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Organizing a kitchen can be challenging, especially if it’s on the smaller side. Use these small kitchen design ideas to make a big difference in your home.


The kitchen — it’s not only a place where you prepare and eat your meals. It’s where you catch up with your family after a long day at work. It’s where you check in on your kids as they’re indulging in their after-school snack. You use this space to entertain your family during the holidays, to plan out your hectic schedule and probably even to pay your bills.

Let’s face it, this room gets a lot of traffic — and probably collects a lot of clutter. Organizing a kitchen can be challenging, and when you’re dealing with a small kitchen, you need to make every inch work ever harder.

10 Small Kitchen Design Ideas

1. Use canisters and trays to keep your counters organized.

kitchen shelves

We ask a lot out of our counters. Between storing appliances, serving as a library for our cookbooks and prep space for three meals a day (not to mention the snacks), this area can get out of control.

“It’s totally fine to use the back half of your counters as storage if you need to, but make sure everything has a place and it all looks tidy,” Jessi Wohlwend, blogger for Practically Functional, says. “Counters are a great place to store cookbooks, and you can store food items like flour, sugar, noodles, etc. in canisters and use trays to help organize other small items that need a place to live. Counter storage makes everything super accessible; just make sure it stays neat and that you leave yourself enough room at the front of your counters to prepare food!”

BONUS TIP: Use stackable shelves (like the ones found here) to keep your cupboards organized. You’ll be able to squeeze twice the number of plates, bowls and cups into the same amount of space.

2. Combine containers and wall shelves for out-of-the-way storage.

kitchen basket

“Contain, contain, contain,” Becky of Clean Mama says. “Keep like items together by containing them in baskets, bins and drawer organizers.”

Not sure where to store these containers? If you’re like many of us, you probably don’t account for  the empty space up high in your kitchen. Fill this neglected area, keeping your goodies safe and out of the way yet easily accessible.

BONUS TIP: Baskets are handy when it comes to open shelves. Instead of leaving your items out on display (that’s the nice way of saying “scattered all over your kitchen,”) organize them into decorative baskets. Use weaved metal baskets if you want your supplies to double as decor.

3. Control your plastic bags with re-purposed tissue boxes.

We’ve all been there — that moment when you open up your cabinet and are welcomed by an overflow of plastic grocery bags trying to escape from their home. The solution? Tissue boxes.

Keep your plastic bag supply in check by loading them in an empty tissue box. Tissue boxes are available in multiple colors and patterns to match your kitchen’s design, and their size and shape will make them convenient to store anywhere. Have more bags? Use more tissue boxes! They’re stackable, after all.

4. Store your wrapables in magazine files.

Free up your drawers by placing your wax paper, plastic wrap and aluminum foil in a magazine file. Attach the file to the space behind your cupboard doors to keep it hidden.

If you purchase a wider magazine file, you can also use it to organize your canned goods. By laying cans sideways and on top of each other, you can create a grocery store effect that allows you to pull out one at a time. This is one of the most popular household hacks you’ll find online!

5. Fill an over-the-door shoe holder.

If you’re not in on the power of shoe holders to organize every room of your home (as well as your shoes), you’re behind the organizing curve. A great use for the kitchen: place snacks, ingredients and other small kitchen necessities in a shoe holder and hide them in a closet or behind a door. This easy and cheap service will keep these sometimes awkward items organized, in reach and out of the way.

BONUS TIP: Live the shoe holder lifestyle. Fill the over-the-door shoe holder with crafts, toys or accessories in bedrooms, cleaning supplies in the laundry room or hair products and styling tools in the bathroom. You can find over-the-door shoe holders online in a variety of prices.

7. Ditch the junk drawer. Seriously.

The dreaded junk drawer. You know what we’re talking about — that chaotic space where you throw everything from old twist ties and dried out pens to your your favorite take out menus and your kids’ sports schedules.

It’s time to ditch the drawer. Start by throwing away everything. Why do you keep that stuff? You’re hiding it in a drawer and then you promptly forget it exists. Just throw that stuff out.

If you MUST keep  “important” things (like bills — those qualify as important), create a hidden organizer by glueing a piece of sheet metal to the inside of your cabinet. Cover the metal with decorative paper and use magnets to keep all of your things in place.

But seriously, stop keeping junk in your house. Ninety percent of the paper products jammed in a drawer can be found online (menus, photos, bills, etc.) and the rest — well, you’ve managed to live without it already, haven’t you?

8. Add storage under the sink.

kitchen sink

When planning your kitchen, it’s easy to forget about that dark space under the sink. Instead of just throwing your cleaning products and tools into the unknown, hang them from a tension rod. This will keep them safe from tipping over and open up space below for other items.

If you’re constantly knocking items over when reaching under the sink, try using a lazy Susan. This will leave bottles, cleaners, soaps and solvents safely in sight and easily accessible. You can also use small plastic crates for the remaining supplies, keeping them organized, upright and protected.

9. Hang stuff up.

Hanging pots

“If you don’t have enough drawer or cabinet space for storage, start hanging it up!” Wohlwend says. “Hang a magnetic knife rack on an empty wall, hang a paper towel holder under your upper cabinets, add hooks to the sides of cabinets to hang dish towels or hot pads. If you can store stuff on your walls, you’ll free up drawer, cabinet and counter space!”

Hate rummaging through all those noisy pots and pans? If the area is free of lighting fixtures, try mounting a hanging pot rack from the ceiling. This will open up more cabinet space and add a little decoration to your kitchen.

Looking for more decorating inspiration? Check out these small kitchen design ideas.

10. Use rolling storage.

“If you have room for a larger rolling kitchen cart, then you know the pleasures of having mobile storage,” the experts at Apartment Therapy explain. “But don’t discount the helpfulness of smaller rolling storage shelves and carts that can fit in weird nooks, be pulled out when needed and pushed away when finished with.”

Investing in a rolling cart will offer you more than just storage. If you purchase one with a hard flat top, you can use the extra counter space for entertainment, cooking and to transporting heavy dishes from room to room. It can also double as a portable bar!

Sometimes, you need more storage space.

Unfortunately, you can’t always get everything you need out of your small kitchen. If you have appliances, tableware, decorations or other supplies you don’t use frequently but aren’t ready to get rid of just yet, Life Storage can help.

Our climate controlled storage can protect even your most sensitive items — just don’t try to use it to replace your refrigerator. Check out our website to learn more about our storage units for rent.

Have any other small kitchen tricks and tips? Share them in the Comments section below or tweet us @LifeStorage.

About the Author

Grace Gerass

I love to share all sorts of DIY and home decor tips with my readers here at the Life Storage blog.

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