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How To Organize Your Small Kitchen

To organize your small kitchen can be very tricky and sometimes you need to be creative but it’s definitely not impossible. An organized kitchen does not require a huge amount of storage space or a lot of cabinet storage. It’s simply storing only the essentials to make your kitchen organized as well as functional. Organization in your small kitchen can be achieved through effective arrangement of your kitchen essentials and effective utilization of every inch of your kitchen space. See also my article, Kitchen Counter Organizing Ideas: How To Keep Your Small Kitchen Counter Clear At All Times, to know more on how to keep your counter clutter free and kitchen appliances and gadgets for small kitchen. Below are the basic guidelines to organize your small kitchen.

Organize Kitchen Rule 1 : Remove Everything From the Kitchen

To begin the process, it is vital to remove all items stored in every cabinet and do the sorting process by identifying items to keep and the items you should not keep. You also need to condition your mind that you can only store items that you use for your everyday cooking. By doing this mind exercise, it will be easier for you to let go of the things that have no value to your everyday meal preparation. Letting go of useless things is actually a requirement if you want your small kitchen to be functional.

Then, while you are pulling each item out of the kitchen, identify its importance based on the frequency of use. This step will help you to know what item to put where and I am pretty sure that you will find out that most high usage items in your kitchen are items that you put into your dishwasher.

High Usage Items/Often : Store in easy access cabinets, shelf, drawers that will not require your effort to grab them.
Medium Usage Items/Once in a while : Store within the same area like the middle shelf of the wall cabinet or bottom shelf of base cabinet.
Low Usage Items/Very seldom or just use on certain occasions : Store at a distance that will require a bit of a walk or a ladder to access your kitchen essentials.

Organize Kitchen Rule 2: Do a Thorough Cleaning

Cleaning is always part of the process, you can’t escape it. Because you already removed everything from cabinets, shelves and drawers, this will be a perfect time and will make it a lot easier to clean every crevice of your kitchen.

Organize Kitchen Rule 3: Follow the 7 Steps to Know What Item to Place Where

1. Gather and re-examine all essential items and group them according to their Function, Frequency of Use and Location.

  • For Function –  Answer the question “What items do I have with similar use or function?  By answering this question, you will able to identify and gather items under the same family or usage with similar function.
    • Examples under the same family:
      • Baking Ingredients: baking powder, baking soda, flour, powdered sugar, molasses, vanilla, chocolate chips.
      • Spices – cumin, oregano, basil, pepper, cayenne, red pepper flakes, paprika
      • Canned Goods – whole tomatoes, chickpeas, black beans, tuna
      • Dinnerware For Special Occasions
      • Dinnerware for Everyday Use
      • Cooking Pots and Pans
      • Storage Containers
  • For Frequency of Use – Answer the question “How often do I use this item?” By answering this question you will able to come up with 3 subcategories below based on the items  frequency of use:
    • High Usage Items/Often (A): Items that you use everyday or almost everyday.
    • Medium Usage Items/Once in a while (B): Items that you use once or twice a week or once a month.
    • Low Usage Items/Very seldom or just on certain occasions (C): Items you use on a certain occasion
  • For Location – Answer the question “Where do I use it?” By answering this question, you will able to identify what item to to put where as illustrated below:

Organizing 101

2. Designate a cabinet, drawer or shelf in your kitchen for items or group of items based on their Function, Frequency of Use and Location.

  • All High Usage Items under the same Function should be placed on an easy access cabinet, drawer and shelf.
  • For Medium Usage Items under the same Function these should be stored in a shelf or cabinet that requires a bit of stretching or bending. It is usually in the middle part of the wall cabinet or bottom shelf of the base cabinet.
  • For Low Usage Items under the same Function such as items used for certain gatherings, special occasions, these should be placed on the upper most of the cabinet or at a distance. This will require you to use a ladder to access those items or walk if you put these items at a distance.

3. Put everything in its place – Place all of your kitchen essentials in their designated cabinet or drawer. Arrange them in an efficient way so every inch of space that you have available is used. This is important to follow to make your small kitchen organized and functional.

4. Use of space saving kitchen organizing products to help you utilize your space effectively.

Expandable Kitchen Drawer Storage Utensil Tray Organizer Spoon and Fork Separate Storage Silverware Tray for Cutlery and Knives Drawer Partition Holding Sort Flatware(Grey)

Expandable Kitchen Drawer Storage Utensil Tray Organizer –  This is perfect for a kitchen with a smaller drawer size. It creates more space in your drawer as it will allow you to store your full set of cutlery in less than half of the space. BUY FROM AMAZON


mDesign Extra Large Household Stackable Plastic Food Storage Organizer Bin Basket with Open Front for Kitchen Cabinets, Pantry, Offices, Closets, Bedrooms, Bathrooms, Fridge - 15" Wide, 2 Pack - Clear

A Stackable Organizer Bin is always good kitchen storage to buy as it helps you to utilize your cabinet space effectively as well make items accessible. BUY FROM AMAZON


mDesign Hanging Baskets, Sliding Under Shelf Hanging Wire Storage Organizer for Kitchen, Pantry, Cabinet - Holds Jars, Spices, Dry Goods, Dressing, Jams - Silver Sliding Under Shelf Hanging Wire Storage Organizer for Kitchen – Comes with a sliding feature which makes the items accessible plus it will help you to use the shelf space effectively. BUY FROM AMAZON


Smart Design Cabinet Storage Shelf Rack - Medium (8.5 x 13.25 Inch) - Non-Slip Feet - Steel Metal Frame - Rust Resistant Coating - Cup, Dish, Counter & Pantry Organization - Kitchen [Black] - Set of 6 The Storage Helper Shelf creates two rows of space for your kitchen cabinet, countertop and pantry.                               BUY FROM AMAZON


Chef's Path Airtight Food Storage Containers Set - Kitchen & Pantry Organization - BPA-Free - Plastic Canisters with Durable Lids Ideal for Cereal, Flour & Sugar - Labels, Marker & Spoon Set (14) Stackable Airtight Food Storage Containers Set – Ideal for storing dry foods such as sugar, flour, rice and many other foods. It also allows you to store more foods using minimum cabinet space. BUY FROM AMAZON


Lynk Professional Under Sink Cabinet Organizer Pull Out Two Tier Sliding Shelf, 11.5w x 18d x 14h-Inch, Chrome Under Sink Cabinet Organizer Pull Out – This definitely will help you to organize your under sink cabinet with ease and store most of your kitchen cleaning essentials. BUY FROM AMAZON


Lazy Susans Cabinet Organizer 2-Tier Height Adjustable Spice Organizer With Trays, Removable Clear Spice Rack Organizer for Kitchen/Dresser/Living Room/Bathroom Space Saving Lazy Susans Cabinet Organizer 2-Tier Height Adjustable – Its a great way to store your spices, tall jars neat, organized and withing reach.BUY FROM AMAZON


Spice Rack Organizer - Space Saving Wall Mount 5-Tier Wire Rack Shelves for Pantry or Cabinets – Kitchen Organization and Storage by Home-Complete Spice Rack Organizer – This Space Saving Wall Mount is a great way to utilize the wall behind your pantry door. BUY FROM AMAZON


Heavy Duty Pan Organizer, 5 Tier Rack - Holds up to 50 LB - Holds Cast Iron Skillets, Griddles and Shallow Pots - Durable Steel Construction - Space Saving Kitchen Storage - No Assembly Required Heavy Duty Pan Organizer – Nesting pans together is always a great way to store your pans for space saving purposes. BUY FROM AMAZON


NadoNado ND-SS4T, 4-Tier Slim Storage Cart, Narrow Space Organizer for Kitchen, Bathroom and Laundry Room, BPA-Free Polypropylene, Gray, 5W x 20L x 37H inches of Rolling Shelf Rack Slim Storage Cart will help you to utilize the narrow space in your kitchen.  BUY FROM AMAZON



5. Keep your counter space clear as much as possible. All kitchen equipment and tools that are not frequently used such as slow cookers, rice cookers, blenders, mixers, and should be kept off of your countertops. They should be stored on the lower level of your pantry shelf or in the blind corner of your kitchen cabinet.

6. Follow the same organization rules for your pantry area and your fridge.

7. Orient your loved ones about the changes that you have made and where they can find things in the kitchen and what their responsibilities should be to keep the kitchen organized.

Organize Kitchen Reminders:

  • Do not procrastinate! Make it a habit to clean your kitchen regularly and to put things back in the same location where you and your loved ones got them. Always remove unnecessary items in your kitchen.
  • Make some necessary changes if something is not working out or your needs have changed. Arrangement of your kitchen essentials should be based on you and your loved ones needs. This will allow you to constantly seek for improvement because you want your kitchen to be easy to work with. For example, you put your food processor in the upper part of your wall cabinet because you barely use it. But later, you notice that you use the food processor at least once a week because you found a recipe that becomes your family staple. If that happens, you need to find a correct place for your food processor so you can easily access and put it back after use.

Small Kitchen Organization: Actual Application

Below is the actual photo of my kitchen and how I arranged or stored our kitchen essentials in our 100 sq. ft small kitchen. As much as possible, I designate a cabinet and drawer for kitchen essentials where we can access them quickly and easily and put them back in the same location where we got them. Due to limitation of space, I made some adjustments, it’s not perfect but I made sure that the adjustment would not cause us to make a lot of unnecessary movements.

small kitchen arrangement

I placed all all of the high usage items such as plates, bowls, mugs, cups, glassware and food containers in the first and second shelf of the wall cabinets while silverware are placed in the drawer beside the kitchen sink. I strategically designated cabinets near the dishwasher for those items to make it easier for us to put it back once we unloaded it from the dishwasher. See also How I Organized My Blind Corner Cabinet: The Cheapest Possible Way.

For other dining ware items or kitchen devices such as strainer, cutting boards, mixing bowls, that I use once or twice a week I place it on the 2nd shelf of the left side wall cabinet. It requires a tiny bit of stretch to access those items.

kitchen organized

For cooking essentials, I placed my spices, condiments that I usually use for my everyday meal prep such as oil, vinegar, soy sauce, salt, etc and everyday pots and pans, in the drawers near the stove and cabinets beside the stove.

The ideal arrangement or placement of cooking essentials should be within reach when you are cooking a meal. But due to space limitation, I placed my cooking utensils in the drawer located on the opposite side of the stove and my other cooking wares (bulky and once in a while cook wares) in the base cabinet beside the kitchen sink. Then, in the lower drawer I placed all of the tin foil, plastic wrap, Ziploc bags that I am currently using. Although it’s not within reach, it’s still accessible.

I designated a cabinet on the right side of the stove for oatmeal, pancake mix, grits, extra peanut butter and an extra bag of raisins. I know it should be part of the pantry essentials and it should be in the pantry cabinet. But those items are what my husband cooks for breakfast so it will be easier for him to maneuver the kitchen while he is cooking. I also put him in charge of maintaining its inventory. So it’s a win win for both of us.

All kitchen cleaning essentials such as dishwasher soap, disinfectant solution, extra pairs of gloves, extra sponges, and small plastic garbage bin are placed in the cabinet under the kitchen sink.

kitchen organization

All canned goods, a few extra water bottles, baking ingredients, onions, extra bottles of condiments such as vinegar, oil, soy sauce, ketchup, etc. are carefully arranged in our small narrow pantry cabinet. I bought a can dispenser storage organizer bin so I can stack up a good number of canned goods in the cabinet. This is actually the only product that I can use because of the space limitations. I also designated the right part of the closet beside the side door of our entryway as our pantry closet. All extra pantry and household supplies such as rice, grains, noodles, food wraps, tin foil, and other items are stored there. I also utilize the bottom part of the pantry closet for our garbage and recycle bin since I can only put a small garbage bin under the sink.

Again, to organize your small kitchen can be challenging but definitely does not require a huge amount of storage space or a lot of cabinet storage. It is all about keeping it clean and keeping what is essential and then finding the correct location for each kitchen essential. Arrange them is such a way that you can easily access and achieve full utilization of the limited space that you have.

More Small Kitchen Organization Ideas

Kitchen Counter Organizing Ideas: How To Keep Your Small Kitchen Counter Clear At All Times

17 Easy To Follow Cabinet Organization Ideas For Small Kitchen

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