Having a small kitchen can feel limiting, but with some clever organization hacks and storage solutions, you can maximize every inch of space.
The key is to thoroughly edit and consolidate what you keep in your kitchen, install smart storage options, utilize all vertical and corner spaces, and maintain organization habits to keep your kitchen looking neat and spacious.
The kitchen can be one of the most cluttered rooms, with kitchen utensils, appliances, and accessories taking up valuable kitchen counter space.
I really dislike my counter from being crowded, I’m quite a messy chef, so I prefer to have them clear.
How to Organize a Small Kitchen
But how do you achieve this when you have a small kitchen and very little storage space? Let’s have a look at how to organize a small kitchen, focusing on using every inch of available space, whilst enhancing your kitchen design.
1. Understanding Your Small Kitchen Space
Before we look at organization ideas for a small kitchen, we need to take a look at the space available. Measure your kitchen’s dimensions and take note of existing storage areas, such as cabinets, drawers, and shelves.
Understanding the physical layout and storage capacity of your small kitchen will help you make informed decisions about organizing and storing your kitchen essentials.
2. Do a Kitchen Cleanout
Next, you need to do a thorough cleanout. Get rid of any duplicate items, unused small appliances, chipped dishes, expired spices and food, etc. Be ruthless in your editing – if you haven’t used something in over a year, toss it or donate it.
For items you’re uncertain about keeping, box them up and store them elsewhere for a few months. If you don’t end up needing those items, get rid of them. This editing will create more storage space for daily essentials.
3. Zoning Your Kitchen
Even with lots of storage solutions, a cramped galley kitchen can still feel messy and disorganized if items are spread out everywhere with no logic.
Divide your kitchen into distinct zones based on the tasks you perform there, such as food preparation, cooking, baking, and cleaning. This zoning approach allows you to store items where they are most needed and used, minimizing movement and saving time.
- Preparation Zone: Keep cutting boards, knives, mixing bowls, and measuring cups near your primary workspace.
- Cooking Zone: Store pots, pans, spatulas, and other cooking tools near the stove or cooktop.
- Baking Zone: If you bake frequently, designate a space for baking sheets, mixing bowls, measuring spoons, and ingredients like flour and sugar.
- Cleaning Zone: Keep dish soap, sponges, and cleaning supplies under the sink for easy access.
4. Invest in Storage Furniture and Organizers
Carefully chosen storage solutions such as furniture and organizers are must-haves for small kitchens. Some top items include:
- Kitchen cart for extra storage and counter space. Look for ones with shelves, drawers, towel racks, and spice racks to consolidate items. This has to be one of my favorite storage items for a kitchen, especially if you get one on wheels. You can then move it to where you need it to be, providing easy access to vegetables and accessories.
- Wall-mounted pot racks and utensil racks to free up drawer and cabinet space.
- Shelf risers to double your cabinet storage space.
- Sliding shelves, pull-out cabinets, and lazy susans to access items in deep cabinets.
- Under-sink pull-out caddies for cleaning supplies and trash bags.
- Install hooks or small racks inside cabinet doors for extra storage for items like measuring cups, pot lids, or cleaning tools.
- Over the door hooks and racks for everything from pans to oven mitts.
- Employ drawer organizers or dividers to keep utensils and small items tidy.
5. Take Advantage of Vertical Space
In small kitchens, vertical space is prime real estate and can make a big difference in storage capacity.
Install shelving on the walls for frequently used items you want in reach. Mount spice racks, knife blocks, utensil crocks, paper towel holders, and mason jar racks on the wall. You can also store bulk dry goods in clear OXO Pop Containers mounted with a rail system.
Think about using storage solutions that combine different uses. A kitchen roll dispenser, wall-mounted Film, Foil, and Paper Holder all in one is a good example! These are perfect on the side of cabinets or under kitchen cabinets.
6. Maximize Corner Cabinets
Corner cabinets and their awkward angles can lead to wasted space if not used properly. Use corner organizers or lazy susans for food items, plates, or pots and pans. You can also install vertical racks and shelves specially designed to optimize corner cabinets.
Most kitchen cabinet companies have pull-out corner storage drawers, so invest in a few of these for easy access to your kitchen items. Keep supplies you only occasionally need, like large roasting pans, in hard-to-access corner areas.
7. Pull-Out Pantry Cabinets
When we moved into our new house, the kitchen had a pull-out pantry cabinet and I couldn’t believe I’d never had one of these in my kitchen before! These are perfect if you have a particularly deep cupboard, but are also quite thin.
Essentially, a pull-out pantry is a tall, narrow cabinet outfitted with racks or shelves on rollers, which can be pulled out like a drawer. This design allows for easy visibility and reachability of items, eliminating the need to rummage through deep shelves or overhead cabinets.
8. Organize Drawers Strategically
Even the smallest drawers in a compact kitchen can hold essentials with the right drawer organizers.
Use cutlery trays, spice drawer inserts, knife blocks, divided bins, and other custom organizers to allot space. Designate one drawer for all food storage supplies like foil, bags, wraps, etc. Ensure you actually use organizers too – disorganized drawers defeat the purpose!
9. Invest in Multifunctional and Space-Saving Appliances
When space is at a premium, opt for appliances that serve multiple purposes or are designed to save space. Some examples include;
- A combination oven and microwave (which can free up counter space)
- A compact, slim-profile refrigerator
- Install an integrated sink, cutting board, and dish drainer to consolidate tasks in one area
- Install an all-in-one sink, faucet, and purification system
- Stovetop grill griddles offer an extra cooking surface right on your stovetop
- Mini food processor and hand blender that can be stored away
- A collapsible kettle
- Also, consider gadgets that can be mounted under cabinets, like can openers or coffee makers.
10. Store Less on Counters and Cabinets
For small kitchens to feel spacious, ensure countertops and cabinets aren’t overloaded. Maintaining clear countertops not only makes a kitchen look more organized but also ensures that you have plenty of space to work.
A good rule of thumb is to only store 1/3 of your total kitchen belongings in prime real estate like counters, lower cabinets, and drawers. Reserve the other 2/3 for wall mounts, overhead storage, under-sink organizers, pantry closets, the garage, basement storage, or other secondary kitchen areas.
Keep daily-use items easily accessible in prime storage zones.
11. Use Lids and Containers to Save Space
Using uniform containers and lids is an easy way to create more vertical storage space. For example, store flour, sugar, and rice in clear rectangular containers with airtight lids. This allows you to neatly stack items and still identify contents.
Invest in containers and lids that seal tightly and neatly stack for versatility. This works well for refrigerated goods too.
12. Embrace Multi-Purpose Furniture
We have already talked about carts on wheels to store food and utensils, but what else could you use in the kitchen?
An expandable dining table saves square footage until it’s mealtime. Look for a bar area or table that folds down when not entertaining.
Sideboard buffet cabinets can convert to extra counters and conceal small appliances. Make sure transformable pieces still offer adequate storage when folded up.
13. Reimagining Unused Spaces
Look for areas in your kitchen that are not being fully utilized:
- The sides of cabinets or the refrigerator can accommodate slim racks or magnetic spice jars.
- The space above the refrigerator is often overlooked but can be perfect for storing less frequently used items or large pots.
- Pull-out storage solutions can transform hard-to-reach corners of cabinets into accessible storage spaces.
14. Incorporate Nearby Living Spaces
Chances are your small kitchen already flows into an adjoining living room, dining area, or hallway. Fully utilize the perimeters of your kitchen by spreading organizational systems into these nearby spaces. For example;
- Tuck trash and recycling bins in a nearby closet.
- Store large platters and serving dishes in a corner hutch in the dining room.
- Use the top of stairway balusters as wine bottle storage.
- Place pet food stations and breakfast supplies in the hallway closet.
Thinking outside your kitchen’s physical footprint can help free up a lot of space.
15. Designate Dining Nook Storage
Many older homes and apartments come with quaint dining nooks that eat into overall kitchen square footage. You can gain storage space by turning nooks into mini custom pantries with built-ins or prefab cabinetry.
Look at installing bench seating with under-bench storage for table linens, placemats, and backup dinnerware. Above the dining banquet, mount cabinets for glassware, drink mixers, or barware that frees up other kitchen cabinets.
16. Fostering Good Habits
Organization is not a one-time task but an ongoing process. Make a habit of putting things back in their designated spots after use. Regularly reassess your kitchen’s organization and be prepared to adjust as your needs or the seasons change.
17. Purge Frequently and Mercilessly
Maintaining that just organized feeling in a small kitchen requires frequent purging, especially if you cook often. Set reminders to prune your kitchen every 3 months as seasons and recipes change. Some questions to ask while purging:
- Have I used this small appliance, pan, or baking dish in the last few months?
- Do I really need 4 different types of vinegar?
- Why do I still have single-serving condiment packets from takeout orders?
- Are these spices expired or almost empty?
- Why am I saving so many plastic grocery bags?
Be utterly merciless during these seasonal purges – space is precious in a small kitchen. Donate to food banks or thrift stores and toss or recycle anything even slightly questionable.
Use these purges as motivation to rethink your organizational schemes too – your systems may need a refresh to match current needs.
If you are looking to organize a small kitchen, there are many things you can do to maintain an efficient workflow.
With some smart storage hacks, routine purging, and continuously reassessing your needs, you can transform a formerly messy, overcrowded kitchen into a model of tidiness and comfort.
How can I organize my small kitchen without spending a lot of money?
Use DIY solutions like mason jars for storage, repurpose office organizers for utensils, and use tension rods to create additional shelving. Be creative with what you already have.
What’s the best way to organize pots and pans in a small kitchen?
Install a hanging pot rack, use a pegboard on the wall, or invest in stackable cookware with detachable handles. Consider pull-out cabinets or organizers for easier access.
Can I still have a pantry in a small kitchen?
Yes, consider a pull-out pantry cabinet, an over-the-door organizer for pantry items, or narrow shelving units that can fit into tight spaces to create a functional pantry area.
How do I deal with limited drawer space for utensils and cutlery?
Use drawer organizers to maximize space, hang utensils on hooks or bars, and consider countertop utensil holders for frequently used items to free up drawer space.
How can I make my small kitchen look bigger while organizing it?
Use light colors to reflect light and make the space appear larger, declutter countertops, and use transparent or open storage solutions to reduce visual clutter.
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I also use Artificial Intelligence Image generators to create some of my images. These are to show you examples of my ideas and inspiration when I cannot produce the real images myself.