How to Organize a Small Kitchen in 14 Simple Steps

The kitchen is an essential room in your home, as we all need to eat several times a day. For that reason, it’s vital to learn how to organize a small kitchen and make the most of your space!

In a small kitchen, it’s essential to have systems. That goes for everything from dishes to food, appliances, and store cupboard staples. 

If you can create a tidy, organized space, you’ll enjoy your time in the kitchen. Not only will it be a clean and hygienic space, but you’ll find it easier to cook healthy meals. 

But the more cluttered it is, the more you’ll put off your time in this space. Then, you could end up eating unhealthy snacks or spending money on takeaways. 

When you only have a tight space to work with, it’s hard to know where to begin. That’s especially true if you don’t have a pantry or enough storage space. 

But there are some handy tiny kitchen organization ideas to make your small kitchen work for you!

This guide will show you the best way to organize your kitchen and stay on top of the clutter. Follow these steps, and your kitchen could become your favorite real estate room in the house! 

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Simple Tips for How to Organize Your Small Kitchen

In a tight space, organization is more important than ever. Here are some simple and practical tips and organization ideas you can use to organize a small kitchen.

1. Think Carefully & Make a Plan for Your Small Kitchen

You might be tempted to jump straight into taking action. But before you start tidying, sorting, or decluttering, you need to stop and think. 

Think Carefully & Make a Plan for Your Small Kitchen

The first step to organizing your kitchen is understanding how you use it and what system will work for you. Here are some questions you should think about:

  • How often do you like to cook?
  • What sorts of meals do you cook?
  • How many people use the kitchen?
  • How many items (mugs, plates, bowls, etc.) do you need?
  • What gadgets and tools do you use in your kitchen?
  • Which items belong in your kitchen, and which ones should you move elsewhere?

Everyone is different, so naturally, every kitchen should look different, too. 

It needs to be a space that works for you – and no one else. I can give you all the tips that worked for me and many others. But you’ll need to adapt them to suit your style of living (and eating)! 

A small kitchen should be streamlined and practical, so you know where everything is. Then, you’ll be able to reach your favorite items easily and enjoy spending time in the kitchen.

For example, if you don’t actually use your Instant Pot, you can store it elsewhere. But if you rely on it every day, it should have pride of place on your counter. 

Spending a little time thinking about how your kitchen should function will pay off. These questions should guide you throughout the process of organizing your kitchen. 

2. Divide Your Kitchen into Zones

While we’re making plans for the kitchen, you should think about how you’ll use each area. 

Before you start planning out where things should go, you need to think about how you use your kitchen. For example, where do you do your food prep, cooking, eating, and washing up?

Divide Your Kitchen into Zones

Step back and look at your kitchen. Then, dedicate each task to a specific zone in the kitchen. That way, you can ensure that all the necessary things are handy and in reach.

Here are some examples of what that can look like:

  • When you’re doing the washing up, you’ll need your cleaning supplies and dish rack nearby.
  • Your mugs should live near the coffee maker.
  • Your food prep space should be clear of any big appliances.

If you’re stressed out about the idea of zones in your tiny kitchen, don’t worry. They don’t need to be fancy or big. Instead, these zones should make your life easier in the kitchen. They will also ensure things are in the right places.

3. Get Started with a Big Declutter

Now, you know what actually belongs in your kitchen and where everything should go. So, it’s time to get to work. 

Get Started with a Big Declutter

When decluttering, I recommend going through your kitchen spot by spot. Divide it into small, manageable sections that you can handle in 30 minutes to an hour. 

By doing this, you can tackle one section from start to finish. It will prevent you from getting overwhelmed or making more mess.

First of all, take everything out of the cupboard or area you’re decluttering. Being able to see everything and sort through it is crucial. Yes, that means those spices that expired years ago at the back of the cupboard. Get them out, and get rid of them! 

Sort through each item individually and divide them into four piles:

  • Keep 
  • Donate
  • Store
  • Trash

Once you’ve done this, it will become easier to find space for everything. Then, you’ll only have the things that actually should stay in your kitchen. And you can clear everything else out. 

You can store some items you infrequently use in a safe space, e.g., under the stairs or in the garage. Make sure they’re clearly labeled and easy to find when you need them.


If you have gadgets or tableware you never use, give them to a friend or donate them. There’s no point keeping them ‘just in case’, and others may appreciate them much more than you do. 

4. Do a Kitchen Audit

So, you’ve cleared out everything you don’t actually need in your small kitchen. Now, it’s time to take it one step further. 

Do a Kitchen Audit

The next challenge is to think about how many of each item you need in your kitchen. For example, how many mugs, plates, and bowls do you really need?

At this point, you need to be realistic and think practically. Go through every item in your kitchen, such as tableware, pans, pots, and everything else. 

If you have more than you need of anything, you can give it away or even sell it for some extra cash. Because who actually needs 30 different mugs? You’ll just need to keep finding more space for the – space that’s at a premium in your small kitchen. 

It can be an emotional process if you have items that were gifted or have sentimental value. In that case, you can pack them away for a time before you have to make your decision. 

You’ll come to see whether you miss them or could let them go. 

And when it comes to buying anything new, only buy something if you have a real need for it. Go for items that will last a long time and ideally are multipurpose.

5. Sort Out Your Food Storage Containers 

Once you’ve gone through your dishes and cooking utensils and ware, it’s time to tackle your food storage. 

Sort Out Your Food Storage Containers

We all have a cupboard full of mismatched lids or old, scratched Tupperware. It’s easy to avoid that cupboard, but we’re going to tackle it head-on.

First of all, get everything out and sort through it. If you have any containers without lids (or vice versa), bin them. 

Then, see what you have and whether there’s anything you’re missing. If you do need to buy new food containers, go for stackable, transparent pots. You’ll be able to see what’s inside them with just a glance.

Avoid round containers, as you’ll waste space in your fridge or cupboards. Instead, go for square or rectangular shapes that optimize the space available. 

Then, store them away neatly so you can get to the one you need with ease. You don’t want an avalanche of pots every time you open the door.

6. Clear Your Counters 

So, you’ve sorted through your cupboards and cleared some space. Now, it’s time to tackle another essential area – your counter space.

Clear Your Counters 

Visual clutter leads to stress and makes your kitchen a place you’d rather avoid. But clean, clutter-free counters are inviting and also more hygienic. 

To achieve that neat look, pack anything away that doesn’t need to be out all the time. For example, move gadgets you rarely use into cupboards or out of the kitchen altogether. 

Don’t let paperwork, bills, or keys collect in the kitchen. Instead, create a dedicated space for these items, so you know where they belong. 

This way, you’ll keep your counters clear for food prep and cooking. It’s easier to keep them clean as you go when you’re not wiping around things, too. 

How to Organize Kitchen Cabinets in a Small Kitchen

Let’s think about optimizing the space in your small kitchen. When you’re learning how to organize a small kitchen without a pantry, you need to make use of every single space. 

That means dusting down every cupboard and giving it a purpose. Even those awkward-to-reach spaces under the sink or high up.

the luxury modern design of a cozy small Scandinavian-style studio apartment with white walls, second floor with a library and huge high window full of daylight

Of course, you shouldn’t store items you use daily in a cupboard you can’t easily access. But if you only use your food processor once every few months, you can tuck it neatly away in your top cupboard. 

Remember those special dishes you only pull out once a year? They can go away in these cabinets, too. 

And you should find a use for space under the sink, too. It’s the ideal space to store your garbage if you don’t already have a designated spot. You can also use over-the-door racks here for all your cleaning products.

In a small kitchen, every little space should work for you. For example, you can invest in cabinet organizers to make the most of every inch. Experiment with stacking items on their side. 

And anything that doesn’t belong in your kitchen needs to be moved elsewhere. When space is at a premium, only the most essential items should stay. 

1. Use Space Risers in Your Cabinets 

Following on from the previous point, this is a great hack for small kitchens. You can invest in some neat space risers that let you make more use of the vertical space in your cabinets. 

Use Space Risers in Your Cabinets 
Assortment of glass jars with cereals on shelves

With a space riser, every item becomes easy to grab. You can wave goodbye to teetering piles of platers. It’s a quick and simple solution, so you don’t need to put in more shelves – no DIY required.

You can also add hooks or hanging racks inside your kitchen cabinet doors to use this otherwise empty space. This is ideal for larger spaces like under the sink, a great area for storing cleaning supplies.

2. Decorate Your Kitchen in Your Style

Your kitchen should feel cozy, welcoming, and visually appealing. So, don’t just focus on making it practical. You also want it to look amazing (according to your own style). 

Decorate Your Kitchen in Your Style

You might not know how to decorate your kitchen. If you’re stuck on how to make your kitchen your own, think about adding little touches like cute tea towels

Small art prints (or even postcards) can add a nice touch and a pop of color. You can add a stylish clock or have your favorite dishes on display. 

Or, you might prefer a closed cabinet space where everything is tucked away. It’s your kitchen and your choice! 

If you’re renovating your kitchen, you could go for an accent color or some pretty splashback tiles. It’s true that lighter shades will make your small room feel larger. But a bright or contrasting shade on one wall adds some fun. 

You don’t need to neglect your kitchen or keep it very utilitarian. Adding some personal touches will make it feel inviting, so you spend more time there. 

3. Maximize the Natural Light in Your Kitchen

As mentioned before, going for light or pastel shades on your walls makes your room feel more spacious and airy. But you can go even further by making the most of any natural light your kitchen gets. 

Maximize the Natural Light in Your Kitchen

Your kitchen isn’t a room that requires privacy, unlike the bedroom or bathroom. So, you can skip blinds or curtains altogether. That avoids blocking any sunlight and making your kitchen feel light and bright. 

Otherwise, you can opt for a shade that you roll up during the daytime. You don’t want to have lots of fabric in the kitchen, as it will absorb odors and make the room feel cluttered. 

4. Choose Functional & Stylish Lighting for Your Small Kitchen

While natural light is wonderful, you’ll need to add in some artificial light too. Especially for those short winter days or for cooking your evening meal. 

Choose Functional & Stylish Lighting for Your Small Kitchen

Lights can be practical and functional but also stylish. 

Some good options for a small kitchen are spotlights in the ceiling, as they are bright but take up less space. You can angle them into any dark corners or areas that need the most light. 

Recessed light features are another excellent option if you have a low ceiling. They don’t dangle, making the room feel taller and larger. 

You can also make your light a design feature. For example, you could consider adding strip lights to your cabinets. Or, you could opt for a pretty pendant light

5. Set Up Your Food Pantry

Many small kitchens won’t have enough space for a dedicated pantry. So, you may need to get creative with where you store your food. 

Set Up Your Food Pantry

For example, you could repurpose a wall cabinet or add a standalone storage unit. 

I’d recommend going for one with doors so that you can hide all the packets away neatly. That will keep your kitchen looking streamlined, with less visual clutter.

Once you know where you’ll store your dry goods, you need to keep the pantry organized. You could use baskets to keep similar items together. Have taller items in the back, so they don’t hide other things. 

Set aside a regular time to sort through your pantry (and your fridge, too!). It works well to do this before a big shop, as you’ll know what you already have in and what you need to buy. Staying on top of what you have will save you money and prevent food waste, too. 

If you buy food items in bulk, you don’t need to keep everything in your kitchen. Instead, just keep a couple of items handy, and store everything else in your garage. It will keep your kitchen manageable, and you can top up as you go.

6. Tidy & Organize Your Fridge

I’ve covered the pantry, so now it’s time to think about your fridge. First, you’ll need to develop a practical and hygienic system for storing things in your fridge.

Tidy & Organize Your Fridge

You need to see everything easily so food doesn’t go moldy tucked away in a corner. 

One tip is to buy extra storage containers, so you make the most of the space in your fridge. It helps to keep items together and know where everything is. 

Use the door space for items that won’t go off quickly. For example, you can keep condiments, sauces, or eggs here. 

Each week, make sure you remove any uneaten food items and do a good clean. If you have a routine, you’ll stay on top of your fridge and keep it safe. 

7. Maintain Your Small Kitchen Organization

Congratulations – you’ve tidied, decluttered, and organized your small kitchen. 

The bad news is that it’s not a once-and-done job. Instead, it’s an ongoing process to keep your kitchen neat and tidy. 

As mentioned above, you’ll need to clean out your kitchen and pantry regularly. Not only will it keep your kitchen tidy, but you’ll also spend less money on food when you know what you have in.

But you should also do regular kitchen declutters. That could be as often as every three months or once a year, depending on how committed you are. 

The more often you tidy up your kitchen, the easier it will be. 

How to organize a small kitchen

Tip: save the image above to your Pinterest to re-read this article later!

Final Thoughts

A small kitchen can be a practical, pretty, and welcoming space. But you need to stay on top of the organization to make your tiny kitchen work for you!

With these simple tips, you can make the most of your small kitchen. You’ll find it easy to cook, clean, and eat when everything has its proper place. 

So, take the time to sort through and invest in some handy and trendy kitchen storage hacks. Then, you’ll find you no longer avoid the kitchen or spend as little time in there as possible. 

For more home organization and minimalist living tips, follow me on Pinterest! I share the best resources, reviews, and more for minimalist home design and living. 

How to organize a small kitchen

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