Smart Design from a Petite Venetian Kitchen

We packed our stuff to come stay in Venice for a couple of weeks, and it is gorgeous! I can’t cross a bridge without wanting to take a picture, but I know you’ve seen photos of the canals, so what I want to show you today is the kitchen in our apartment and its clever use of space.

We’re staying in the quiet Dorsoduro district of Venice, and the grocery store is a five-minute walk away. The food is fresh, and with the exception of a slice of artichoke pizza for me, we mostly eat meals at home. What I like best about this kitchen is that it has exactly what we need without a lot of the extras to take up space.

The primary work surface is the white table in a semi-circle shape that makes it easy to work around, and it can be folded down when not needed. Next to it is a tray table on wheels that you can move where you need it to be. The tray lifts out to help carry food and drinks into the dining room, and the shelf under the tray holds our pots and pans. I love that burled wood design on the tray.

Above the work table is the cabinet for our food.

Instead of cabinet doors that would swing wide open, a curtain keeps everything clean and covered. This way Doug doesn’t knock his head every time I would leave the cabinet doors open. I also like how it can easily be changed to update the kitchen.

We have a half-size oven, and beside the oven is our tiny Candy Aquamatic washing machine. The washer will hold a lot more than you’d expect, and it’s very quiet.

Above the oven is the stove with only three burners, and it has a hinged cover that is brilliant. Set the cover down and you have more work space. Lift the cover up and it is a backsplash.

I have lived in so many apartments that don’t have a backsplash that I am always happy to see one.

The chef is very busy, and I am bothering him by taking pictures.

This apartment comes with white dishes and glasses. I never get tired of white dishes and how they go with everything.

I like how the dish rack goes right over the sink.

Clean dishes are put away on the shelves next to the kitchen entrance. The shelves are built into the wall with a curtain cover. The curtain hangs on a rod and can be removed and cleaned if necessary. It helps to cover some of the visual clutter that you would see when you first walk in.

We have a microwave and small fridge. One more cabinet holds the big bowls.

In our last apartment we had a dorm-sized fridge under the counter, so this one is an ideal size, but I became so used to the smaller one that this one is practically empty now. I don’t know what I’ll do with a really big fridge again.

With the windows open we can hear the church bells that ring every hour, and the weather is nice enough so that we can eat outside.

Hope you enjoyed the tour! Have you been to Venice?

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. Looks great. When you have a chance it would be great to see a weekly menu. Is it easy to find cheap rentals? Look nicer than staying in a hotel.

    • We had to look a little while to find it. It’s not cheap to stay here, but we do save money by not eating out in restaurants, and we didn’t have airfare to consider, we just took the train.

  2. Absolutely beautiful. I love the idea of the dish rack above the sink and the fold down table work surface.
    Allyson @ a Heart for Home´s last post…Endless Gifts

  3. I love it! What a cozy, darling kitchen…thank you for sharing.

  4. You’ve got such a lovely place! Although I’ve seen a lot of Italy, I’ve never been to Venice. But it’s not far from here, so I’m able to visit it during a weekend. Enjoy your time there :D
    Maaike Quinn @ A Gorgeous Life´s last post…The Paradox of Perfection Part I Or- How Empedocles Made Sure You Can’t Be Perfect

  5. Very creative use of space! I love white dishes too. They do go with everything, and just look nice!
    Emily Joyce´s last post…Find Your Style Personality Giveaway!

  6. That ‘tiny-kitchen-envy’ is just how I feel whenever we travel, and stay in a condo or suite. I always notice how sparse the kitchen’s are, gadget-wise, and yet everything you need is right there! I like the idea of the washer in the kitchen. Do you then hang your clothes to dry outside?
    Root And Twig´s last post…Lately

  7. What a sweet little kitchen! It does seem well thought out and efficient. I love that you showed us everything – I like seeing it all!!
    I have visited Venice – once eleven years ago, as part of a long european tour. We spent one day there – visiting St. Marks, a Murano glass factory and were heading toward a gonodola ride when a tremendous thunderstorm hit and we had to spend the rest of the day huddling and seeking shelter with thousands of tourists and residents under the arcades of St Mark’s Square. It turned bitterly cold and we were so wet and uncomfortable but for all that, I still remember Venice very fondly as so dramatically beautiful and romantic. I would love to go there again.
    Please continue to share more with us of your time there!!

  8. Thanks for the tour! Loved the fold-down table/work-space. What a great idea. I traveled to Venice when I was in high school. The memory is forever immortalized on our Christmas tree, which boasts a delicate glass gondola…being steered by Santa Claus!
    Kate´s last post…How to Cook While Kid-Wrangling

  9. A beautifully efficient kitchen, love it! Only one problem for shorties like me – the dish rack above the sink. I’m sure it would end badly with something falling on my head as I struggle to heft it up there!

    Thanks for sharing it all with us.

  10. I MUST get to Italy. Post all the pics you want!

  11. Venice is a stunning city – I was able to visit 7 years ago and I would love to go back! I love the small kitchen and its clever use of space.

  12. Simple + Efficient + Uncluttered = Easy (easier, anyway!) I long for that….

  13. i’ve been spending a lot of time recently searching for an apartment in toronto, with what will probably be a much smaller kitchen than what we have now. it’s lovely to see all these space-saving ideas (curtains instead of cupboard doors, dish rack over the sink) that actually work! what a beautiful use of a small space.
    meg watkins´s last post…happy monday!

    • Carolina says:

      When I was a kid a lot of older kitchens had the dish rack in a cupboard over the sink. The cupboard had no bottom so the dishes dripped straight down into the sink. You just closed the doors and no one could see the mess in there. And for everyday use you never had to empty the rack, you just took your dishes straight from it, a bit like kitchens with two dishwashers nowadays. You can’t be height challenged though ;-)

  14. Denise C. says:

    Beautiful! Never been to Venice, I’d love to go someday! :)

  15. Thanks for sharing. As a kitchen designer in the US, I love to see European kitchens that get the job done in such small spaces. As for Venice, been there & loved it. I always find my mind drifting back to Italy whenever I have a quiet sunny day.

  16. Last October I spent a few days in Venice on the way to Greece and absolutely fell in love with the people and the city. You will love your time there. Italian design is absolutely fantastic and your kitchen is exhibit A. I so miss Venice and the hourly church bells. Enjoy your “bella cucina!” And don’t forget to have an espresso at Cafe Florian in San Marco Piazzo, the oldest cafe in Europe. Well worth the expense and an amazing people watching center. Ciao!

  17. YES! I’ve been there! L-O-V-E-D it! I ate gelato every. single. day. :)
    heidi @ wonder woman wannabe´s last post…Interview with a Blogger – Shell of Things I Cant Say

    • I think that just might be a vacation requirement. As are pain au chocolat in France. ;)

  18. How cute! And you can totally post pictures of canals, I won’t mind–Venice is the place I want to go the most! I’ve read all of Donna Leon’s books (mysteries set in Venice) and I’ve been having Venice travel envy for several years now…

  19. Thanks for sharing Rachel! I’d like to visit Venice someday:-)
    Vanessa´s last post…Thai and Filipino Food!!

  20. Bathroom tour? :)

  21. We stayed in Rome for a couple of weeks a few years ago and popped to Venice for the weekend on the train… Loved it… loved the fresh market on the canal… we walked there to eat fresh fruit almost every meal!!! I love having a peek inside a Venetian house, everything is so carefully thought out!!! We stayed in a gorgeous hotel – beautiful high ceilings, lovely crispy linen, watching gondolas float by a beneath our window!!! I wish I had taken more photographs of the shop windows… all the pretty lace and the masks and the beautiful glass. Oh lovely!!! Hope you have a lot of fun and make heaps of memories!!!

  22. So lovely and so well thought out. And thumbs up to the chef!

  23. Oh how I love Italy!!! I spent a semester in Florence during my college years and spent 4 of those days in Venice on fall break. Completely fell in love – it really is the most romantic and charming place I have ever been. Enjoy it!

  24. How quaint! I’ve been to Venice, but have only ever seen the the normal, touristy things. Never inside an apartment. I love how thoughtfully places everything is – makes it seem like it isn’t cramped or lacking space.

  25. Such a cute little kitchen! I love the compactness and no frills aspect of living, the simplicity. I also love how you guys didn’t just stay in Florence, but visiting other cities as well! Hubby and I would love to travel around a month at a time!
    Love following you!
    Living the Balanced Life´s last post…Does having less stuff make life easier

  26. That size kitchen would send me running for the hills but the design of the kitchen looks user friendly. I particularly like the recessed shelved areas, smart use of space. Thanks for the tour.
    How long is your stay in Italy?
    Tracy´s last post…SUMMER SALE

  27. i have never been to venice, but i would love to go. i love the look of that kitchen. such a smart use of a small space.
    Charis´s last post…consumed

  28. Beautiful! We spent 4 weeks in Italy last June. My FIL rented a villa just outside of Sienna and we stayed put for 4 weeks. During that time we drove to Venice with another couple and stayed for a few days. Lucky for us my DH and I have been a few times. We found a great place to stay through Trip Advisor, which we now use for everything. We are a family of 4 so we can see how other families did, issues that came up or great tips.

    We loved Venice because its so beautiful, you can just walk and walk, and really it didn’t matter for us because each restaurant we chose was wonderful. I took lots of photos too.

    Enjoy. x

  29. I LOVED this tour, especially the drying rack above the sink and the clever hinged top on the stove. Thank you for posting this!
    Marilyn´s last post…Swimming in New Waters

  30. I love it! Ingenuity at its best! Wish I could incorporate some of those ideas into our kitchen but our landlords might not be too please, lol!
    I got to spend 10 days in Venice in 2005 and loved it. My husband was actually just asking me what my favorite thing was the other day, and I said it was that you could intentionally get lost…and always find your way back because at some point you hit water! I got to spend my 21st birthday on Murano sharing a bottle of Chianti with good friends. St Mark’s square…hearing the Four Seasons being rehearsed on a hot afternoon…and pizza. I never got enough margarita pizza. Such good memories!
    Kait Palmer´s last post…Bento Baby Girl Quilt!

  31. I loved seeing every inch of this kitchen…and in Venice no less. It’s very thoughtfully planned out.

  32. I so love Venice…I wasn’t there nearly long enough and I would LOVE to go back. Thanks for telling us about your Venetian kitchen…I hope you’ll be telling us more about that apartment and the trip, too. =)
    Kristen@PrettySweet´s last post…Tea Party Menu

  33. Bobbi Jo says:

    What a great tour! Yes, we’ve been to Venice and loved it. We actually were stranded there when the Icelandic volcano erupted about a year ago and all the flights within Europe were cancelled. Obviously we didn’t mind. :)

  34. What a wonderful kitchen! It’s cute, cozy, and I especially like all the space-saving ideas. How nice to hear the church bells too!
    Bonita´s last post…The Test of Great Writing

  35. My kitchen is surely small but very functional! I have seen these type small kitchens in Mumbai India, where space is premium. I love the macho picture of chef doug! You all seemed to be enjoying the time there! :-)

    Make me want to travel, I have but staying in hotel vs. apartment has its differences.

    Zengirl @ Heart and Mind´s last post…Life Lessons- A Free ebook from 108 Bloggers

  36. This is great – I love seeing every detail.

    As an aside, we made a big decision this weekend – we’re a soon to be family of four, currently living in a two bed flat. We had thought of moving to a house but we’ve decided instead to save the money and stay where we are. We’re going to have to have a radical rethink about the way we live (we keep a lot of stuff thinking we’ll need it “when we live in a house”) but we are both so excited about it! I’ve already been scouring your archives for inspiration!

  37. I love Venice. Especially the little back streets. The San Marco is beautiful, but wandering around all those little streets and bridges gives a real Venetian feel. It has been years since I’ve been there. It’s about time to return again soon!
    Karin´s last post…Cherry Blossoms

  38. Loved the tour! I especially liked that you adjusted to a small frig. We are going to be downsizing the frig in our house when we renovate this year. I hate how much space a regular frig uses. We have a large kitchen but it must double as our dining room.

  39. Bella Venezia! I’ve been twice but never in Spring – but I hear that’s the nicest time to go. Have you been to the Rialto Markets yet?

  40. What an awesome kitchen! I love the mini washing machine. I recently got a similar one for my apartment after being fed up with giving my weekends away to the laundromat. But do you find that you accumulate lint on the clothes without ever using the dryer? I haven’t found a solution to that problem yet.
    Kari´s last post…The Art of Classroom Management

  41. Glorious!!!

    But much of this is made possible by having fresh food, only a 5 min. walk away.

    And lucky you are, to be experiencing all of this!!!

    Gentle hugs…

  42. I have been to Venice once, when I was in college. I had a fabulous time. I would love to go back with my husband sometime, though – he’s never been. Do you think you’ll splurge on a gondola ride while you’re there?
    Amy´s last post…Week in a Day!!!

  43. Wow, this is an absolutely incredibly efficient use of the space. I could get along quite well with a kitchen like this one.
    Joseph´s last post…Sleek Onyx Black Glass Bathroom Designs from Stemik Living

  44. I have never been anywhere, and the ideas of hearing church bells from my window sounds like heaven!

  45. If I could duplicate that kitchen in my own home, I would! It’s so resourceful:) I may borrow some ideas about the shelves/cupboards covered in curtains instead of w/ doors.
    Joylynn´s last post…Whats a girl to write about

  46. I’ve never been, but Venice is one place I sure would like to visit. Are you living in a place with water underneath it? Sure would like to see some photos of your walks around the neighborhood and the outside of your building, if you could.

    That is such a cute, but efficient kitchen. I like the really high wood beamed ceiling with the spotlights. It is a very quaint and cozy looking space.

    Also, would like to see other parts of your new home away home — to see if they can compare.

  47. Never been, would love to though. I love the kitchen sink. I have one just like it actually. My question is the stove and the washer being next to each other. I thinking you don’t use both at the same time, because I would think the heat from the oven would cause some motor issues. Just thinking out loud, but wondering how that works out for you?
    Anita´s last post…Italiano Yum

  48. Small kitchens, well-designed, really do show you the power of “less is more”, don’t they? Thank you for sharing!
    Maggie @ Maggie’s Nest´s last post…A Melange of Moments

  49. Definitely mise en place! Love it – a place for everything. Thanks so much for sharing! :)
    Paula@Simply Sandwich´s last post…Ear Plugs Plueeeze

  50. I lived in Venice for a few months, in an apartment in grad school. It inspired me to learn how to make pasta from scratch. I have since returned to visit – it is such an amazing place. Spend time getting lost in the streets, take a bike ride on Lido, visit some wine shops – you bring the container and they fill it up (loved this local feel) – about $2 per bottle!

  51. When we built our house in Colorado, I wanted a dish drying unit over the sink. Couldn’t find one in the local home improvement stores, so I called a cabinet specialist company. They guy there told me he had never seen such a thing and that I was crazy. I gave up. Wish I knew then, what I know now, and hadn’t given up so easily. Your little efficient kitchen proves what a good, sensible idea it was – certainly not crazy, and very practical. Thank you for your posts, and your example of a quiet life.
    MAUREEN´s last post…An Impressive Bird

  52. Now we know all about Italian kitchens and grocery shopping, how enlightening :/

  53. Oh by the way — your cute little one is growing and the Mr. there is cooking and still getting his macho on ;)

  54. Laurie V says:

    Awesome dish rack above the sink- reminds me of the drying racks you see in high school science labs. Smart idea!

  55. functional is what that kitchen is and what every kitchen should be.
    i traveled to venice in 1983. absolutely loved it! hope to see pictures from you to relive my memories by :)
    nancy´s last post…prom 2011

  56. ooooh, thank you for the tour! I just love this kind of domestic detail and WOW that is a clever little kitchen. Small spaces take real thought and innovation (reminds me of the book, The Not So Big House by Sarah Susanka – my husband is an architect who introduced me to this concept; maybe you have heard of it? it’s great for anyone who wants to live well in tight quarters)
    Margo´s last post…hot dogs- fries- a chocolate shake – Dodger needs a potty break

  57. Absolutely love it!

  58. I was blessed to be able to spend a semester studying abroad in Italy during college and have been back to Italy twice since. I have been to Venice 4 times. Wow, that makes me just count my blessings to even type that. I loved wandering around there and just getting lost. One of my favorite memories is of wandering into this courtyard that was surrounded by homes (apts.) and there was a metal chandelier type thing hanging in the middle and ribbon type streamers making a “tent” of the whole courtyard. It was magical to me. Enjoy your stay! Kelly
    Kelly´s last post…tulip cradles

  59. I have been to Venice several times—I actually live about an hour west of Venice, by train, we’ve been here for a year. I live in the Pordenone area with my husband and 6 month old son. Great blog, I discovered it today and am enjoying perusing :)

  60. Forgot to add that my kitchen is about the same size…just slightly smaller :) I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself in an American-sized kitchen when we head back to the states!

  61. Well, very practical.
    I visited Argentina a year ago, and stayed for a month in a small apartment. The kitchen was one single space with the living room, and had no working table, besides a small area at the right of the sink.
    We ate lunch, mostly on restaurants, so we only had to use it for breakfasts and dinners, so we could cope with it.
    Bottom line: no place like home…. :-)

    Mountain bikes – Man on wheels

  62. In the midst of my current apartment hunt, I keep thinking about the ingenuity of the wall-mounted dish rack. I love how everything in this kitchen feels just within reach.
    SC Ramsey´s last post…Employment Application- College Education Preferred

  63. I really love this post. It’s such a great reminder about what we really NEED. And it’s so much less that we usually think.

  64. I lived in Vicenza Italy for three years and have visited Venice countless times and love it every time, though I never got to see inside the houses. Thank you for this post. I love it. This is exactly what I want my kitchen to be like. I love the efficiency of European living.