6 ways to maximize space in a small kitchen

Use our expert-approved tips to maximize space in a small kitchen

Maximize space in a small kitchen like this one with wooden a dining table white walls and open shelving
(Image credit: Getty Images)

It can be difficult to maximize space in a small kitchen if you're stuck in a cramped apartment or house. You may be running out of storage space or have too many large appliances taking up room. 

Kitchens are also far easier to organize when you’ve got lots of extra square footage, especially if you have a family, or like to buy in bulk. But for the rest of us, just trying to find the right spot to stash an extra box of pasta or even a can of beans, can be a major challenge.

Still, it possible to organize a small kitchen, as long as you know how to maximize the space you have to work with. Here are six ways to maximize space in a small kitchen, straight from our trusty professional organizers. 

How to maximize space in a small kitchen

While it would be nice to have a large kitchen with a double oven, Sub Zero refrigerator, and a massive island — most of us don’t live that reality. We found some great, expert-approved ideas to makeover your space. The trick is avoiding small kitchen organization mistakes and working with what you have, maintaining a system, and using the right products.

1. Add shelving

Floating shelves with stacks neutral dishes and mugs

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Ashley Murphy, co-founder and CEO of Neat Method suggests installing floating shelves whenever possible. “Stacking items with different functions on top of each other on cabinet shelves can make it difficult to access what you need. Adding shelving can maximize your vertical space in a more functional way. If you have adjustable shelving, this may involve having additional shelves cut.”

If you're looking for renter-friendly shelving or can’t find a shelf that will work, Murphy recommends going with a riser instead.

Ashley Murphy against white background
Ashley Murphy

Ashley Murphy is Co-Founder & CEO of Neat Method — a luxury home organizing company with professional organizers across the US & Canada.

2. Use stackable items

In order to organize cabinets in a small kitchen, anything that can nest will maximize the space you have. “Some kitchen items we frequently nest to save space are food storage containers, serving platters, mixing bowls, and cookware. Just be sure to avoid nesting more than one category together,” says Murphy. 

“This is typically easiest if you own a cohesive set. So, if your items are looking well-loved, it's a good excuse to invest in a new one.” 

3. Employ cabinet organizers

Kitchen cabinet drawers open

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sometimes we have cabinetry that’s narrow but deep. While this isn’t ideal, these spaces aren’t completely impossible to organize. That's where small kitchen cabinet organizers come in handy.

Marissa Hagmeyer, co-founder and COO of Neat Method tells me, “Lower cabinets can be tricky to fully utilize because small items can easily get lost in the back. Avoid this by implementing baskets or bins that stretch the full depth of the cabinet."

Alternatively, you can store things you don’t need to access very often in the back of your cabinets, such as kitchen gadgets and surplus canned goods. 

Marissa Hagmeyer outside
Marissa Hagmeyer

Marissa Hagmeyer is Co-Founder & COO of Neat Method — a luxury home organizing company with professional organizers across the US & Canada.

4. Get folding

Dish towels can be challenging to store. After all, these are items you really need to have access to, especially for drying dishes, deep-cleaning a small kitchen, and dealing with accidental spills. According to Hagemeyer, the best way to do this is to file fold. 

“When storing dish towels and washcloths, fold them in a neat stack to the height of the drawer and place them in upright rows. Not only will this provide easy access to everything you own at a quick glance, but it will also save space."

5. Have turntables

White Lazy Susan with glass jars of herbs and bottles of condiments on it

(Image credit: Target)

Ashely Stewart, professional organizer and owner of Organize Create Design is a major fan of turntables, like these simple turntables from Amazon.

“Use turntables in upper cabinets to make things more accessible to reach and view. We especially like to use turntables for oils, spices (when drawers aren't an option), and vitamins," says Stewart.

Don't forget turntables are sometimes called Lazy Susans, like this Brightroom 10" Lazy Susan from Target. Either way, they’re a great way to maximize small kitchen shelves and cabinets. 

Ashely Stewart sitting outside
Ashely Stewart

Ashely Stewart is the owner of Organize Create Design, a home organization service.

6. Use vertical space

Stewart recommends taking advantage of vertical space under cabinets by using stackable small kitchen organizers. “To make the most of your under-cabinet space, go vertical! We love using stackable drawers and bins. This allows you to use the entire cabinet instead of just the bottom shelf.” 

Look for clear bins, so you can see the contents at a glance.

“Zoning spaces in a small kitchen is essential for keeping on top of organization. When you know where to put things, you will know where to find things,” says Stewart. “If shelf and drawer space is limited, use storage baskets. They're good for holding small appliances, food storage, and water bottles. Don't forget to label the bins!”

This is an ideal approach for families with kids who may be eating different snacks to the adults, or to help the youngest kids have a little bit of independence. 


Whats the quickest way to maximize space in a small kitchen?

The quickest and easiest way to maximize space is to simply get rid of the things taking up too much room. Start by decluttering a small space and keep going until you've freed up more room around the house.

How can I use the layout to maximize space in a small kitchen?

Try measuring your small kitchen and drawing it on a piece of paper to try different layouts. Mix up your large appliances and see what works best for you. Even knowing where to put a trash can in a small kitchen can help the room flow better.

Freeing up counter space, decluttering, going vertical, and making use of cabinet organizers are great places to start when maximizing space in a small kitchen. Try to cut back on buying small kitchen appliances so you're not over-run with gadgets — before buying, ask yourself what you really need. You'll have more room to work with in no time. 

Amanda Lauren

Hi, I’m Amanda Lauren. I’m a design expert and interior stylist who writes for Real Homes, Forbes, Real Simple among other publications. I live in Los Angeles in the historic neighborhood of Hancock Park with my husband, and two dogs, Lulu and Milo. We also have a baby coming in spring 2023. I’m a big believer in finding beautiful things at all price points. There are so many places to find affordable things, you just have to look for them. If you don't find it at first, look harder!