8 Smart Ways to Make More Space in a Small Kitchen

published Oct 22, 2014
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
(Image credit: Pablo Enriquez)

Who cooks here: Anna Watson Carl of The Yellow Table & Brandon Carl
See the kitchen: Anna’s Yellow Table Kitchen
Where: Manhattan, New York
Rent or Own? Rent

Tiny kitchens are the norm in Manhattan and other dense urban areas, and many people merely use their teeny kitchens as a place to reheat takeout and store bottles of wine. But as a blogger, food stylist, and recipe developer, Anna of The Yellow Table works in her 48-square-foot kitchen every single day, so she has developed some pretty handy space-saving tricks over the years. “After 4-plus years in this kitchen, I can truly say that I love cooking in it!” she says.

Here are 8 smart tips from Anna on making a small kitchen work better and work harder.

(Image credit: Pablo Enriquez)

1. Use your oven for storage.

I have limited shelf and cabinet space, so I store all of my baking sheets, cooling racks, and muffins tins in the oven. The trick is to remember to take them out before you turn the oven on!

2. Install hooks wherever you can.

My husband Brandon installed a bunch of hooks on the side of our metro rack so I can hang strainers and oven mitts. It not only makes these items handy to grab, but it helps us get around our lack of drawers. I also have a hook to hold towels by the sink.

3. Create your own pantry!

Because we don’t have a pantry, we bought an old wooden wardrobe off Craigslist, and I store all of my dried goods (pastas, beans, grains, canned goods, baking items, tea, coffee) in it, as well as extra baking dishes, coffee pots, and tools like my baking thermometer and cake icing supplies. I don’t know what I’d do without it!

(Image credit: Pablo Enriquez)

4. If you need more storage, buy it.

Getting creative about storage doesn’t just apply to the pantry. Think about extra storage for all your gear. In my kitchen, my metro rack is a lifesaver. It sits in the corner and holds all of my electric appliances, like my food processor, stand mixer, blender, and hot water pot, as well as all of my cutting boards. The butcher block top doubles as extra counter space.

4. Organize things by how (and when) you use them.

I store all of my spices, vinegars, and oils together on one shelf above my sink (so they are away from the heat of the stove) and then store my plates, mugs, and glasses all within easy reach of my dishwasher so I can unload and load it quickly.

(Image credit: Pablo Enriquez)

5. Store pots and pans up high.

There are several feet of free space between the tops of my cabinets and the ceiling, so I store all of my big pots and pans up there. I just jump up on a bar stool to pull things down when I need them.

7. Clean as you go.

This is probably the best space-saving trick I’ve learned. In a small space, it is imperative to clean as you go – otherwise you end up with teetering piles of dishes, pots, and pans that can quickly become disastrous (especially when you’re trying to cook!)

8. If all else fails, use your bathtub.

I learned early on when cooking for big dinner parties, that sometimes you just need a place to hide your dirty dishes when they start piling up. I stack mine in my bathtub and pull the curtain – no one ever thinks to look back there, and I just wash them once everyone’s left!

(Image credit: Pablo Enriquez)

Thank you so much for letting us peek into your kitchen, Anna!
Share your own kitchen renovation or improvement!
We’re always looking for real kitchens from real cooks.
Show us your kitchen here!