cookers that can also steam and pressure cook have been total life savers.
Here's some of my favorite secret weapons!
A square copper pan
Copper Chef Square Pan, $42, Amazon
I have tried a lot of cookware, and this remains a personal favorite. Part of the reason is that it fits so many roles at once. It replaces your stockpot, rice cooker, frying pan, steamer, fryer, wok and roasting pan. Plus, because of that square shape design, it creates 25 percent more cooking space compared to a round pan of the same size, which means more room to cook food.
A blender you can take with you
Ninja Countertop Blender, $60, Amazon
This blender breaks down fruits and vegetables for juices and smoothies, but is also great for making dressings and marinades. It's compact, using very little counter space, and after you make that breakfast smoothie, you can place one of the seal lids on the cups and carry it with you. No need for additional cups and packaging!
A multicooker that can replace multiple appliances
BELLA 6-Quart Multicooker, $70, Amazon
Having limited space doesn’t need to mean cooking limited food options. But that’s only possible in a small space with appliances that can multitask. This multicooker can saute, brown, pressure cook, slow cook and steam. That's a whole lot of appliances in one.
A reusable water bottle
Welly Bottle, $35, Amazon
A reusable water bottle is a staple, regardless of the size of your living space. This one is awesome, though, because of what else it does: It has a removable infuser that can be filled with coffee grinds or loose tea leaves for pour-over coffee or tea, and can keep any drink cold for 24 hours or hot for up to 12 hours.
A grill for your microwave
KitchenHQ Microwave Grill, $25, HSN
In a tiny space, a grill is most likely not an option. This clever gadget absorbs the microwave's heat, so your food is being cooked on the grill — not the microwave. And with nonstick coating, you can enjoy all your favorite foods with less cleanup.
An air Fryer that also toasts
Cuisinart Air Fryer & Toaster Oven, $168, Amazon
In my own apartment, the kitchen (if you can even call it that) is so tiny I need to put the coffee pot on the floor if I want to use the toaster. This toaster oven with a built-in air fryer is a space-saving lifesaver. It bakes, broils and toasts, and the air fryer part makes air-fried foods like wings and breaded shrimp. Since a toaster oven stays on the countertop, this fryer won't need to move back and forth, making life just a little bit easier.
Storage bags that can do many jobs
Stasher Reusable Food Storage Bag, $12, Amazon
A must-have for a tiny space, this reusable storage bag is one you can use for cooking, freezing, storing and throwing in the dishwasher. From meal prep to steaming and sous vide, this is a plastic-free kitchen, home and TSA-approved travel storage hero. Plus, it can handle up to 400 degrees in the oven.
A Storage ottoman
Safavieh Madison Storage Ottoman, $101, Amazon
Sure, you'd like to have cute vintage end tables, but excess furniture is not really an option in a small apartment. Every piece of furniture must also have some sort of storage. This ottoman has space to store shoes, books, DVDs, remotes and unnecessary cords. But to the naked eye, it looks like a snazzy modern leather ottoman for propping your feet or using as a seat.
A kitchen utility cart
3-Tier Chrome Utility Kitchen Cart, $63, Lowe’s
You have stuff to store, regardless of the space you (don't) have to store it. A utility kitchen cart can be so useful, because it rolls wherever you need it. It can also be your bar cart. This one has a bamboo cutting board (it’s even removable!), towel rack, storage bin and shelving unit. It’s also the perfect spot for your coffee pot or microwave — or all the snacks you need to roll out at a party.
Espro P5 French Press, $60, Amazon
When you think French press, you think coffee and that's it. But French presses also make tea and cold brew. This one has a separate filter just for tea (that's small and easy to store).
Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam Handheld Steamer, $56, Target
A steamer is a great way to quickly iron out wrinkles on clothing, but it can also be used to sanitize pillows or pet beds, and straighten out curtains, pillows and sheets. Huge garment steamers take up way too much space, and a lot of the smaller ones are leaky and make a mess. This one has a 1,550-watt steam generator, so it gets hotter faster. It can be used on everything from fabric to upholstery to clothing (since obviously there's no room in my bathroom to be hanging anything for long!).
A sheet pan
Chicago Metallic Commercial II Uncoated Large Jelly Roll Pan, $17, Amazon
A sheet pan is a must-have, because you can make entire meals with just one pan, including breakfast (frittata, quiches, breakfast bars), lunch (chicken and veggies, roasted veggies), dinner (steak fajitas, meatloaf, potatoes and broccoli) and dessert (cookies, cookie bars, jelly rolls, cakes). You can also reheat leftovers using just this one pan.
A pasta server that does so much more
Sagaform Stainless Steel Multifunction Pasta Server, $16, Amazon
Like many single people who live alone, I make a lot of pasta. This tool has changed my life, because it's one gadget that can grate cheese, measure dry pasta and even be used to serve.
OXO Good Grips Zester and Grater, $10, Amazon
This is really the little tool that does everything. I use it to grate garlic or ginger, but also things like cheese and potatoes, and to zest citrus. It's also a fun way to add chocolate shavings to desserts.
A couch for a small apartment
Gjemeni Couch, $999,Coddle
I’ve lived in my apartment for 10 years, and I spent the first seven without a couch. When I finally got one, it changed everything. If I ever upgrade to a new one, this couch has the ability to transform into more than a dozen positions (it can even replace your bed!), has four USB ports and two 110-volt sockets, and is made of stain-resistant leather. Why does this matter? If you live in a tiny apartment, chances are you don’t have a desk and also a couch. You’ll be eating your lunch and working on that couch, and also using it to relax at the end of the day.
For more products to make living in small spaces easier, check out:
- 14 new products that will make organizing easier
- 10 things to help organize your fridge, bathroom and entryway
- How to organize a closet