How to Organize a Small Kitchen

Awesome tips and tricks for organizing a small kitchen-- and proof that small kitchens can be beautiful too! Click through to the post for her amazing organization tips!

Our kitchen was my least favorite room for the first 6 1/2 years that we lived in our house. But even though it wasn’t exactly pretty, we made the most of it until this past summer/fall when we finally bit the bullet and did a complete renovation. Though still on the small side, our kitchen has become much more functional and I couldn’t wait to get to the fun part– organizing!

Organizing a small kitchen can be a bit of a challenge. I was constantly pinning posts about organizing kitchens, but they seemed to have oodles of drawer and cabinet space to organize every pan, plate, and spice jar. I have a grand total of 4 drawers and a limited number of cabinets to work with, and I really wanted to make the most of them.

Love this beautiful small house tour! So many creative ideas for small spaces! Click over to the post to take the full tour!

Grab our free guide, 7 Strategies for Getting Organized When You Live in a Small Space!

After living in a tiny townhouse for many years, I learned tons of helpful tips and tricks for getting organized when space is at a premium, and I share my favorites in this quick guide!

Small Kitchen Organization

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I’ve moved things around quite a few times trying to find the perfect configuration for our new kitchen, and since we’ve been living with our current setup for a little while now and it seems to be working well, I thought I’d share the tips and strategies that have helped me create our organized kitchen.

1. Purge, purge, and purge some more!

If you’ve ever read any of my organization posts before, you probably knew that this was going to be the first step. I really hate when a space feels cluttered, so I try to purge often so that we’re not feeling overrun by stuff.

Our old kitchen looked like this and was not laid out very well…

Awesome tips and tricks for organizing a small kitchen-- and proof that small kitchens can be beautiful too! Click through to the post for her amazing organization tips!

The corner cabinets were hard to access, the drawers were always breaking, and some of the cabinets were so narrow that they barely held anything. Because this is what I was working with before, I really purged down our stuff so that the cabinets weren’t overflowing.

Even so, when we put in our new kitchen

Awesome tips and tricks for organizing a small kitchen-- and proof that small kitchens can be beautiful too! Click through to the post for her amazing organization tips!

…I went through all of our utensils, gadgets, and small appliances again and was able to get rid of even more stuff, leaving us with only the items we truly use. (I should also mention that I am not a big cook or baker, so we probably use less kitchen gadgets than most people.)

I’ve learned that if I purge well, and purge often, it will make the rest of the organizing process so much easier!

2. Start with the “had tos.”

Since I was working with a small space, there were a few areas that were pretty limited (aka those areas “had to” hold certain things because that’s the only place they would fit), specifically drawers and large cabinets. Knowing this going in, I chose to sort out these areas first and then fill in the rest of the cabinets afterward.

When it came to the drawers, I knew silverware needed to be housed in one of them. Since the top drawer next to the sink is a double drawer (one of my favorite features of the IKEA SEKTION cabinets!), I was also able to store our knives in that space too. I used a knife block in our old kitchen, which was clunky and took up counter space, so I was glad to get rid of it!

Awesome tips and tricks for organizing a small kitchen-- and proof that small kitchens can be beautiful too! Click through to the post for her amazing organization tips!

I also needed a drawer to hold some of the gadgets and utensils that we use most often…

Awesome tips and tricks for organizing a small kitchen-- and proof that small kitchens can be beautiful too! Click through to the post for her amazing organization tips!

acrylic organizer | pizza cutter | measuring cups | measuring spoons | contact paper

There were a few gadgets that I only use every once in a while but still needed (think: strainer, funnel, pasta measure, etc.), so those went in a basket in one of the cabinets so they weren’t taking up the “prime real estate.” 🙂

I ended up using the bottom drawer for our ziplock bags, foil, saran wrap, etc.

Awesome tips and tricks for organizing a small kitchen-- and proof that small kitchens can be beautiful too! Click through to the post for her amazing organization tips!

I considered putting these items in an organizer on the inside of one of the cabinet doors, but at the end of the day, that arrangement felt a little too clunky to me, so into the drawer they went.

My final drawer is over between the refrigerator and the stove, so I used it to hold my oven mitts and kitchen towels/washcloths.

Awesome tips and tricks for organizing a small kitchen-- and proof that small kitchens can be beautiful too! Click through to the post for her amazing organization tips!

Once my drawers were situated, I moved on to my other “had to” area, the large corner cabinets. Since these were the only areas that could house some of my larger items, I knew that’s what had to go there.

We used a lazy susan in the lower corner cabinet, and since it is right next to the range, I use it to hold our pots and pans. Our large mixing bowls and colander also found a spot in this cabinet.

Awesome tips and tricks for organizing a small kitchen-- and proof that small kitchens can be beautiful too! Click through to the post for her amazing organization tips!

And since I like to have all of our plates, bowls, and serving pieces together, I ended up putting them in our other large cabinet, the upper corner.

Awesome tips and tricks for organizing a small kitchen-- and proof that small kitchens can be beautiful too! Click through to the post for her amazing organization tips!

3. Put items in close proximity to where they’ll be used most.

So after I had my “had to” cabinets and drawers taken care of, I tried to be strategic and put the remaining items in “zones” whenever possible. For example, I knew that I wanted the majority of my baking sheets and pans to be close to the range because that’s where they’ll be used most.

Awesome tips and tricks for organizing a small kitchen-- and proof that small kitchens can be beautiful too! Click through to the post for her amazing organization tips!

I already mentioned that our pots and pans are in the lazy susan cabinet to the right of the stove, and then I used the one small cabinet between the stove and the refrigerator to house my baking sheets with a nifty little organizer to hold them neatly in place.

Awesome tips and tricks for organizing a small kitchen-- and proof that small kitchens can be beautiful too! Click through to the post for her amazing organization tips!

Since, admittedly, I do not bake much, I was fine with putting my baking pans in the high cabinet above the microwave.

Awesome tips and tricks for organizing a small kitchen-- and proof that small kitchens can be beautiful too! Click through to the post for her amazing organization tips!

Probably the most used small appliance in our house is our Magic Bullet— both Donnie and I have a shake or smoothie at least once a day…

Awesome tips and tricks for organizing a small kitchen-- and proof that small kitchens can be beautiful too! Click through to the post for her amazing organization tips!

So in the cabinet directly above the magic bullet, I made a little “smoothie station” with all of the cups, rims, and blades we need to make our shakes. As you can see, this cabinet also holds our storage containers and leftover paper products.

Awesome tips and tricks for organizing a small kitchen-- and proof that small kitchens can be beautiful too! Click through to the post for her amazing organization tips!

storage containers | mint bin

4. Use organizers that work for the space, not against it.

Another issue that I’ve come across when organizing a small kitchen is that I have to be pretty choosy about which organizers I use in my cabinets and drawers. Since I’m working with a smaller space, some organizers actually hinder my ability to fit things into a cabinet rather than help it.

Take my silverware drawer, for example. When I first moved everything back into the kitchen, I tried to use IKEA’s utensil holders; since our cabinets were IKEA, I assumed they would fit the best. They would have been great, but they don’t make ones that are the exact size of our particular drawer, so I felt like I was wasting a lot of space.

I then found these acrylic organizers at Target (that just so happened to have an aqua liner at the bottom!), and they were a perfect fit– so much more functional for our drawer! (Plus, being able to see the pretty contact paper through the acrylic makes me smile every time! 🙂  )

Awesome tips and tricks for organizing a small kitchen-- and proof that small kitchens can be beautiful too! Click through to the post for her amazing organization tips!

Similarly, we replaced the IKEA knife holder with two of these bamboo organizers from Amazon, and it was a much better fit for the space.

Awesome tips and tricks for organizing a small kitchen-- and proof that small kitchens can be beautiful too! Click through to the post for her amazing organization tips!

Another way I found that organizers could work for my small space rather than against it was by adding an extra level with a simple riser, like I did in my mug cabinet…

Awesome tips and tricks for organizing a small kitchen-- and proof that small kitchens can be beautiful too! Click through to the post for her amazing organization tips!

…and underneath the sink.

Awesome tips and tricks for organizing a small kitchen-- and proof that small kitchens can be beautiful too! Click through to the post for her amazing organization tips!

microfiber cloths | acrylic tub | spray bottle

The under-sink space is also an example of where organizing bins came in handy to corral different items so they were not just a cluttered mess under there.

5. Place like items together, with the most used items down low and the least used items up high.

This final tip is probably the most obvious one, but it will be easier to find things if I put all “like” items together. All of our cups and water bottles are in one cabinet, for example, with the cups we use often on the lowest shelf, and the water bottles on the second shelf.

Awesome tips and tricks for organizing a small kitchen-- and proof that small kitchens can be beautiful too! Click through to the post for her amazing organization tips!

The cooling racks on the top shelf are another example of “we have a small kitchen and this is the only place they will fit,” but I don’t use them often, so they are up and out of the way.

Awesome tips and tricks for organizing a small kitchen-- and proof that small kitchens can be beautiful too! Click through to the post for her amazing organization tips!

The Cs’ plates and cups also have their own cabinet. This is another instance where, if our kitchen were larger, I probably would prefer to put them in a lower cabinet where the boys can reach them more easily, but since that’s not an option, this was our next best bet. (The basket on the top shelf holds all of the rarely-used-but-needed kitchen gadgets that I mentioned earlier in the post.)

Finally, the cabinet that always stumps me is the one above the fridge. No one in our family is tall and can reach it easily, so I just ended up using it for a serving bowl and our mini crock pot that we typically only use for get-togethers.

Awesome tips and tricks for organizing a small kitchen-- and proof that small kitchens can be beautiful too! Click through to the post for her amazing organization tips!

So that’s our organized kitchen! I talked about how we organize the pantry in a separate post, so you can pop over and see that if you’re interested. (Plus 25 more pantry organization tips for any size space!)

You can also see our small refrigerator organization here.

[Psssttt…You can see our very best tips and tricks for organizing every room in the house in this post!]

Have you ever attempted to organize a small kitchen? I’d love to hear your favorite tips and tricks– let me know in the comments!

Living Room with Entertainment Unit and Board and Batten

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Have a wonderful day!

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52 Comments

  1. Suzi Whitford says:

    Beautiful! Love how you put all the lids to the tupperware in their own basket. <3

  2. Cathy Brak says:

    I love your beautifully organized kitchen! The knife holder and acrylic organizers are things I might use in the future kitchen I’m planning.

  3. Christene Holder says:

    I saw those acrylic silverware organizers at Target. They are so nice and feel like a higher quality. It was also funny because I had seen a picture of them on your blog before, so when I went to Target and spotted them, it was like a “celebrity” sighting of blog products lol! I told my husband “those are the organizers that Abby uses!” He was like……”…ok…” haha

  4. Julie Hage says:

    Your kitchen is so pretty! Thanks for sharing your organizing tips.

    I bought those same bamboo knife holders when we renovated our kitchen a few years ago. So nice to have the knives off the counter!

  5. What a great post! My kitchen is in such a need for organization- going from not having kids to a baby makes for a messy kitchen- I’ve just kind of shoved his stuff here and there and it definitely isn’t as good as it could be. p.s. I am so impressed that you got the inside of your cuboards pretty! I can’t imagine how much work that was :).

  6. Edrie Walker says:

    My kitchen is in desperate need of organization! Your tips and tricks will definitely help when I tackle that task! Thank you!

    P.S. Your kitchen is beautiful!

  7. Christina @ Martha, Martha says:

    Holy Cow your kitchen is gorgeous! Makes me want to rip out all my cabinets and start from scratch. 😉 You are so right about the first step in organizing is purging! I think it comes down to two questions we have to ask ourselves: http://www.marthamarthablog.com/minimize-kitchen-items

  8. embellishology says:

    I feel like this article was just for me! I was thinking today about how I need to organize my kitchen more efficiently!

  9. All your matching aqua everything is making me so happy! We are in a rental and I’d love to renovate this kitchen to look bright and beautiful like yours, but maybe if I organize well enough, that will work well enough for now. Love your posts, as always, and your kitchen is just darling!

  10. I love everything about this post! I’m getting ready to re-organize our kitchen, and this will be very helpful as I work on it.Love the bamboo knife organizer (we have 2 blocks, and they’re just taking up space), and I’m definitely going to get some risers.

  11. Perfect! Just what I needed. Our kitchen is almost identical to yours…only still half organized since my hubby renovated it over the Summer. Thanks for the details and making it easy for me to get motivated again! Love the new redesign!

  12. That was a very helpful post. Thanks for the organizing tips.
    I have a very small kitchen as well and I don’t like my cabinets. I was wondering how much it costed you to remodel your kitchen with the ikea cabinets ?

  13. Emily, Our house now a home says:

    I have a small kitchen too, and it is really difficult to keep it organized and functional. These are some good tips, some of which I use. Right now I am in the daydreaming-of-a-bigger-kitchen phase 🙂

  14. Karina James says:

    Oh my goodness! Love all the ideas – especially the drawer organizer. Seeing all your things so neat and organized is so motivating! I’ll have to spend some time in the kitchen this week. First up? Purge! 🙂
    Thanks for all the ideas and tips!
    ~Karina

  15. Addi Ganley says:

    I really like all of your ideas for organizing your kitchen. Probably makes cooking and or making a smoothie so much easier.

    I also love your sink!!! Thank you for the post

  16. Kim Foster says:

    All of your pots and pans look so new and clean! ;-/ Makes me want to replace everything I have!

  17. Abby, this is very helpful! I’m getting ready to remodel my kitchen in April, so after that I have to reorganize everything and look for the interior drawer organizers. I love organizing things, so I can’t wait for that part! And your tips are very helpful. Your kitchen look great too! I’m getting the same sink from Ikea. That was my favorite thing that I said I must have in my kitchen! 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I’m so glad it was helpful Heather! I hope you love the sink as much as we do! ~Abby =)

  18. Such a pretty kitchen! It looks really well organized. Indefinitely could use some purging myself. I love that knife holder! It’s nice to free up as much counter space as possible. Thanks for sharing so many great tips!

    Shonee
    http://www.hawthorneandmain.com

  19. Mirline K says:

    Hey Abby. As usual great post on organizing, so thanks for sharing. After reading your other post on organizing your home especially the closet, I was so inspired that I did exactly what you said…#1Purge. Purge. Purge and it felt great. My closet is more functional and way less cluttered. Now I’m inspired to tackle my kitchen using these tips. I also enjoy your pretty pictures/visuals, they make a huge difference.

  20. Lovely Decor (@lb_lovelydecor) says:

    Awesome tips and tricks! I too have limited space and need to purge and organize my cabinets. This just gives me so much motivation!

    Lauren | Lovely Decor
    xx

  21. Great post! This is pretty much exactly my kitchen organization strategy. I am picky about what I allow to remain in the kitchen too. I cook often but I’ve come to realize I only need a few good tools instead of lots of very specific appliances and other items. I have kept my popcorn maker around though; I just can’t seem to part with it. Also, you only need a few good knives! I only use a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a serrated knife. We don’t eat meat though so I guess other people may need meat specific ones too?

  22. Breanna Thomas says:

    I just stumbled across your posts and have to say I absolutely love them. I have an extremely small kitchen and it’s very cluttered. I’m also at a lose bc I have no actual pantry what would be you suggestions there?

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Hi, Breanna! Before we renovated our kitchen, I used rolling carts for added storage. I also put a shelf in part of a nearby closet for added storage. We definitely had to get creative! Hope you’re having a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  23. Sangeetha Menon says:

    Hi Abby, love your kitchen!
    Being heartless and throwing out/ giving away things we don’t use is the first rule of organizing. After reading your blog post, I have gotten some great insights on how to organize my kitchen, but the one I really liked was the idea of keeping the lids of the containers together in a basket. I am going to try that because I have a tough time finding and keeping the lids together.
    Once again, you have a pretty and yet practical kitchen! Keep sharing more tips (and photos..)

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thanks so much, Sangeetha! So glad it was helpful!

      ~Abby =)

  24. Good ideas.
    When I had a large kitchen in a house, I still needed to organize efficiently and many of these ideas you can use in an apartment. I hammered nails to the inside cabinet doors under the sink and hung some cutting boards, sieves, strainers, etc. that would fit under the sink when the door was closed. I would tape print-outs of measuring equivalents, and other info to the inside of cabinet doors where they were very handy. I had 3 lazy susans in the cupboards that were great for organizing those little jars and bottles you need access to. Those pull-out spice racks advertised on T.V. are wonderful and take up so little space yet hold lots of spice jars. I hammered 2 nails into the bottom of the base cabinets and slid my cutting boards inside and the nails on the end kept them from toppling over. (You could also use dowels.) I save decorative tins and they are great for holding little packets of all sorts of things. Keep them in your cupboards or put them out for display. A 6 foot wardrobe makes a great pantry if you have just a little extra space in a corner. You can drill holes and put in sturdy brackets and shelves to hold bigger items such as mixing bowls, crock pots, and tons of food items. I put sticky hooks on the side of the fridge to hold my oven mitts. You can hang decorative trivets on the walls.
    Don’t forget that you can store your kitchen wares in other rooms as well. I have a chest of drawers in the dining room that is beautiful and holds my linens, trays, etc. I have a beautiful cabinet that used to be in the foyer where I kept boxes of candy molds, cookie cutters, metal pie plates, etc.
    Just use your imagination and don’t be restricted to the “rules”. Put things where they make the most sense for you.
    Hope this helps.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thanks so much for your suggestions, Jan! Hope you’re having a wonderful week! <3

      ~Abby =)

  25. What a beautiful transformation. I LOVE the backsplash tiles.

    I have two large corner cupboards and the one I used for plastics was a real mess – especially when my daughter lived at home and she just threw things in there.

    I bought four plastic tubs on wheels (measured for size) and put two on the top shelf at right angles (one on either side of the corner) and two on the bottom. I then have a system of which tub holds what. One holds food storage containers and their lids, another holds my empty Tupperware pantry storage containers, microwave rice cookers and measuring cups and jug, another holds muffin pans, flat baking trays, cooling racks and spare chopping boards (all standing vertically) and the fourth holds extra things that don’t have their own category, eg ice block moulds, one stainless steel mixing bowl etc.. There is an extra triangular “slice” of space left in the corners between the two tubs which holds containers I don’t use often or only use seasonally.

    The big advantage is the wheels – the containers act like drawers that can be wheeled out for easy access.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thanks so much, Danielle! <3

      ~Abby =)

  26. Love this! My husband is the cook but not a great organizer (although he thinks he is). You give some great inspiration here! Thanks!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Willette! Hope you’re having a wonderful week! <3

      ~Abby =)

  27. Crystal @ Mommyisawino.com says:

    This is fantastic. I have a small kitchen myself and I’ve been thinking about reorganizing it. You have motivated me to do exactly that. I don’t have a pantry so I’m down a huge amount of cabinet space due to that. I think if I were to change it up I might get better usage out of my cabinet space. Thank-you for these tips.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful, Crystal! Best of luck with your re-organization project!!

      ~Abby =)

  28. Nicole | The Professional Mom Project says:

    So pretty! I really like the way you used the organizing bins and the shelf within a shelf platform things. So smart. You’ve inspired me to reorganize my small kitchen lol!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yay! So glad it was helpful for you, Nicole! Happy organizing! 🙂

      ~Abby =)

  29. Vicki Moran says:

    I really love the ideas you have used in your small kitchen……..thank you for sharing. I also have a tiny kitchen in a rental but have electrical appliances that do get used regularly eg toasted sandwich maker, pie maker, electric frypan, slow cooker, electric wok, plus a couple of other items. I currently have them stored on a high shelf (which I can’t reach) and every time I need to use one of the items, my poor hubby does a juggling act to get the front items out in order to get to the item required for the particular task/s in hand. All of the appliances get equal use……..any suggestions for a better storage solution, please. All cupboards are in use and only contain things that I do use so I’ve purged as much as I could.
    Thank you for any suggestions,
    Vicki

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Hi, Vicki! Small spaces can be tough for sure! Can you bring in some type of rolling cart or sideboard that could help hold the appliances? Or maybe use a piece of furniture in a neighboring room (like a dining room sideboard) to put them somewhere more accessible? Before we totally gutted our front closet to turn it into a pantry, I put a simple shelf in there to give me some extra storage space, so you could try that if you can squeeze it in. I hope this helps! Have a great day!

      ~Abby =)

  30. Love this blog! I love to have my spaces organized & you have some great ideas, thank you! I also love to hang things when possible. For example I use plastic cutting mats instead of a cutting board, & I hang them inside a cabinet door with a Command hook & a binder clip!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Those are great ideas, Dori! Thanks so much for stopping by. Have a wonderful weekend! <3

      ~Abby =)

  31. I love your blog and this post is so helpful! I (sadly) have a very small kitchen right now and it can be so hard to find ways to fit all of my items and appliances in it. This post has great tips to help me out. Thanks so much!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      So glad it was helpful for you, Stacey! Hope you’re having a great week! <3

      ~Abby =)

  32. Lovely, but where oh where is the food and spices? Most of my cabinets are filled with food. lol I am also a baker, so a few of my drawers have baking essentials in them. I don’t have a separate pantry, and no room for a cabinet in my small kitchen. Help!

  33. Casandra M says:

    I feel like everyone in the world has a larger kitchen than me. ? My kitchen is about 6’by12’ empty with a slanted roof that starts around 6 feet and gets lower. Add the sink, refrigerator mini stove and microwave and you end up with a 6 by 7 foot area to move. I’ve got only two conjoined cabinets just below my sink with all of the typical plumbing inside. I added a slim bookshelf against one wall to hold my cans and boxed goods since I’ve got no pantry. A 3 drawer rubbermaid stand stuffed between my stove and refrigerator holds my seasonings, pans and baking supplies. The only counter space is about a foot (maybe) off the side of my sink.i’ve added A wicker shelving unit in my front room/dining area for additional storage space and a hitch for plates and cups. Organizing is a pure nightmare. I need a miracle. ?

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Oh my! That does sound like a challenge! It sounds like you’ve added in some great systems to make the most of the space you have!

      ~Abby =)

  34. Some great ideas here that I think we can use in our caravan, thanks!

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      So glad it will be helpful for you, Natalie! Hope you’re having an awesome week! <3

      ~Abby =)

  35. Carla Lee says:

    This post gives me hope for my tiny kitchen… I love what you have done with it. The down side for me is… I am a baker and love spending time in the kitchen! But…still…there is hope. Thanks for sharing!!

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Thank you so much for your sweet words, Carla! You’ve got this!!

  36. Thank you Abby for sharing your organizing tips., especially for small kitchens. I am currently living in an rv and I have already gotten some really good ideas from reading your post. Again, thank you and your kitchen is beautiful.

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Yay! So glad it was helpful for you, Robin! Love to hear that. Happy organizing! <3

      ~Abby =)

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