As seemingly perpetual renters, we've seen our share of gross and really, really small kitchens. I absolutely love the kitchen we are in now...not that it is everything I want in a kitchen, but in that everything works and isn't falling apart. It makes a big difference! An organized space makes it a better space, too. Want to see how I make our small space work for a busy family? For me, it is all about designating work stations. This applies in any size kitchen, but it is particularly important in small spaces. The first thing we had going for us was a great working triangle- I'm all about the least movement possible while preparing food with kids underfoot.
Most of our time in the kitchen is spent over here, at the "cooking station," although we never refer to it like that in real life. We're not that weird. We have our pots, pans, utensils, and stove all in the same spot.
When I am feeling particularly domestic (read: rarely), I concentrate my efforts in the corner "Baking station" where my mixer is. My cupboards may not be the most organized, but it has everything I need to whip up a batch of cookies or muffins in that space.
Then, since I don't want to deprive other members of our household from fun things like unloading dishwashers or setting tables, I have a drawer designated for kid dishes. Everything is non-breakable, and they can reach everything themselves. The dishwasher next to it makes unloading their stuff easy enough for them to do it.
At the end of the kitchen is our very large pantry. Considering this is the only pantry we've had in 6 different apartments, of course. I've tried to organize that space too according to food purpose.
You'll notice I haven't been grocery shopping in a while; I have an aversion to it. Anyway, one of the bummer things about our kitchen (and any closets in the condo) are the cheap shelving. But it works ok, I deal. It is convenient for me to velcro on my grocery bag holder (far left) through the holes, but I have food stuff fall through all the time. In an attempt to remedy this problem for free, I have been using boxes and flats from stores to hold my dry goods. I've even wrapped some in wrapping paper to make them less of an eyesore. The pantry extends far to the right, so I store extra stuff in there. Like the ever-important caffeine-free Dr. Pepper.
I do have a lot of baking dishes, but those are stored in the kitchen's larger extension: the dining area. This has the only touch of traditional in our place, and I know you modern DIY'ers are screaming for me to paint it or something! I hate to disappoint, but it belongs to someone else, so... traditional it is.
The reason why I love my traditional hutch so is because it houses my Pyrex collection. A small and comparitively unimpressive collection, but it makes food taste better. I swear. I'd remove the doors on the hutch, but that is also a no-go because of small and curious people around our place.
This part of our eating experience also is home to my most fun DIY project I've done: utensil art. Just painted MDF with forks, knives, and spoons glued on. With a no-paint policy, I needed color somewhere, and this was a great way to get a lot of color with a lot of personality in our small space. Whenever people come over for the first time they always have to go up and touch it- I love it!
My kitchen is actually the home of a bazillion of my own DIY projects, mostly sewing. It is the room I can physically change the least, so I add my own textile touches instead. They are currently all in need of laundering, of course, since I do laundry almost as often as I go grocery shopping.
Conclusion: Keeping things organized and in specific "stations" helps eliminate small space frustrations that I have experienced time and time again. I'm sure my kitchen is double the size of many out there, but the theory is the same. I learned early to get rid of all those kitchen-ish wedding gifts that weren't used enough to take up valuable space, and I'm picky on what I buy to add to our kitchen cupboards and counters. It has really made our small kitchen have a big impact.