Any high traffic, multi-use space can become victim to a sea of clutter and chaos. That’s why we love organizing and styling kitchens. When set up with intention, a kitchen can become the backbone of a functional home. However, organizing small kitchens offer a unique challenge for most city dwellers. Not only do you have to maximize every square inch, but having items fit is even more critical to creating a spacious look and feel.
When Sam Gutstadt, a multi-talented, very busy host, blogger, producer, and parent, asked us to organize her kitchen, we jumped at the chance. The charming floors and funky cabinets were the perfect backdrops to this kitchen organizing project.
Here are 9 Small Kitchen Organizing Ideas & Storage Tips:
1. PURGE, PURGE, PURGE!
The quickest way to create order in a small kitchen is to simplify your collection and get rid of anything that you don’t use. The key is to BE RELENTLESS! We start every project with the Simply Spaced 3 Step Method that entails taking everything out and asking yourself, do I love this, do I need this, do I use this? If the answer is no, sayonara sister!
By purging unused appliances, tossing expired food and streamlining collections of dishes to only the most frequently used, you will immediately see your room become more spacious and easy to navigate. Remember, an item isn’t useful unless it’s used!
THIS SPACE: Our client did an amazing job at downsizing her items. She donated old kid’s utensils and plates her family had grown out of, lidless and mismatched Tupperware, and unused wedding gifts that were collecting dust.
2. CREATE INTUITIVE HOMES
Creating a designated cabinet or drawer for each category of items is a huge aspect of organizing a space. To take it to the next level, make sure to place specific categories in the most convenient locations possible. Consider how you move around the kitchen, and consider where it would be most convenient to grab for a mug or a fork. For example, some rules of thumbs include:
- dishes near the dishwasher
- pots and pans near the stove
- coffee pots right under the mugs
An easy way to map out where everything will be is to use a post-it and label each drawer and cabinet with the new contents. That way you’ll see how everything fits together.
THIS SPACE: Pots and pans can be heavy and cumbersome, so we carved out the cabinet closest to the oven. We wanted to use shelf risers to prevent stacking pots and pans too high. This makes retrieving these items that much easier.
3. MAXIMIZE VERTICAL SPACE
When you’re dealing with a small kitchen, maximizing storage space is everything! We talk about ‘vertical space’ because it’s common for cabinets to have big cavernous shelves with a lot of dead space up top. By adding in shelf risers you’ll double the cabinet space.
THIS SPACE: A clear countertop makes food prep so much easier and adds a sense of calm and serenity to a kitchen. We knew that unless we maximized the cabinets and carved out more space, the items on the counter wouldn’t have a new concealed landing spot. These shelf risers helped make that happen for us, and we ended up housing only daily appliances and styling touches on the countertops.
4. EMBRACE WHITESPACE
Whitespace is the cornerstone of a beautiful home and immediately makes a room feel larger. Countertops, fridges, walls, and other surfaces are all opportunities to create cohesion and visual simplicity. We recommend taking everything away and only adding a handful of your favorite items. By displaying only a few items on each surface, you’ll allow the eye to rest and create a calming, expansive environment.
THIS SPACE: As a catchall for anything memorable or informational, this fridge became overflowing with a mixture of valued memories and outdated fliers. We started by creating a designated bin for photos and keepsakes so that those items had a new landing spot. Then we added only a few fun memories back to add a bit of personality.
PRODUCTS: Magnetic gold clips
5. CREATE STATIONS
It’s important to consider what kind of activities you do most in your kitchen. For instance, if you make the same smoothie every morning, perhaps you need a smoothie station with all your ingredients in one bin. If you’re an at-home barista, perhaps a coffee station will create a level of efficiency to your morning routine. Create a station, set up the supporting supplies, and go to town.
THIS SPACE: We created a coffee station complete with coffee pods, sugar, and the coffee maker right next to the coffee mugs. We also created a kid’s lunch station down low in the bins, which include snacks, Tupperware, and lunch boxes.
6. USE WALL SPACE TO MAXIMIZE STORAGE
To create more storage in a small kitchen, use any empty space you can. Adding shelves, whether it’s a bookshelf or floating shelves, to a blank wall is a wonderful option to create more storage.
THIS SPACE: We chose to hang cooking utensils, store dried ingredients, and add a few styling components to these shelves. Not only did it create a pretty display, but the extra storage adds a much-needed boost of functionality.
PRODUCTS: Wall Grid
7. USE CONTAINERS TO MAXIMIZE DEEP CABINET STORAGE
When small items are kept in deep cavernous cabinets, they often times become lost. Items that are hidden from plain view can easily be forgotten and left unused for years. That’s why we love using bins to group small items in low cabinets. The bin acts as a makeshift drawer, allowing you to pull out and see everything that’s being stored in the back.
THIS SPACE: We took this mismatched, overstuffed lower cabinet, and transformed it into a kid’s snack and lunch packing station. Now it’s easy to pack the kids’ lunches because you can pull out everything and place it on the cabinet.
8. STOW INFREQUENTLY USED ITEMS OUT OF THE WAY
When space is tight, it’s important to reserve prime real estate for your most commonly used items — cups, utensils, and go-to Tupperware. That means that items that you’re not using should be stored out of reach to make room for your everyday items. Top shelves, difficult to reach cabinets, and low (break your back) cabinets are all meant for lesser-used items.
THIS SPACE: We stored infrequently used small appliances up high so that they were easily seen, not forgotten, but far out of the way.
9. DECANT + UNBOX FOOD ITEMS
Decanting dried foods into jars and canisters is a simple way to reduce packaging, lengthen the shelf life of items, and elevate the look/feel of the space. Storing food in glass jars when possible is also healthier than the plastics that emit chemicals into our foods. We prefer to unbox and decant as much as we can in a pantry space to create more space and cohesion throughout.
THIS SPACE: We made sure to store lesser-used “Baking” items in a bin up high so that it’s easy to pull the entire thing down during an epic cooking baking session. We also added cork boards to the inside of the cabinet to add some recipe pinning space.
Want to see more of this transformation? Check out behind the scenes here: