Make the most of your tiny space with these easy tips for organizing a small kitchen!
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As far as kitchens go, mine is teany tiny. However, as far as New York kitchens go, it's a decent size ... for which I am very thankful!
Nonetheless, when I moved into this apartment it took a lot of effort to make the space work. There's practically no counter space, only a few small cabinets, and the narrow galley layout has room for only one cook (my husband is fine with that!).
If you're dealing with similarly tight confines, I'm sure you know just how challenging organizing a small kitchen can be.
Thankfully, I've picked up lots of easy and clever kitchen storage tips, and although my kitchen is still super tiny, it's now also super functional.
Tips for Organizing a Small Kitchen
Kitchen size is relative to where you live, what you're used to, how big your family is, etc. What's petite in Chicago is palatial in New York ... I can personally attest to that!
No matter! Whether you are trying to organize a truly small kitchen or one that simply feels restrictive due to layout or your collection of Le Crueset, these tips will help you make the most of your space.
If you're wondering how to organize a small kitchen without a pantry, then these tips are for you! And keep reading to the end, because I'm sharing my favorite kitchen organization products, too.
Minimize, Minimize, Minimize
When it comes to small apartment kitchen organization ideas, the first and most crucial step is getting rid of stuff. I know that's no fun, but it's essential.
When I moved to New York, I knew cupboard space was going to be extremely limited. I also knew that my small apartment wouldn't hold a dining table, so large dinner parties were out of the question.
Since it's just my husband and me living here, I decided that four sets of dishes would be enough. I was worried that we'd constantly run out of plates, but you know what? It works perfectly for us and is fine for small scale entertaining, too. I paired down my pots and pans, keeping the best and getting rid of the rest, too.
So before you start organizing your small kitchen, take stock of everything you own.There's no point in organizing stuff you'll never use or can't find because it's buried in a cupboard.
I know it's hard, but be brutal. Do you really need two 10-inch frying pans and three ladles? Probably not. Pick out your favorites and donate the rest.
Keep Counters Clear
Counter space is at a premium in small kitchens. You'll want to conserve as much of that space as possible for cooking.
Microwaves take up tons of room, but for me it's an essential. The previous tenant in my apartment added a microwave shelf ... genius! It makes the most of an awkward corner and frees up space for other things.
I store my spices on top of the microwave in an old crate. That way they're not cluttering my counter, but they're still easy to access. A wall mounted spice rack or magnetic spice jars that stick to your fridge would work great, too.
Make more room on your counters by storing any appliances that you don't use daily in your cabinets. Add a shelf for a microwave or coffee maker. Again, get rid of anything that's not essential ... when's the last time you used that coffee grinder anyway?
Go Vertical and Use Wall Space
Even after I pared down my pots and pans, they still overflowed my cabinets. There just wasn't enough room, even for the basics.
Adding a pot rack that fits flush with the wall was an easy solution. It's holds my most used pans (minus the waffle iron ... that's just too cute to hide away).
When organizing a small kitchen, you need to get creative.
Here are a few clever storage ideas for small kitchens that make use of vertical space:
- Add containers over your stove or sink to hold utensils or flatware.
- Mount shelves to store glasses, plates, or spices.
- Hang a pot rack on a wall or above your stove.
- Use a magnetic strips to keep knives nearby (and free up drawer space).
- Get that paper towel roll off your counter with an inexpensive wall mount!
Keep Cabinets Organized
When you have a small kitchen, your cabinets are most likely packed very tight. I know mine are. And things can get out of control fast when there's so little space to work with.
Lately, I've been collecting a few props for my blog's food photos. I had them stored in an out of the way shelf, but with no organization, they were taking over the rest of the cabinet and threatening to tumble out every time the door was opened.
After a little reconfiguring and purging, my props are now neatly organized (see the top shelf above). It only took a few minutes, but it's made all the difference.
Spend an afternoon organizing your cabinets. Then once everything has a place, make an effect to keep it that way. A couple minutes a day is all it takes.
Fill Every Available Nook and Cranny
There is no space in my little kitchen that goes unused!
From storing pots and appliances under the sink to utilizing the top of my refrigerator to hold odds and ends (not pretty, but essential), I'm getting the most out of every square inch.
See that EAT DRINK & BE MERRY sign above my cabinets? I've stored a few kitchen favorites that I rarely use but can't bear to part with behind it. My shoe shine kit is up there, too ... did I mention the rest of my apartment is tiny, too? Sometimes you have to get creative when you live in NYC!
My point is this: when it comes to organizing a small kitchen, you must make use of every square inch of space. Store stuff under your sink. Attach organizers to the back of your cabinet doors. Use baskets to hold seldom used items above your cabinets.
Everything in Its Place
Finally, don't bring anything into your kitchen without having a place for it.
I have a bowl that's dedicated to holding fruit that would otherwise be sprawled across my counter. There's no pantry, so canned and dry good go straight to a dedicated shelf. My photo props go right back into their newly organized home after pics are snapped.
Before buying a new pan, think about getting rid of an old one. Where will it go otherwise? Throw out those takeout menus (or store them in a binder) ... do you even need hard copies anyway? That's what Seamless is for, right? Don't let dirty dishes take over your precious counter space.
Have a place for everything in your kitchen and do your best to keep it there. Get rid of clutter right away, before it becomes a problem.
Small Kitchen Essentials
Organizing a small kitchen is a challenge, but the right tools can make it easier.
Here are a few of my favorite kitchen organization products:
- RACK IT UP! Utensil Rack: Make more room in your cabinets with this handy rack.
- Microwave Wall Mount Shelf: An simple way to conserve precious counter space.
- Over the Cabinet Bag Organizer: There is nothing worse than plastic bags exploding everywhere. Contain them for reuse the easy way.
- Stainless Steel Dish Rack: No dishwasher, no problem. This expandable dish rack fits in any sink - I love mine! No counter space required.
- Y Weave Storage Bin: These inexpensive plastic baskets will hold all sorts of things, plus they're not ugly like most storage bins are.
- Wall Mount Paper Towel Holder: Another great way to create more counter space.
- Bella Single Brew One Scoop, One Cup Coffee Maker: My mother-in-law gave this to us, and we use it every day. It's so handy, makes one perfectly fresh cup of coffee (works with ground coffee and pods), and takes up almost no room. Plus, it's way less expensive than most single brew coffee makers. It also comes stainless steel. (Update: I now have the Ninja Coffee Bar, which takes up a little more space, but has a lot more functions.)
Are you moving into your first apartment soon or know someone else who is?
Then, check out my kitchen essentials list for home cook, too. It's perfect for anyone moving into their first place, going off to college, or someone who just needs to upgrade the basics!
And if you're looking for more tips, make sure to ready my article about making the most of a small kitchen for even more helpful ideas!
Do you have a small kitchen, too? What is your favorite organization tip?