12 Small Kitchen Ideas to Clear Clutter and Maximize Storage

Best Of Hometalk
by Best Of Hometalk

There are few things more frustrating than trying to cook a decent meal in a small, disorganized kitchen. Sifting through a cluster of spices to find the one you need, or climbing nearly all the way into a lower cabinet to reach a pot or pan is an inefficient use of time, and it is not conducive to mealtime inspiration.

Amall Kitchen Ideas (pixabay)

Even so, small kitchens are often laid out quite well with a proper work triangle in place. It can be difficult to appreciate that in cramped quarters especially if you have to move a pile of mail before you can cut an onion. These 12 small kitchen ideas will help you utilize the space you have to create a kitchen that genuinely works for you.

Make Some Room

Let's start with ways to make the kitchen feel larger since, for most of us, life is not a reality show, and remodeling is not an option. Before you tackle any of the following small kitchen design ideas, there is work to do. First, talk a long hard look at what you keep in the kitchen. Are you storing the kitty litter under the sink? Tools in one of the few drawers available? And let's talk about that pile of mail, take-out menus, and homework. It needs to go somewhere else, preferably another room, but at the very least, perhaps in a hanging wall pocket fastened to a door, wall, or cabinet. Moving paper clutter off the kitchen counter frees up valuable prep space. For everything else, if it is not directly related to the kitchen, if possible, find a new home for it.

Kitchen Design for Small Space (Ashley @ Domestic Imperfection)

See post: Ashley @ Domestic Imperfection|Kitchen Command Center/Mail Sorter

Next, it is time to declutter ruthlessly. Do you need three ice cream scoops, an avocado slicer, or five-round cake pans? Would it be possible to make do without a food processor, full-size blender, and an immersion stick blender? In other words, could one tool serve most purposes? If the answer is yes, donate extra items to charity or a friend. Needs differ from person-to-person, but by answering honestly to these types of question, you may end up with far more cabinet and drawer space than you thought you had. That is why decluttering is one of the very best small kitchen ideas, and it costs nothing at all.

If your kitchen storage space is really at a premium, another way to make some room is to move once-a-year items such as a turkey roasting pan or holiday cookie cutters out of the kitchen entirely. While the organizing gurus usually advocate for storing items near where you need them, this type of kitchen gear could easily live in the basement all year or even wrapped and stowed under a bed if that is the only available space.

Finally, go through the pantry and spice cabinets and toss expired, spoiled, or questionable food items. Sure, the apocalypse may happen, but when it does, will ten bottles of nearly-empty cake sprinkles or taco seasoning packets be the key to your survival? Probably not.

After deep cleaning and decluttering, you may be surprised at how much room you freed up, and these inspiring small kitchen ideas will help you maximize all of that new-found space.

Small Kitchen Design Ideas

Go vertical! If the footprint of your kitchen is tiny, don’t forget to look up. Consider every bit of free space as valuable kitchen real estate even near the ceiling. How about using the top of your upper cabinets? Try covering recycled cardboard boxes with contact paper, and tuck rarely used items inside. (Remember those cookie cutters?)

Small Kitchen Design Ideas (Engineer Your Space)

See post: Engineer Your Space|Small Kitchen Ideas: Going Vertical to Gain Storage Space

Inexpensive boxes like these would be perfect for seasonal items, paper products, or even surplus pantry items as long you keep a step stool handy.

If there is an open wall, even a narrow one, install brackets and shelves or make your own DIY floating shelves. 

Small Kitchen Shelf (OnBlissStreet)

See post: OnBlissStreet|$20 Floating Shelves

Use shelves to store items like cookbooks, dry goods stored in decorative containers, or even dishes if you need cabinet space for other things. Look at everything you store on the counter with a critical eye. Could some of it move to vertical shelving?

Hang the pots and pans. The awkward shape of pots and pans makes them perfect for hanging vs. storing in a cabinet, so why not show them off by turning them into a design feature? The bonus is that you will then have an open cabinet for something else.

Convert an old wooden ladder into a pot rack, or make one from new materials. 

Kitchen Ideas for Small Kitchens (Sarah Cook)

See post: Sarah Cook|DIY Ladder Pot Rack

Alternately, slide a sturdy rod through wall-mounted brackets for a pot rack that can tuck into any corner. A shelf on top holds cookbooks perfectly

Small Kitchen Ideas on a Budget (Sandy)

See post: Sandy|Cheap Easy Pot Rack

Small Kitchen Ideas | The Pantry

One thing that is not negotiable for any kitchen is food storage. A well-appointed pantry keeps food cost low and meal prep inspiration high. Even the smallest kitchen generally has a cabinet designated for pantry storage, and if you’re lucky, the area in your pantry cabinet is useful and adequate. If it is not, here are few ideas to make the most of food storage.

If you’re handy with the tools, and you have a corner to spare, build a corner pantry large enough to serve your needs.

Tip: Use Google SketchUp, a free online program, to design the specs of your pantry build.

Small Kitchen Ideas (Nancy at Craft Your Happiness)

See post: Nancy at Craft Your Happiness|DIY Corner Pantry

If you are not quite skilled enough to complete this job alone, consider hiring out the difficult parts and DIY what you can. 

Small Kitchen Storage (Nancy at Craft Your Happiness)

See post: Nancy at Craft Your Happiness|DIY Corner Pantry

The best part about building something from scratch is that you can make sure it is equipped with storage solutions that work best for you. Need plenty of narrow shelving? Go for it. Do you prefer pull-out bins over open shelves? That is your choice. 

Small Kitchen DIY Shelves (Nancy at Craft Your Happiness)

See post: Nancy at Craft Your Happiness|DIY Corner Pantry

Even if you cannot carve out the space to build a full-size pantry, there are other small-scale DIY projects that will provide additional useful storage. For instance, how about a pull-out cubby? If you have wasted space at the end of the cabinet row, building a rolling cart that slides back into place when you don’t need it can solve the dilemma of where to keep canned goods or other packaged foods. 

Small Kitchen Storage Cabinet (Handan & Greg @ The Navage Patch)

See post: Handan & Greg @ The Navage Patch|DIY Rolling Jar Storage

A tall slide-out pantry can tuck in almost anywhere that there is vertical space such as between an appliance and wall, so bust out the tools and start building. 

Small Kitchen Decor (Engineer Your Space)

See post: Engineer Your Space|DIY Pull Out Kitchen Storage Cabinet

More Kitchen Ideas For Small Kitchen

Corral unruly spices with a magnetic spice rack made from a pizza pan and dollar store magnets.

Small Apartment Kitchen Ideas (Engineer Your Space)

See post: Engineer Your Space|Small Kitchen Ideas: DIY Magnetic Spice Rack

Use magnetic spice jars from a store like IKEA, or glue magnets directly to the bottom of store-bought containers. Mount the rack within easy reach of the stove or prep space, and you’ll have the spices right where you need them.

Make use of the space under your new spice rack and above the stove with a simple stained shelf made from pine boards screwed together with wood screws and glue.

Kitchen Ideas for Small Spaces (Engineer Your Space)

See post: Engineer Your Space|Small Kitchen Ideas: DIY Magnetic Spice Rack

Storage solutions for small kitchens do not have to cost a lot to be functional and useful. Another one of the best small kitchen ideas we have seen is this door-mounted spice rack made from $1 cooling racks. 

Kitchen Storage Ideas for Small Spaces (The Stonybrook House)

See post: The Stonybrook House|DIY $1 Spice Racks

Finally, although it is a time-consuming project, one of the most impactful ways to improve small kitchen decor is by painting the kitchen cabinets white. This choice does not appeal to everyone, but a fresh coat of white paint brightens up a small kitchen and makes it appear larger, brighter, and more open than it is. 

Small Kitchen Remodel Before and After (Noting Grace)

See post: Noting Grace|DIY Farmhouse Kitchen Makeover for $5000 - Including Appliances!

Your kitchen may not be spacious and perfectly laid out with everything handy. However, by clearing out unused items and using some of these small kitchen ideas, your kitchen will function better and look tidier too. If any of these projects are useful, pin this article for later, and be sure to visit Hometalk for even more small kitchen ideas and small kitchen decor.

Written for the Hometalk community by: Stacy | BlakeHillHouse

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2 of 3 comments
  • Heje Heje on Feb 03, 2019

    Thank you for these very helpful ideas!

  • Stephanie Inman Stephanie Inman on Oct 29, 2022

    I just love the corner shelve. Easy to build and makes a lot of room for your stuff. Also it can be built in many rooms.