How to Make More Counter Space in a Small Kitchen – Ways to Curb the Clutter

Having a small kitchen can be very challenging when it comes to storage and organization. The lack of counter space means there is little room to prepare food or stage appliances and ingredients when cooking. All too often, the result is cluttered counters that only add to feelings of overwhelm in an already cramped space.

The good news is that with some clever solutions, you can maximize every inch of your small kitchen to gain more usable counter area. With a bit of creativity and the willingness to edit down, you can transform your kitchen into a highly functional workspace that makes the most of what you have.

Here are some of the top ways to clear clutter and make more counter space in a small kitchen:

Audit What You Have and Pare Down

The first step is to take a good look at everything you currently store on your countertops. Make a list and identify items that perhaps could be stored elsewhere. Anything non-essential should be removed.

Analyze the remaining items and consider if there are alternate storage solutions. Could some ingredients or appliances be kept in cabinets or drawers? Are there items that could be mounted on the walls or ceilings? Edit ruthlessly to only keep the absolute necessities within reach.

Pro tip: Set limits for how many of certain items remain out. For example, just one knife block, one set of measuring cups, and two fruit bowls.

Use Walls for Extra Vertical Storage

Wall space is prime real estate in a small kitchen. Make use of vertical space to get things off the counters.

Installing extra shelves on walls provides a spot for appliances and frequently used items. Wire shelving is inexpensive and you can customize to fit the space exactly. For a more integrated look, wall mounted cabinets can neatly store everything from dishes to spices.

Other options include:

  • Wall mounted knife strips or magnetic strips to hold knives
  • Spice racks mounted inside cabinet doors or on walls
  • Mason jar racks for bulk food items like pasta, rice, and beans
  • Floating shelves for cookbooks, small appliances, or décor

Pro tip: Look for blank spaces near or above the counters and get creative with wall storage. Even just a few screws and a mounted rod below the cabinets can hold paper towels and utensils.

Optimize Cabinet Storage

Max out the storage potential of your existing cabinets with some easy upgrades:


Adjustable shelves allow you to customize the storage space. Prioritize shelves for frequently used items while higher shelves can hold extras.

Riser Shelf Brackets

Add a second shelf above your existing one to double the space using risers. Great for food staples, small appliances, or cookware.

Drawer Organizers

From cutlery trays to mini bins, organizers make the most of every inch inside drawers. Designate certain drawers for specific items.

Lazy Susans

Installing a lazy Susan is great for corner cabinet storage. Easily access everything with a spin.

Door Mounted Storage

Use door-mounted racks or mesh holders to stash cooking utensils, pot lids, cutting boards, and more. Utilize the back of cabinet doors!

Pro tip: Add a few hooks to the side walls of cabinets to hold mugs, pots, pans, and other items with handles.

Store Bulky Appliances Elsewhere

Free up a large chunk of counter space by finding alternate homes for bulky appliances. Consider the following options:

  • Store inside cabinets – Items like stand mixers and blenders can often fit inside larger cabinets. Pull them out only when needed.
  • Mount under cabinets – Small appliances like coffee makers can mount underneath upper cabinets and be out of the way.
  • Use rolling carts – Keep appliances mobile on a rolling cart that can be easily moved in and out of the way.
  • Relocate completely – Do you really need certain appliances like a microwave or toaster taking up space daily? Could they be used in another area of the home instead?

Pro tip: For small appliances, create designated “parking spaces” off the counters where they live when not in use. Use wall mounts, corner racks, or specialized holders.

Take Advantage of Multi-Tasking Furniture

From stools to carts, there are many furniture pieces that offer extra storage and a workspace while taking up minimal space.

  • Kitchen carts provide storage for appliances, supplies, cutting boards, etc. and give you more prepping area. Many are on wheels and easily movable.
  • Pull out cutting boards that store in drawers or slide out from cabinets serve double duty. Keep them hidden until needed.
  • Stools with storage inside the seat are perfect for smaller kitchens. Use for additional seating or extra storage space.

Pro tip: Look for furniture that serves multiple purposes. For example, a rolling butcher block cart for food prep that also has shelves and drawers for storage underneath.

Get Creative with Unused Space

Don’t ignore the often forgotten spaces in your kitchen that could provide prime storage real estate.

  • Install racks or shelving inside vacant under-sink cabinets. Great for cleaning supplies, spare paper towels, and more.
  • Mount a tension rod horizontally across the backsplash to hold utensils and free up drawer space.
  • Use magnetic strips, hooks, hanging baskets and other organizers inside lower cabinets doors.
  • Repurpose the space between studs for skinny vertical storage. Perfect for cutting boards, cookie sheets, and trays.

Pro tip: Look at the corners! A vertical corner lazy Susan or multi-tiered racks make use of dead space.

Choose Smaller Versions of Essentials

When it’s time to replace items, opt for downsized or stackable versions to save space. Here are some ideas:

  • Compact dish drainers that fit in sinks or on counters
  • Tall and skinny rather than wide food storage containers
  • Stackable or nesting bowls, pots, pans, and cups
  • Two-tiered dish racks
  • Magnetic strip knife holders rather than blocks
  • Cutting boards that store vertically
  • Spice racks with small, refillable glass jars

Pro tip: Evaluate the footprint of items you use daily. Can you swap bulkier versions for more compact styles that better suit your space?

Store Seasonally Rather Than Year-Round

Be brutally honest about what you actually use on a regular basis. Items only used at certain times of year are prime candidates to remove from counters.

Pack up the waffle maker, Easter bunny cake mold, and other specialty items only used occasionally. Store in cabinets or closets and retrieve as needed for particular holidays or seasons rather than leaving out year-round.

This purge makes room for items you rely on more regularly. You can appreciate the seasonal items more when gotten out just once or twice a year too!

Incorporate Portable Storage

When working in a small kitchen, portable storage containers help immensely with organization and quick clean up. Have designated boxes, crates or baskets for different categories.

Great for holding leftovers, bulk food items, appliances, utensils, cookbooks and anything else crowding your counters. Simply tuck them away into cabinets when not in use.

Pro tip: Opt for stacking bins, multi-tiered carts, and other vertical solutions to maximize portable storage.

Add an Auxiliary Prep Area

If after all your organizing you still need more workspace, consider adding an auxiliary prep area in an adjacent space. This could be:

  • A folding table or cart set up in a nearby hallway, dining room or living space when cooking. Stash it away afterwards.
  • An island or peninsula counter if space allows. Look for wheeled models that can double as extra dining seating.
  • A mounted wall-folding counter that folds flush when not in use. Great for tight spaces.
  • A wooden board that lays across the sink, converting into a prep space. Store nearby when done.

Having an auxiliary surface for chopping, staging, or holding ingredients can greatly expand your usable area.

FAQs About Maximizing Counter Space in a Small Kitchen

What are some key things I can do immediately to clear counter clutter?

Some quick fixes include removing non-essential items, storing bulkier appliances elsewhere, paring down dishware to only daily essentials, and utilizing wall space and inside cabinet doors for storage using racks, shelving, and hooks.

What are the best organizational products to maximize kitchen storage?

Drawer organizers, lazy susans, tiered shelves, vertical in-cabinet storage racks, magnetic strips, mounted wall storage, stacking bins, and anything else that allows you to better compartmentalize and utilize all the existing storage space.

How can I add more counter space without a full remodel?

Options like a kitchen cart for additional prep space, an island or peninsula if space allows, a folding wall counter, and using a nearby table or counter in an adjacent room can add work area without a major renovation.

What small appliances can I relocate out of my kitchen?

Things like microwave, toasters, stand mixers and blenders can often be moved to alternate areas like dining rooms, mudrooms, laundry rooms, islands, etc. Reserve your precious counter space for appliances used daily.

Where are unexpected places I can add storage in my kitchen?

Inside cabinets doors, on walls, between studs, under sinks, the backsplash area, and even the sides of cabinets or inside toe kicks can provide useful storage with the right organizers. Also utilize corners and the vertical space to your advantage.

Should I consider replacing any items with space-saving versions?

Definitely. More compact options for items like dish drainers, storage containers, utensil crocks, knife blocks, spice racks, cutting boards, dish racks, pans, and other everyday pieces can make a difference in your kitchen’s organization.


No matter how pint-sized your kitchen, there are many innovative ways to free up more usable counter space. Start by taking inventory of what you have and pare down non-essentials. Next utilize organizational solutions that allow you to take advantage of all possible storage nooks and underutilized areas. Be willing to give up bulky space hogging appliances by relocating or downsizing. The right edits and upgrades can transform even the tiniest kitchen into a highly functional workspace. Be creative and think multi-purpose when it comes to furniture and storage tools. Your small kitchen can gain much needed breathing room implement with purposeful and strategic organization.