Small Kitchens: Storage and Design

Use smart strategies to make the most out of the storage capacity of your small kitchen.

A small kitchen design can still offer ample storage space. Design by Ben Herzog; Photography by Cory Silken

If your small kitchen has you constantly searching for more storage options, make sure you're making the most of the space you have available. With good planning, a smart design and clever storage solutions, you may discover your small kitchen has a lot to offer.

"The tough thing about small kitchens is that there's never enough space, but small kitchens can also be gems," says designer Mark T. White, CKD, CBD, owner of Kitchen Encounters. "You just want to avoid crowding the room with too many cabinets. Sometimes even opening the doors on cabinets becomes a big obstacle."


Browse Pictures of Small Kitchens With Smart Design

For many small kitchens, White says soft-closing, full-extension drawers are the way to go. If you have standard-height cabinets with unused wall space above, increasing the cabinets by six inches can improve storage capacity. Utilize cutlery dividers in drawers to organize cooking utensils and tools and keep them off counters. You can stash a small folding ladder behind a toe-kick panel, to help you reach items on high shelves or upper cabinets. White says no matter the storage options you choose, make sure to consider proper aisle space and traffic flow.

Professional organizer Kate S. Brown, CPO, owner of Impact Productivity believes small kitchens are spaces that can work, as long as you have a place for everything off the counter, leaving elbow room for the cook. "Otherwise making dinner becomes a stressful obstacle course punctuated by the crash of something being knocked off the counter," says Brown, who suggests putting your walls to work by storing your nicest pots and pans on pegs.

And don't forget to maximize the inside of your cabinet doors. Brown suggests using 3M Command hooks inside upper cabinets for small items that hang close to eye level, like graduated measuring cups and spoons or spare keys.

Tips for Creating and Utilizing Storage

  • A pot rack above a slim island or kitchen cart keeps pots and pans in easy reach and frees up drawer storage for other essentials.
  • Install open shelves around the perimeter of your kitchen about a foot or so below the ceiling. This gives you a place for lighter items, like baskets or small plates you want to display. If you live in an earthquake-prone area, consider using earthquake wax to adhere the items securely.
  • A banquette with seating and storage drawers below can be a great use of floor space in some small kitchens.
  • Use narrow cabinets or pullout pilasters on the sides of your range for storage of cookie sheets and serving platters.
  • Add shelves or glass-fronted cabinets to create a pass-through over a peninsula, so you can store and display stemware.
  • Store linens and napkins in a slender armoire. Choose one that includes an upper cabinet with glass doors, so you can display and store your favorite dishes and glasses.
  • Hardware changes, like adding long horizontal pulls on cabinets, can do double duty, providing a handy space to hang dishtowels.


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