9 common small kitchen problems and how to solve them

Be inspired by these clever kitchen designs for tricky spaces

While a large open-plan kitchen is at the top of many of our wish lists, in reality we're often working with more petite spaces. Learning how to solve small kitchen problems will make your little area feel and work so much better.

A bijou kitchen can at first seem tricky to accommodate all our growing needs, but with a little careful planning, a few savvy ideas and a bit of jiggery-pokery, you can organise your kitchen just the way you want it.

Don't let a compact room be a barrier to creating your dream scheme, we've got all the tips, tricks and expert advice you'll need, plus plenty of small kitchen ideas. From space-saving storage ideas to freestanding appliances and floating shelves, we show you how to get the best out of any nook and cranny in the kitchen.

Small kitchen problems

1. Wheel in a trolley

kitchen area with white wall and trolley with wheels

(Image credit: Future PLC/Katie Jane Watson)

More bijou rooms tend to have less cupboard space, therefore less obvious small kitchen storage ideas. You might find that you'd rather keep your tins, packets and store-cupboard essentials hidden away out of sight, which means your crockery and glassware will need to find an alternative place to live. 

A bar cart or tiered trolley is a great option for solving these types of small kitchen problems, as it can easily be wheeled into place, as well as transport what you need to the dining table, each meal time.

2. Make the most of wall height

kitchen area with white wall and shelves and wash basin

(Image credit: Future PlC/Joanna Henderson)

While you might be lacking on worktop space, making the most of wall space is a clever trick to maximise your options for keeping kitchen essentials. 

Choose whether to hang just one shelf along the entire width of your wall, or several, shorter shelves above each other to house your glassware, wooden boards or kitchen herbs. This trick is great to bear in mind when considering how to make a small kitchen look bigger.

3. Squeeze in a slimline cupboard

kitchen area with wooden floor and slimline cupboard

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Parmiter)

Make sure to use every last inch of space in your bijou kitchen and see if you can squeeze in a slimline cupboard to cleverly organise a small kitchen

Great for storing tall bottles of oils or even a collection of spices, they are often found a the end of a run of units next to an appliance, so check to see if you can add one in to you kitchen and utilise the space, so banish at least one of your small kitchen problems.

4. Hang utensils on the wall

kitchen area with white wall and kitchen utensils

(Image credit: Future PLC/Joanna Henderson)

Free up space in your limited drawers, by hanging utensils and kitchen linens from a make-shift rack on the wall. A common small kitchen problem is only having one or two drawers which quickly get taken up with your cutlery and knives, so for all your other utensils and and baking paraphernalia, try hanging them instead. 

This clever rack is actually made from old bed slats hung from hooks on the wall, but could also work hung from the back of a door too.

5. Hide away WFH gear

kitchen area with white wall and fridge with drawer unit

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tim Young)

For most of us, our kitchen table now doubles up as working from home space too, so the constant juggle between work space, to eating space, to entertaining space, is very much real, creating brand new small kitchen problems. Ideally you want to be able to hid away any WFH bits at the end of each day, so any space your kitchen can offer, will help with this. 

Here a drawer has been removed from the bottom of this chest to fit a printer in, while the rest of the drawers provide space for paperwork. Curtain wires have been cut and hung on the wall to hold papers, business cards and memos.

6. Utilise alcove space

kitchen area with white wall and cabinet

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Even awkward alcove space can be utilised in a wee kitchen and make a great feature too - just rethink your small kitchen layouts with these areas in mind.

 Opt to either fill the space entirely with a custom-made shelving unit, for housing all your dried goods and crockery. Or go for a half height cupboard with worktop space, to create a dedicated hot-drink making space, complete with mugs, kettle and jars of tea and coffee.

7. Run a rail above the sink

kitchen area with orange fridge and wash basin

(Image credit: Future PLC/Fiona Walker-Arnott)

Space around a kitchen sink is common for small kitchen problems, so pop a rail (with several S hooks threaded on) to the wall above it and hang your washing up brushes. A hanging kitchen space saver caddy will cleverly house clothes, sponges and hand soap, and if there is still space, a faux plant could be hung up too, so bring in some colour.

8. Stack appliances on top of each other

kitchen area with white counter table and oven

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

A great space saving trick and another way to address your small kitchen problems, is to stack your appliances on top of each other, so to reduce their footprint in your kitchen. 

Ovens, grills and microwaves can benefit from this layout, as well as washing machines and tumble dryers. By choosing a stacking option for your kitchen appliance layout, you're using more of the vertical space in your kitchen, rather than the horizontal space. It also means you don't have to bend down so low to get washing in and out, or cook the dinner each evening!

9. Opt for an all white scheme

kitchen with white wall and wooden floor and white cabinet with wooden worktop

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

White kitchens are great for making a small space seem larger, as they bounce the light around the room and don't let your eye land on anything in particular. They are timeless and classic and the choice of white cabinetry provides a crisp, smart look. 

Paired with white tiles and walls, your small kitchen problems will be forgotten about as you enjoy your light and airy space.

What do I do if my kitchen is too small?

Don't fret, there are plenty of ways to maximise the space in your kitchen and keep everything you need within reach. For instance, a kitchen organiser or two will help you not only keep your space tidy and well-organised, preventing packets of food from falling out on you as you open cupboards. But, these should also help you take advantage of every inch of storage space you have inside your kitchen.

We also suggest having a good clear out to work out what you need to keep. Vicky Silverthorn, professional organiser at You Need a Vicky, says ' Look at your gadgets and utensils and assess whether you actually use them or need them. Is a peeler, squeezer, corer and slicer really necessary when one knife might do? Ask yourself honestly if you have the space for all of them, as more than likely you don't!'

Follow our top tips above and get savvy when thinking about where to keep things to avoid creating small kitchen problems. If you have a utility room adjacent to your kitchen, think about whether you can store some of your kitchen items in there or perhaps whether crockery or glassware might be better stored in the dining room. There are plenty of kitchen storage ideas that can help you make the most of you space.

Pretty up a compact space with well-chosen accessories that complement the scheme. Use contrasting materials for a striking look that is sure to turn heads. Be adaptable with your design to create a fun, inspirational layout. When space is at a premium, make use of stylish freestanding furniture. They can be moved in, around and out when needed, making for maximum versatility. Also, opt for a multifunctional worktop that can double-up as a breakfast bar or prep surface. Tuck stools neatly underneath when not in use to free up floor space. Think about handleless designs for a fuss-free family kitchen. Integrate your appliances behind cupboard doors to achieve a non-kitchen feel in an open-plan space.

Are small kitchens better?

In some ways, yes! Although there are, of course, small kitchen problems to content with, because a more petite space means you will be forced to streamline what you need, and it will allow you to be a bit more conscious of the things you use everyday and the things you can really live without. Less stuff and less space, means less cleaning too, so that's a win to start with!

What are some kitchen problems?

As we've mentioned, lack of storage space is usually the biggest problem home-owners are faced with when it comes to kitchens. Cluttered surfaces is another one. Vicky advises, 'Keep surfaces clear where possible- having too much out hinders easy prep and reduces overall space. Free-up worktop space by tucking larger items (like toasters and blenders) away in a cupboard near to the surface you'll be using them on.'

Whatever your small kitchen problems, we've got plenty to help solve them!