New Place Has a Small Kitchen? 12 Ways to Make It Functional

Very often, our kitchen is the hub of our home. It is where meals are prepared, homework is completed, company is entertained and more. This means that a small kitchen can sometimes feel like a major obstacle to living your life. Everyday tasks like making dinner and putting away groceries can turn into ordeals. A truly tiny kitchen might even prevent you from cooking the foods you love or entertaining the folks you care for. 

But fear not, a small space can still work for you if you know how to optimize it. Even using just some of these simple tips can help you maximize your space in a small kitchen. These clever hacks will open up your kitchen and make it a functional place to cook, eat and enjoy your life. 

Clean it out.

The first part of optimizing your new kitchen should be grabbing a garbage bag and disposing of anything that’s just taking up space. Make sure your refrigerator, cabinets, pantry and other areas are free of expired food, broken appliances or anything else that you’re never going to use. By taking on this task when you move in, you’ll set yourself up for future success and a cleaner kitchen. 

Make items like cookware and spices easy to access with vertical storage.

Maximizing your kitchen space often means finding ways to hang things from the walls, ceiling or cabinets. That’s why kitchen organizers like pot racks and spice racks are so popular! These handy storage racks put some of your most important kitchen implements at your fingertips, and they come in a huge variety of designs that can optimize almost any area of your kitchen. 

Get an over-the-sink cutting board and/or dish drying rack.

Cutting boards and dish drying racks are both items that can take up a lot of counter space, so try over-the-sink versions as an alternative. These items’ versatile designs allow them to snap onto your sink easily, allowing you to use the space however you need it. 

Choose a smaller or hidden trash can.

One of the items you probably don’t want on display in your kitchen — the trash can — can also be one of the bulkiest. That’s why many people choose smaller kitchen trash can sizes, especially ones that can be hidden easily on a slide-out rack inside a cabinet. Simplehuman trash cans are popular for their variety of compact and convenient models, including slide-outs, but make sure you pick up Simplehuman compatible trash bags to get the most storage space from your trash can. 

Add under shelf drawers to your refrigerator and/or cabinets.

Do you find yourself constantly running out of space in your fridge or in your drawers? That’s why under shelf drawers are such an amazing invention for those of us with small kitchens. Lots of home improvement retailers now offer these drawers. Some models are designed for fridges, while others attach to cabinets, and still others go under the sink. You can also try the classic three-drawer organizer to open up new organization possibilities in your cabinets. 

Find storage options other than your counter for bulky appliances.  

If you only use that slow cooker once a week, there’s no reason to give it permanent counter space. Find a cabinet or other space where you can store bulky appliances and don’t be afraid to store them outside the kitchen if you need to. If you hardly ever use the appliance, think about whether it might be time to sell it or give it away. 

Add corner shelving.

Chances are, your kitchen’s corners could be working a lot harder than they are. Corner shelves allow you to add new levels of storage in an otherwise inaccessible area. They can be great in any part of your kitchen with under-utilized corners, but especially over the sink where they’re ideal for holding cleaning supplies like sponges and scouring pads. 

Get a rolling kitchen island cart.

Rolling carts give you tons of storage space, and their wheels make them easy to reposition whenever and wherever you need to! Some of the best rolling carts are specially designed for kitchen use and come with a countertop-like surface that’s perfect for food prep. Many also include useful built-in features like storage cabinets. 

Add a knife strip or pegboard to your backsplash.

Another effective way to store cooking tools and optimize your kitchen’s limited space is via a pegboard or magnetic strip mounted onto your backsplash. If you choose a knife strip, make sure that you select a high quality model and follow all of the manufacturer’s directions for hanging your knives correctly. 

Use hanging hooks for mugs.

Many folks love their mug collections, but all of those awesome mugs can take up a lot of space in your cabinet. Mug hooks and racks are another great example of hanging storage that can help you optimize your kitchen. They’re easy to find online, but it’s also relatively simple to create DIY mug hangers from scratch.

Add a wall mount for your phone or tablet.

It’s also common to use phones or tablets in the kitchen. You might be following a recipe, video chatting or watching Netflix as you cook. Whatever you’re doing, adding a wall mount for your device can make it a smoother experience and free up functional counter space that you might otherwise be using for your device. 

Decant your bulk dry goods.

Many people decant and store bulk dry goods like pasta, rice and flour in large jars. These save space because they’re easy to stack and store, and they can also keep your dry goods fresh for longer. You’ll be surprised by how much space and effort you can save by removing the need to store and organize multiple packaging types, and you’ll always have a clear idea of your supplies on hand. 

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