How to organize a small kitchen with too much stuff — 7 tips from professionals

Expert-approved advice for how to organize a small kitchen with too much stuff

An image for how to organize a small kitchen with too much stuff showing a wooden and blue corner kitchen with open wooden shelf storage and tray orgaziners on counters
(Image credit: Canva)

We shop, we fill our home, then suddenly, we need to know how to organize a small kitchen with too much stuff. Let us show you exactly how to get on top of your small kitchen.

We’ve spoken to a panel of experts, including professional organizers and a cleaning specialist, about how they would go about organizing a kitchen that’s over-filled and in a mess as a result. 

When it comes to organizing a small kitchen, one of the biggest barriers is having too much stuff, which means step one is decluttering. Our experts are well-versed in the process and have shared seven top tips for tackling a messy and disordered kitchen. 

How to organize a small kitchen with too much stuff

For organizing a small kitchen quickly and efficiently, taking the right approach is vital, which is where our actionable and easy-to-follow expert-approved tips come in. 

1. Start by decluttering

Before learning how to organize a small kitchen with too much stuff, it’s vital to take the necessary time to go through your items and see what you can get rid of. 

Shantae Duckworth, professional organizer and founder of Shantaeize Your Space, advises, “Take time to assess each item's usefulness and eliminate duplicates or items you rarely use. When you have taken the time to declutter, you can prioritize essential kitchen tools and gadgets, keeping those you use frequently.”

Amy Bloomer, organizing specialist at Let Your Space Bloom, recommends making sure to declutter any unused utensils, such as food storage containers and says, “Recycle any containers that don’t have matching tops and edit your collection to include only those that are actually used.”

Drawing on the teachings of world-famous tidying expert Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, our next expert has some practical tips which overlap Marie's theories, and works for small kitchen ideas, too.

President of Ivy Cleans, Hashi Mohamed, says, “Apply the KonMari method (only holding onto items that make you happy or have a key purpose) to your kitchen. Go through each category of items, such as utensils, pots, and pans, one at a time. Keep only the items that genuinely spark joy or have a specific purpose.”

Shantae Duckworth
Shantae Duckworth

Professional organizer Shantae Duckworth is a member of the National Association of Black Professional Organizers, and the Black Girls Who Organize Group. Shantae helps clients declutter and organize their homes, taking things from chaos to calm in person and virtually.

Amy Bloomer
Amy Bloomer

Amy Bloomer is a professional organizer who has an MA in Organizational Psychology from Columbia University. Amy has been in thousands of homes, helping families, professionals and retirees transform their space, and in turn, their lives. 

2. Remove expired goods

An image of a tiered wooden spice rack with glass spice bottles with black labels and white writing with silver lids on each jar

(Image credit: Amy Bloomer / Let Your Space Bloom)

Next, take the time to go through your cupboards and drawers, checking the use-by dates on every item. Dispose of items that are out of date, and replace them only if needed. 

It’s especially important to check the dates on dried goods, as these are the items most commonly hoarded in kitchen cupboards. 

According to Amy spices are a key example of this, she says, “Remove expired spices as they are often solidified and unusable. Throw the contents in the trash and recycle the containers. Try storing them in a drawer to make them easy to see and use.”

To make storing spices in a small kitchen easier, invest in a space-saving spice rack (such asthis tiered space-saving spice rack from Amazon). 

3. Be mindful of how you store items

Have a habit of simply tossing items into drawers and cupboards? Pay close attention to how you store and organize things in a small kitchen, in a bid to avoid making small kitchen organizing mistakes

Hashi says, “Group kitchen items by function and usage frequency. Store items together in designated zones, such as baking supplies, cooking utensils, or breakfast essentials.”

“Use caddies or baskets (like these handy kitchen storage baskets from Amazon) to corral similar items in cabinets or on shelves. For example, create a snack caddy for granola bars and snacks, making them easily accessible.”

Shantae adds, “Drawer dividers (like this Joseph Joseph drawer divider from Amazon) are really helpful in keeping utensils and gadgets neatly organized and most importantly, you can see all your items. This way, you won't lose anything in the clutter and buy it again, causing more clutter. 

Hashi Mohamed
Hashi Mohamed

Hashi Mohamed is the president of Ivy Cleans, a premier cleaning and lifestyle solutions company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Specializing in cleaning, organizing, and promoting a holistic lifestyle, it is passionate about transforming spaces into clean, organized, and vibrant environments.  

4. Utilize vertical space

An open pantry door showing wooden shelves that have organized containers stored on them

(Image credit: Amy Bloomer / Let Your Space Bloom)

Vertical space is far too easy to overlook, especially in rented properties, but in a small kitchen, this space is gold dust. 

Shantae says, “I like to use stackable containers for dry goods, maximizing vertical space in cabinets. Make the most of other vertical space by installing shelves or hooks on walls, or the inside of cabinet doors."

For extra slick style, install floating shelves, as these offer a great way to add more storage space. If it's a rental property you're living in, opt for no-drill floating shelves (such as these no-drill floating shelves from Amazon). 

“Hang pots, pans, and kitchen tools to free up cabinet and counter space," Shantae adds (we like these damage-free peel and stick hooks from Amazon."Use new shelves to display and store dishes, or decorative items. Use adhesive hooks for hanging utensils, potholders, or lightweight cookware. Small spaces mean you have to get creative, so opt for kitchen tools and containers that serve multiple purposes.”

We've all experienced the clatter-fest that is a pile of pan pot lids. Use adhesive organizers to hang them instead, such as these Joseph Joseph peel and stick pan lid holders from Amazon

For measuring cups and cleaning supplies, Hashi says, "Add under-shelf baskets in cabinets to create extra storage for plates, mugs, or spices."

5. Make it easier to find things

You’ll find it easier to keep your kitchen organized if you are able to locate items more easily. These tips will help you avoid having to tip out entire cabinets or drawers while you search for a buried item.

Hashi recommends using labels for quick kitchen navigation. He says, “Label your containers, jars, and bins using a label maker (such as this one from Amazon with over 10,000 five-star reviews) to identify contents. This prevents confusion and helps you maintain an organized system.”

When you're marking up, don't make the labeling mistake of being too specific. It might, rather ironically, end up causing more mess in the longer term as some items which don't fit your categories won't have a suitable labelled home.

You can also add easily accessible non-permanent shelves for your deeper cabinets for a boost in organizing a small kitchen will too much stuff. Hashi says, “Consider installing pull-out shelves (such as these pull-out shelves from Amazon) in deep cabinets. These shelves make accessing items stored in the back easier.

6. Get your fridge in order

An open fridge door showing shelves of organized food inset, and in the door itself

(Image credit: Amy Bloomer / Let Your Space Bloom)

Is there a more essential appliance in a small kitchen than a fridge? We'd argue it's in the top three. Keeping yours organised will stretch your food budget, so items you;re shelling out for don't go to waste for the clutter hiding them till they've expired.

Hashi says, “Check expiration dates, discard expired items, and donate non-perishables you won't use. Keep similar items together for easy access.

“Invest in clear fridge bins and organizers (such as this set from Amazon with over 26,000 five-star reviews from shoppers) to categorize and store items efficiently. This prevents overcrowding and helps you see everything at a glance.”

7. Maximize your space

Knowing how to maximize space in a small kitchen is vital for keeping a kitchen with too much stuff organized and ordered. 

The key is to invest in a number of space-maximizing tools. 

Amy says, “Lazy Susans are one of the most fun and functional tools for keeping many spaces organized."

We love rotating trays such as this selection at Amazon as they're cheap and useful in small kitchens and beyond.


How can I keep my kitchen organized?

Hashi says, “Make decluttering and reorganizing a routine. Set aside monthly time to assess your kitchen's organization and adjust as needed.

When it comes to organizing a kitchen Hashi says, “By combining these decluttering tips, organizing hacks, and space optimization strategies, you can transform a cluttered kitchen into an efficiently organized space that looks better and makes meal preparation and daily tasks more convenient.”

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.