Small Kitchen Ideas: How To Organise Your Space

Find a space for all your belongings with these storage hacks and organising tips for small kitchens.

Couple cooking small kitchen ideas

by Natalie Corner |
Updated on

Making the most of the space you have is crucial in a home with a small kitchen and we are always looking for storage solutions and clever hacks. Even search trends for ‘storage hacks for small apartments' have increased by 129 per cent over the last 12 months across the UK according to research by kitchen and homeware brand VonHaus.

For those of us struggling for room in our homes, it’s always helpful to know the best ways in which you can store miscellaneous belongings. Whether that’s seasonal decorations, sentimental belongings from your childhood or essential appliances.

Putting extra thought into the way you lay out your essentials can really inspire some clever small kitchen ideas. Organising a small kitchen can even include adding space with a slimline kitchen island you never thought you could have or changing up the colour scheme to bring in a different focal point. Maximise storage space with a drop-leaf dining table that can be folded away or make the most of those bare walls with floating shelves.

A Modern Kitchen’s Top 20 Small Kitchen Ideas:

Portable space

Kitchen countertop space is a precious commodity no matter the size of your home. Galley, country, L-shaped or U-shaped, you may feel the need to make the most of every nook and cranny in your kitchen.

If you are looking for more countertop space, then a moveable kitchen cart or a freestanding chef’s table can extend your prep and storage area. Pick out styles that have extra shelves, drawers, or baskets and then if it is on wheels you can pop it to one side when not in use or store it under the stairs or in another room.

Make your backsplash a feature

If you’re looking for a quick small kitchen décor idea, then making a backsplash feature can add a pop of colour or pattern and change the focus. Renters can opt for self-adhesive vinyl tiles that come in an array of styles and designs that are simple to apply. Looking for something a little more permanent apply colourful Moroccan tiles along half of your kitchen wall.

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Vertical wall space

Wall space can often be forgotten when it comes to making the most of a small kitchen. If you have small narrow walls, opt for multiple floating shelves in a vertical arrangement. It can create an amazing feature if you curate what you want to be on show, whether that’s pots and pans, dining sets, or an array of plants to curate your own indoor herb garden.

Make good use of your window

If you have a window in your kitchen, do not ignore it. Even if you have a lovely view of your garden or live in a high-rise apartment block you could use tension rods in between the window to hang up your utensils or use macrame hanging plants from the ceiling. The main advice here is you can still make effective use of the window in your small kitchen and the light will still shine in.

Hang everything

Tea towels take up space in a drawer and yet you use them every day, the same goes for oven gloves, aprons, pots, pans, utensils and anything you may have crammed away to make your kitchen tidy. But we’re here to tell you, you can hang it all up.

Pick out some gorgeous hooks like these stunning ceramic blue ones and fix them on your wall. The small detail will help make a pretty display out of your utensils instead of trying to awkwardly fit them in a drawer which can be put to better use.

Organise your cupboards

There’s more to organising your cupboards than just stacking your cans properly. Storage helpers like a wire basket that slips onto your shelf to make a slide-out drawer or an extending shelf, or even a two-tier display shelf will help you make the most of your cupboard space. You can also attach mini racks on the inside of the door or a note board to keep your shopping lists out of the way.

kitchen cupboard with two tier organiser
Credit: A Modern Kitchen ©A Modern Kitchen

Use your ceiling

Attaching items to your ceiling means dabbling in a bit of DIY, but by setting up a ceiling mount and putting your pots and pans can open up vital cupboard space. Your small kitchen will thank you and it will add a nice feature to your room especially if you opt for copper or pastel shades of kitchenware.

Make use of corners

A small kitchen will still have corners but make sure when you are looking at designing a new space or moving things around not to waste any space hiding in any corners. Talk to your project manager if you are getting it refitted and ask them to add in-built shelves to the corner space or you can find corner-shaped shelves to display herbs on which will add life to your kitchen.

Breakfast bar vs dining nook

If you have space for a dining table and chairs and you are keen to keep that, scroll on down for small table ideas. But if changing up where you eat to something less formal can create a much more welcoming and relaxed vibe to your kitchen.

If you divide your kitchen with a long half-wall, it still creates an open plan kitchen/living area but introduces the option to attach a slim breakfast bar and stools to eat at. Or if you really want to include an island to your small kitchen, go slimline for that too and you will be surprised at how much space you still have with a stunning feature in the centre.

Replace top cabinets with open storage

Not every kitchen needs cabinets at the top and bottom in a layout. Sometimes sacrificing boxy cabinets for open shelves for storage can create the feel of a bigger space. Put your most used items on display and store everything else in the base cabinets, this way you do not need to bend down all the time simply reach up and pick what you require.

Floor-to-ceiling cabinets

This is all about using the maximum amount of space your kitchen has to offer. If you have a layout where there is enough counter space, and you can sacrifice one section in the design plans, consider opting for a large floor-to-ceiling cabinet that will give you a whole heap of shelves. You can even turn the shelves into drawers with storage helpers like a basket unit that slots inside.

Drop-leaf table

If you are set on having a table and chairs but do not need them out permanently, a drop-leaf table or fold-down table is a great solution. It gives you the option to eat formally but then fold your table away to leave space for something else. It is all about thinking how your kitchen will function for you not the other way around.

Add a mirror

Small windows or a lack of light at all can often make a kitchen feel a lot smaller and compact than it is. It is one of the oldest interior tricks in the book but hanging a mirror over your kitchen sink if it doesn't have a window will reflect any light you do have and open up your space. Pick an interesting design or shape to make your kitchen walls pop.

Kitchen lights
©Getty Images

Feature lighting

Depending on the style of light fixtures in your small kitchen, a feature light shade can really create a different atmosphere and add a sense of style. Natural fabrics like rattan and colours like burnt orange could bring your kitchen space to life and add a unique touch.

White vs colour

When you have a small interior space, it seems obvious to go for white or a light shade to keep the room bright and spacious. But colour should not be feared in a small kitchen, adding bold shades can make your kitchen still feel bigger if you don’t get messy. Think monochrome, opt for one shade, and keep it throughout, or choose two complementary primary colours for the top half of the kitchen and one for the other.

Read More: How To Choose A Colour Scheme For Your Kitchen

Store food in drawers

Drawers don’t always have to be for cutlery and tea towels, if you have deeper drawers look at getting buckets to store food that does not need to be in the fridge. This way you’ll keep your potatoes and onions neat and tidy, and you won’t find rogue rotting veg at the back of your cupboard.

No clutter

This is not the opposite of having your kitchen items on display. No clutter means organising your belongings neatly and thinking wisely about the space you have. Clutter happens when items do not have a place to live, and which is why our homes get messy no matter what we do.

Think about using your backsplash as a place to fix a magnetic strip so you can hang up your knives or utensils, or a magnetic spice rack on the side of your fridge if it has an open side which often doubles up as a kitchen roll holder or using the top of your cupboards and fridge to store pantry items, so they are not all over your countertops.


A fridge, freezer and washing machine are all essential large appliances we need in our kitchens. But if your small kitchen doesn’t quite have space for them all, or you may feel too many large appliances will cramp the space think about what you need to be physically in your kitchen.

Moving your washing machine elsewhere in your home could be a good option, laundry doesn’t need to be sorted in the kitchen, if you have an under-the-stair cupboard that could have water access fitted or a garage or outdoor area that it can be placed make the move. There are also different options for your fridge and freezer too, slimmer compact sizes or under-the-counter fridges may work better if you have a smaller household and don’t need as much freezer space.

Pantry wardrobe

One of our favourite ideas on the list, take a normal wardrobe or dresser, even paint it, change the knobs to something funky... But do not put your clothes in there, instead, turn it into a freestanding pantry cupboard. The wardrobe can be fitted with extra shelves, but it makes for an exciting piece of furniture in your kitchen by turning it into storage for your dry food, spices, crockery, and utensils.

Lazy Susan display

If you’re scratching your head at the mention of a Lazy Susan, then fear not, it’s one of those storage hacks that we never even considered that could save crucial countertop space. The turntable style feature, like these from The Home Edit, means you can keep the olive oil in reach when cooking and spin it around when you need salt and pepper.


How Do You Make Space In A Small Kitchen?

Space can be crucial in a small kitchen so making the most of wasted space that you would not normally store items is a great start.

Depending on where your fridge is, the side of it can hold magnetic shelves or paper towel holders. Even magnetic spice racks will free up space in your cupboards and on your countertop and are easy to get hold of on Amazon.

Put up hooks where you can hang tea towels and utensils, they can be even made into a feature by picking a chic style like a feather-shaped hook or colourful rainbow hooks.

Credit: Wayfair ©Wayfair

Where Should I Put My Kitchen Appliances?

Many of us will immediately begin to put the kettle, toaster, microwave, and coffee machine on the countertop. But if you do not have a lot of countertop space to work with, prioritise where bigger appliances go and consider how much they get used and if they can be placed elsewhere.

The microwave is a good example. Some kitchens may already have an integrated appliance that is already a real space saver. If this is not an option for your kitchen then think about placing your microwave on a floating shelf, a freestanding shelving unit like this one from Wayfair above or a kitchen island. It will need to be near a plug socket, but if you don’t mind moving it from the kitchen cupboard when you need to use it, the empty space left behind can come in especially useful especially if you do not use your microwave that often.

Bringing in a display cabinet, shelving unit or pantry wardrobe in your kitchen is another way to store bulky items like your blender, air fryer or coffee machine from the countertop but still accessible and within reach.

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