20 Ways to Organize a Small Kitchen Without a Pantry

Blue kitchen with wood countertops

Naked Kitchens

You already know clutter is the anthesis of a well-designed and decorated space. Plus, it can even make you even more stressed on a daily basis. But when you're faced with a small kitchen and no real pantry space, keeping your kitchen clutter-free can be a challenge of Olympic proportions. And even if you're not the world's most active chef, you still need to stock up on staples like sugar, flour, or rice. But where are you supposed to store all your food and dry goods? Enter our genius small kitchen solutions.

The good news is that with a little creativity, even the smallest kitchens can become functional, well-organized spaces even if you lack that awe-inspiring walk-in pantry. We've rounded up some of our favorite ideas to help you do exactly that—and while most of these ideas can be recreated in a few hours, the key to all of them is consistency. The better you are at staying on top of your chosen method of organization, the more clutter-free your space will ultimately be.

01 of 20

Add Wall Shelving

Kitchen with blue cabinets and open shelving

Bespoke Only

Sure, a hidden pantry with loads of storage space for your massive spice collection is nice, but beautiful exposed shelving can work just as well. If adding some new built-in cabinets isn't possible, consider hanging a few pieces of wood wherever you find space (seriously—think creatively and look for nooks and crannies that could potentially host some surface area).

To make the most of your space, consider moving aesthetically pleasing plates and bowls to your open shelving and saving the cabinet space for all those less-sightly boxes of cereal.

02 of 20

Maximize Your Counter Space

Marble Kitchen Countertops
Catherine Kwong

If done well and kept organized, your countertops can act as storage. But a small kitchen is usually limited in the counter space department. Consider adding a small shelf to your countertop to add double the storage space and provide extra room for things like spices, oils, or flour.

You can DIY it with a few small pieces of wood and a little bit of stain, or you can buy a pre-made version from many home decor retailers.

03 of 20

Try a Sideboard

Kitchen with wood and white cabinets

Rikki Snyder

If you have an open concept kitchen and dining room, a sideboard can be a great storage tool. While they are traditionally used to store table linens or dinnerware, you can repurpose this statement-making piece to accommodate nearly any kitchen staple.

To make a storage cabinet more practical for pantry items, stack a few baskets or bins to keep things organized. Don't treat it as a black hole and toss things in willy-nilly—an internal method of organization will ensure you always know where to find what you're looking for.

04 of 20

Repurpose a Bar Cabinet

Kitchen with a brown bar cabinet

Reena Sotropa

Consider moving that bar cart or cabinet out of your living room and into your kitchen. Not only will it give you easier access to wine while you're cooking (major pro), but you can repurpose a closed bar cabinet to store dry goods and other kitchen must-haves.

An open rolling bar cart that's easily tucked away can also be a great tool to store kitchen necessities. Push it into a coat closet or mudroom when not in use and roll it out the next time you bake mom's chocolate chip cookies.

05 of 20

Use All Of Your Wall Space

kitchen with hanging utensils

Rikki Snyder

Don't neglect that unused wall space. When it comes to finding storage in a small kitchen, it's important to look to those empty walls. From hanging magnetic strips for knives and other utensils to metal rods that can hold baskets of fruit, your wall space can work overtime when you're struggling to find storage in a small pantry-less kitchen. Try installing wall storage behind your sink or near the area where you typically do food prep, so you have your go-to items easily within reach.

06 of 20

Organize Your Drawers

Drawer with baking tools

Breathing Room Organization + Styling

The more organized your drawers, the more stuff you can throw in them and not on your countertops. Invest in drawer dividers to make the most of your drawer space. While you may not want to store dry goods or baking staples in your drawers, you can stretch that space and prevent kitchen goods from cluttering your cabinets by keeping them organized and clean.

07 of 20

Keep it in Plain Sight

Blue kitchen with wood countertops

Naked Kitchens

While we wouldn't recommend tossing open bags of flour or sugar right onto your countertops, a few design-friendly canisters or jars are perfect for keeping those often-used staples right where you need them without adding unnecessary clutter.

If you don't have a few shelves to store your kitchen jars on, a pretty mirrored tray can be a great tool to keep your jars organized right on your countertop.

08 of 20

Add a Wire Rack

Small pink kitchen

Studio Surface

Don't take up precious cabinet space with your pots, pans, and cooking utensils. Instead, mount a wire rack above your sink or stove to hang these items (plus cutting boards and dish towels, too!) This black one adds an industrial touch to an otherwise soft, romantic kitchen.

09 of 20

Get a Rolling Island

Small Kitchen Cabinets
BHDM Design

Just because your small kitchen doesn't have an island doesn't mean you can't have one. Buy a rolling island cart that can add counter and storage space. Because it's on wheels, you can move it out of the way when you need more room!

10 of 20

Use the Top of Your Fridge

clare paint rose season

Megan Zietz

Stacking baskets or bins on top of your fridge is a great way to add storage. You can use them to store extra dish towels, dry goods, or fresh fruit. Because they're high up there, you may want to keep a step stool handy for easy access.

11 of 20

Hang Cooking Utensils

Jette Creative—Mistakes to Avoid Making in a Small Kitchen
Amy Bartlam DESIGN: Jette Creative

Every inch of your drawer space is precious, so don't take it up with your wooden spoons and spatulas. Instead, hammer a nail into the wall next to your stove and hang them up. Not only does it free up space and give you easy access to your tools, but it also adds a French Country vibe to your space.

12 of 20

Convert a Nook

Nook with spices

At Lucy's House

Do you have a little alcove, nook, or butler's pantry in or adjacent to your kitchen? Turn it into a pantry! Mount shelves, decant your spices and go-to ingredients into matching bins, then label everything. Since it's out in the open and not behind closed doors, you want it to look as pretty and organized as possible.

13 of 20

Go Wild With Pegboard

Kitchen with pegboard

Joanna  J Westwood

Pegboard is one of the most versatile materials when it comes to adding storage to your kitchen. Hang baskets of fruit, shelves full of oils or utensils from the board for super easy access to every kitchen staple.

14 of 20

Get Some Command Strips

Kitchen cabinet with pot holders hanging

Neat By Meg

From potholders to wooden spoons, command strips can come in handy to free up just a little bit of extra storage. Hang them inside cabinet doors to make the most of your space.

15 of 20

Add a Few Lazy Susans

Lazy susan with a label

Neat By Meg

Whatever cabinet space you do have is precious, and as you probably know, in a small kitchen, it fills up quickly! That's where lazy susans come in. You'll be able to fit in way more ingredients, foods, and cooking supplies, so your tiny cabinets feel suddenly so much more accommodating.

16 of 20

Install Mug Hooks

Kitchen hutch with three white mugs hanging on hooks.

Steve Lupton / Getty Images

No space for your mugs? No problem. Simply install some hooks underneath shelves and hang up your mugs. You'll free up some cabinet space, and have quick access when you're ready for your morning coffee.

17 of 20

Hang Knives

small kitchen

Fantastic Frank

Who says knives have to go in drawers or in a knife block on your counter? That's just going to take up precious space, so instead, mount them on the wall. As this small kitchen proves, you don't need a lot of space to do this one, either.

18 of 20

Stack Dishes in Your Island

Kitchen island with open shelves

Marie Flanigan Interiors

If you have an island with a free shelf, use it to store dishes. Remember, they're on display, so stack neatly! If you don't have an island, you can mount wall shelves to use as dish storage, too.

19 of 20

Use the Tops of Cabinets

white modern kitchen

 

ELIZABETH ROBERTS ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN

No space goes unused in a small kitchen. The tops of cabinets are perfect for storing items you don't use on a daily basis, such as entertaining essentials or extra dishes.

20 of 20

Get Some Tiered Baskets

White kitchen with peninsula

PDG Studios

Channel your grandma's kitchen and consider adding a tiered basket. Whether on the counter or hanging from the ceiling, tiered baskets are perfect for storing the obvious, like bananas and oranges, but they can also hold bags of dried rice, pasta, and other lightweight staples. Even if you lack wall space or counter space to add storage, nearly every small kitchen has some unused ceiling space that can be creatively adapted.

Article Sources
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  1. Sorrell JM. Tidying Up: Good for the Aging Brain. J Psychosoc Nurs Ment Health Serv. 2020 Apr 1;58(4):16-18. doi:10.3928/02793695-20200316-02

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