Those of us from the U.S. have a certain culture when it comes to size. Growing up with a hundred cereal options and 64 oz. sodas and dually pickup trucks will basically ingrain a bigger is better mantra into your psyche.
I have no problem laughing off my obnoxious love of big American dryers and multiple bathrooms. But—and especially after living abroad—I can also acknowledge the perks of downsizing.
A good location was the most important factor when we picked a spot this summer. We were in Madrid, we wanted to be in the middle of everything! And like all cosmopolitan cities, apartment size will decrease the closer you get to the center.
Lucky for us we found a super apartment in an incredible neighborhood. It had just been remodeled and even had a teeny terrace. But when I showed people our kitchen, they couldn’t believe how small it was. In a tongue-in-cheek way, I couldn’t believe how small it was either. I was expecting to simply deal with the smaller space, but I kinda ended up falling in love with it too. Here’s why:
It looked good. When I think of European design I think modern, sleek, and minimal. It makes sense since apartments are typically smaller and clutter makes small spaces unbearable. Looking at the picture of the kitchen above, you can’t see any appliances. When your kitchen, dining table, and living area share one room, it’s important that this space has one cohesive look.
Cleanup was a snap. A little kitchen means there are fewer spots for splashes and crannies to catch crumbs. Even if I cleaned the backsplash and scrubbed the convection range, it took maybe ten minutes to whip everything into shape.
Everything had a purpose…or two. No one is going to have a panini press, donut maker and rice cooker in a kitchen with three little cabinets. And guess what, you probably don’t need all those either. In order to use a tiny space to the max, everything must have a seriously necessary function. Did you know an oven and microwave can be in the same machine? And that an immersion blender (with the proper little attachments) can do what a food processor, mixer, and regular blender can do? My mind was blown at the efficiency of our little kitchen.
It prevented accumulation. If you don’t have a place to put things, you can’t even bring them home. Living in a smaller space (and moving a lot) brought the freedom to say no. No to souvenirs, no to mindless shopping and no to more than we needed in the refrigerator. Once you begin to curb the impulse to accumulate, you realize how you didn’t need that much in the first place.
Before you roll your eyes that these kinds of kitchens are good in theory but not in practice let me tell you: the photo above is our actual teeny kitchen! Sure I could never throw a dinner party or cook a turkey, but it was perfect for weeknight dinners and lazy Saturday breakfasts.
What were your biggest adjustments when it came to your living space abroad? Please share your surprises in the comments below!