One important characteristic of a well-designed kitchen space is ample storage. A good kitchen should be well stocked with ingredients and items, from vegetables and spices to condiment bottles and cutlery. If your kitchen lacks storage space, it will become cluttered very quickly.
If that sounds like a problem your kitchen is facing, worry not!
Over the years, designers have come up with dozens of great kitchen storage ideas to help with solving this problem. Here are a few for your consideration.
The Importance of Space Utilization
When it comes to kitchen storage, quantity is not everything.
Yes, cramming drawers, shelves, and cabinets into your kitchen will surely help with the clutter. However, you may have to trade that off with the aesthetic of your kitchen. Instead of filling your cooking space with colorful food ingredients and attractive jars, you will just be stuffing it full of cabinetry.
Spacewise, there isn’t really that much of a difference between the two. In both cases, your cooking space will feel very narrow and claustrophobic.
What you need to focus on when you remodel your kitchen is space utilization. Take into account the amount of space you have, then work out a plan to use all that space as efficiently as possible. Use every inch of room that your kitchen has.
For example, the space above windows can be utilized by adding a small shelf or rack. Voilà, you’ve got yourself some dish storage!
As another example, if you already have a system of cabinets installed, installing hooks on the undersides will give you a convenient place to store your mugs.
These are the best examples of good space utilization. Seek out under-utilized spaces in your home and get creative!
Why You Should Consolidate Your Kitchen
The best way to deal with clutter isn’t to add more storage space. It’s to reduce what you already have.
Before you even think of adding anything to your kitchen, perform a major inspection of it. Rifle through the refrigerator, the cabinets, drawers, racks, and shelves. Toss out any jar or bottle that you no longer need. Throw out anything that’s past the expiry date or has already spoiled, too.
Make a habit of consolidating your kitchen. Such a habit can reduce the overall amount of food and supplies you waste. If you maintain a habit of buying only the essentials, you can save a lot of money, too.
Kitchen Storage Ideas
1. Build Upward
This style is especially useful for small kitchens where you don’t have enough horizontal space to fill with extra shelves or cupboards. Instead of expanding outward, consider going upward.
You can add an over-the-door rack or a pegboard to the kitchen door. Aside from being a space that is often under-utilized, the vertical area that a door affords is massive.
An over-the-door rack is a great way to store condiments and spice jars.
On the other hand, use a pegboard if you need extra space to store your cutlery or cooking tools. A cheap pegboard can be found at virtually any hardware store. You can install them on the door as an alternative to the over-the-door rack. Alternatively, you can also use it to fill up any empty patches of wall that haven’t been put to use yet.
Aside from being highly versatile, a pegboard is also super customizable.
You can easily cut them to size with a saw if they’re too large for the space in question. Most hardware store pegboards don’t come in very flattering colors. In that case, you can bust out your painting kit and give it a more personal touch.
A light color like teal or baby blue will do wonders for a kitchen that follows an airy, light-hearted style. It will blend right into the aesthetic of your kitchen.
On the other hand, if you paint your pegboard in a bold color like neon green or crimson like the sample below, it can become a flamboyant focal point for your space.
2. Use a Combined Approach to Appliances
Most people arrange the largest appliances in their kitchen like the oven, the microwave, or the dishwasher side by side. This, combined with all of the cabinets may use up a lot of horizontal floor space.
In order to solve this issue, you have to think vertically and use a combined approach to design.
In this design from The Kitchen Studio, all of the bulkiest appliances are stacked on top of one another and concentrated in one place. The design is highly advantageous for small kitchens and frees up a lot of floor space that you can use for other things.
3. Fill Up Your Window Areas
Areas around windows are usually left bare. Crowding them may make your space feel a little claustrophobic since windows provide lots of natural light and a broad view to the outside world. But, if you are careful enough, you can fill up all that space without it feeling messy or closed-off.
In this example from the designer Jenn Feldman, she sandwiches a tall, narrow window with slim, vertical cupboards that are color-matched with the counter below.
The cupboards seamlessly fit into the scene without being too intrusive or out of place. These two cabinets offer an excellent spot to store and display your decorative glassware.
Your primary objective here is to make whatever it is that you install around the windows as low-key as possible. It has to blend into the overall look and feel of the kitchen without attracting too much attention. The window itself is what you want people to focus on, not the cabinets. This is why the cupboards that are color-matched with the countertops in the design above fit so well.
4. Make The Most Out Of Your Drawers
You don’t necessarily have to separate a cutlery drawer from a spice drawer. With good enough organization, a single drawer can be made to hold everything that you need from knives and spices, to baking supplies.
Pick one of the drawers that is closest to your cooking station. This will make it easier for you to access it as you work.
In this example, the right half of a drawer is dedicated entirely to spices. Built-in racks are installed for easier storage and access.
To the left, the drawer comes with built-in knife blocks to store a full set of kitchen knives as well as cutlery. The moment you need a knife, just pull out the drawer.
Such a combined approach will save you tons of space when properly executed.
In the example, bulky knife blocks that just take up space no longer need to be placed on the countertop. A welcomed change if you’re aiming for a minimalist design for your kitchen. The spices , too, will be removed entirely from your kitchen space; stowed and preserved safely within their dedicated drawer.
5. Turn Open Shelves Into Displays
You don’t always have to hide things away in closed cabinets or drawers. In certain cases, leaving things out in the open will improve your kitchen’s look while providing more functional space.
Add floating shelves to your kitchen for some very attractive display options. Fill some glass jars with your more eye-catching ingredients and foods like nuts, cereals, candies, and baking supplies and line them up on the shelves.
The look of your kitchen will instantly improve while solving any storage problems you might have for those ingredients.
If you don’t have a room in the house to convert into a walk-in pantry, this design can be leveraged to create a compact space with similar function.
6. Make Good Use of the Space Under the Sink
The cabinet underneath the sink is often under-utilized due to the presence of bulky plumbing. But if you haven’t already, you can use it as a place to store cleaning supplies.
There are many different creative ideas that you can try out with this space. With transparent acrylic boxes, for example, you will find it much easier to organize your supplies and at the same time create a much more attractive space.
In a different design, you can install a pull-out drawer on rails to hold all of your cleaning bottles and sprayers. A two-tier design will maximize the usable space inside the cabinet.
7. Get Creative With Hooks
We talked briefly about the use of hooks as a mug storage solution earlier. By installing hooks on the undersides of cabinets and shelves, you have a convenient spot to store all your mugs and cups.
But that’s not all you can do with hooks.
If there is enough clearance between your cabinets and the sink, you can use the same hooks to store pots, pans, and cutting boards, too. The hooks will remove all these bulky implements from your horizontal spaces and cabinets, giving you more valuable storage real estate for other things.
But the undersides of cabinets isn’t your only option. If your kitchen has a high ceiling, an excellent design idea to consider is a pot rack over the kitchen island. This design makes use of the ceiling, which is seldom used.
8. Stemware Hangers
This idea is very similar to the previous storage hooks, but this time, it’s adapted for stemware like wine glasses. You can hang these double-railed racks on the underside of cabinets similar to mug hooks. Or, if you like your alcohol to be stowed away, on the inside of your wine cabinet or rack.
9. Make Use of Your Cabinet Doors
Have you considered using the inside of your cabinet door for storage? Not many thought of this possibility.
Racks can be attached to the inside of the cabinet door for storing condiment bottles, ingredient jars, and other miscellaneous items like coffee or tea tins.
Alternatively, if built-in racks aren’t an option, you can hang wire baskets on the inside. The baskets can be used as a general storage option for storing anything from spices and canned foods to cutleries and cooking tools.
10. Add a Tray Divider Cabinet or Drawer
Trays, cooling racks, baking sheets, and cutting boards are among the most cumbersome items you will have in your kitchen. They take up a lot of space if they aren’t managed properly.
A cabinet or drawer with tray dividers can help with that.
Dividers will save you the awkward fumble-and-dance routine that you do every time you have to open up a disorganized tray cupboard. They give you a far better sense of where things are when you open up the cabinet.
For example, in the divided drawer below, you can tell immediately where the cookie baking tray is relative to the serving tray. Whenever you need anything from the drawer, you can find and retrieve it without even looking if you keep the drawer organized.
11. Pull-Out Cabinet
If you are planning a major remodeling of the kitchen, consider adding pull-out cabinets. These slim, vertical storage spaces are excellent for storing larger items like wine and condiment bottles.
The key advantage of pull-out cabinets like the one above is that it takes up very little horizontal space. Therefore, you can carve out some space to fit a pull-out cabinet or two even when you have a small kitchen.
But a pull-out cabinet can be applied to a space in more ways than just cramming it right in. For example, in this design, the cabinet is integrated into a support column for the kitchen. It effectively transforms a previously unusable space into a beautiful and discrete storage rack.
And of course, a pull-out cabinet isn’t just used to store bottles. A larger design will allow you to fit small trays, plates, bowls, and cutleries, as well.
Overall, it is a highly flexible design with plenty of applications. Depending on what you plan to use it for, size the cabinet appropriately.
12. Multi-Layer Cabinet
A cabinet doesn’t need to have one layer only. There are cabinet designs that incorporate swivel racks to give you double the amount of storage space in a single unit. See this sample from The Kitchen Studio.
The front racks can be filled with bottles and jars of all sorts. When you have stocked up all of that space, the racks can be swiveled to reveal more on the backsides. A couple of fixed racks — unattached to the swivel racks — are built at the back of the cabinet, too.
Altogether, you get several times the storage options in a single space than in a traditional cabinet. Worth investigating!
13. Add Wine Shelves
If you have a soft spot for a good vintage, then wine shelves will be a great addition to your kitchen.
A criss-cross wine rack will keep your wines in the right orientation (sideway) and prevent the bottles from rolling off. It also gives you easy access to every bottle and you only need two simple motions to get the wine flowing: slide it out and pop the cork.
Furthermore, a direct view of a well-stocked wine rack will definitely wow any visitor taking a tour of your kitchen.
14. Discrete Compartments
If you are a fan of discreteness and minimalism, these hidden compartments could be just what you’re looking for. They will help you keep appliances such as a coffee maker or a toaster oven away from viewers’ eyes.
In this sample from The Kitchen Studio, the more unattractive appliances are hidden behind a white wooden flip door. When closed, the door does an excellent job at blending in with the back wall.
With most countertop appliances stowed away, your kitchen will look blessedly minimal.
15. Consider a Pull-Out Work Station
Naturally, a dedicated work surface will take up a lot of space in your kitchen but you do need plenty of space to maneuver your hands and tools. Due to this limitation, small kitchen owners typically have to be content with working on countertops and islands, instead.
However, if you still want a work station, there is a way to seamlessly incorporate one into your kitchen while minimizing space usage: a pull-out work station.
Such a station only appears when you need it. When it’s not in use, it is retracted and fades into the overall design of the kitchen.
Its chief benefit is that it frees up countertop space for you to store other things. You no longer need to keep a huge swath of your limited countertop space free as a cutting or food-prepping area.
A good example of this design is this one from Dan Hisel Architect.
A small tray is integrated into a wood-cladded section of the wall. It can be used as a cutting board for bread or anything that you plan to bake in the oven right above. When the tray is no longer needed, it retracts into the wall to save space.
For normal kitchen work, a pull-out work station that’s built into the countertop makes more sense. In this brilliant design from Schmidt Groupe, the top surface has a pull-out extension piece that can be used as a cutting board.
As it is made from the same material as the top surface, there is no issue with it fitting into the aesthetic when it’s not in use and can be completely concealed.
And if you’re a fan of mixing cocktails, having a similar pull-out working station near the bar will afford you a compact mixing station.
This design presents the advantage of having a pull-out work station very well.
As you can see, all of the main surfaces of the corner are densely populated by drinks, ingredients, and other knick-knacks. Without the pull-out station, the mixing surface would have to be relocated to the first rack. Such a move would use up an entire shelf and you would end up with far less space than you should have.
16. Expand the Fridge
The refrigerator is one of the most spacious and functional storage spaces you can have in the kitchen. You can make the most out of this space using pull-out storage bins.
They are quite cheap and the installation is simple. Just snap each one onto the fridge’s shelf and they’re ready to go. In return, you get nearly double the amount of storage space within the fridge.
Storage can be a tricky problem in the kitchen, especially in smaller ones. Hope these kitchen storage ideas will make it less of a headache for you!
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.