We recently moved back to New York City, which means we're back to apartment living and small kitchen living. The move-in process is always pretty stressful, but one of the things that made it much easier for me was coming up with a plan for organizing different areas of the house.
I actually worked with my friends from Horderly to organize three spaces in our house: the kitchen, my prop closet, and our entryway closet. To me, the biggest job is always the kitchen and that's what we're going to focus on today!
12 Small Kitchen Organization Ideas
Since we live in NYC, that means we're working with a small space. Horderly actually helped us organize the pantry in our previous apartment – and I shared her 5-step organizing method in that post – but this time we were starting from scratch. So we had the whole kitchen to play with and I've come away with some pretty great ideas for organizing small kitchens.
We've got 12 small kitchen organization ideas that aren't specific just to my kitchen. We've got things that you can use for pretty much any space!
General Organizing Tips for Small Kitchens
Before we dive into our specific ideas, I wanted to first just give you some overall tips as you're thinking about your space:
keep your counters are clear as possible
put as much as you can into closed spaces as possible (in cabinets, behind doors, bins, etc.)
things that do live “out” keep in non-clear containers (reduces the look of clutter)
bins or containers inside cabinets should be clear so you can see what's inside
have a dedicated space for overflow (more on that later)
Basically the goal is to minimize the look of clutter as much as possible as that will help your space feel larger.
1. Cabinet Shelf Risers
Tip number one is to use shelf risers. Shelf risers are great because they essentially give you an extra shelf within your shelf. We currently use them for:
separating dinner & salad plates
But they can also be used for pantry items, spices, tupperware and more! I use these wire shelf risers and they work really well (and come in multiple sizes).
2. Stack Your Pans Sideways
Next up, let's talk pots and pans. These can take up a lot of space, but also be a pain in the butt to store. Most of us nest our pans – meaning we store them inside each other – but while that might save space, it doesn't work so well for using them. Horderly introduced me to these adjustable cookware racks and they are so AWESOME!
Essentially they enable you to store your frying pans, baking sheets, baking pans, muffin tins, etc., sideways. They're held upright with wire separators and I think they really do help save space. Plus they're just way more functional!
3. Hooks Inside Your Cabinets
Our third (and actually fourth) on the list of small kitchen organization ideas is to leverage the backside of your cabinets if you're short on space. We only have two drawers in our entire kitchen – one for silverware, one for other cooking utensils – so we didn't have a space for dish towels or potholders.
That's where these little sticky hooks come in! They're great for storing potholders and dishtowels on the inside of your cabinets. This also goes along with our tip of keeping things out of view when possible (= appearance of a larger space).
4. Over the Cabinet Organizers
Again, we're talking about utilizing the back of our cabinets for storage. We use this for our potholders, but also for some of our cleaning supplies. There are lots of option for over the door organizers! Here are some that I would recommend:
Over the Cabinet Bakeware Storage
Over the Cabinet Double Basket (this is what we use for cleaning supplies)
Steel Over the Cabinet Paper Towel Holder (minimizes counter clutter!)
Towel Bar/Dishtowel Drying Bar
Wall Mount Spice Rack
5. Lazy Susans for Ease & Storage
One of my absolute favorite tips that I picked up from the team at Horderly is using lazy susans. I've always been resistant to them for some reason, but holy cow I'm a complete convert. I have 6 in my kitchen right now and absolutely LOVE them!
What's great about lazy susans are they make things more accessible to grab and they're also amazing for corner cabinets.
Here's where I think you could use lazy susans in your small kitchen:
oils & vinegars (that what we do)
spices (we have this double level lazy susan)
smaller pantry items
They're especially great for corner cabinets as those can be areas that become black holes – you never know what gets shoved into the back! We have three of these wooden lazy susans and I LOVE them!
6. Nesting Tupperware/Bowls
I know we mentioned not nesting your pans, but there are two things I do recommend nesting if you have a small kitchen: tupperware and mixing bowls/measuring pitchers. It's a great way to save on space and they should nest really well together. We actually have ours just sitting in front of our sideways stacked bakeware!
7. Organize Your Drawers
If you have a small kitchen, you know that drawer space is coveted. So we need to make the most out of those drawers by organizing them! As I mentioned, we only have two drawers in our whole kitchen, so we have to make the most of them.
For starters, a silverware tray is essential. That should be drawer #1.
If you have additional drawers, consider things like these:
Bamboo drawer dividers
Wood knife block
Or check out this list of drawer organizer ideas from the Container Store!
8. Use Your Oven if Need Be
Feel like you're running out of space!? Use your oven! Remember when Carrie from Sex and the City used her oven to store her sweaters? Use that idea, just not sweaters!
In our new apartment, we don't have a great space for baking sheets. So instead of trying to find a place, we're going to store them in our oven. Your oven can be a great place to store your baking sheets, muffin tins, and even baking pans if you don't have room. Just make sure to take them out before you start baking!
9. Don't Forget Above Your Fridge
Got an empty space above your fridge? USE IT! Whether you have cabinets up there, or it's just an empty space, it's a space for you to store stuff! I recommend using baskets above your fridge as they're easy to take up and down and they basically act as large drawers.
We use these hyacinth baskets from The Container Store and they work great. We have two above our fridge (which fit perfectly on top of normal-sized fridges) and one is for snacks, the other is for all things pasta!
10. Get Rid of the Plastic Bags
You know how so many pantry items these days come in plastic bags? It's great that they're resealable and everything, but they are such a pain to store. The first thing you can do to keep your cupboards organized is to get rid of those bags and transfer your items to containers.
I would recommend finding a pantry container system that fits your shelving. Begin by measuring your shelves, determining what you can fit. Then take an audit of your pantry and determine how many things you're trying to store. And finally, look at your space. Is it better for a lazy susan? If so, round jars (like mason jars) might work better. Just a straight shelf? Containers like these OXO Good Grips ones might work better!
11. Condense What You Can
Is there anything in your kitchen that you're finding takes up a lot of room? For me, it was tea boxes. I love tea and have collected a pretty big variety and their boxes were taking up SO much room. When Horderly organized us last time, she bought us the tea boxes and wow. LOVE. Saves so much space!
Think about what might be taking up room in your kitchen that you can condense! Other things that I condense are:
removing bags of crackers from their boxes
combining spices bottles
putting my matcha stuff in one small container
If you have anything in particular that you're finding bothersome, let me know in the comments! Either I or a member of the Horderly team will give you our ideas!
12. Add a Make Shift Pantry
Last, but not least on our list of small kitchen organization ideas is to create your own pantry. We don't have a pantry, but we are lucky enough to have two cabinets we can use for pantry storage. If you're super tight on storage and just can't find room for your pantry items…make one!
Maybe you have a blank wall you could put up a shelving unit. Or maybe there's space under a window that could have a shelving unit. Your pantry doesn't necessarily have to live in your kitchen either! It could live in a hallway, it could live in a coat closet, it could even live in your living room.
My one suggestion would be, that if you're using something like open shelving, make sure you have non-clear containers/bins for everything. This will help it stay much more organized and less cluttered. No just shoving stuff onto the shelves! You want things to have their place so that you can stay as organized as possible.
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*note: all photos are either from The Container Store or Amazon.com
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