How to eliminate empty space in your kitchen – expert designer solutions our editors love

Kitchens are often the heart of a home, but when they have awkward empty spaces, it can make the room feel disconnected and inefficient. As expert interior designers, we’ve seen our fair share of challenging kitchen layouts over the years and have plenty of solutions to eliminate empty space in your kitchen.

From building out unused nooks to reconfiguring appliances and cabinetry, our editors have rounded up some of the best expert designer tips, ideas, and solutions to maximize your kitchen’s potential. Follow our advice to transform wasted areas into functional storage and extra workspace that makes your kitchen both beautiful and highly functional.

Evaluate the room and identify unused spaces

The first step is to carefully evaluate your kitchen layout and identify any underutilized areas or empty spaces. Check for corners, alcoves, walls between appliances and walls that are empty. Pay attention to areas that feel disconnected from the rest of the kitchen.

Also look for spaces that are awkward to access or challenging to keep clean. Areas behind appliances or in narrow gaps between cabinetry often go overlooked.

Consider what functions the space can serve

Once you’ve identified the empty spaces, think about the different functions they could potentially serve. Common ways to transform useless spaces include:

  • Extra storage – Excellent for shelves, cabinets, drawer inserts or pull-out pantries.
  • Expanded countertops – Great for extra prep space, serving areas or eat-in dining.
  • Display space – Perfect for hanging utensils, plates or decorative items.
  • Seating – From a breakfast nook to bench seating, empty spaces can often accommodate small tables and chairs.

Consider the needs of your kitchen and how you can best utilize the available space. Think creatively about the potential uses.

Add shelves or cabinets in gaps between appliances

One of the most common empty spaces involves the gaps between full-size appliances like refrigerators, stoves and ovens. These narrow spaces may seem useless but can actually transform into excellent storage with the right cabinetry or shelving.

Having cabinets custom built to fit the space can maximize storage while giving your kitchen a seamless, built-in look. Opt for open shelving or cabinets with doors to best suit your needs.

Other options include slide-out wire shelves or freestanding utility cabinets that can easily fit into the space. Even narrow spice racks or paper towel holders can take advantage of this unused real estate.

Install floor-to-ceiling shelving in corners

Corner spaces are infamously challenging to utilize in kitchen design. The tight, angular space often ends up empty and unused.

Installing floor-to-ceiling shelving is an excellent way to capitalize on tricky corner areas. The vertical shelving transforms the previously inaccessible space into usable display and storage real estate.

Choose shelving units that are narrow and deep to maximize the corner layout. Opt for solid shelves to corral small appliances, cookbooks, sauces and kitchen tools. Open shelves work beautifully for displaying serveware, pretty dishes or glassware.

Don’t forget to incorporate lighting in the area to fully maximize the shelving. Useful options include under-cabinet puck lights, vertical hanging lights or even string lights.

Build a custom bench, banquette or window seat

Do you have a blank wall or empty corner that feels disconnected from the rest of the kitchen? This is the perfect spot to build a customized bench, banquette or window seat.

Not only does this add much-needed seating to your kitchen, but you can also maximize storage underneath the bench by incorporating large drawers or cabinet doors.

Built-in bench seating brings excellent flow and functionality to awkward empty spaces in kitchens. Include storage drawers below the bench for tucking away kitchen items conveniently out of sight.

For a window seat, build a platform and cushion to create a cozy breakfast nook or reading corner. Add under-seat storage or leave the face open and unfinished to accommodate baskets or storage bins.

Create a coffee station

For kitchens lacking space for a full-size breakfast table, use empty areas to create a dedicated coffee station. This is an excellent way to take advantage of spaces that are too narrow for typical dining furniture.

Mount floating shelves that can hold coffeemakers, mugs, sweeteners and creamers. Install an attractive ventilation hood to hide the inevitable coffee steam.

You can even include a narrow counter or install a drop-down table that folds out of the way when not in use. Built-in bench seating adds form and function to your morning coffee routine.

Add a kitchen desk area

For kitchens that double as home office or homework space, transform an unused space into a handy desk area. This makes an excellent breakfast nook alternative for kitchens without room for a dining table.

Tuck a small desk into the empty space and add drawers or open shelving for hidden storage. For a cohesive look, opt for a desk that matches your kitchen cabinets.

Above the desk, mount a magnetic knife strip or spice racks to take advantage of vertical storage space. Floating shelves add function and style while keeping the desk surface clear.

For a DIY option, build a desktop that pulls out from a base cabinet. You can customize the fold-down desk size to perfectly fit your unique space. Add small shelves or cubbies to hold office supplies when the desk is stowed away.

Expand countertops into unused spaces

Look for opportunities to extend existing countertops into adjoining empty spaces. Even an extra 12-24 inches of countertop can make a big difference in kitchen work zones.

Try retrofitting base cabinets with a matching countertop extension supported by brackets. This custom look maximizes countertop real estate.

For a budget option, use an existing countertop section as a standalone island or work surface. Provide structural support beneath and create an extended prep area or eat-in dining space.

Extending countertops helps blend awkward, disconnected spaces into one continuous functional surface. Doing so can better integrate disjointed layouts.

Incorporate pull-out bases for mixers & appliances

Stand mixers, food processors and other countertop appliances can take up precious real estate. Make use of empty cabinet spaces by installing pull-out trays and shelves for your bulky appliances.

Not only does this free up room on your countertops, but it also allows you to conveniently store appliances right where you need them. Look for base cabinets with large pull-out trays designed to hold mixers and processors.

DIY options include using sturdy drawer slides and durable shelving to create custom pull-outs within existing cabinetry. Use handles to smoothly pull appliances out when needed.

Add an apron-front sink and work table

For an empty space set back from other counters, consider installing an apron-front sink. The vintage appeal of the exposed sink looks brilliant against a blank wall or unused kitchen corner.

Pair the deep single-basin sink with a work table for a timeless farmhouse look. Choose a reclaimed wood tabletop or distressed metal base for an authentic rustic aesthetic. Use shelves below to store baskets and kitchen wares.

Not only does this fill empty space, but it also adds character and charm to create a dedicated cleanup zone away from the main kitchen work triangle.

Build a custom slide-out spice rack

Make use of the narrow spaces between cabinets and appliances by adding slide-out shelving and racks. These customizable pull-outs take advantage of vertical hidden spots that often go overlooked.

A narrow pull-out spice rack is one of the most useful options for filling awkward gaps while also freeing up drawer and cabinet space. Choose a compact design or build your own using shelf pins and sturdy drawer slides.

Slide-out racks and shelving bring wasted spaces into the fold and make ingredients readily accessible where you need them. Not only is it functional, but it also contributes to a cohesive, built-in look.

Add a fold-down mixer shelf

Stand mixers are notorious kitchen clutter culprits. But you can recover wasted space with a clever fold-down mixer shelf that stashes everything out of sight.

Mount the hinged shelf near an outlet so you can easily lift and lower the mixer as needed. Make sure to allow for clearance above and counter depth. Install safety stops to hold the mixer in place while in use.

For extra convenience, incorporate built-in outlets right into your mixer shelf. Having your mixer and accessories stowed neatly off the counter makes baking days far more streamlined.

Maximized corner cabinet storage solutions

The space inside corner cabinets is prime real estate, but the awkward diagonal shape poses a storage challenge. Luckily there are many smart solutions to fully utilize every inch inside corner cabinetry.

  • Lazy susans – The classic spin solution maximizes cabinets through easy access.
  • Tiered pull-out shelves – Stackable metal racks double your corner cabinet storage.
  • Vertical holders – Great for pan lids, cutting boards, cookie sheets.
  • Sliding drawers – Custom made triangular drawers perfectly fit corner spaces.
  • Diagonal organizers – Use modular wire bins designed to fit corner angles.

Take measurements and get creative fitting space-saving storage aids into those troublesome corner cabinets.

Add an angled open shelf display

Display your prized pots, pans or pretty china on an angled corner open shelf unit. This is excellent for showcasing wares in an otherwise overlooked and empty corner space.

Choose an angled metal rack or wooden shelf that stair steps down to suit the corner angle. This transforms useless space into a focal point decor display in your kitchen’s design.

Incorporate lighting, like a pendant above the shelves, to highlight the wares. Open shelving works beautifully to break up and fill vacant voids while contributing charm and character.

Install a vertical utensil organizer

Maximize vertical storage space and eliminate drawer clutter with wall-mounted utensil organizers. Often the narrow area between countertops and upper cabinets gets overlooked as wasted space.

Open metal racks and magnetized strips take advantage of this vertical real estate while also freeing up precious drawer space below. Mount them near your prep and cleanup areas for quick and easy accessibility.

Vertical utensil storage holders transform unused spaces into functional organization solutions while adding visual interest to blank walls and bare corners.

Repurpose cabinet voids as pull-out storage

Unusable voids and gaps often form between kitchen cabinets and appliances. Thankfully, you can transform these frustrating spaces into secret pull-out storage areas.

Use scrap wood to box in the gaps between cabinetry. Mount them on quality drawer slides for easy access to hidden storage spaces behind false cabinet fronts.

Pull-out hideaways are great for smaller appliances, baking pans, cutting boards, plastic containers, trash bins and other items you want conveniently out of sight.

Create an under-cabinet ventilation hood

Make use of the space between your stove and the cabinets above by adding an under-cabinet ventilation hood. Not only does this eliminate grease and odors, but it also transforms what’s typically a dead space into a functional asset.

Choose a sleek under-cabinet style hood designed to mount inconspicuously yet powerfully evacuate cooking fumes, grease, smoke and steam. This transforms empty space into a surprisingly powerful kitchen ventilation system.

Incorporate racks, holders & drapery into blank walls

Occasional expanses of empty wall space are inevitable in kitchens. Though they may seem useless, a bit of creativity can transform blank walls into functional features.

Turn an empty wall into organized storage by adding mounted racks, holders, rails and rods designed to corral kitchen tools. Useful options include:

  • Wall-mounted pot racks
  • Rail systems with S-hooks
  • Magnetic knife strips
  • Towel bars and drapery rods
  • Custom shelves and wall-hung cabinetry

Maximize what’s often overlooked dead space and gain extra storage by capitalizing on blank kitchen walls. Get creative mixing materials, finishes, drapes and hardware.

Build a custom cabinet with matching false fronts

For mismatched gaps between freestanding appliances, build an intermediary cabinet to blend spaces seamlessly. Use door false fronts to create cabinet facades that continue the cabinetry style.

Cut side panels, shelves and doors to fit the once-empty gap. Add trim, handles and panels that match adjacent cabinetry so that the new custom cabinet looks like original built-ins.

This not only eliminates disjointed empty spaces but also adds extra storage. The custom cabinetry transforms awkward voids into ingenious hidden storage opportunities.

Add narrow pull-out cutting boards

Make use of the narrow spaces between cabinets and appliances by fitting pull-out cutting boards. Not only does this provide extra workspace near the prep area, but it also takes advantage of awkward gaps.

Use side-mounted drawer glides to allow the cutting boards to smoothly pull out when needed. Look for thin boards sized to fit your particular space or have custom boards made.

Pull-out cutting boards are a clever way to create extra workspace while eliminating ugly low-use gaps between cabinets and appliances.

Create concealed waste & recycling centers

Hide unsightly waste and recycling bins using empty cabinet spaces fitted with custom pull-outs. Use false fronts to fully conceal the bins behind cabinet doors for a seamless hidden look.

Install commercial-grade slides to allow you to fully extend the bins for easy disposal access. Design multiple bins and chutes customized to your exact space.

Concealed waste pull-outs prevent messy countertop clutter while taking advantage of unused cabinet voids, transforming wasted space into clever hidden storage.

FAQs about Eliminating Empty Spaces in Your Kitchen

What are some common empty spaces found in kitchens?

Some common empty spaces include corners, gaps between appliances/cabinets, blank walls, weird nooks/crannies and underutilized areas under windows. Voids above cabinets and along soffits are also often overlooked.

What are easy ways to add storage in empty spaces?

Easy storage solutions include slide-out shelves, wall-mounted racks, vertical storage for pans or utensils, custom-built pull outs, tension rods for towels and filler cabinetry with false fronts.

How can you expand counter space in your kitchen?

Adding countertop extensions, utilizing a standalone island, building a pull-out cutting board and installing an auxiliary prep sink are great ways to expand counter workspace using empty space.

What are ways to add seating using kitchen voids?

Building a breakfast banquette or bench, adding a window seat, installing a fold-down mixer shelf or incorporating a coffee station are excellent ways to add seating options in kitchen dead spaces.

What should you consider before building out empty spaces?

Evaluate how you use your kitchen and consider what additions would maximize function. Measure carefully to ensure furnishings and storage will fit well. Check for wiring, vents or plumbing in walls where you’ll be building.

Does it make sense to pay for custom built-ins and cabinetry?

For long-lasting quality and a seamless look, custom cabinetry is worth the investment. Well-designed and installed built-ins help recapture useless spaces efficiently. But mid-priced options can also work well.


Empty spaces in kitchens can easily go overlooked yet offer immense potential for enhancing your kitchen’s form and function. With some creativity and strategic changes, you can implement our expert designer solutions to reclaim wasted areas.

Use the blank canvases to incorporate extra storage, expanded counters, custom cabinetry, displays, seating and more specialized pull-outs. Bring flow to disjointed spaces and infuse character into your kitchen.

Thoughtfully transforming awkward voids and gaps into purposeful spaces helps build a kitchen that is much more user-friendly, efficient and visually cohesive. Use our editor-approved ideas to turn your kitchen’s empty spaces into valuable storage and functional features.

With clever remodeling techniques and smart built-ins, a kitchen’s wasted areas can become the highlights that make the space both beautiful and brilliantly practical. Focus your efforts on empty spaces first when remodeling and you may be amazed at the transformation.