Organization Tips for Small Kitchens

I really enjoy cooking, almost more than I enjoy eating. And that’s saying a lot. I moved in with my wonderful boyfriend, The Almost-Doctor (henceforth referred to as the A-D), back in June. He’d been living in the 800-square-foot condo for two years, getting along just fine until I showed up with more kitchen gadgets than anyone in her mid-twenties should own.

The kitchen is a cave with no windows. And while I’ve always known it’s what my grandmother would have referred to as a “one butt kitchen,” I was not prepared for my college roommate to visit from Manhattan, shocked to see that her kitchen was roomy compared to ours. “How can you manage in here?” She asked, crinkling her nose.

Kitchen

It’s a good question. The kitchen is only 6 feet long and 7 feet wide. Everything is narrow: the counter space, the drawers, the cupboards. And somehow we manage to host parties, bake Christmas cookies, and get by every day. It’s not perfect, but it’s efficient. Here is how we’ve managed:

Do you have a tiny kitchen? Are you looking for some organization tips? Look no further. We're sharing our favorite DIY organization tips for small kitchens.

1. Hang the microwave

This saves an enormous amount of counter space. The A-D’s parents donated this one because apparently almond appliances aren’t “in” anymore. Who knew?
Microwave

2. Keep all “like” things together as much as possible

I know it sounds obvious, but this helps us put things away quickly, and even helps our guests know where to find things when they come over. All the cups are above the dishwasher:

Cupboard - Cups

All the bowls live above the sink, and right below that cupboard is a shelf that holds tea. It’s also where I end up propping my phone to look at recipes:

Cupboard - Above Sink

and a few of the pots and pans fit nicely in the drawer under the stove:

Pots and Pans

3. Make use of empty space that might otherwise go to waste…

This is where we started to get creative. The A-D is a pretty handy guy, so he built this shelf that holds jars of flour, sugar, rice, oatmeal, and couscous. It also holds our rice maker and George Foreman grill. And can you see that we hang our potholders on small hooks?

Shelf

You will also notice wire racks hanging underneath the shelf. We bought these from Home Depot and mounted them sideways to make room for wax paper, aluminum foil, and plastic bags.

Basket

But the creativity didn’t stop there! We also mounted a lid holder (also found at Home Depot) to the inside of a cupboard door. This cupboard holds baking sheets, muffin tins, cooling racks, and cutting boards, so the lids have plenty of room once the door closes.

Lid Rack

Rather than using a bulky knife block that would take up precious counter space, we mounted a magnetic knife strip along the back wall of the kitchen.

Knife Magnet

4…But choose your battles

I’ll give the cupboard between the stove and fridge mixed reviews. A final Home Depot purchase: the rack for pots and pans seen on the top shelf. You could use this either sitting like we have it, or I’m sure it would work on its side (for those of you with wide enough cupboards). It’s a real space saver, and keeps our pots and pans from getting scraped on each other.

Cupboard - Pots

But did you see the bottom shelf? This is where we gave up. We simply jammed some casserole dishes and pasta strainers in and called it good. We don’t use these items very often and besides…where else were we going to put them?

A second place we compromised on organization was the utensil drawer. There are too many oddly shaped items (and the drawer is far too narrow) to attempt this one.

Utensil Drawer

Our sink is one big basin, so we needed a separate drying rack for dishes. We lost a battle for counter space here!

Drying Rack

There’s one more area I’m not willing to fight with: the spices/baking ingredients cupboard. We just dig around when we need something here! We have a spice rack that sits on the counter (see the photo of the microwave) for those we use most often, making it easy to find them in a hurry.

Spice Cupboard

5. Think outside the kitchen

Did you notice something?

Where is their food?

In a kitchen this small, it’s truly impossible to fit everything. When The A-D moved in, the previous owner left a huge shelving unit from IKEA. He moved it to the dining room, into a space that would have otherwise been unused.

Dining Room

He spray painted the end windows to look like frosted glass, and this is where we store the remainder of our kitchen supplies.

On the left is our pantry: all the nonperishable food two people could need.

Pantry1

And on the right is more storage: tupperware (an excessive amount), lunch boxes, paper products, grilling tools, small appliances, and even a KitchenAid mixer on the bottom shelf!

Pantry2

The middle unit has clear glass and nicely displays our booze, a few photos, a set of colorful nesting mixing bowls, and our collection of recipe books.

Display Shelf

Fortunately, there’s just enough space to tuck the trash can in the corner next to the shelving unit. And the A-D hung this fabulous three-tiered basket for produce right above that.

Fruit Basket

6. Have Fun!

This whole process was actually fun! It was interesting to see where things fit, both physically and for our lifestyle. Get creative and find a solution that works for you!

What tips do you have for organizing small kitchens?

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3 thoughts on “Organization Tips for Small Kitchens

  1. Those knives makes me nervous, I was always taught to point knives down… you did an amazing job with your small space though. Well done.

  2. Is there enough room above the kitchen faucet to install a dish rack there? Or perhaps you could invest in a few quick-dry towels, and do away with the dish rack entirely.

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