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Organization Tips for Small Kitchens

Those of you who have a space problem will enjoy my favorite organization tips for small kitchens.  There may be some ideas you have not considered doing.

New Year – New Order. That is my motto every January – especially on January 14, which is Organize Your Home Day. I live in a small house and space is really at a premium.

I also belong to a wholesale club and buy things in bulk. This means that it becomes necessary for me to go through every part of my kitchen to actually find out what I have lurking in all the nooks and crannies.  

If you have a small kitchen, you will know how important it is to be organized. See my 14 tips for making the most of your small kitchen.

These 16 Kitchen Organization Tips will make sure that you start the New Year out in an orderly way.

There are a lot of ways to organize your home that do not involve getting expensive organizational modules.  For me, it’s more of a de-cluttering program.

This is easy for me, but not so much for my husband who hates to throw anything away.  He always tells me that he knows “exactly where everything is” under the pile of what I call clutter.

But he has sort of seen the light in the last year or so.  We really do have boxes and bins of UNUSED things that have been around since we moved to N.C. over 20 years ago. Enough is enough!

For now, I am making a project of my kitchen.  It’s sort of my domain, so I can pretty much do as I wish with he, but he knows other things are coming later in the year and he is pretty much on board with it now.  

So, let’s get organizing.  Here are my favorite organization tips to get the most out of your small kitchen, and also the reasons why I organize it as I do.

1. Take your Time

If you try to do the whole kitchen in one go, you will end up hating the job and will rush through it and end up with a kitchen sort of organized but still not functional.  

I gave myself a few days to do  the whole job and spent about an hour at a time.

I actually enjoyed the project.  I know, I know…what kind of woman enjoys a project like this?  But I did…True story!

Take your time on any organization project

2. Good Will Boxes

I have long thought that if you have something that has not been used for a few years, then it is time to give it a new home.  

I keep good will boxes going all the time and just put the things that I don’t use in them.  So before I even start on the organizing part of the kitchen, I gather up a few sturdy boxes and get them ready to hold the things I no longer (and in some cases never did) use.  

I’ll donate them to the local Good Will organization.  

I’m sure someone else will love the things that I don’t use, but that are in good shape still.  I found 5 cat bowls lurking in one cupboard and we have not had a cat in over 10 years!

Keep a goodwill box handy for good organizing

3. Drawer organization

 I don’t know about you, but my kitchen drawers have become a catch all for anything and everything that is narrow.  

There is no real thought to each drawer and what goes into it.  If it fits, it sits was sort of my motto.  The only drawer that had a function was the one that holds the silverware.

So, I started at one end of the kitchen and made my way through the drawers, one at a time. My intent was to give each drawer a designated use and arranged my small kitchen items into logical spots.  

Since I only have five drawers, I decided that I had to be ruthless in going through them to make room for things I use a lot.

Kitchen drawers

4. Long Items

One drawer now holds items that are long in shape many of which I don’t use that often, like bamboo skewers, my rolling pin and a turkey baster.  

I put this on the far left side of my kitchen.

This drawer holds less often used items.

5. Small Gadgets and Wine Stoppers

On the other side of my kitchen is another drawer for corn cobettes, taco shell holders, some chalk, metal bamboo skewers and wine stoppers.

This sits right next to the fridge, so it is handy to the wine but the other items that are smaller and not often used are still out of the way.

This drawer holds small items not often used and wine stoppers and is kept near the fridge.6. Oven Gadget organization

Now it was time to move in towards the center of the kitchen and closer to the stove and oven.  

The drawer to the left of the stove now holds cooking thermometers, hand mixer beaters, a pizza cutter and a few other medium sized items that I use somewhat often.

Knives that don’t get a lot of use, I keep in sleeves instead of on my counter knife rack.

Medium sized items and oven gadgets go near the stove.

7. Stove Right Side

The two drawers to the right side of my stove are what I consider primo drawers.  One holds my everyday silverware and the other holds cooking items that I use all the time.

Measuring spoons and cups, silicone basting brushes, a meat tenderizer and some scoops.   I bought some white plastic adjustable drawer dividers and love them to keep things organized.  

When you do this drawer take everything out and go through it.  

How one ends up with the amount of odd, unmatched knives, forks and spoons is beyond me!  Into the Good Will box they go, so the drawers are not so crowded.  

Throw out any gadget you have not used in two years, not matter how neat it seems to be.  We are de-cluttering here, remember?

Store often used items in the drawers on the right side of the stove.

8. Organization tips for your pantry

Twice a year, I take EVERYTHING out of my pantry and reorganize it.  Mine is the size of a closet and I am the kind of cook who has two of everything.  

One for now and one so I don’t run out later.   Just moving things around won’t cut it, folks. Take everything out and take stock of what you have.  

I found that I had unopened four bags of Splenda which is something I rarely use now.  

I made a separate box for food items that will go to a soup kitchen.  Taking all the canned and boxed goods out also shows me what is actually IN the pantry

Since my pantry is not one that I can walk around in, things get lost in there.  

When I put the items back, I gave each shelf a designated use, just like I did for the drawers.  The below eye level shelf holds baking supplies, nuts and marinades. 

The floor shelf holds boxed cereals and dog food.

Just above eye level is a shelf that holds can goods, onions and bread crumbs and things I want to get to easily.

Another holds general cooking items at eye level that I use every few days as well as pasta boxes, and the top shelf holds extra supplies of flour, sugar and my cooking oils sit in front of these.  

Pantry organization tips

9. Fridge Organization

No article on kitchen organization tips would be complete without mentioning the fridge.  Before I tackled the cupboards, I decided to organize the fridge.  

I bought a three door stainless steel fridge a few months ago which I am still in love with. It was fairly tidy but needed a general cleaning and some inspection to see what is lurking in those covered containers.  

When I bought the fridge, I saw that it didn’t have a narrow meat drawer.  Instead it has two very deep crisper drawers that I love.  

To fix this lack of a drawer that I used a lot in my old fridge, I bought a three drawer plastic shelving unit.

My husband refashioned it to hold only two drawers. I keep cheese in one section and cold sandwich meat, ginger and lemons in the other.  

It fits perfectly and makes my fridge exactly what I want for my own particular use.  

This is the time of the year to give the fridge a good cleaning.

10. Go through your Spices

Spices have a fairly short shelf life.  This is especially true for me, since I grow fresh herbs during most of the year.  

I went through them all and organized them on lazy Susans, again by those used a lot and those rarely used.  

I discovered three jars (count ’em) of paprika.  Who needs that much?  Not me.  Into the box for the soup kitchen they goOrganize your spices and throw out old ones.

11.  Tupperware Organization

Of all my organization tips, this one will also appeal to you no matter the size of your kitchen! I have a theory that Tupperware lids are the long lost cousins of all those single socks that come out of the dryer.

Where do they all go to anyway?  

I swear that I organize my plastic containers several times a year and I always end up with more lids than containers.  So match them up and toss the containers that have no lids.

You will be glad you did and your cupboards will love the room to breath.  

I stack my containers and use a large plastic bin to hold all the lids on their sides.  It’s easy to see what I have when I need a lid and they keep quite tidy this way.

Store tupperwear lids on their side in a plastic bin

12. Minimize your cupboards

I seem to attract coffee cups.  I had one cupboard that had them stacked so high there was no room for them all in there.  

Sure, they are all cute, but how many do you really need?  Into the Goodwill box they go except for your favorites and be done with it, woman!  

The same goes for oddball plates and saucers.  ( I do have more dishes than this but they were in the dishwasher.)

But they all fit nicely now and the waifs and strays have a new home at the Good Will.

Minimize your upper cupboards.

13. Organization tips for Lower Cupboards

This is the part that I was dreading.  There are kitchen appliances and serving dishes in my lower cupboards that have not see the light of day in 20 years.  

I have a corner cabinet that I know is full of stuff that will get donated but it has no corner lazy Susan unit in it, and I knew I was going to have to get down on my hands and knees for this part of the job.

My only advice it to get ruthless.  If it has been stored in a place that you can’t get to, why even keep it?  Give it to someone who has a bigger kitchen!  I have three and 1/2 double cupboard units.

This is how I have them organized now:

  • Baking trays, casserole dishes, wire racks and extra beer in far left cabinet.
  • Serving dishes for parties and hand made container for plastic wraps, foils etc in corner cabinet
  • Two single cabinets hold small kitchen appliances – crock pot, rice cooker, food processor, etc.  I’d like to have them out on the counter but don’t have the room
  • Under sink cabinets hold cleaning items, potatoes, watering canHow to organize lower cupboards

14. Organize your counters

This is the most important of my organization tips.   If you have a small kitchen, you will know that counter space is at a premium.  

If it were up to me, I’d have a huge kitchen which would allow me to have all my appliances out so they are easy to use when I want to.  Alas, that is not the case for me in my tiny kitchen.  

I have ONLY the appliances on my counter tops that I use daily or 3-4 times a week.  If they are something that gets used rarely, it is stored in my under cabinets BEHIND those that are more often used but not a weekly thing.  

Every single inch of space that you can claim back on your counter top will allow you more room when you need some space there.  

My fruit bowl does double duty by having a banana holder built into it to save space on the counter and keeps my bananas from getting ripe too quickly too.

Only have out appliances that you use almost daily in a small kitchen

15. Make Use of Window Space

We added a single shelf above my sink area by nailing two small shelf holders to the sides of the cabinets.

This extra space gives me room for some herbs, a few plants and my canisters, which would take a lot of room if I had them on the counters.  It was just a question of thinking outside the box.

Add a shelf above your sink for some extra storage space.

16. Think outside the box

I keep lots of dry goods in white Oxo containers.  

I love their push button tops and sleek lines.  But they are BIG and take too much room in my pantry.  

In order to still be able to use them and save space, I had my husband install a long shelf above the pantry door and lined it with the containers.  

The containers are out of the way.  They look great in the kitchen and all I need when I want to get the items down, is one step on a child’s step stool that I keep on top of the containers for my dog food.

Oxo containters on a top shelf keep dry goods out of the way and save on pantry space

This is truly the most organized my kitchen has been in FOREVER.  I have gotten rid of the stuff I really never used anyway and I actually have space in the cupboards and drawers now. Take it from me.  

If you feel crowded in a too small kitchen, then getting rid of the clutter is the way to go.  You will be so glad you did!

What kitchen organization tips do you have for a small kitchen?  Can you  think of things that make your kitchen space more usable?  Please share them in the comments below.

Looking for some more organization tips to make your kitchen more functional?  See these neat ideas.

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Dlorah Higgs

Monday 13th of June 2016

I have a small kitchen since my house was built in 1947 by the US government as military housing in WWII. I had a lazy Susan under my counter but I absolutely hated it due to everything I would put on it didn't really fit. So I had the boyfriend take it out and we mounted 2 x 4's to the under side of the counter in a L shape to fit the corner cabinet. Then I took some 1" hooks and screwed them into the 2 x 4's. Now all my pots and skillets hang from those hooks. Since the bottom of the cabinet was open I have my stock pots to one side and use a dish drainer to hold the lids for all the pot and pans.


Tuesday 14th of June 2016

Hi Diorah. That is a great idea. Your boyfriend sounds like he is a keeper too! Nice to have someone help out with projects like this! Carol


Monday 1st of February 2016

We recently remodeled our kitchen which gave me an opportunity to clean out and reorganize my kitchen. It feels great to open up a cabinet and find what you need! Great ideas.


Monday 1st of February 2016

It's a great feeling when it is done!

Renee Fuller

Wednesday 27th of January 2016

These are great tips and can work for most everyone! Thanks for sharing


Thursday 28th of January 2016

My pleasure Renee.


Saturday 23rd of January 2016

I, too, have a very small kitchen - the classic 10x10 for cabinets & sink, stove, microwave and dishwasher. I have my microwave installed over the stove. I only have about 5 linear ft of counter top from the sink to the stove and another 3 linear ft to the right of the sink. I keep my canisters in the cabinet next to my stove so I can mix and bake things next to the stove - I use the Oxo push-button lidded containers - love them. They are clear and you can see the contents easily. I have a pull down spice rack in that cabinet on the far left, second shelf which I love. It has 3 "steps" and is stainless steel, so when I need my cinnamon, cumin, rosemary, etc. I can just pull the rack down and grab the right bottle. I keep baskets on the top shelf of that same cabinet and they hold my spice packets (chili mix, etc and decorator sprinkles, my grains like quinoa, barley, and wheat berries. My cabinets are 42" tall so I need a step stool to reach the top shelves. I have a double door cabinet right above the dishwasher where all my "everyday dishes" go - cereal bowls, mugs, plates, some serving bowls, pitchers, and saucers. I can easily unload the dishwasher or put the dishes away when I wash them in the sink. I keep my toaster and coffee maker on the right side of the sink and the only things I must have on the left side of the sink are the cookie canister, tea bags, and cracker container. They are all copper and match the backsplash. I do have some clear glass apothecary jars that I sometimes fill with seasonal items for holidays (to look pretty!) and/or spaghetti, elbow macaroni, and/or noodles.


Saturday 23rd of January 2016

Hi Barbara. Great tips on your organization. Your email reminded me about one more organization tip that I used and forgot to mention. I have the Oxo push button containers on a long shelf above my pantry door. They are handy but out of the way. I need to take a photo and add that to my post too! Carol

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