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Smart Storage Ideas for Small Kitchens

Check out these smart storage ideas for keeping a small kitchen organized and efficient

Written and produced by Debra Steilen
  • John Bessler

    Storage Ideas for Small Kitchens

    It’s true; small kitchens can be just as organized and efficient as their larger counterparts. Check out these smart ideas for storing dishes, cookware, and other kitchen staples.

    Kitchen designer: RitaLuisa Garcès

    See more images from this small kitchen renovation.

  • Susan Gilmore

    Take cabinets to the ceiling.

    When it comes to thinking vertically, kitchens stand to reap the most benefit. Take cabinetry all the way up to the ceiling, but be smart about what you stow where. Store what you use most often within arm’s reach. Reserve the highest cabinets for seldom-used items such as turkey roasters and holiday dishes.

    Interior design: Joe Lucas and Parrish Chilcoat

    Browse our inspiring collection of small kitchens.

  • Michael Partenio

    Put storage overhead.

    Free up base cabinets for other kitchen paraphernalia by hanging pots and pans from a rack mounted to the ceiling. Bonus: You get an instant focal point!

  • Erik Johnson

    Add a multi-functional island.

    Islands offer handy work surfaces for kitchen helpers. But why stop there? Choose a slim island with at least one additional shelf to hold cookware and dishes. Use baskets or bins to corral smaller items such as utensils or seasonings. 

    Nab some island-storage ideas here.

  • John Bessler

    Invest in custom cabinetry.

    Custom cabinetry is designed and built to fit your kitchen and all its quirks. Not being limited to standard cabinet heights, widths, and shapes means you can use every possible square inch of space for storage. Turn pockets of dead space into wine shelves (shown). Use the toe-kick area beneath base cabinets to add drawers for dishtowels, placemats, or baking sheets. Install cabinets that follow the angle of the ceiling. All the bits and pieces add up to big storage benefits.  

    Investigate cabinets with furniture-style flair.

  • Emily Minton-Redfield

    Store more with organizational inserts.

    Help your cabinetry work harder by including cabinet organizers and drawer inserts. Pullout racks (shown), pantry pullouts, tray dividers, Lazy Susan turntables, pull-down spice racks, cutlery organizers, knife blocks with dividers, tilt-out trays, pantry pullouts, wine cubbies, and more turn your cabinets and drawers into storage superstars.

    Tip: Some organizational inserts need to be added by your cabinet-maker, but there are many options that can be purchased later.

  • Michael Partenio

    Upgrade corner cabinets.

    Making awkward corners work more efficiently and you’ll be able to store more than you expected. Swing-out organizers bring the contents to you, which means you can make full use of a corner cabinet without bending and twisting. Look for models that include rails on the shelves to keep items from tumbling over the edge.

  • Laura Moss

    Divide and conquer your drawers.

    Whether part of a custom design or purchased after market, drawer dividers will help you and your kitchen get and stay organized. You may not be able to store a lot more in a given drawer, but what’s stored in there is going to be easier to see and retrieve. 

  • Michael Partenio

    Squeeze in wall-mounted shelves.

    Open shelves keep priority items visible and accessible. But here’s what makes them especially useful for small rooms: They can be installed in spaces that are too small or awkwardly placed to hold cabinets. 

    Browse more kitchen-storage ideas.

  • Rob Brinson

    Carve out space on the backsplash.

    Keep your countertops and drawers less cluttered by tricking out your backsplash with storage accessories. One option? Install a magnetic strip to hold knives (shown).  Here’s another way to go. Add a horizontal rail system with specific components chosen to meet your needs: hooks for utensils, racks for spices, paper towel holders, and more. 

  • Werner Straube

    Hide and go sleek.

    Keep your kitchen a bit more clean and uncluttered by hiding storage behind the backsplash. In this range area, a sliding panel reveals rows of spices within easy reach of the chef. When the panel is closed, the area returns to being a sleek marble-tile backsplash.

    Kitchen designer: Mick De Giulio

  • Michael Partenio

    Put storage in hard-to-reach places.

    Just because you have a small kitchen doesn’t mean you have to give up on decorative details—especially if you have tall ceilings. Top a window or doorway with a wide, sturdy ledge, then use it to display pretty bottles of olive oil or vinegar, pottery, or other collectibles.

  • John Merkl

    Borrow inches from adjoining space.

    No room for a butler’s pantry? Borrow some space from an adjoining mudroom or closet to accommodate an undercounter wine chiller in an alcove. Top the unit with a tray of liquor and you’ve got a pocket-size bar area to use when entertaining.

    Interior designers: Christine Teicheira and Lauren Tapper

  • Paul Dyer

    Turn a dead end into storage.

    If your galley kitchen culminates in a window, you have the opportunity to create a storage-smart window seat with built-in cabinets or drawers. The beauty of this arrangement is that such storage is still only steps away from the work zone.

    Interior designer: Lindsay Brier

  • Emily Followill

    Build in a storage-packed banquette.

    If you’re planning a banquette/dining nook in or near the kitchen, incorporate storage into bench-style seats. Adding a hinged top offers the maximum amount of storage space in the platform below the cushion. On the other hand, storage drawers that open into the room (shown) offer the most user-friendly option: no need to remove cushions to access contents, no pinched fingers. Either way, use the storage space for stowing items such as table linens and seasonal décor.

    Get more ideas for smart, stylish banquettes.

  • Philip Harvey

    Add storage beneath the stairs.

    It depends upon your floor plan, of course. But if your kitchen is next to a staircase, turn that dead space below the stairs into handy storage for kitchen staples. Make deep shelves more accessible by using sturdy baskets or bins to hold contents. For a more formal appearance, install cabinets with roll-out shelves that reduce the need for bending and twisting.  

  • Alise O’Brien

    Downsize other elements.

    If you’re in the building or remodeling phase, you may still have time to choose smaller appliances that leave more room for cabinetry. In this kitchen, for example, choosing a slim refrigerator made it possible to add a tall cabinet for dishes and other priority items.

    Other swaps to consider? Choose a 30-inch-wide range instead of a larger model. Install a drawer dishwasher, or an 18-inch wide dishwasher, instead of a full-size model. Look for  appliances that perform multiple functions within a  single space (such as a steam-convection oven)—leaving more room for cabinetry.   

  • James Yochum

    Convert adjoining space into a pantry.

    Does your kitchen border a spare bedroom or closet that can afford to lose some square footage? Convert that space into a compact pantry to hold non-perishable food, root vegetables, small appliances, or anything else you feel doesn’t need to be stored in the main kitchen. Adjustable shelves make it easy to reconfigure the pantry as your needs change. Clear glass containers make it easy to see what you have on hand. Baskets or bins keep small food packages safely organized.

  • Jeff Herr