I can't live without these 12 must-haves for a small kitchen

These must-haves for a small kitchen can make or break your space

organized blue kitchen
(Image credit: Meg Brackpool @megbrackpool)

When it comes to must-haves for a small kitchen every inch counts, which is why it’s important to do a bit of research before heading to the stores. Instead of stuffing the cabinets full and taking up every inch on the counter with an appliance or object, it’s best to analyze your situation and take stock of what you really need. 

With limited counter and cabinet space, knowing what is necessary is your first step. You can start the process by making a shopping list of your absolute must-haves (such as a coffee maker or stand mixer) and analyzing what can be found in a smaller version. For example, instead of a full-size coffee maker, you might opt for a storable French press instead. 

Beyond choosing products that are smaller, storable, or foldable versions of typical small kitchen appliances or tools, here are a few expert opinions and ideas on the best products for a small kitchen. 

Must have products for small kitchens

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1. Over-the-door caddies

Jay Sanders, CEO of Castle Dream Construction, a home remodeling company based in Baltimore, Maryland, believes that, above all, kitchens need to be functional. 

“With planning and creativity, small kitchens can feel spacious and functional. You can make your small kitchen useful and stylish with some planning and creative products,” Sanders explains. His first suggestion? “Over-door caddies can store cleaning supplies and keep sinks clear.” 

This hanging organizer from West Elm is an ideal spot for storing items typically left on the counter.   

2. Wall-mounted spice racks

Because freeing up counter space can be super important for maintaining a feeling of staying organized in a small space.

Sanders also recommends another organizing product for keeping your space feeling more open. “Wall-mounted spice racks both organize spices and free up counter space,” he adds. 

These narrow yet lengthy wall-mounted shelves from Wayfair make the ideal space-saving spice rack.  

3. Expendable cutting board

Let’s face it, there are some large necessities every home cook needs and a cutting board is one of them. 

For this, Sanders has a brilliant solution. “Expandable cutting boards accommodate large items,” he says. “And you can fold them for storage.” Voilà! 

This multi-functional cutting board from Amazon is a great way to save precious space when meal prepping and cooking. 

4. Portable dishwasher

A dishwasher might not always seem like a necessity but for those cooking often (or for a lot of people), it’s a necessary luxury that can save you precious time and energy. 

Ryan Fitzgerald, an experienced realtor and the owner of Raleigh Realty, has seen this product become a savior for many of his clients. “We all know the dread of washing dishes, especially in a tiny kitchen without a built-in dishwasher,” he says.

 “The Farberware Portable Countertop Dishwasher, with its own water tank, has been a savior for many of my clients. Not only does it save on space, but it also makes the chore much more bearable, if not enjoyable. While space constraints in apartment kitchens can be limiting, with the right gadgets and a bit of innovation, they can be just as functional as their larger counterparts.” 

Here is where you can purchase the timesaving (and adorable!) dishwasher on Amazon

5. Appliances that do more

Are you tired of having too many appliances? “Imagine the convenience of toasting your bread, frying up some bacon, and flipping pancakes, all using a single appliance,” Fitzgerald says. 

“The GreenLife 3-in-1 Breakfast Maker Station does exactly this”. After finding out about the appliance through his client, he is now singing its praises. “It transformed her morning routine and turned her cramped kitchen into a breakfast haven”. 

This GreenLife 3-in-1 Breakfast Maker Station available for purchase from Amazon will save your Sunday mornings. 

6. Portable Kitchen Islands

Interior design Shamika Lynch is the owner of Maximizing Tiny Interiors where she focuses on transforming small spaces. For her, transforming your kitchen means finding more counter space where you can. 

“In homes where a quick fix is needed, portable kitchen islands are a lifesaver for additional counter space, especially in rental galley kitchens where for some reason, there is only one wall of cabinets,” Lynch suggests. 

This portable kitchen island from Wayfair even provides storage. 

Keeping your small kitchen organized is imperative to keeping your space feeling and looking clean. Besides these expert-approved product tips, we've scoured for more of the best products for your small kitchen. 

More Buys For Your Small Kitchen

Meet The Experts

Ryan Fitzgerald
Ryan Fitzgerald

Ryan Fitzgerald is an experienced realtor and the owner of Raleigh Realty. He was named a 30 under 30 Realtor® by Realtor Magazine. He’s also a regular contributor for Forbes and US News. 

Jay Sanders

Jay Sanders is the CEO of Castle Dream Construction, a home remodeling company based in Baltimore. 

Shamika Lynch
Shamika Lynch

Shamika Lynch is the owner and founder of Maximizing Tiny Interiors, an interior design studio based in Jersey City, NJ that focuses on transforming small spaces. She has a Bachelor’s degree in English and a Masters in Business Administration with a specialization in Project Management. Her superpower is optimizing small spaces to maximize function while maintaining a cohesive aesthetic. 

Deck your small kitchen out with all the must-have items to make cooking and day-to-day chores easier. To really make the most of your drawers and cabinets, it might be worth stocking up on some extra kitchen organizers. Happy tidying!

Kate Santos

Hello! I’m Kate Santos, a writer and photographer based in Los Angeles. In the design world, I got my start working as an Editorial Intern for Dwell magazine in San Francisco. Since then, I’ve written about design and architecture in many national magazines and online publications, including Playboy, Hunker, and The Culture Trip.

I grew up in a very old house in North Carolina and am still influenced by the rustic, charming, antique and aged elements of a home. Sustainability and longevity is extremely important to me and I believe learning to reuse materials or purchasing items you’ll love forever goes a long way. I also lean towards the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi when designing my own home, embracing the perfectly imperfect items I can find.