50+ clever ideas to organize a small kitchen to free up so much space
March 29th, 2019
Contributor at Shareably
For some people, the kitchen is a zen place where they can experiment to their heart’s content – pour some wine, throw on some music, and start chopping your day away. For others, it’s a place full of mess and obligation – clutter everywhere, hungry mouths to feed, constant spills to clean.
No matter which type you are, the kitchen is probably still the heart of your home, so why not make it as easy to use (and to look at) as possible by getting things organized?
If you’re like me, sometimes you think the only way to improve the room is to have someone come in, rip everything out, and start over. But if that’s not in the cards, try some of these 55 ideas to help get your kitchen in order no matter what its size or current state.
1. File it away
Use file folders to clear up the clutter under your kitchen cabinets. Good for more than just magazine storage, you can file away your cleaning supplies and keep them all lined up while reducing the risk of bottles falling over and leaking as well.
2. Roll it out
Even if you have enough storage space, chances are that items often end up way in the back of your cabinets, waiting to be discovered a decade later. Consider installing roll-out cabinets to make it easier to find and access your items.
3. Off to the side
The sides of cabinets can also be used as clever storage space. Attaching some shelves to this neglected space can give you an area to store either kitchen goods or decor.
4. Window herb garden
Putting herbs on your counter can take up precious real estate. Try installing a shelf in your kitchen window if your windowsill isn’t deep enough to hold pot. Then watch that food grow while saving money and space!
5. Noodle your drawers
Do you have deep drawers and encounter issues with your silverware holder sliding back and forth? Cut a pool noodle to fit your drawer and nestle it in the back. Now you won’t have to go digging for things in the knife drawer!
6. Organize your coffee pods
If you keep coffee pods around and enjoy different styles, a wine glass rack (for larger pods) or a set of plastic sliders (for espresso pods like this) can be a great way of keeping them organized and our of the way.
7. Wire pot rack
A bit of universal wire shelving and a few dollars worth of metal hooks from the hardware store make for an easy-to-assemble pot rack. You can even use a metal shelf like this one to hang pots, which looks a lot nicer than stacking them in piles!
8. Roll out the kitchen cart
Invest in a rolling kitchen cart to add a portable cabinet and countertop space to even the tiniest kitchen. You can either buy one with a butcher block top or add your own to add another area for food prep.
9. DIY pull-out cutting board
No budget for a fancy built in cutting board and no counter space to chop your veggies? Simply pull out a drawer and use it to hold your plain old cutting board.
10. Functional decor
Do you have some beautiful utensils or cutting boards? Don’t worry about finding a place to store them if they can double as decorative items in your kitchen. Consider hanging them on the wall or simply lean them against the backsplash to show off that beautiful wood. Then you can leave room in the drawer for your less-than-lovely utensils.
11. Keep the toddlers out
Nothing stays neat and organized when small children are around. If you’ve managed to achieve a clean kitchen, the last thing you want is a young one pulling out the pan lids and wooden spoons and creating dishes to wash and reorganize. (We assume your cabinets with cleaners and other potentially toxic items are already babyproofed.) Try this clever trick with a yardstick to keep them out of drawers you need to open frequently. Sure, they’ll try to get it out, but that’s working on their motor skills!
12. File organizer for cutting boards
A metal file organizer under your sink allows you to store cutting boards, baking sheets, and pan lids easily without creating another pile of stuff you have to sort through.
13. Look up for storage inspo
Even if you have a large kitchen space, it’s easy to run out of room for all of your cooking tools. Hanging large items like pots and pans from the ceiling not only frees up cabinet space but gives you a chance to show off your cast iron, copper, or other attractive cookware.
14. Get rid of all that paper
From take-out menus in the drawers to old wedding invitations that hang on the refrigerator door, take a good look at the paper you keep stored in your kitchen. Take a photo of the things you need and recycle the rest to declutter your kitchen.
15. Use that top space
If you have cabinets that don’t go all the way up to the ceiling, consider using that space to display decorative items. It will get dusty up there, but if you choose the right items (ones you don’t need easy or constant access to), you can add some glam to your kitchen and create room beneath for items you really need.
16. Wine drawer
Do you have a little wine stash but no space for a wine rack? Store your wine collection in a deep kitchen drawer. You can keep bottles stored on their sides and out of the way. Just remember not to store bottles near the over or dishwasher – you don’t want your wine heating up before you drink it!
17. Use food as decor
Colorful fruits and vegetables displayed on your countertop not only make your kitchen look healthy and vibrant but it will also remind you to eat your veggies.
18. In-wall pantry
It’s not a quick fix, but if you have a wall in your kitchen, chances are there’s some space behind the drywall where you can have a shallow pantry installed. It’s space you didn’t even know you had!
19. Open it up
If you have beautiful dishes but your kitchen feels a bit cramped, consider an open cabinet plan. Remove your cabinet doors and show off your cookware and lovingly stacked plates and bowls. Just remember to keep things extra tidy.
20. Invest in a six-pack
Don’t let your condiment bottles get out of control or rattle around in your refrigerator door. Save your next six-pack holder and use it as a separator for all those little bottles.
21. Incorporate dining space
Don’t have a dining room? Instead of trying to add a separate dining room table into your kitchen, see if you can utilize your island or other counter space for seating and eating.
22. Stackable cookware
Next time you need to invest in some cookware, consider pots and pans that easily stack on each other. These Calphalon pans, for example, are designed to save you space.
23. Hang your mugs
Most of us have more coffee mugs than we need and they tend to take up a lot of space in cabinets. Consider taking your prettiest mugs and hanging them from hooks on a wall or underneath your cabinet. Then later you might ask yourself if you really need to keep the rest.
24. Backsplash rack
Backsplash racks are a great way to keep utensils out of the way (and your drawers). They provide easy acces to the things you use most often and an opportunity to display that beautiful wooden spoon you bought on your last trip. Just make sure to keep the utensils clean and in good shape or you’ll be sacrificing aesthetics.
25. Keep your hand towels in check
Most of us use our oven handle as a dish towel hanger, but even a slightly crooked towel can make a kitchen look sloppy. Affix some velcro to the towels instead of just throwing them over the handle. That will keep them nice and straight.
26. Hide your personal business
Your shopping lists, reminders, notes to family, and to-do list don’t necessarily need to be out on display, especially if you often have guests in your home. Intead of hanging a big chalkboard or dry erase board on your kitchen wall, mount it inside a cabinet everyone needs to open on a daily basis. They’ll see the reminders, but your guests won’t.
27. Put the trash away
Trash cans not only take up a lot of space, but can release odors every time you drop something in. Try storing your trash under the sink or in a pull-out cabinet in your kitchen. That will free up some floor space and keep your pets out of the scraps.
28. Basket case
Bring back the hanging basket and use it to store your fruits and veggies. Your colorful produce will be on beautiful display (reminding you to eat it) and you’ll save fridge space at the same time.
29. Install some interesting shelving
Display shelving comes in all shapes and sizes and can be used to enhance both storage and decor in your kitchen. This piece allows you to show off plates and is nice and shallow so it’s lighter and cheaper than installing an extra cupboard.
30. Line your drawers with window shades
Old window shades are easy to wipe down and chances are that your local window treatment store has some scraps lying around that you can repurpose. Simply cut them to fit your drawers and you have a thick, removeable, and easy-to-clean set of drawer liners.
31. Put shelves on your shelves
Rather than stacking things of different sizes and having to pull piles out to get to what’s underneath, try adding extra shelves in your cabinets to keep everything tidy and easy to reach.
32. Chalkboard decor
Maybe you don’t want to display your family reminders or chore list on your kitchen wall for all to see, but if you have beautiful handwriting, you might consider installing a chalkboard or using chalkboard paint on your walls for visual interest. You can write out the evening’s menu or the less embarrassing items on your grocery list. Snap a pic to take with you and you won’t have to keep pen and paper around either.
33. Try a fold-up table if you’re short on space
This little table allows you the dining space you need in a small kitchen but can also be folded back up onto the wall when you don’t need it. Genius!
34. Plastic bag holder
We all keep plastic shopping bags around to reuse, but that doesn’t mean we have to let them take up tons of space. Use a tissue box as a bag holder and thumbtack it to the inside of a cabinet door to keep it out of sight.
35. Use jars for storage
Store your dry goods in pretty jars and canisters to create a uniform look and rid your cabinet of all those bags. Clear containers also let you keep track of your items and how much of each you have left.
36. Refrigerator storage bins
Is your refrigerator out of control? Invest in some plastic storage bins to tidy up the space and keep things like cans from taking up too much room.
37. Convert your non-opening drawers to storage space
Those decorative “drawers” that don’t budge? Simply add a hinge and basket and you can use that space to store sponges and other small kitchen needs that you want to keep out of sight.
38. Store paper towels vertically
With just 4 eye bolts and 2 bungee cords you can stack your paper towels vertically instead of letting them take up closet space or creating a precarious tower that tips over with a mere sneeze.
39. Narrow rolling racks add storage to even tiny spaces
Whether it’s spices, potholders, or tin foil, narrow rolling racks give you a place to store your everyday kitchen items without taking up much real estate.
40. Create a cooking caddy
Take a page from the housekeepers handbook and invest in a little caddy for your go-to items. Store salt, pepper, olive oil, and anything else you routinely use in cooking on/in one moveable tray or basket. Then, you can easily store the caddy away when you’re not using it to clear some counter space.
41. Keep the sink neat
This suction cup organizer allows you to keep your sink nice and neat and gives you a place to store damp sponges and other things that might leak without creating a mess.
42. Repurpose a shoe rack
Shoe organizers like this can cost just a few dollars and using them to store cleaning supplies will free up tons of cabinet space down below.