Small Kitchen Must-Haves, According to Pro Home Organizers

Are you struggling with organizing your small kitchen? As a tiny kitchen owner, it can be challenging to keep things tidy and efficient in a limited space. However, with a few clever tools and ideas, you can maximize every inch of real estate.

We asked professional home organizers what their top small kitchen must-haves are, and they gave us their best tips and product recommendations. From smart storage solutions to space-saving appliances, these pros know how to make the most of a petite kitchen. Keep reading for their list of small kitchen must-haves to create an organized, functional, and stylish cooking space.

Clever Storage Solutions

When working with a small kitchen, storage is key. You need places to tuck away gadgets, dishes, food items, and more so they don’t clutter your limited countertops and cabinets. Our pro organizers suggest these clever storage solutions to keep your small kitchen organized.

Lazy Susans

Lazy Susan turntables are amazing storage additions for corner cabinets and pantries. They allow you to access items in a spinning motion so you can easily see and reach what’s available. Lazy Susans are great for keeping spices, cans, condiments, snacks, and baking ingredients organized.

Melanie, a professional organizer from California, says, “I love installing lazy Susans in my client’s corner cabinets! It makes everything so much more accessible. I also have them add a lazy Susan to their pantry for their most-used canned goods and condiments.”

Tiered Shelving

Multi-tiered shelves double your vertical storage space. Melissa, a pro organizer from New York City, recommends, “Use tiered shelves in cabinets to store bowls, plates, mugs, and other dishware. You can organize by type and size while keeping everything visible.”

Tiered shelves come in various materials like metal, wood, or plastic. They can be installed or sit freely inside cabinets. This small kitchen must-have helps you efficiently use all the available space.

Drawer Dividers

Plastic or bamboo drawer dividers allow you to neatly organize silverware, cooking utensils, bakeware, and other odds and ends in kitchen drawers. No more digging around messy drawers to find what you need!

“Drawer dividers are a must for any kitchen, but especially for small kitchens. You need to utilize every inch of space and keep things tidy,” explains Oliver, a professional organizer.

Over the Door Racks

Don’t forget the back of cabinet doors when looking for storage solutions! Over the door racks hang on the back side and hold everything from cutting boards and bakeware to spices and hand towels.

Liz, a pro organizer, says, “Installing over the door racks is like getting extra storage space for free. Use them on cabinet doors for quick access to the items you use all the time.”

Magnetic Strips

Magnetic strips allow you to affix knives, spatulas, pots, pans, and other metal kitchenware to your wall for easy access and organization. They instantly clear up space and keep essential gear in reach.

According to Christine, a professional organizer, “I stick magnetic strips on my client’s walls to get commonly used items off the counters. It saves space and looks so tidy! Just make sure they are securely installed.”

Space-Saving Appliances

Large appliances like refrigerators, stoves, and ovens take up precious real estate in a small kitchen. Our pro organizers recommend these space-saving appliance options to maximize room in your petite cooking space.

Mini Fridge

Instead of squeezing in an oversized refrigerator, opt for a compact, apartment-sized mini fridge. These small refrigerators provide just enough space for essentials without dominating the room.

“I always suggest my clients get a mini fridge for their small kitchens instead of trying to fit a standard size one. Mini fridges provide plenty of space for their needs,” explains Alicia, a professional organizer.

Compact Microwave

Microwaves are kitchen necessities, but they can be bulky. Downsizing to a compact microwave with 0.5 to 0.9 cubic feet capacity will save inches of space compared to larger models. These petite microwaves can be tucked onto a counter, shelf, or microwave cart.

James, a pro organizer who works with small kitchens, recommends, “Look for the most compact microwave that will meet your needs. There are so many smaller options now that will give you space savings without sacrificing capacity.”

Portable Induction Cooktop

Induction cooktops heat foods incredibly fast, and they are much smaller than traditional ranges. Portable induction models like the NuWave PIC are convenient for small kitchens since you can store them in a cabinet and place them on the counter only when cooking.

“I am obsessed with portable induction cooktops!” raves Megan, a professional organizer. “They take up hardly any room, but give you so much cooking functionality. They are perfect additions to tiny kitchens.”

Single Serve Coffee Maker

Large coffee machines hog precious counter space. For a small kitchen, opt for a single serve coffee maker like a Keurig instead. They have a compact footprint and allow you to quickly brew just one cup at a time.

“I always recommend single serve coffee makers to my clients with itty bitty kitchens,” says Lucy, a pro organizer. “They take up a fraction of the space that traditional coffee machines do while still delivering your morning cup of joe.”

Space-Saving Design Elements

Incorporating certain design elements into your small kitchen can also help maximize its usable space. Here are some of our pro organizer’s top suggestions for space-saving design:

Floating Shelves

Floating shelves add storage space without taking up valuable countertop real estate. Have them installed on walls, in corners, or even above appliances to hold coffee mugs, jars of utensils, and decorative items.

“Floating shelves are amazing for small kitchens! They allow you to make use of vertical wall space that would otherwise go unused,” explains Julie, a professional organizer.

Slim Table Island

While a large kitchen island may dominate a small space, a narrow table island provides a place for prep work without congesting the room. Look for one with storage baskets or shelves underneath to stash extras out of sight.

James, one of our pro organizers, suggests, “A slim kitchen island with storage underneath doubles as prep space and storage. But it still leaves room to maneuver unlike a bulky island.”

Banquette Seating

A space-saving alternative to freestanding tables and chairs is banquette seating. Banquettes are fixed bench seats with tables built into the end. Tuck them into corners to provide a place to sit without cluttering up room.

“Banquette seating is perfect for opening up floor space in tiny kitchens,” explains Oliver. “You get seating without having chairs take up room in the center of the kitchen.”

Light Colors

Painting your small kitchen cabinets and walls light colors like white, beige, or gray instantly makes the space feel larger and airier. Dark hues can close up the space.

Liz, one of our pros, advises, “I always encourage my clients with small kitchens to use light, neutral paint colors. It helps reflect light around the room and makes it feel more open.”

Smart Small Kitchen Storage Ideas

It takes clever storage hacks and systems to keep a small kitchen organized. Apply these smart storage ideas from our professional organizers to maximize every nook and cranny.

Utilize Cabinet Dead Space

Take advantage of the dead space in the back of your cabinets by installing sliding shelves to hold small appliances or pull-out vertical spice racks. Spinning “lazy Susans” are another way to access back corners.

“Never waste those deep cabinet spaces again! Install pull-out racks or spinning lazy Susans to utilize what was previously dead space,” recommends Christine.

Repurpose Household Items

Get creative repurposing everyday items for storage to save money. For example, over-the-door shoe organizers are perfect to hang inside cabinet doors and hold spices, condiments, or utensils. Shower caddies work great mounted to walls for frequently used kitchen tools.

“Check your closets and bathrooms for items that could get a second life as kitchen storage solutions before running out to buy organizers,” advises Julie.

Store by Frequency of Use

Keep items you use most regularly at eye-level in easy reach. Reserve high, hard to access spaces for occasional use items like holiday dishes, large roasting pans, or party platters. Store step stools nearby so you can reach when needed.

Melanie tells her clients, “Make your life easier by keeping the items you use daily within arm’s reach. Reserve inconvenient cabinets for things you rarely need.”

Install Multi-Tier Organizers

Double your vertical storage space with multi-tier racks, shelves, and dividers. You can find options for pantries, cabinets, drawers, and wall mounts. These storage additions help you optimize every inch of available space.

“Multi-tier dividers and racks are essential for doubling storage capacity in small kitchens,” says James. “I install them in my client’s cabinets, pantries, and drawers.”

Free Up Drawers

Install under-cabinet racks or sliding shelves to hold kitchen gear and free up precious drawer space. Reserve your drawers for items that truly need enclosed storage like utensils and dish cloths. Keys, mugs, and some appliances can be stored openly.

Alicia tells her small kitchen clients, “Get items off your drawers! Use racks underneath cabinets for things like pots and pans to open up your drawers for organizing utensils and gadgets.”

Clever Small Kitchen Organization Ideas

Beyond just storage, organization is key for maintaining order in a petite kitchen. Apply these savvy tips from the pros for organizing your small cooking space.

Categorize Like Items

Group together like items to simplify finding what you need. Keep all drinking glasses together, mugs on another shelf, plates stacked neatly in one cabinet, etc.

“Categorizing like items is absolutely crucial in small kitchens,” advises Lucy. “Group cups, mugs, plates, bowls, etc. This makes everything easier to find.”

Assign Zones

Give different zones or areas devoted purposes to prevent clutter. For example, keep food storage items in one area, dishes in another zone, cooking tools in another.

Melissa tells her clients, “Divvy up your small kitchen into zones for food, dishes, meal prep, cooking, etc. It helps keep things neatly organized and in their proper places.”

Purge Regularly

Get in the habit of doing a purge every few months. Get rid of duplicate items, unused kitchenware, old food, etc. This prevents clutter from accumulating and overtaking the space.

“Don’t underestimate the power of purging,” says Oliver. “It’s easy for unused items and food to accumulate in small kitchens. Do an overhaul every season to reset.”

Store by Meal

Organize food items, pots/pans, and utensils by breakfast, lunch, and dinner to reduce time spent searching. Keep relevant items for each meal together.

James recommends, “Group meal-related items together in your cabinets, drawers, and pantry. It makes pulling together everything for breakfast, lunch, or dinner so much faster.”

Utilize Hidden Space

Take advantage of any hidden nooks for storage like the awkward space under a sink or around pipes. You can find countless specialty organizers designed to fit into unique spaces.

“Never underestimate an awkward space,” says Christine. “There are so many organizers made specifically for maximizing oddly shaped areas under and around sinks and appliances.”

Top Products Recommended by Professional Organizers

To turn their savvy small kitchen storage and organization ideas into realities, the pros rely on certain products time and time again. Here is the top organizational gear recommended by professional organizers for maximizing small kitchens.

Stackable Shelf Organizers

Clear stackable containers like Sorbus fridge organizers provide visible compartmentalized storage for cabinets, pantries, countertops, and fridges. They come in various shapes and sizes.

“I can’t organize a small kitchen without my stackable clear bins! They provide so much usable space in cabinets and pantries,” says Julie.

Pull Out Cabinet Organizers

Boasting rave reviews, Lynk slide out cabinet organizers have adjustable dividers to store dishes, pans, food items, and more. Install them in base or wall cabinets.

“These pull out cabinet organizers are incredible – really high quality and fully customizable. I put them in all my client’s kitchen cabinets!” raves Oliver.

Spice Organizers

Avoid messy, cluttered drawers with products like the Copco Basics spice organizer. It neatly arranges spices in see-through trays and has a non-skid base. Labeled spice jars also help.

Alicia calls it, “The ultimate spice drawer organizer! It tidies up all those little spice containers into neat trays so you can actually find what you need.”

Under Sink Organizers

Gain storage under the sink with slide out trays like the Spicy Shelf. It holds cleaners, sponges, scrub brushes, and more while providing easy access.

“The under sink area is prime real estate in small kitchens. These pull out organizers help me optimize this often neglected space,” says Liz.

Vertical Utensil Holders

Save drawer space by storing utensils vertically in countertop caddies. Products like the YouCopia stainless steel utensil organizer have individual slots for each item.

According to James, “Free up drawer clutter by keeping spatulas, tongs, ladles, etc. upright in countertop caddies. It also makes cooking and meal prep more efficient.”

Answers to FAQs about Organizing Small Kitchens

If you are feeling overwhelmed trying to organize and maximize your petite kitchen, these answers to frequently asked questions can help. Our professional organizers provided their insightful responses.

What are the best storage containers for small spaces?

For small kitchens, transparent stackable bins and canisters are best since you can easily see contents. Opt for slim containers of varying heights to maximize odd spaces. Install shelves at different levels to accommodate different size bins. Also, buy only as many as you need to avoid wasting space.

How can I organize my pots and pans in a small kitchen?

Use vertical space with wall-mounted racks, install small S hooks under cabinets to hang pans, or attach a hanging rack inside a cabinet door. For lower cabinets, get pan organizers or slip stacking racks on the bottom shelf. Store lids separately from pans in a shallow drawer divider.

What are space-saving tips for organizing a tiny pantry?

First, purge any unused, expired items. Then use small containers to corral similar ingredients. Install extra shelves at different heights and incorporate vertical dividers. Door racks on the interior pantry door also help maximize space. A lazy Susan is perfect for corner storage. Lastly, categorize items by type and frequency of use.

How do I organize baking sheets in a small kitchen?

Store large, flat baking sheets vertically in a cabinet using an organizer like the SimpleHouseware pan and lid holder. Or, install S hooks on the wall or inside cabinet doors to vertically hang sheets by their holes. You can also neatly stack two or three in a lower drawer using divider racks.

What are your best tips for organizing a small fridge?

First, regularly purge perishables. Then utilize door racks for jars, sauces, and drinks – anything you access frequently. Use bins and trays to corral similar items on shelves. Try to group things by meal or category. Avoid overstuffing shelves – it should be easy to remove items. And leave some open space for air circulation.


Organizing and maximizing storage in a small kitchen comes with unique challenges. But with smart solutions like those recommended by professional organizers in this article, you can create a fully functional and tidy cooking space.

Start by identifying your most pressing organizational struggles. Select products like sliding shelves, stackable bins, over the door racks, and drawer dividers that target these problem areas. Stick to clear or mesh containers so you can see contents easily.

Also, implement some of the savvy storage ideas like keeping items you use most regularly within reach while relegating rarely used items to hard to access spaces. Take time to purge unused items to free up space. Give everything a home by categorizing like items together.

Finally, incorporate space-saving design elements like slim islands, floating shelves, banquette seating, and light colors to visually open up the room. With a mix of smart hacks and products, you can join the ranks of those with expertly organized, efficient small kitchens.