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A Guide to Small Kitchen Organization

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Don’t fight your small kitchen, organize it! After 10 years of living with a small kitchen here are my best small kitchen organization tips for your small space!

Don't fight your small kitchen, organize it! After 10 years of living with a small kitchen here are my best organizational and room saving tips for your small space!

I’ve moved around a LOT since college. And for some reason each kitchen has been smaller than the last. My first kitchen had these crazy tall cabinets that I could never use completely because I was too short to reach the top two shelves. But it was a tiny galley style thing and if you didn’t run the expensive baseboard heating the pipes would freeze in the winter. Then I moved into a little duplex with enough counter space for a dish drainer and a microwave. I had to buy little plastic shelves to store food because it didn’t even have a pantry. Then the apartment with a kitchen that was a little bigger but I also had to share the space with another person who’s standards of kitchen cleanliness were not on the same level as my own. And now my current kitchen has very little counter space, is pretty narrow, and some days our pots and pans are almost literally overflowing from the cabinets.

If nothing else, at this point in my life, I’m an absolute rock star at organizing a small kitchen. So if you’re battling a small kitchen, with no money in the budget for your dream kitchen remodel, then read on for some tips, tricks, and great products that will keep you from losing your sanity in a small kitchen!  This post contains some affiliate links.  Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Don't fight your small kitchen, organize it! After 10 years of living with a small kitchen here are my best organizational and room saving tips for your small space!

The key to keeping a small kitchen clutter free is getting as much stuff off the counters as possible. Which means that clunky knife block has got to go. Trade up and get a magnetic knife strip. They’ll hold your knives securely, free up counter space and you can still get gorgeous strips like this one made of walnut or if you’re more like me and want that modern look this stainless steel strip is great, too!

Don't fight your small kitchen, organize it! After 10 years of living with a small kitchen here are my best organizational and room saving tips for your small space!

When I first moved into this house we had two big jars of cooking utensils on the counters. One of them lived on the stove and the other was shoved to the back of the counter and often got lost behind all the stuff that inevitably piled up in front of it. We moved all the utensils in that neglected jar to a drawer by the stove and now we can reach everything we need all the time! If you’re organizing a drawer a caddy is the perfect way to keep everything within reach without you having to paw through it every time you need a spatula. I like this one because it’s expandable to fit multiple drawer sizes. If you opt to keep a jar on top of your stove make sure it’s ceramic because metal and stainless steel will get super hot every time you turn the oven on and keep only wooden spoons in it. Metal and plastic or silicone spatulas will get too hot or you run the risk of them melting.

Don't fight your small kitchen, organize it! After 10 years of living with a small kitchen here are my best organizational and room saving tips for your small space!

Once you’ve got as much counter space cleared up as possible it’s time to move on to the cabinets. Between a baker and a homesteader in this house we’ve got plenty of pots, pans, and baking sheets to go around. If you have the space and the stability to hang a pot hanger, DO IT! It gets them out of the cabinets so you can free up space to store bigger appliances. I’ve been casually mentioning installing one for a few months because I think even a simple one like this would help immensely with actually being able to pull out pots and pans without having to carefully unstack and restack every single time.

Don't fight your small kitchen, organize it! After 10 years of living with a small kitchen here are my best organizational and room saving tips for your small space!

If you just don’t want to hang a pot organizer or can’t because you’re a renter {I’ve been there. I feel ya} then try a better organizing system inside your cabinets. I love pan organizers like this one so you don’t have to pull every single one out to get to the biggest one on the bottom. This hanging lid organizer  is another thing I’ve been hinting at for awhile. It mounts to a wall if you’re lucky enough to put in a pot hanger or to the inside of the cabinet door so you can find your lids easily every single time. This pull out cookware organizer looks kinda like a dishwasher and is AWESOME if you have a cabinet wide enough and the money to drop on it. I would LOVE to put that in my current kitchen!

Don't fight your small kitchen, organize it! After 10 years of living with a small kitchen here are my best organizational and room saving tips for your small space!

All the lower shelves in our kitchen have a shorter second shelf in them. All. Of. Them. And this drives the baker in me insane! Don’t they know how many baking sheets and muffin pans I have?! My dream house will have a cabinet with special built in dividers for baking sheets and pans but until that day I can make do with pantry rack. And maybe an extra pan organizer to hold all the pie plates and cake rounds and bundt pans, too!

Don't fight your small kitchen, organize it! After 10 years of living with a small kitchen here are my best organizational and room saving tips for your small space!

I suppose the only way you might find yourself with bowls that don’t stack nicely and neatly inside each other is when you combine households or inherit dishes. If you’re combining with a significant other see if you can talk them into selling those un-nested, cumbersome bowls on eBay or Amazon because you will not want to be juggling those bowls every single time you need to mix or melt something. At minimum you’ll want a good set of glass bowls for melting and oven safe baking as well and if you have enough space go for some heavy duty plastic or stainless steel, too{for popcorn of course}.

Don't fight your small kitchen, organize it! After 10 years of living with a small kitchen here are my best organizational and room saving tips for your small space!

Almost always people under utilize the top of the fridge. I store so many things on top of the fridge when I have nowhere else to put them. Namely spices and produce, because it keeps both off my counter. Look for stacking bins that are wide but shallow so they’re not so tall you can’t reach them. Then find a nice little spice rack that rotates so you don’t have to pull it off the top of the fridge every single time you need something. We have this one and the only thing I don’t like about it is having to transfer any new spices into the little glass bottles. It’s better than having them take over the cabinets, though. We also store bread and bags of chips up there to keep the counters clear.

Don't fight your small kitchen, organize it! After 10 years of living with a small kitchen here are my best organizational and room saving tips for your small space!

Finally fed up with our overflowing pantry I begged my roommates for a better solution. We got a basket similar to this one and now it holds all our garlic and onions. We have a lot of garlic and onions apparently. We hung it from a shelf like this one and put mostly fruit on top of it and the occasional blog prop we don’t want to walk all the way to the porch to put away. Guilty. They would also be great for snacks, cereals, and chip bags if you don’t want those things tucked on top of the fridge too far away from the shorter eaters in your home.

Don't fight your small kitchen, organize it! After 10 years of living with a small kitchen here are my best organizational and room saving tips for your small space!

I remember we had these in our fridge when I was younger specifically for soda but we use them in our pantry for canned goods. We don’t buy a whole lot of canned goods simply because my roommate is a homesteader and so we can lots of fresh veggies {into glass jars, though} that we store in the basement. For the odd fire roasted tomato or black beans for enchilada night we have these handy can racks. If you always remember to pull from the bottom you’ll always be using the oldest can first, which is a big plus when it comes to rotating your food storage. Those long racks can take up a lot of room so one day I’d like to get these tower racks and go up with our can storage instead of out.

Don't fight your small kitchen, organize it! After 10 years of living with a small kitchen here are my best organizational and room saving tips for your small space!

In a small kitchen you learn to make use of every available space you have. So if you randomly have a gap between your fridge and the cabinet or dishwasher get one of these slim, rolling storage towers. You can add to your storage space without a clunky shelving unit. I keep trying to convince the roommates to make use of the space beside our fridge with wider rolling shelving unit similar to this one. We’d have to custom build it to leave a space for the recycling can. But maybe with no way to pile it up the ceiling the recycling would go out more often 😉

Don't fight your small kitchen, organize it! After 10 years of living with a small kitchen here are my best organizational and room saving tips for your small space!

Keep the pantry clutter free {and possibly clear up room to store large appliances} by investing in some nice glass storage containers. I also like this set with the chalkboard labels so you can write what is in each container. Put anything that comes loose inside a cardboard box or package like pasta, cereal, flour, sugars, snack crackers, cookies, and other baking ingredients into a jar. You’ll eliminate having to cram weird sized bags and boxes onto the shelves, keep food fresher longer, and if you get a square set like this one from Oxo that stacks you can free up even more shelf space.

Pantry-Org-12

This one is JUST a suggestion. Don’t lynch me. If you have small ones or teenagers or just like the convenience of a microwave then skip over this paragraph. But if you are in desperate need of counter space, almost never use this thing, {or wouldn’t mind taking a bit longer to do things like reheat food}, or dread cleaning it out. Then get rid of it. We got rid of ours a few months ago because we were frustrated with it just sitting there, taking up space and getting used maybe once a week. It was a bit of an adjustment in the beginning because heating up leftovers took longer and I didn’t have it to quickly melt butter or chocolate for baking. We also decided to invest in a good set of glass storage containers for leftovers so we could reheat things without getting a dozen dishes dirty. I can honestly say I really don’t miss it.

Keep the appliances you use all the time on the counter where you have easy access and store the ones you don’t use often in closets or on top of cabinets. We have our food processor and crock pot on top of the cabinets because we don’t use either of them super often. The kitchen aid mixer and bread machine have their own permanent place on the counter, though because they both get used once a week at least. Do whatever works for you, here!

If you’re battling a tiny kitchen then I hope that some of these suggestions will help you conquer the tiny and be at peace in your space! Do you have any other suggestions for a clutter free and organized small kitchen? I’d love to hear them!

Meaghan

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