7 items interior designers never have in small kitchens — streamline your setup

Real Homes pro reveals the items interior designers never have in small kitchens

To get your space as organised as this sage green kitchen with marble countertops these are the items interior designers never have in small kitchens
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Before you start decorating, you need to know which items interior designers never have in small kitchens.

Of course, we all want to keep our favorite appliances, silverware, and more in our small kitchens, however, by moving certain things out, you can free up valuable space to make it more inviting without compromising on function.

We spoke to our pro interior designers for their take on the items that should be banned from your small kitchen, and savvy solutions if you are adamant some should stay.

Items interior designers never have in small kitchens

A small kitchen can be a challenge to maintain, but it doesn't have to be. Avoiding common small kitchen organization mistakes and outdated design rules is essential to keeping this space looking great and working at its best.

“Small kitchens can be full of big and unnecessary objects,” said interior designer, Vanessa De Leon. “To make the best of a confined space, let’s make sure to keep the following items out of the kitchen.” 

Small Kitchen Trends Interior Design Expert
Vanessa De Leon

Vanessa De Leon is a New York-based interior designer, product designer, blogger, brand ambassador, and lifestyle expert. Vanessa's innovative sensibility combined with a keen eye for detail helps bring her clients' inspirations and ideas to life.

1. Extra coffee mugs

Two white coffee mugs and white pitcher on table

(Image credit: Target)

Trying to store plates and cookware in a small kitchen may get more complicated with an excess of coffee mugs. If you live solo or live with just a couple of people in your home, there is no need to keep a plethora of coffee cups collected from your travels. 

"Two of your favorite cups or mugs will do, day-to-day. Put all other cups in storage or simply give them away to clear out some space," says Vanessa.

Pick up a couple of these simple stoneware mugs from Target that will work for just about everything.

2. Handheld vacuum

Small clutter-free kitchen with light blue cabinets and gray marble counters

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Although handy, keep your handheld vacuum out of the kitchen. It can look a little unsightly stored next to your favorite snacks or on display near the countertop. You don't exactly want to think about cleaning while prepping your favorite meal or sitting down to dinner with the family.

"Get creative and mount it near the kitchen for a quick grab when needed in a  docking station," says De Leon.

You can set up this handy docking station available from Amazon nearby for any  messes or spills. 

3. Food storage containers

Glass and bamboo jars on kitchen worktop

(Image credit: Amazon)

While we do love food storage containers in general, a whole drawer full takes up so much space. “Only keep what you know you will use,” advises Vanessa. “Find stackable containers, free up the drawer, and utilize the space for more important kitchen items.”

If you're guilty of keeping too many of these around, try investing in one nice set, like these glass food storage containers from Amazon, and commit to not buying any more. 

Having a matching set with all the containers and lids in one place not only looks great but will encourage you to use them more, too. 

3. Large appliances

Small kitchen with wooden table and chrome appliances

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you have a small kitchen, you may not need that large refrigerator, oven, or dishwasher. Instead, consider downsizing to small kitchen appliances like an air fryer, crockpot, or toaster oven.

Countertop models such as this Oster convection oven from Amazon or a portable mini dishwasher available on Amazon take up less space and still get the job done.

If you're stuck with oversized appliances, all hope is not lost. Try rearranging your space or even sketching everything out to find the best layout. Knowing the best place to put a fridge in a small kitchen can really make a difference.

4. Open shelving

Floating shelves with dishes and mugs

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Open shelves, like floating shelves, in a small kitchen can be a challenge as they tend to make it hard to keep a small area organized. Without the concealment of cabinets, the room can feel busy and cluttered, as opposed to closed cabinets that provide a practical storage area that hides the mess. 

“If you are renting, it isn’t always up to you to decide on layout, or practicality to remove floating or open shelves, " says interior designer, Elizabeth Vergara.

"If this is the case you can purchase aesthetically pleasing storage containers like these glass and bamboo jars from Amazon — you can style them in different height order. The height juxtaposition, and classic material, will make the shelves feel organized and put together.”

Interior Designer
Elizabeth Vergara

Elizabeth is the founder and lead designer of the Latina/female-owned luxury design and build firm based in NYC called Vergara Homes. Over the past 13 years, Elizabeth has been helping homeowners design and renovate their upscale homes as a Design Build Specialist. 

5. Unwanted food

Tidy white kitchen pantry with glass storage jars

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It may seem like an obvious choice but toss anything expired or unwanted as soon as possible. "Don't let food go bad in your kitchen," says Elizabeth. "It may make it difficult to remove odors from a small kitchen, plus these items will take up valuable room."

She suggests storing food properly and using it up before it expires, donating it if you aren’t planning to do so, or simply freezing it in this small freezer chest from Wayfair.

Make clearing out your cupboards a regular habit by adding it to your small kitchen deep cleaning routine every week.

6. Extra furniture

White kitchen with marble island

(Image credit: Getty Images)

To make the most out of this small space, don’t add extra furniture such as a portable small island, storage rack, or counters if you don't need it. Be honest and realistic about your storage needs.

"Bulky furniture takes up too much room in any small space — let alone a small kitchen where function is key," says Elizabeth.

If you have space to hang a caddy to the corner of your cabinets, this may help to hold some of the extra items that are necessary. This caddy organizer from Amazon is so versatile that you could even keep it out on your small patio.

7. Unnecessary decor

Small white kitchen with blue cabinets

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A small kitchen doesn't need a lot of decor — because in these spaces, less really is more. Vergara suggests keeping things simple with a few well-chosen pieces that add personality without taking up prime space. 

To refresh your space on a budget, find a couple of pieces of cheap wall art to act as a focal point to the room. For a minimalist look, keep things simple with this set of two line-drawing wall canvases from Target. These elegant pieces are a great way to make your small kitchen look more luxurious.


What can I do with appliances I don't use in a small kitchen?

Vanessa recommends doing an inventory of your kitchen and if you have not used certain appliances in a span of one year, you’ll most likely never use it. If it is taking up space, it’s time to donate, or resell.

What cookware items should I keep in my small kitchen?

Choose cookware that is versatile and easy to clean. Avoid bulky pots and pans that take up a lot of space. Look for nesting designs that bundle into each other, or pots with removable handles for easier storage.

By not keeping these items in your small kitchen, you can free up space, make it more functional and inviting, as well as keep the items that matter to you.

With less clutter and the right decor choices, you may even end up making your small kitchen look brighter, adding to the overall ambiance. So let the light in and start decorating.

Aida M. Toro
Freelance Writer

About Me:

Hello! My name is Aida M. Toro and I am a freelance writer that loves cultivating stories about amazing people, fashion, interiors, art, and food. I currently write for Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam, The House Magazine, Hobnob Magazine, The C-Word, and Real Homes. I live in West New York, New Jersey, which is literally a 10-minute ferry ride or 20-minute bus ride away from New York City. Although I was born and raised in West New York, I consider NYC my home, as I believe it to be the place where all dreams come to fruition, and of course, spend most of my time in. When I’m not writing, I love perusing the city streets and taking snaps with my iPhone of street art along with random things, scoping out new restaurants as well as their spaces, shopping at some of my favorite stores, spending time with family and friends, walking my cockapoodle Benji, and working out at Lifetime or DOGPOUND, which are some of the top fitness spaces in Manhattan and overall the U.S.