The 6 Worst Ways You’re Wasting Space in Your Kitchen

updated May 14, 2021
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There’s definitely some prime real estate in the kitchen. With some spots being the prime-est! But just about every space in the kitchen is important and begging to be maximized. Waste space over here and you’re likely to have to make up for it over there. And that could mean a way-too-crowded cabinet or drawer. Or having to move a million platters every time you want to get to your food processor.

Wasting space has a domino effect of consequences, you see. Which is why we thought we should pinpoint some of the worst ways that people tend to waste space in the kitchen. You know, so that you can stop!

Here are the worst ways you’re wasting space in your kitchen. 

Credit: Melanie Rieders

1. Not using vertical space 

Vertical space with storage potential is all over your kitchen, including in your cabinets and pantry. In cabinets, simple shelf risers can give you instant extra “shelves” where you need them. In pantries, tiered shelving allows you to increase usable storage space and see everything you’re storing at a glance. And don’t forget blank space on your walls — they’re just begging for shelves, hooks, or even a cool pegboard situation.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

2. Letting your lids organize themselves

For whatever reason, it feels like when once we’ve gotten our pots and pans or food storage containers organized, the lids are an afterthought that get stuck into any old empty space. But it’s actually these lids that make a bigger mess. When it comes to lids for pots and pans, consider hanging them with hooks or a lid organizer on the back of the cabinet door. And we’ve got a few really great ideas for organizing your food container lids!

Credit: Joe Lingeman

3. Stacking things instead of filing them

Stacking baking sheets, muffin tins, cutting boards, and cake pans on top of one another is a recipe for frustration. And this takes up a lot of unnecessary space — especially once it starts falling over. Instead of making a mountain, turn these items on their sides and file them vertically. Storing these things in a rack makes everything tidy, and, more importantly, means you’ll never have to unstack items and put them away. You can even DIY a custom solution using tension rods.

Credit: Alexis Buryk

4. Ignoring the backs of doors and sides of cabinets

Add some Command hooks to the back of your cabinet doors and you have the perfect place to store dish gloves (in your under-sink cabinet), pot holders, and more. Hang a rail on the side of a cabinet and you have all sorts of space for cookware and utensils. You can even add storage to the bottom of your upper cabinets, by adding hooks for mugs or a magnetic knife strip for metal-lidded jars.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Prop Stylist: Stephanie Yeh/Kitchn

5. Treating your under-sink area like a wasteland

Raise your hand if you have a habit of shoving cleaning supplies into the under-sink cabinet without really thinking about it? Yeah, that’s another good way to waste space. Organize all those bottles and brushes and you’ll be able to store more. You might even be able to move your trash can into one side, freeing up floor space.

Read more: The 9 Most Brilliant Under-the-Sink Organizing Tips and Tricks You’ll Wish You Knew About Way Earlier

6. Storing things you shouldn’t be

The single worst way to waste space in the kitchen is by storing things you shouldn’t be. Maybe you need to get rid of stuff? Or maybe you’re using the kitchen to store things that would best be stored elsewhere. To reclaim this wasted space, first methodically go through categories of your kitchen possessions. For instance, go through all your mugs at once, and all your cooking utensils at once. (For more kitchen decluttering inspiration, check out The First 3 Things You Need to Declutter In Your Kitchen.)

Another way to clear out some kitchen space is to store rarely used items somewhere outside the kitchen. For instance, the ice cream maker you only use during the summer might be better stored on the top shelf of a closet until the warmer weather comes around. Save actual kitchen space for items you use more frequently.