Everyone dreams of a minimalist kitchen. One that is always clean and tidy, where everything has its place. The design is simple and timeless.
Enter reality: you open the cupboard to get a container for leftovers and an avalanche of mismatched plastic lids and containers comes pouring out.
Take it from me, this does not have to be your reality anymore!
Whether you can afford a complete minimalist kitchen redesign or not, your kitchen can become more functional. With a few tips and an attitude for continuous improvement you can get there!
I believe the kitchen should 100% be designed for function over looks. What good is an aesthetically pleasing minimalist kitchen that doesn’t have the tools or layout you need to actually cook at home?
Even if you have an older kitchen or rent, streamlining and tweaking what you have will go a long way to making your minimalist kitchen dreams come true!
Whether you’re living with your current kitchen or planning a completely new minimalist kitchen design, I think it’s extremely important to start by minimizing your kitchen tools, organizing, and minimizing your food. After all, what’s the point of designing a kitchen that looks great but is still cluttered and dysfunctional as soon as you open the cupboard doors!?
That’s why I’ve started with kitchen organization tips and then move on to minimalist kitchen design tips. Read it all the way through, or skip ahead to the section you need to work on most:
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Minimalist Kitchen Essentials & Supplies
A minimalist kitchen is pared down to the essentials. Each kitchen tool needs to be used regularly. Ideally most kitchen items are able to be used in more than one way.
Purge single purpose items like cherry pitters, apple corers, avocado peelers, etc and use a knife like this instead.
See the complete Minimalist Kitchen Essentials: An inventory list of essential tools, utensils, & supplies or get a printable list here
- Minimalist Dinnerware. Only keep one type of dinnerware. You DON’T need special occasion dishes that only get used once or twice a year! Of the dinnerware you have, only keep on hand what you use regularly. You don’t need 12 place settings if you only ever entertain groups of 8.
- Multi tasking tools. Think: over the range microwave. Or using a knife instead of an apple corer.
- Minimalist utensils. Again, multi tasking, but also give the minimalist vibe by choosing them in one color scheme or materials like wood or metal
- Eliminate duplicate items. How many spatulas and tongs do you really need? One or two are enough for most families.
- Baking supplies. For example, do you really need 4+ types of cake pans? If you don’t bake a ton, keep one type of cake pan and choose recipes that use the cake pan you have, or borrow a cake pan for special occasions.
- Store rarely used/seasonal items elsewhere. If you have certain things you don’t use often but want to keep, don’t clutter your kitchen with them. Put them in the garage or at the back of a closet and take them out when you use them. This makes space in the kitchen for the things you use daily.
- Optimize your storage. Properly storing and organizing your belongings goes a long way in simplifying the function of you kitchen!
- Digitize cookbooks. Save tons of space by getting digital versions of your favorite cookbooks or better yet, only saving your favorite tried and true recipes.
- Minimalist storage containers. Have all your storage containers match and store the lid on the container or stack them if they’re stackable. Never waste time searching for lids again!
- Eliminate “one offs”. For example, that one mug you got as a gift. Unless it has a lot of meaning for you and you enjoy using it, don’t keep things out of guilt.
- Be honest with your cooking. Don’t be a wishful thinker in the kitchen. For example, buying a Kitchen Aid mixer to “inspire” yourself to bake more. If you don’t bake a lot already, buying new equipment is not going to create consistent habits. The functions of most specialty appliances like that can be done the traditional way without the added clutter!
Get these minimalist cookbooks for your Kindle!
Minimalist Kitchen Organization Tips
Keep the kitchen clean & tidy!
You can have the most minimalist kitchen, but it will never feel that way if the mess and clutter aren’t kept under control. Work towards a clutter free kitchen with these tips:
- Declutter. One of the best tips is to declutter unnecessary things from your kitchen. Even with a decluttered kitchen, things will still pile up and get overwhelming if you let them. Decluttering will minimize the number of things you have to clean and put away, but it won’t prevent messes entirely.
If you need some tips on decluttering, be sure to get the minimalist decluttering checklist below:
- Clutter free kitchen counters. Things on the counter cause visual clutter and make the space seem smaller. They also cause you to spend more time cleaning because you have to wipe around, under, & behind everything rather than simply wiping a flat counter and backsplash.
- Make sure everything has a home. When everything has a home it becomes much easier to put it away! If you don’t have room for it in your kitchen, it needs to go. This means the smaller your kitchen is, the more minimalist you need to be.
Make sure to check out this video where I describe how these tips help save you time in the kitchen. That’s me on the left!👇🏽
Minimalist pantry organization tips
- Keep like items together. For example, group all canned goods, all nuts & seeds, all spices with others of the same category
- Get rid of unused items. If your pantry is overstuffed with expired and stale food, it’s a huge drain on your time and mental energy. Try this mini pantry purge challenge to help you get started. It only takes 10 minutes!
- Keep commonly used items together. For example, keep your baking supplies or coffee making supples together instead of having to gather ingredients from multiple places
- Use clear storage containers. See-through containers help keep everything visually organized, plus it will help you easily see what you have when making a grocery list!
- Use baskets. I love baskets for making things easily accessible and to keep everything in it’s place. I have a basket like this just for small baking supplies (baking powder, baking soda, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, etc). When I’m baking I just take out the basket, use what I need, then put the whole thing back instead of having to take out each individual ingredient!
- Label your spices and storage containers. When you label the containers properly, not only will it look great, you’ll save a lot of time and frustration searching for what you need.
Get a pantry staples checklist to make sure you have the basics:
Minimalist food entails both your food choices and how you organize and store your food in your pantry, fridge and freezer.
Minimalist food is about keeping your food choices simple. You don’t need every kind of pasta at the same time! It’s also about choosing simple recipes and styles of cooking. Think: sheet pan meals or Instant Pot recipes.
Read more about minimalist food & eating a minimalist diet.
Keeping your food storage spaces organized is also super important!
One major tip to keep minimalist kitchen inventory in check is to practice the “first in, first out” rule. First in, first out (FIFO) is an organizational system used to ensure you eat your food before it spoils.
It’s really simple! Basically all you do is make sure to use up the older food before the newer food. For example, say you have an open bag of frozen peas and you just bought a new one. Make sure the open bag gets finished before the unopened one!
Another example might be to make sure to put the canned food with the shortest dates at the front, and the ones with longer dates in behind. When you go to grab some food, you will automatically reach for the ones that need to be eaten first! Learn more here.
Fridge organization tips
- Use clear storage containers. Keep leftovers in clear glass containers like these instead of leftover yogurt tubs. This way you can quickly see what’s inside without having to open all the lids every time!
- Prep ingredients rather than meals. Wash and chop veg, marinate meat, cook grains, or soak beans to be used for the next few days. Store them in the fridge for easy meals that come together in minutes to save time on busy work nights.
- Minimize your condiments. You don’t need 12 salad dressings, 8 dipping sauces, 6 hot sauces, and 3 mustards. There, I said it! Choose your favorites and keep only those on hand. Once the bottle is empty, replace it, or buy your next favorite choice to add variety.
Freezer organization tips
- Label everything. As much as you think you’ll remember what something is, most likely you’ll forget. With a bit of frost, a lentil curry doesn’t look much different from a butternut squash soup!
- Date everything. When freezing leftovers, adding the date in addition to labelling what it is, helps you eat up the older stuff first (remember first in, first out!)
- Freeze things flat. Freezing things like meat or leftovers in a freezer safe bag laid flat helps save SO much freezer space compared to freezing it in odd shaped lumps. This way they’ll stack together decently, take up less space, and naturally be more organized. I like using reusable silicone bags like these.
Read more freezer organization tips
Now that we’ve decluttered, minimized, and reorganized the stuff in our kitchen, it’s time to talk about designing your dream kitchen!
Minimalist Kitchen Design
We often think of a minimalist kitchen as a modern minimalist aesthetic style. While that may be the case, minimalism has come a long way and morphed to combine gorgeous other home decor styles including cozy minimalism, bohemian minimalism, eco-minimalism, frugal minimalism, Scandinavian minimalism.
In the kitchen, this can result in a variety of design choices! The basis is the same for each though: simple, clean lines, reduced clutter, intentionality.
Obviously there is no one right choice for minimalist kitchen design. Choose what suits your functional needs, your style and your budget!
If you don’t already have your dream kitchen, you may wonder, how can I make my kitchen minimalist without completely redoing it?
But don’t feel like you can’t have a minimalist kitchen without doing a renovation! You can make small aesthetic changes that will make a huge difference or even if you rent and literally can’t change anything about the permanent fixtures of your kitchen, definitely still make some of the other changes listed!
Minimalist kitchen designs can vary a lot based on your style and budget. Overall, all minimalist kitchens prioritize simplicity, functionality, and clean lines.
You’re not going to see a shelf of tchotchkes in a minimalist kitchen!
Minimalist cabinets universally have clean lines. Flat or simple inset shaker style designs are common. Open shelving are also common, especially in scandi, cozy, and boho minimalist kitchens.
Hardware like drawer and cabinet pulls will also have clean lines. A modern minimalist might go with some sharp squared off pulls, while other minimalist styles might be more flexible with their pull design. Designs without hardware are also popular.
A huge benefit of these designs, besides the beautiful look, is that it is much easier to clean simple lines rather than ornate details!
A minimalist kitchen faucet can actually make a huge difference in the overall feel and functionality of the kitchen.
If you’re looking to upgrade yours, look for a faucet with clean lines and a single lever rather than dual hot and cold controls.
Touchless faucets are also insanely helpful to have in the kitchen. They make hand washing a breeze and reduce the cleanup (no more wiping greasy fingerprints off the stainless steel!)
Any material will do, but single materials are more minimalist than mixed. Choose one in the same material as drawer pulls and lighting.
See below, the faucet on the left is quite minimalistic, while the one on the right is not.
Lighting in a kitchen is always insanely important. You need great lighting to make your kitchen a useful workspace.
Start with pot lights, and add featured workspace lighting in the form of pendants over an island and under cabinet lighting so your key workspaces are well lit.
Also don’t underestimate the power of natural lighting! Remove heavy curtains on any kitchen windows and let the light shine in! If privacy is an issue, add a bottom-up blind or privacy film so you still let light in but block out prying eyes.
Islands are multi-purpose, a tenant of minimalist design! Kitchen islands can help add valuable work space and additional storage in your kitchen. They’re also great for adding additional seating without taking up a lot of floor space.
An island is a great option for many smaller kitchen spaces when they are used as both prep space and dining space!
Keep the design minimalist by making sure the island is in scale with the size of your kitchen. Leave at least 42-48 inches of space around the island to be able to comfortably walk around.
Leave an overhang if you’re incorporating a seating area and choose minimalist kitchen stools that neatly tuck under.
- Keep fewer small appliances. Even though they’re small, small appliances tend to take up a lot of room in the kitchen! Get rid of any you don’t use regularly.
- Choose multipurpose appliances. For any appliances you do choose to keep, make sure they serve more than one purpose! Instead of having a waffle maker, a panini press and a grill, save space get one that does all 3 functions!
- Choose appliances with minimalist function. When you’re buying new appliances, choose ones with the features you need, not extra features you’ll never need. For example, don’t get a fridge with a built in ice maker if you hardly ever use ice. It’s just an extra feature to pay for and another thing that could go wrong! Plus ice makers take up a lot of freezer space!
- Choose appliances with minimalist design. Least importantly of all the factors is the design. Keep it minimal by choosing appliances with smooth surfaces (think flat top stove vs coil) and easy care materials. If you must have a water dispenser in your fridge, consider one that dispenses from the inside instead of from the fridge door to maintain the sleek look of your fridge.
Minimalist Color Palette
Having a cohesive color palette goes a long way in creating a minimalist feeling. Traditionally, minimalist color palettes are neutrals like white, grey, black, and beige with accents of wood and metal.
With more modern adaptations of minimalist styles color is often incorporated. The key to keeping the color scheme minimalist is to choose one main accent color and keep the rest neutral. Another tip is to choose more muted colors in similar shades rather than bold, opposite colors.
Basically a minimalist color palette is serene and pleasing to the eye rather than hugely eye catching, bright, and bold.
The most minimalist plants for the kitchen are potted herbs! They are both functional and cute so you really can’t go wrong! You can even regrow your own green onions and celery in just water!
Minimalist Dining Room Furniture
The dining room is often part of the kitchen and certainly adds to the feeling of minimalism. Make sure to choose a minimalist kitchen table, dining chairs and bar stools that compliment your kitchen aesthetic and function well!
The perfect minimalist table can vary depending on your style.
Glass-top tables are popular as they visually seem lighter and cleaner than solid materials. Scandi or boho minimalists are more likely to choose wood tables.
Rectangular tables tend to feel more minimalist than other shapes as they seat the most number of people for the least amount of floor space. Obviously you’ll need to choose what best fits in your space.
It’s always a good idea to choose a table that folds down to a smaller size so you can accommodate company, but enjoy the extra space when it’s just your family at home.
Keep the table clear at all times. If you like a boho, eco, or cozy minimalist home, a potted plant is a great simple accent. Do away with extravagant place settings, table cloths and centerpieces.
Minimalist dining chairs should definitely coordinate with the table, but they don’t have to come from a matching set of table and chairs as long as they have a similar vibe.
Eclectic, mismatched chairs don’t give the right vibe in your minimalist dining room so avoid that.
Midcentury styles are a great choice because they have simple, clean, timeless lines.
If you’re using an island with a seating area, choose bar stools that tuck under the overhang. That way they won’t take up any addition floor space and are visually out of sight!
You often see credenzas, sideboards, china cabinets, or shelving units in the kitchen.
Wherever possible, reduce the things you have so you have less need of additional pieces of furniture. You likely don’t need a china cabinet if you don’t have fancy china!
One set of multifunctional dinnerware that can be dressed up or down for multiple occasions is all you need. This is my favorite minimalist dinnerware.
If you have a small kitchen and an additional piece of minimalist furniture in the dining room is needed for storage, choose a simple, functional piece.
Whether you’re designing a brand new kitchen, updating a few things, or simply decluttering and organizing your current kitchen, I hope you found some ideas you can use right away!
Please let me know which minimalistic kitchen tip you found the most helpful by leaving a comment below!