We love a clean, clutter-free kitchen design as much as the next person, but we have to admit it feels impossible to discard every single glass, pan, or gadget we don't use often because, well, what if? Whether throwing a fancy dinner party for your friends and family or whipping up a homemade Bolognese sauce for a small meal, each day requires an entirely different menagerie of small appliances. Besides, how could you ever toss Grandma's favorite casserole dish or that third colander?
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On the other hand, keeping your culinary space organized will make it easy to locate any lid, measuring cup, or ladle in a snap, which feels all the more urgent when you live in tight quarters. With so many products and so little room to store 'em, you'll need to get crafty with your organization strategy.
Don't worry; we're here to help. Check out these savvy small kitchen storage ideas, plus the best places to shop for dividers, shelves, and so much more.
1. First, clear the clutter.
Face it: There are certain things in your kitchen that you just don't use. That torch for crème brûlée? The four sets of measuring cups? The ancient boxes of cereal? Time to clear out the clutter. As a general rule of thumb — if an item has a place and purpose in the space, then you can argue for its importance.
2. Utilize your cabinet doors for extra storage.
When you have a small kitchen, you have to take advantage of every square inch, nook, and cranny. Yes, that includes the back of your cabinet doors. Take a cue from Jess at The Golden Girl and attach some adhesive shelves to this overlooked space. As a bonus, you won't have to sift through the entire cabinet looking for an extra bottle of dish soap.
3. Invest in multipurpose pieces, like a tiny kitchen island with open shelves.
Need to call in some reinforcements? Invest in pieces that pull double duty. The small kitchen island in Tim from Bay on a Budget's home offers extra space for meal prep. Plus, the strategically placed shelves also ensure all cooking essentials are fingertip-ready and organized.
Get the look: Stetler Kitchen Island Prep Table, $399.99
4. Add pull-out organizers to your drawer space
With all the spatulas, mixing spoons, salad tongs, and everyday cutlery, it's no surprise that your silverware station is starting to look more like an overwhelming junk drawer. Before things get out of hand, follow the lead of Casey from The DIY Playbook, and keep all of your forks, knives, and spoons in check with a double-decker drawer organizer.
Get the look: Rebrilliant Flatware & Kitchen Utensils Drawer Organizer, $26.99
5. Add risers to your kitchen cabinets to make the most of the height.
Your deep cabinets might be large enough to stow all of your nonperishables, but they're doing your small kitchen organization strategy no favors if you can't see the stock. Our advice? Add some risers to your cabinets à la Melissa from The Inspired Room to get a clear view of all your groceries. That way, you won't wind up spending unnecessary money or space on a superfluous can of tomato sauce.
Get the look: Made By Design Kitchen Cabinet Organizer Shelf, $7
6. Install lazy Susans in hard-to-reach cabinets.
This just in: Lazy Susans are back. In addition to adding one or two to your pantry, place 'em in a corner cabinet, too. This hack makes the most of a teeny, tiny space — as proven by Abby from Just a Girl and Her Blog — and offers easy access to your favorite cookware. Your handy frying pan is just one swivel away.
Get the look: IKEA Utrusta Corner Base Cabinet Carousel, $99
7. Save precious countertop space by hanging a kitchen rail with hooks.
Short on storage? Make the most of your blank walls by adding a few kitchen rails with hooks so you can easily grab a spatula or cutting board mid-recipe. And, if this kitchen belonging to Holly from Avenue Lifestyle is any indication, incorporating this type of wall storage can look ridiculously chic and save your counter space to boot.
Get the look: Industrial Pipe Wall Mounted Pot Rack, $19.85
8. Put your label maker to work.
Your refrigerator might feel like a small enough space to keep organized and tidy. However, when it's filled to the brim with produce, dairy products, and the occasional pickle jar, it can feel like the culinary wild, wild west. We love how the ladies over at The Home Edit took their love of labels to the next level, even designating each crisper drawer for a certain food group. The result: an organized, efficient, and super organized fridge.
Get the look: The Home Edit by iDesign Pantry Labels, $6.99
9. Ditch disposable packaging and save space with reusable storage containers.
Excess plastic bags and cardboard boxes aren't just bad for the environment; they're taking up a lot of space, too. Want to reduce the amount of waste you produce? Ditch the disposable packing and opt for a reusable storage bin. Jess from The Golden Girl, for example, keeps all of her tea bags neatly organized in a clear box.
10. Fold dish towels neatly.
Organizational guru Marie Kondo taught us the importance of a vertical fold; however, that tip doesn't have to be confined to your bedroom dresser. Brooke from Nesting With Grace gave this tried-and-true tip a go by folding her dish towels instead of rolling them. That way you can see all of your towels and give your drawers an unexpected and elevated flair.
Get the look: Flotsam and Fork, Striped Cotton Dish Towel, $14.95
11. Install roll-out cabinet drawers.
We've all been there — you know the moment when you realize you have to empty out an entire cabinet just to find the lid to your favorite pot? Well, kiss those days goodbye and make your life a whole lot easier by installing roll-out shelves. Now you can keep your cabinets beautifully organized while saving yourself loads of time and frustration.
12. Use peg drawer organizer systems to keep your dishes in place.
With a little help, deep drawers don't have to become a graveyard for your seemingly endless collection of food storage containers. Bring some order to the chaos with the help of a peg system like the one Emily Henderson used in her kitchen drawers.
13. Install floating shelves to make the most of your wall space.
Want to increase your small kitchen's storage space without undergoing a big (and stressful!) renovation? Add some floating shelves to the mix. Not only are they easy to install, but open shelving is also one of the hottest kitchen trends around. Anne Sage creates some cohesion in her small cook space by matching them to her cabinetry.
Get the look: Ultrashelf White Oak Floating Shelf with Hidden Bracket, $70
14. Hang pretty produce (or light accessories) in a macrame wire basket.
If your kitchen doesn't have much empty wall space, dare to defy gravity. These hanging macrame wire baskets by World Market are a clever place to display fresh produce, but you can also use this boho piece of decor for lighter accessories like linen napkins and coasters.
Get the look: World Market White Wire Macrame 3 Tier Hanging Basket $24.99
15. Organize your dry goods in stackable storage containers.
Let's face it: Navigating a crowded kitchen cabinet (or pantry closet!) is no easy feat — yes, even if your cabinets are on the smaller side. A quick fix? Pick up some stackable storage containers à la The Home Edit. They'll keep your cabinets meticulously organized, not to mention they make one of the least glamorous parts of your small cook space picturesque.
Get the look: OXO Good Grips Pop 10-Piece Canister Set, $99
16. Use high spots – like the top of your fridge – to store not-so-everyday appliances.
When it comes to extra kitchen storage ideas, every inch counts. Sure, placing a container on top of your refrigerator doesn't feel like the most sophisticated option, but investing in a pretty woven basket can make a big difference. Let Emily Henderson show you how it's done.
Get the look: The Nopo Pera String-Woven Basket, $202
17. Invest in an island on wheels if you're short on kitchen space.
In a dream world, you'd have a spacious kitchen island smack dab in the middle of your cook space with plenty of room to walk around. But in reality? Your kitchen may be too tiny for anything but the essentials. A good compromise? Invest in a movable unit, like the stainless steel-wrapped option in this space designed by Sustainable Kitchens. You can roll it in for extra counter space, and roll it away when it's not in use. And an island with room for storage and cleaning supplies is even better.
18. Ditch the knife block in favor of a magnetic strip.
If a traditional knife block takes up too much precious counter space, consider attaching your knives to a magnetic strip on the wall with the help of this DIY. Not only will the handy piece of decor make it easy to (safely) grab a knife at a moment's notice, but it also looks pretty darn good, too.
Get the look: Schmidt Brothers Magnetic Wall Bar, $49.99
19. DIY a breakfast nook with drawers to maximize every inch.
Small kitchen storage ideas get more complicated when your already tiny quarters need to double as a dining room, too. Take a cue from Molly over at Almost Makes Perfect and create a breakfast nook that does double duty. The blogger actually DIYed a bench with storage with the help of a couple of dressers from IKEA. It's the perfect place to stow extra gadgets or linens if you ask us.
Get the look: IKEA Nordli 12-Drawer Chest, $419
20. Hang kitchen rails with S-hooks under your cabinets to show off your favorite mugs..
We'll be honest: It never dawned on us that the base of a cabinet is a missed small kitchen storage opportunity. But ever since we saw the clever mug setup in Kimberly from Swoon Worthy's kitchen, we're big believers. Go ahead and install a few storage rails at the base of your cabinet and hang your chicest coffee cups with a few S-hooks.
Get the look: West Elm Essential S Hooks, $11
21. Don't overlook the underutilized space under the kitchen sink.
There's one particular area in the kitchen many people don't take advantage of: under the kitchen sink. It doesn't have to be a cave of cleaning products, you know. Add some bins and labeled baskets for other kitchen items, which will make it just as pretty and functional as any other cabinet.
Get the look: The Container Store Chrome 2-Tier Sliding Organizer $69.99
22. Make it all aesthetically pleasing.
When in doubt, it can help to think of your organizational system as part of your kitchen decor. If it's appealing to the eye, you might be more apt to keep everything neat. In order to keep things functional, include your everyday items with the goods you want on display, almost like decor. Sticking to a similar color scheme will help keep it cohesive, too. For example, coordinate stacks of ceramic plates, tall drinking glasses, a bright electric mixer, labeled canisters, and your favorite cookbooks.
Get the look: OXO Good Grips POP Square Canisters, starting at $5.99
Where to Buy Extra Kitchen Storage Must-Haves
The Container Store: Where would we be without The Container Store? (Most likely in a very, very cluttered space.) This brand has been our one-stop organization shop for every room — and a small kitchen is no exception. Go ahead, have a scroll through its virtually endless array of shelves, dividers, and spice racks.
Joseph Joseph: Founded by twin brothers who wanted to make your time in the kitchen as efficient as possible, Joseph Joseph is packed with game-changing kitchen tools you didn't even know existed. We don't mean to play favorites, but Joseph Joseph's nesting products are a small space dweller's secret weapons.
YouCopia: While YouCopia's vast selection of racks and organizers certainly speak for themselves, we love the brand's philanthropic edge. YouCopia teamed up with The Greater Chicago Food Depository, a member of Feeding America, to donate the equivalent of a meal for every product purchased through its site.
DecoBros: Every product from DecoBros is a consistent crowd-pleaser. It may be a smaller brand, but every product has topped multiple "best kitchen organizer" lists. Plus, many of the finds boast thousands of glowing reviews.
IKEA: This popular retailer brings a sleek, Scandinavian touch to storage supplies with its stock of well-appointed shelves and containers. Plus, IKEA has plenty of versatile bookshelves and furniture pieces that can easily be repurposed.
Target: You can never buy just one thing whenever you visit Target's storefront or site, so why not put your mini shopping spree to good use and invest in some storage supplies? From drawer dividers to pot racks, and everything in between, Target has you covered.
The Home Depot: Whether you want to challenge yourself to a DIY and pick up some tools or deck out your pantry with a few pretty containers, Home Depot is a great place to buy all of your small kitchen storage essentials in one fell swoop.