Here's How to Organize a Small Kitchen Without a Pantry

Blue kitchen with wood countertops

Naked Kitchens

You already know clutter is the anthesis to 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?

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 about staying on top of your chosen method of organization, the more clutter-free your space will ultimately be.

Material Suggestions to Help Get Organized

  • Wall shelves
  • Drawer organizers
  • A bookshelf
  • A bar cart
  • Canisters
  • Baskets

Before you begin, consider how often you use everything in your kitchen and organize with convenience at top of mind. You're much more likely to stick with your system if it actually works for you.

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.

Go Wild With Pegboard

We have to be honest: If we had a stunning pegboard wall unit like this one, we wouldn't even miss the pantry. 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.

While a DIY-version is great for creating a pegboard organizer that fits a very specific and unique space, you can also find pre-made versions for a quick fix.

Hang Baskets

Kitchen with a lot of plants
Black & Blooms

Channel your grandma's kitchen and consider adding storage from the ceiling to make up for the lack of a pantry. A three-tiered hanging basket is perfect for storing the obvious, like bananas and oranges, but it 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.

Hanging basket
World Market Copper And Rope 3-Tier Hanging Basket $35
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Maximize Your Counter Space

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 spaces, 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.

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.

Modern storage unit
West Elm Industrial Storage Cabinet $599
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Add a Bookcase

Think a bookshelf is only for books? Think again. Consider adding a bookshelf to your kitchen to make room for extra kitchen items. Stack either matching dinnerware and mugs, or add baskets to hide food and keep things clutter-free and aesthetically pleasing. From dry goods to canned foods, a bookcase can easily store the things that your missing pantry would have held.

If you are worried about clutter, consider using a bookcase for all of your dinnerwear and utilize every inch of cabinet space for food storage.

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.

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.

Ikea hanging basket
Ikea RIMFORSA Bamboo Basket $20
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Organize Those Drawers

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.

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.

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