Small kitchen storage ideas – 10 ways to keep countertops clutter-free

From hard-working walls to space-saving shelves, these smart storage ideas for small kitchens will ensure yours is as practical as it is good-looking
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  • Keeping a kitchen clutter-free is always a challenge, let alone if yours space is a little on the modest side. You need all the small kitchen storage ideas you can get to ensure it stays a functional, well-organised space that’s enjoyable to cook in, too.

    The key to decluttering is organisation, whether you’ve got a small kitchen or not. ‘It’s important to think about your kitchen and what you and your family need from it, as this will impact your design and storage requirements’, says Graeme Smith, Head of Retail and Commercial Design at Life Kitchens. ‘Families may need space for larger pans and more tableware, while those who love cooking may want custom space for storing cookbooks, cutting boards and specialist utensils.’

    Small kitchen storage ideas

    Task number one is to pare down your stuff. Chipped, mismatched plates? Splintered wooden spoons? Get rid. Limit your kitchen items to only those that you use regularly. ‘Really think about the contents of your drawers and cupboards, thinking about location, positioning and shelf heights as you go. Always have ‘practicality’ in your head, it’s not just about making your kitchen look pristine, but it has to work, too’, says Vicky Silverthorn, professional organiser at You Need a Vicky.

    Once you’ve done that, you’re in a great position to start implementing our genius space-saving solutions. From hard-working walls and counter-top storage to clever kitchen shelving ideas, you’ll feel like you’ve doubled your small kitchen storage ideas. And made your life a lot easier as a result!

    1. Make your storage a stylish display

    Fitted kitchen with a wall of storage shelves and dark grey units

    Image credit: Future Plc/Colin Poole

    Open shelving not only creates the illusion of more space, it’s also an opportunity to add a few stylised touches to your kitchen – a luxury when you’re limited on space. You can get pretty creative with cooking-themed shelfie displays – stacked crockery, cookbooks, chopping boards, potted herb – they all look good on show. This way, you can maximise the space inside cupboards for the more ‘unsightly’ kitchen essentials.

    Use under-shelf baskets, stacking shelf inserts or racks for pans, lids and well-loved Tupperware. For extra creative flair give your shelving a splash of a key small kitchen paint colours to give your display a colourful backdrop.

    2. Maximise kitchen corners

    Magic corner pull out storage in a cream painted Shaker kitchen

    Image credit: Life Kitchens

    There’s nothing more frustrating than rummaging around in the dark depths of an unorganised corner cupboard. ‘They can be notoriously difficult to access and store items in, but there are solutions available’, says Graeme Smith, Head of Retail and Commercial Design at Life Kitchens. ‘Racks that slide along and out of the unit when you open the door make use of all available space in a user-friendly way.’

    3. Organise kitchen drawers

    Kitchen drawer organised with wooden drawer dividers

    Image credit: Life Kitchens

    Neat and tidy drawers are everything when it comes to living your best (and most organised) small kitchen life. For this, you need inserts. Mix and match different shapes and sizes to create the perfect configuration. Dedicate a single drawer for longer utensils and insert diagonal dividers to make better use of space.

    ‘Consider deeper drawers for pots and pans, with the addition of shallow drawers on top for storing corkscrews, spatulas and the like,’ says Graeme Smith, Head of Retail and Commercial Design at Life Kitchens. Spices are the worst culprits for finding their way to the back of shelves, so keep them within hand’s grasp by placing them into a neatly sectioned drawer instead.

    4. Leave no space unused

    A close up of a pull out rack, holding spice jars and a chopping board, under a marble worktop

    Image credit: Future Plc/David Parmiter

    You’d be amazed at what can be done with even the tiniest of nooks in your kitchen. Make the most of narrow spaces between cabinets with a pull-out rack or consider installing a tilt-down drawer at your sink for storing sponges and scrubbing brushes that would otherwise end up as countertop clutter.

    5. Invest in new wheels

    Tall open storage unit on wheels, holding kitchen items

    Image credit: Future Plc/Lizzie Orme

    Flexibility is your best friend when it comes to small kitchen storage ideas. Rolling drinks trollies, butchers blocks or small kitchen island ideas with wheels offer up extra counter and storage space and can be easily moved out of the way to create more floor space as and when you need. If arranged artfully, they can make for a lovely feature.

    Or just tuck them away out of sight – messy cooks, we’re looking at you!

    6. Utilise the edge of cabinets

    Painted rail on edge of kitchen island with marble worktop with hanging tea towel

    Image credit: Kitchen Makers

    Squeeze every inch of storage space out of your small kitchen layout by utilising the sides of your kitchen cupboards. A simple wooden rail for hanging tea towels is great, or you could opt for a more contemporary metal design and add hooks for hanging spoons, spatulas, sieves – any cooking equipment, really. Just make sure they’re out of reach if you have pets or little ones in the household.

    Ceiling racks are another great hidden storage opportunity – they can be used to hang pans and utensils. You could also save on cabinet space by leaving your prettiest cookware out on the stovetop. Assuming its washed up, of course!

    7. Use vertical wall space

    Mint green painted wall used to hang a collection of wooden chopping boards

    Image credit: Future Plc/Simon Whitmore

    Let’s face it, large chopping and serving boards are a pain to store, particularly when you’re limited on space anyway. But with their gorgeous grain textures and warm wooden tones, they ooze natural beauty and character, so why try your best to hide them away?

    Instead, hang them up for a stylish wall display. They’re in easy reach for when you need them, just remember to give them a quick wipe down before you hang them back up again.

    8. Help wall space work overtime

    Green wall with picture ledges painted to match, Ikea hack with hooks and jars for kitchen storage

    Image credit: Future Plc/Dominic Blackmore

    If cupboards are at bursting point, picture shelves can add slim, versatile storage in a tight space, not to mention double up as a quirky decorative feature. To store mugs, screw in cup books about 5cm away from the front of the shelf.

    To attach spice jars, mark the centre of the underside of the lid and then screw through the bottom of the lid into the shelf. Just be sure to use as screw the same length as the depth of the shelf to avoid the sharp end poking through.

    9. Get things out in the open

    Rustic wood nice shelf with storage jars

    Image credit: The Main Company/Chloe Smith Photography

    No pantry? No problem. Store your most-used ingredients or food items (think cereal, nuts, flour, herbs, spices etc) in design-friendly jars and arrange them neatly on shelving, a windowsill or directly on the countertop.

    Not only does it free up room in cupboards, it also makes it easier to grab what you need quickly. Plus it looks great, too.

    10. Think outside the kitchen

    Freestanding wood kitchen unit with drawer and open shelving and oversized wall clock

    Image credit: Future PLC/David Brittain

    No room left in your kitchen area? Small kitchen storage ideas don’t have to be in the cooking zone. Steal space from other rooms instead. Yes, we know they’re traditionally used to store table linens or dinnerware, but who says a sideboard can’t stock other kitchen staples?

    Even pantry items too – stack a few baskets or bins inside to keep things organised.

    How do I organise cabinets in a small kitchen?

    Before you start thinking about small kitchen storage ideas, think about what’s going to live where. In a dream scenario, your cabinets should be organised in relation to your kitchen layout. For example, china and cutlery should live near the dishwasher while a pantry cupboard is handy next to the fridge.

    Next, decant dried foods and ingredients into clear glass jars and canisters (stackable ones are ideal) – so often bulky packaging takes up more space than the content itself. This is a great opportunity to throw away anything past its expiry or that you don’t use. Use baskets to group items together and arrange by most to least frequently used. You could even keep a list of expiration dates so you can whip out anything that’s collecting dust at the back.

    ‘It’s worth looking at accessories that can be added inside the cabinet, such as pull down or pull-out storage options to help maximise space and ensure accessibility’, says Simon Collyns, Marketing and Retail Sales Director at Symphony Group. Alternatively, consider customising existing cabinets by adding shelves or moving them around to make room for taller bottles, jars and cooking equipment.

    Don’t forget about the space above your cabinets either. If it’s on show, keep it looking lovely by storing eye-pleasing things up there, like vases or special-occasion platters, or pack away extra pantry supplies into attractive crates or baskets.

    How do you declutter kitchen countertops?

    While we’re all about displaying beautiful appliances, the less you leave laying around your countertops the better, from a practical point of view as well as aesthetically. That best stand mixer may look great but try whipping up a mid-week meal with no counter space… not easy!

    Only leave out the gadgets you use daily, from toasters and kettles to smaller things such as phone chargers and shopping pads and stow the rest out of sight (if you’re limited on kitchen cupboard space, consider using the tops of cabinets or storage spaces in other rooms).

    Whatever you do have out on the side, make sure it stays neat, recommends Vicky Silverthorn, professional organiser at You Need a Vicky; ‘consider grouping specific items together in a crate or tray to keep them looking intentional and tidy, oils and vinegars next to the hob or washing liquid and hand soap next to the sink, for example’, she says.

    You could also consider creating more countertop space by placing a thick butcher’s block or cutting board over an unused hob or across the sink.

    How do I use corner space in a small kitchen

    A close up shot of clever cupboard storage with pots and pans

    Image credit: Future PLC/ David Parmiter

    There’s no excuse for wasted space in corner cupboards anymore – a carousel or swing-out Le Mans shelving create storage in spaces your arms will never reach.

    If you’re after a quick fix, use baskets. We love baskets. They’re great for grouping things together, and you can pull them out easily to access the back, where you can store your lesser-used kitchen gadgets (admit it, that bread maker is just collecting dust isn’t it. Pop it away, no judgement).

    ‘When it comes to worktops, there are quite a few designs you can buy that are made to specifically suit awkward spaces, such as a corner shaped bread bin, for example. ‘A vintage crate can be tucked away and keeps smaller items safe. You could add a nice potted plant or herb too for a friendly feel’, says Vicky.

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