There can be a lot of factors standing in the way of cooking at home as often as you’d like, whether that’s the scourge of dirty dishes or missing that one key ingredient needed to make a new recipe. One of the biggest challenges, especially for anyone living in an apartment, is a small kitchen.
Not having enough counter space for prep or enough cabinet shelving for ingredients can lead you straight to the freezer for a microwave meal, or end with you pulling out your phone for something off of Postmates. And while there’s nothing you can do to make a small kitchen physically bigger, there’s a lot you can do to optimize the space you do have, whether that’s reorganizing your pantry in a smart way or investing in smart storage solutions. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of our favorite small kitchen hacks.
Probably the most important thing you can do to make the most of your small kitchen is to utilize as much wall and outside cabinet space as possible. While it’s a great idea to invest in dedicated storage solutions like pegboards and pot racks, there’s actually a lot you can do with just a hammer and nail.
Many common kitchen tools have hanging loops and handles, and all of these can be mounted. I’ve personally found spots along my cabinets and walls for plastic measuring cups, my most-used cutting board and even a utensil holder, which I use for essentials like salt, pepper, olive oil and hot sauce. I mounted all of these using a hammer and a simple nail or a cheap cup-hook screw.
Besides basic nails and screws, a magnetic knife bar is a great way to keep your favorite knives within reach. These can be mounted to any open space in your kitchen, but it’s obviously a good idea to keep them away from floor space where someone might walk directly under. Also, consider a pot rack. These simple bars look like curtain rods, and they have S-hooks for hanging pots, spatulas and the like. Not only do these solutions keep your pantry free for dishes and other tools, but they also keep your knives and pots close at hand.
You don’t want to hog up too much precious counter space with large appliances. Fortunately, there are a lot of mini appliances that work just as well as their larger counterparts. While you might need to skip a full-size stand mixer and forgo single-use appliances like a margarita maker, you can invest in small appliances that can do a lot of different things, such as a mini food processor or mini blender. Skip the bulky coffee maker altogether and invest in a French press, pour-over dripper or Moka pot. These methods make better coffee and will save precious counter space. Another popular appliance that you can probably do without? A toaster. There’s a lot you do with a toaster that can be done by either your oven, skillet or broiler.
Invest In Organizers
Brands large and small make smart organization tools that help you maximize cabinet and counter space. A dish riser can be put inside your cabinet to make a single shelf into two shelves. Or, you can hang a basket from the lip of the shelf to add extra storage space for items like mugs and plates, which is one of our favorite small kitchen hacks.
A great brand to check out for getting your kitchen in order is Yamakazi Home, which is a Japanese brand specializing in affordable organization tools. Some of their items border on novelty, but they have tons of smartly designed items like dish drying racks, magnetic spice racks and pan lid organizers, all of which are practical and aesthetically pleasing. IKEA is another great resource for insanely affordable furniture, and they also make tons of space-saving kitchen tools.
In addition to using wall space in a smart way, you can also maximize floor space with rolling storage. A full-size utility cart can be used for bottles of booze or as an overflow from the pantry, while a narrow cart can fill awkward spaces between your oven and cabinets and store items like spices and cooking oils. Without a doubt, narrow carts are one of our favorite small kitchen hacks as they take advantage of otherwise wasted space.
Below, check out some of our favorite tools you can buy to organize your kitchen.
Oropy Pot Rack
Keep your most-used pots and pans within reach with this handy and inexpensive pot rack.
Sur La Table Bar Magnet
A knife bar is a simple and stylish way to save counter space, and you’ll feel like a pro chef.
Bodum Chambord French Press
A French press makes flavorful and rich coffee, and it saves a lot of space compared to a standard coffee maker. Now that’s the kind of small kitchen hack we can get behind.
Container Store Undershelf Basket
Maximize pantry storage space with an under-shelf basket that is retractable like this one from Container Store. Especially for dry goods or durable items that don’t need to be neatly stacked, these are incredibly helpful.
Ikea Vesken Cart
While it’s listed as a bathroom cart, this option would work great between the oven and cabinet or in any awkward gaps.
Yamazaki Home Wood-Top Stackable Kitchen Rack
Even something as simple as this relatively small wood-topped rack goes a long way in helping your kitchen stay organized. You can place plates, cups or various bowls on top or below the rack, freeing up cabinet space while utilizing otherwise unused vertical space. Expensive? Maybe. But even when it comes to small kitchen hacks, you still want your kitchen to look good.