Clever kitchen storage ideas are essential in the modern kitchen – the traditional heart of the home is no longer just a space for cooking but also for dining, entertaining, relaxing and family life. With so many demands on this room, the key to keeping a kitchen clutter free and easy to use – regardless of size – is well-considered storage. From counter-top storage and built-in cabinets to freestanding dressers and open shelving, there are plenty of smart ideas for practical and effective storage in small spaces and open-plan kitchens alike.
Choosing the right type of storage in a kitchen comes down to a series of factors. How big is your space? Is it a tiny kitchen or spacious and open-plan? Are the fittings and furniture shabby chic and country-style or modern, minimal design? Do you want all your cookware, utensils and plates hidden away or proudly on display? Before embarking on a kitchen renovation, take stock of your everyday kitchen kit so you know how much you need to store, and where best to place it.
A pantry or larder should be close to your fridge and freezer for instance, making it quick and easy to unload groceries. Likewise, in a dream kitchen scenario, china and cutlery should be stored near the dishwasher. It is usually a good idea to keep storage for glasses and frequently accessed items away from the main cooking area so as not to interrupt the cook while they’re creating a culinary masterpiece!
Smart cooks will be clever with their kitchen storage. Make the most of every inch of space – for example, the end of an island unit can be used to create feature shelves for your favourite cookbooks, while a rail along a stove splashback can be used to hang utensils,
kitchen roll holders, a knife block etc. Alternatively, consider creating a narrow cupboard beside your hob with sliding doors for easy access to bottles of oils, vinegars or spices while you cook. A plate rack can be useful and stylish, especially in a classic kitchen, while open shelves can be used to display special dishes or collection of striking cookware.
In small kitchens or apartments, be creative with your kitchen storage. Hang pan lids on the inside of doors, fit low-level drawers with plinths for plates, use slender spaces for wine storage and build in purpose-made fitted trays to keep essential cooking ingredients neat and tidy. We have plenty of inspiration for kitchen storage of all shapes and sizes across this gallery, so there’s no excuse not to get organised.
Reclaim your kitchen storageThe temptation to pack a kitchen with floor-to-ceiling storage can be really strong but, if you have a sizeable space or a streamlined selection of cookware and serveware, consider restricting your cabinetry to base units alone. This creates an airy, spacious feel. Here, dark handle-less wooden cabinets (which are reclaimed chemistry lab units) offer a striking contrast to the white walls for a minimal and clutter-free finish.
Here’s a neat kitchen storage idea – turn a kitchen trolley into a moveable work bench or cooking aid. Whether it’s used to house glasses, bottles and decanters for cocktails or herb planters, oils, spices and a pestle and mortar, this is a great way to store special kit that you use a lot in your kitchen space.
If your built-in kitchen storage is limited, free up space in cabinets by hanging colourful or patterned mugs and tea cups on a wall-fixed rustic wooden rack. Not only is this a practical way to utilise space – and always have a mug on hand for a cuppa – but it also makes an interesting decorative feature in a neutral kitchen space.
Similar mug rack
Modern cookery books are so well-designed they’re basically like artworks. Rather than stow them away in a kitchen cupboard, and take up essential space that could be used for other kitchen equipment, why not make a feature of your favourites? Fix some slim picture/ display shelves over a workbench, and create your own easy-access culinary library!
In a shabby chic kitchen, storage doubles as a design feature. White painted open shelving – which mimics the look of traditional country dressers – suits the relaxed style of this kitchen, while providing a neutral home for the mix-and-match china and storage jars that add character to this room. Below the worktop and butler sink, paneled cabinets hide away bulkier kitchen items so that the space still feels tidy.
Farrow & Ball
In a small kitchen, where storage is at a premium, it’s a good idea to hang your most-used utensils and saucepans over your hob or range cooker. Not only does this free up essential space in cupboards for items that can’t be stored in other ways, but it makes cooking simpler as you spend less rooting around looking for that elusive pot/ wok/ grater…
Similar splashback and utensil rail
For a softer country style in the kitchen, cover open units with a relaxed curtain. It keeps messy cookware and cooking ingredients out of sight, without being too structured. Choose a weighty fabric that can stand up to daily wear and tear – this striped textile design is a chic option.
With large base units and wall-hung cubbies taking care of all your kitchen storage essentials, surfaces can be kept free of clutter. Ensure that is the case by building a smart shelving recess into a free wall above a workbench or cooking area, and use it for extra storage to house recipe books. More than a decorative modern kitchen feature, smart lighting makes this highly functional too.
An island unit is an ideal storage solution in a family kitchen. Not only do these big freestanding cabinets have enough space to hold all your pots and pans, but they also provide additional space for food prep or casual dining (by acting as a breakfast bar). Utilised in addition to subtle, built-in cabinetry – such as the full-height white wall cupboards and frosted-glass cabinet – the colourful island does more than organise your kitchen essentials; it helps to mark out different zones in the kitchen too.
Cabinets and bar stools
This kitchen might be relatively small but no-one could ever accuse it of being short on storage space! To avoid cluttering the worktops, plenty of base cupboards and wall units have been incorporated into this space, with the slender doors tricking the eye into thinking there is more room than there is. The white woodwork contrasts with the green-blue walls to break up the runs of units.
Kitchen units and slate laminate floor tiles
The slender profile of this modular plate rack is perfect for chic modern schemes. Crafted in solid walnut with chrome brackets and bevelled detailing, it seems to float on the wall – and is handily placed for stacking freshly washed dishes.
Wall-mounted plate rack
McCarron & Co
In a country kitchen, create character along with additional storage and food prep space with a vintage butchers block. This charming alternative to a bulky structured island unit has a low-level open shelf for storage and display and hanging rails for drying tea towels. Vintage crates are a great place to keep vegetable and cooking essentials, and blend beautifully with the aged wood of this kitchen storage solution.
What’s the best way to store your dinner plates? Traditionally we tend to stack them up in kitchen cabinets, but deep kitchen drawers are a great solution that offers easy access. Rather than stacking plates one on top of the other at a height, which can make it harder to lift out some pieces, install racks in drawers and stack china individually facing forward. You can see exactly what’s in the drawer (what’s missing is probably still in the dishwasher!), and you’re also less likely to damage your china. Plus, there’s space for storage jars and utensil boxes. That’s streamlined kitchen storage for you.
Throw some light on your kitchen storage by making a decorative design feature of a part of the kitchen that’s usually overlooked; here backlit units are fitted with glass shelves that seem to disappear from view! Elsewhere, the space between work surface and wall cupboards is maximised with a range of fittings that are both ingenious and highly practical. The simplest way to make use of that wall space is to add a series of hanging rails, pegs or open shelving. A gridded fascia can be slid over to hide all this from view, for a streamlined finish.
Ever wished your kitchen storage had the capacity of Mary Poppins’ carpet bag? Then take a look at this incredible free-standing kitchen unit. It’s not, as it appears, a series of open shelves – the two outer sections are hinged, so the entire piece closes up like a magic kitchenware cabinet. One of the great benefits of choosing a free-standing kitchen is that you can start with the basics and add pieces in further down the line. This compact unit is designed to hold all your kitchen essentials…and we’re not sure you need much beyond this!
Freestanding kitchen unit
Go to any big country estate and you’ll appreciate the value of a well-organised kitchen. Everything has a home. This is why custom-made storage is a real boon; cupboards can be fitted into long wall runs and recesses, and wrapped around pillars. This full-height wall of storage offers a modern take on a traditional dresser. The dark grey base looks smart, while the white section blends beautifully into the surrounding paintwork creating the illusion of space.
Bespoke wall unit
Smallbone of Devizes
Whether space is at a premium or you’re simply a fan of minimal design, this forward-thinking unit showcases some very clever kitchen storage ideas. Purpose-made to store oils and spices, this slender cabinet slides out from a splashback in this contemporary kitchen design. Talk about thinking outside the box.
In small kitchens clever storage is key. Free up work space with a handy drop-down chopping block with accompanying knife storage. As well as being slick and streamlined, it is also a safety-conscious way to keep knives and sharp utensils hidden out of view, or out of reach from children.
Drop-down kitchen chopping block
This ingenious drawer should never be ignored, being that it’s a unique solution for notoriously difficult corner units. It features full-extension drawers, so there’s no unreachable or hidden space at the back. Now you know you can say your kitchen storage has every corner covered.
Rather than have bottles taking up space in kitchen cupboards, or loitering on wooden worktops, create a neat home for wine and bubbly with a built-in wine rack. Here, an island unit offers the perfect space for this clever kitchen storage idea – heavy glass bottles are best located close to the floor to take the pressure off shelves and prevent any damage if dropped.
Make a feature of your storage in a country kitchen and opt for a classic farmhouse dresser. These substantial kitchen storage solutions are sturdy enough to house all of your china, glassware, and plenty of other odds and ends, and still have space left to display personal treasures on the worktop.
John Lewis of Hungerford
Want more kitchen ideas? These German kitchens are the product of gorgeous design and exceptional engineering