Your kitchen is a multipurpose room that serves many needs, whether you’re working with a small space in an apartment or a large kitchen made for entertaining. With all the usual cooking gadgets, small appliances, and mismatched mugs taking up space, efficient storage is key. Discover some of our best kitchen storage tips for getting your space in order.

A hand is partially opening a kitchen drawer showing divided storage for knives and a can opener.

Sort through everything first

Whether you’re getting ready to move or need to make more space in your kitchen, it’s the perfect time to take stock of what you already have. Random gadgets you never use may have piled up over time, so consider getting rid of what you don’t need or use consistently. Apply the same approach for every category of item in your kitchen, from chipped bowls dating back to your college years to those expired cans of soup. When we say sort through everything, we mean everything. And, hey, while you’re at it, go ahead and give your drawers, shelves, and other places that are typically covered up with stuff a good scrubbing!

Q: How do I make my small kitchen clutter-free?
A: The simple answer? You only have what you actually use. But that’s easier said than done, right? It will take some diligence on your part, but keeping a small kitchen clutter-free will make it much more functional. First, get rid of any duplicate items, items that you no longer use, and items that don’t function properly (or are simply on their last leg). That will leave you with only items that you use frequently and that are in great shape. Next, find a way to keep your counters as clear as possible. It’s easy to get carried away with clutter when you let a few things stick around on a daily basis, so try to avoid even doing that. Then, try to stick with this rule of thumb: If you bring something new into the kitchen, get rid of something old.
 An organized pantry that utilizes boxes, bins, containers, stacking shelves, and lazy Susans
(Source: @NEATMethod via Instagram)

Organize Your Pantry Items

Spices are often the culprit when it comes to chaotic cabinets and cooking challenges. How many times have you searched unsuccessfully for an essential spice while in the middle of trying a new recipe? Or wasted money buying more curry, only to find later that you really had two jars hidden behind the celery salt? One solution is to create a system by transferring your spices into a matching set of jars that will fit neatly into a spice organizer. You can control the labeling, so they’re easy to identify, and their uniformity will make it a cinch to scan through. Another option? Clean out that junk drawer (we all have one!) and store your spices there with an organizer specifically designed for drawers. Bonus points if that drawer ends up being right next to the stove!

Take the same approach with your dry goods by putting cereal, grains, and baking essentials in matching (preferably clear) sets of containers. Hard plastic or glass containers are ideal, since they can be sealed completely, preventing weevils, ants, and other insects from getting into your food. See any webs or insect debris inside your cabinets while you’re cleaning stuff out? Then you’ll really want to make sure everything is cleaned and sanitized and all of your food items are properly sealed. Kitchen + bugs = no bueno.

Consider Your Countertop Essentials

It’s tempting to have a million things out on your countertop, so you can grab what you need at any moment. But countertop space is a valuable commodity that needs to be preserved to have a stress-free kitchen that functions well — especially if you’re working with a small space. Countertop items should be limited to things you use every day, like your coffee maker, blender, or toaster. And instead of having one of those chunky knife blocks, save counter space with a different option, like wall-mounted magnets or a wood drawer organizer.

Rearrange Based on Function

Organizing your kitchen often takes a bit of trial and error. Maybe after a year of living in your home, you’ve realized it makes more sense for your utensil drawer to be closer to the serving ware than the dishwasher. Well, now’s the perfect time to make that transition! Most of these decisions depend on the layout of your space and how you use it every day. If you entertain a lot of people regularly, your kitchen may be organized differently than a kitchen where you just cook the basics. And no one says things have to stay in the places you initially put them!

An organized kitchen counter with a few closed canisters and a small butcher block cutting board. A spice rack and cooking utensils are hanging on a rod above the counter.

Add a Few Storage Hacks

There’s nothing worse than rummaging through a messy cabinet to find the right size lid for your pot of boiling soup. The good news? There are plenty of handy storage tools you can add to your existing cabinetry for an easy fix. Use a lid rack or inexpensive dish rack inside your cabinet to organize all the lids for your pots and pans; these racks store the lids vertically, saving lots of space.Or iIf you have a big cabinet without a shelf, consider installing an internal set of drawers, so you can easily slide them out and find what you need. And instead of your wine bottles taking up counter space, install elegant display shelves made for holding bottles horizontally — it’s better for long-term storage and doubles as stylish wall decor, anyway.

Q: How can I add more storage to my small kitchen?
A: Once you’ve done a decluttering of all your nonessentials, it’s time to start taking advantage of less-obvious spaces throughout the kitchen, such as the back of your pantry door or cabinet doors. You can easily hang a customizable storage rack (or even a simple shoe bag!) on the back of a full-size door to increase your storage potential. Or apply little, self-adhesive hooks to the insides of your cabinet doors for everything from hand towels and sponges to the tops of pots. And you know how there’s so much wasted vertical space in cabinets? Not when you’re hanging “S” hooks from the top of your inside upper cabinets to hold coffee mugs! And we’ve all seen the staircase-looking shelving that goes into cabinets, but have you thought about using Lazy Susans for even more accessibility?

Maximize Your Upper Shelf Storage

Don’t forget about all the wasted space above your cabinets or fridge, or at the very top shelf of your cabinets if they go to the ceiling. Invest in a solid step stool, then evaluate which items you only need for special occasions or rare situations. That heirloom gravy pitcher and carving knife for Thanksgiving? Store it up high, so it doesn’t clutter your everyday essentials. The same goes for that giant punch bowl that takes up way too much space — and is only used once or twice a year, if that. Make sure the space above your cabinets still looks orderly, though, with woven baskets or boxes to hold your less-used, smaller kitchen items. And you’re definitely going to want to opt for something with a lid, so you don’t have to deal with dust.

The kitchen is a space that can easily devolve into chaos without the right storage in place. No matter how much cabinetry you’re working with, the best kitchen storage hacks and techniques will help your space work well for you. Evaluate what you truly need in your kitchen and how you use the space. Then you’ll be on your way to setting up a kitchen where you can focus on creating instead of finding.

Want more tips? Check out these pantry remodeling tips and tips for organizing everywhere else in your kitchen on the PODS Blog.


Leslie Baker is a freelance writer and editor based in Denver, Colorado. Her passion is perfecting the art of truly making a house a home.

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