27 of Our Most Brilliant Tips for Organizing a Small Kitchen on a Budget

published Aug 27, 2019
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

When it comes to organizing a small kitchen, success really comes when you can free up the space you do have or create more space out of thin air. If you’re not a magician (or a professional organizer), that can sound daunting. But we’re here to help! We rounded up our best tips for organizing a small kitchen and put them together in this post. They’re all as functional as they are brilliant — and they won’t cost you all that much to execute (read: We’re not gonna suggest anything outlandish like custom cabinets or, uh, putting an addition onto your home!).

1. Add shelves (even little ones!) anywhere you can.

Don’t think you have space to add wall shelves? Think again! Even a teeny-tiny shelf can be useful! Just look at this little perch for specialty oils — it gets the bottles out of a cabinet and off the counter. And it turns them into decoration, too. The Container Store has a ton of shelving options, like these super small ledge shelves.

2. Add ’em even way up high!

There’s always going to be more storage space if you look up. Way up. The little sliver of wall over your windows can be a great spot for another shelf. Just use it for serving dishes and infrequently used items so that you’re not constantly reaching for a step stool.

Read more: This Marie Kondo-Inspired Tiny Kitchen Is Filled with Brilliant Storage Ideas

3. Make burner covers to add extra counter space.

Even most tiny kitchens still have a stove or burners. If you build wooden covers for them, you can increase counter space and work over the burners when you need! When it’s time to cook, just move the boards.

Read more: How To Build Burner Covers and Double the Counter Space in Your Tiny Kitchen

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

4. Use risers to create levels.

This idea works for your counters, inside your cabinets, and even in your fridge. Set up a riser and you get two levels for storage instead of just one. The Container Store sells both acrylic and chrome risers designed specifically for kitchen storage.

5. Put the sides of your cabinets to work.

We’ve seen people add pot rails, hooks, or even just nails to the sides of their cabinets. This way, you can use the space to hang tools, textiles, cutting boards, and more. The best part is that there are so many options out there, from basic Command hooks to colorful, actually pretty hooks from Anthro.

6. Put the bottoms of your upper cabinets to work, too.

How brilliant is this? You can screw the tops of jars into the bottom of your cabinets or install a magnetic knife strip and you’ll have a little more flexibility in what you store.

7. Add drawers or baskets where you can.

The problem with cabinet shelves is that stuff gets shoved to the back and then it’s impossible to find/get out. Add drawers or baskets instead and you’ll be able to slide them out and see everything that’s hiding back there.

Credit: Devon Jarvis

8. Make use of a small utility cart.

One of two carts, specifically: either IKEA’s Raskog cart or this round one from Target, which is actually perfect for Instant Pot storage. These have a small footprint, but still have plenty of room for storage. And because they’re on wheels, they can be pushed into a closet or the corner of a room and pulled out to meet you at your workspace when you need it.

9. Add hooks to shelves.

As you’re about to see, we love hooks. Hooks everywhere! Screw-in cup hooks are especially great for the bottoms of wooden shelves. Use them to get mugs and teacups out of your cabinets. Or if it works for your space, hang spatulas, whisks, and other tools from them.

10. Add hooks on your walls, too.

The more hooks, the merrier! Hooks (or even just nails) on the walls means new space for cutting boards, tools, cookware, and even cleaning supplies.

11. And add hooks on your fridge!

Get a magnetic hook and you’ve got space for a tea towel or lightweight utensils. While we’re talking about your fridge, it’s also worth pointing out that you can find a magnetic spice rack or even a magnetic paper towel holder, to really put the sides of the appliance to work.

Related: 6 Overlooked Places to Hang Hooks in Your Kitchen

Credit: Cambria Bold

12. Use your windowsill for extra storage.

If you’re lucky enough to have a window in your tiny kitchen, use that sill for storage. Obviously, you can store plants and homegrown herbs on there, but it’s also worth thinking about it for cookbooks, cookware, utensil crocks, and more.

13. Don’t be afraid to block some windows.

We get the instinct to want to leave windows unobstructed, but you can use some of the space and still have plenty of natural light coming in. Hang a curtain rod across a window and dangle some of your most-used pots from it. (This is especially smart if you don’t love your view.)

Credit: Emma Fiala

14. Hang some pot rails.

Here’s a similar idea, only on a wall instead of across a window. You can find pot rails in all sorts of sizes and styles. And once they’re installed, they give you lots of freedom to mix up what you hang from them. You can even slide some pot lids through the top for extra storage.

Credit: Rachel Jacks

15. Use the inside of your cabinets.

If you’re careful to work around the shelves inside, you can store all sorts of things on the inside of your cabinet doors. We’ve seen people hang bins for cleaning supplies and cutting boards, and hooks for pot lids or measuring spoons. Consider an over-the-door basket or bakeware holder.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

16. Turn your backsplash into storage.

Your backsplash can be more than just a pretty focal point! Hang a rail on it (again with the rails!), a magnetic knife block, Command Hooks, or even a narrow shelf.

Related: How To Install an IKEA GRUNDTAL Rail on a Tile Backsplash

Credit: Minette Hand

17. Steal space from other rooms.

There is absolutely no reason why you can’t store dishes or glasses in your living room! Just pile it up on a shelf or bookcase nicely and call it a day.

18. Store stuff out in the open.

No pantry? No problem! Put your most-used ingredients on a pretty dessert stand or lazy Susan and show them off! This will free up cabinet space and also make it easier for you to grab what you need while you’re working. While you’re at it, consider leaving your Dutch oven or prettiest cookware out on the stovetop.

Credit: Anna Spaller

19. Store stuff on top of your cabinets.

If your cabinets don’t go all the way up to the ceiling, use that space to store stuff that you don’t use all that often. Just add a plant or two in order to keep the space feeling pretty and not too jumbled.

20. Get your paper towels up and out of the way.

Instead of keeping your paper towels on your counter, get a holder that’ll mount to the wall or under your cabinet. (Or, again, the side of your fridge.) Better yet, store the roll on the inside of your cabinet and you’ll probably end up reaching for them less often.

Credit: Bev Wilson

21. Install a pegboard.

The biggest lesson we learned from Julia Child: The pegboard is not to be underestimated. Install one on a blank wall and you’ll end up with an incredibly versatile storage space that can be changed around based on the items that get introduced into your kitchen.

See the steps: How To Build and Hang a Kitchen Pegboard

Credit: Joe Lingeman

22. Get rid of unnecessary packaging.

While you might think that matching containers take up more space, they actually don’t because they make it easier to stack things! You’d never really put a box of brown sugar on top of a bag of regular sugar, but airtight containers make that possible.

Related: The Food Containers Pro Chefs Love Just Got a Major Upgrade — and We’re Obsessed

23. Free up drawer space wherever you can.

We spotted this idea in a House Tour over at Apartment Therapy: Someone used an old flower vase to hold utensils and baking supplies, thus, freeing up a drawer. While you obviously have to be smart about how much you store on your counters (because, clutter!), we like the idea of freeing up drawer space to make room for other, less-display-worthy things.

Credit: Lisa Freedman

24. Invest in some inexpensive organizers that were practically made for small spaces.

Not all organizers are created equally! Meaning your small space might need something more special. Always measure before you make a purchase and try not to spend a small fortune on organizers if you don’t have to.

Read more: 9 Small-Space Organizers That Cost Just $10 or Less

Credit: Joe Lingeman

25. DIY a foil storage situation.

This idea can work on the inside of a cabinet door or just any blank wall. And it’s oh-so-simple: Just use Command Hooks to hold up your foil and parchment paper boxes. More cabinet space freed up!

Read more: The $8 Hack That’ll Make Storing Your Foil and Parchment Paper a Million Times Better

Credit: Joe Lingeman

26. Store things vertically.

Rather than stacking things on top of each other, add tension rods or a tray divider to a cabinet and store things on their sides. This will work for baking sheets, cutting boards, cake pans, and more. This way, when you pull one thing, you don’t cause an avalanche.

Read more: The Most Clever Solution for Storing Your Baking Sheets

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

27. Get an island on wheels.

Like our utility cart idea, but for an island! This kitchen above is clearly way too small to earn an island, but by having one nearby on wheels, the home cook can drag it over when she’s working. This way, she can have more storage space and more counter space. Check out The Container Store for tons of options.

Got any other ideas to add? Leave them in the comments below!