Ways You Are Wasting Space in Your Kitchen – And What To Do About It

Have you taken a good look around your kitchen lately? If the counters are cluttered, the cabinets are overflowing, and you feel like you’re constantly squeezing around tight corners, chances are your kitchen layout and storage solutions could use some improvements. A well-organized, spacious kitchen not only functions better but also feels more enjoyable to cook and spend time in. Here are some of the top ways you may be wasting precious space in your kitchen – and tips to fix them.

Taking Advantage of Vertical Space

One of the biggest mistakes in kitchen organization is not utilizing vertical space efficiently. Too often, frequently used items end up crowded on the counters while tall cabinet spaces sit relatively empty. Make a point to assess shelf heights, install extra shelves or stacking systems, and distribute items from counters to higher storage.

Use Wall Space

  • Hang commonly used tools like knives, utensils, and pots/pans on a wall-mounted rack or pegboard to clear counter space.
  • Mount cabinets all the way to the ceiling for maximum storage.
  • Consider wall-mounted spice racks, floating shelves, and vertical storage racks for canned goods to get items off the counters.

Optimize Interior Cabinets

  • Install extra shelves in cabinets to double the storage space. Adjustable options allow customization of heights.
  • Use risers, tiered shelves, or vertical dividers to stack and separate items. Great for dishes, baking pans, and food containers.
  • Hang a wire or utility rack on the interior cabinet door to neatly store cutting boards, trays, foil, and more.
  • Store less frequently used bulky appliances on higher shelves to open up prime real estate for everyday items.

Think Vertically For Fridges Too

  • Use refrigerator door storage for condiments, jars, drinks – freeing up shelf space.
  • Store stackable items like eggs and yogurt containers on top of each other.
  • Attach a rack inside the fridge to hold cans upright and store more.
  • Use hanging fruit baskets and organizer racks to double space.

Rethinking Kitchen Cabinets For Accessibility

Do you find yourself cramming dishes and containers into cabinets in a less-than-organized way? Or digging to the back for rarely used items? Adjusting your cabinet setup can help make everything easily accessible.

Adjust Your Cabinet Shelving

  • Make sure commonly used items are on middle shelves at eye/arm level.
  • Reserve hard-to-reach bottom cabinets for large pots and appliances only.
  • Separate shelving helps organize different items rather than stacking.
  • Angle dividers make separating items easier and save wasted vertical space.

Consider Drawers Over Doors

  • Drawers provide full visibility and access to everything stored. Great for utensils, baking pans, containers.
  • Full extension drawer slides let you access the whole depth of the drawer easily.
  • Customizing drawer organizers (cutlery dividers, spice racks) streamlines access further.
  • Shallow drawers are perfect for small gadgets, rubber bands, foil, and other odds and ends.

Optimize Dish Storage

  • Cabinet carousels, corner lazy susans, and vertical holders make all dishes accessible.
  • Tiered holders keep plates upright and separated while saving space.
  • Stemware racks let you see – and access – every glass while keeping them secure.

Reclaim Wasted Corner and Dead Space

Corners and gaps between counters and appliances are some of the most wasted areas in kitchens. But there are many clever ways to reclaim this space that may be sitting empty in your kitchen right now.

Use L-Shaped Corner Cabinets

  • A blind corner cabinet with angled interior shelving utilizes tricky corner space.
  • A lazy susan loaded with spices, condiments, or cans lets you access a full 360 degrees of items.
  • Multi-tiered corner cabinets double storage for dishes, baking sheets, cutting boards, and more.

Fill Gaps Creatively

  • Slide narrow rolling carts or utility cabinets into gaps next to fridges and ranges.
  • Install corner filler shelves where counter tops meet. Great for small appliances or decorative items.
  • Use the dead space between cabinets as a message center, add a narrow spice rack, or install extra shelving.

Repurpose Wasted Under-Counter Space

  • Install slide-out trays beneath cabinets to access items in the back. Perfect for pots, pans, and lids.
  • Mount a towel bar, paper towel holder, foil cutter box, or utility hooks under upper cabinets.
  • Use drawer dividers, utensil crocks, or can organizers in unused areas under the sink.

Clearing Off Kitchen Counters

Counters end up filled with small appliances, dishes, paperwork, and general clutter. But clear counters have a huge visual impact and also provide more workspace for meal prep.

Store Small Appliances Creatively

  • Tuck them on shelves or in slide-out cabinet racks until needed.
  • Store inside a cabinet outfitted with electrical outlets.
  • Create stations for appliances like blenders and stand mixers at the ends of counters or islands.

Manage Paperwork and Accessories

  • Designate a drawer or caddy for pens, pads, bills, and receipts.
  • Mount magnetic strips or boards for knife storage to clear counter space.
  • Find a home for that junk drawer to clear odds and ends crowding counters.

Leave Only Essentials

  • Limit items left on counters to frequently used tools like a knife block.
  • Store returning appliances in a small bin or caddy when not in use.
  • Use wall hooks adjacent to work areas for hanging utensils and towels when cooking.

Repurposing Inefficient Spaces and Storage

Sometimes even built-in spaces like pantries, islands, and hutches aren’t designed as efficiently as they could be. Be open to reimagining how you use the existing storage elements in your kitchen.

Rethink Your Pantry

  • Add adjustable shelving, extra racks, or wall storage to maximize vertical storage.
  • Incorporate drawer organizers and storage bins to separate categories of items.
  • Mount a second rod for additional shelving at a different height.

Revamp Kitchen Islands

  • Replace one open shelf with a cabinet or drawer for concealed storage.
  • Use baskets for corralling smaller items like kitchen gadgets.
  • Add hooks, towel bars, and extra shelves to put vertical spaces to use.

Update Inefficient Hutches

  • Take doors off to access the interior and install extra adjustable shelving.
  • Repurpose into a coffee station, bar, or display case by removing interior shelving.
  • Add stacking trays or risers to double storage capability in the interior.

Investing in Functional Storage Solutions

One of the best ways to maximize kitchen space is investing in storage solutions designed to offer versatile, customizable organization. Start replacing inefficient storage pieces with options that make the most of every inch.

Drawer Organizers

  • Customized trays with adjustable dividers allow you to personalize drawer storage.
  • Non-slip liners keep items in place and are easily removable for cleaning.
  • Use multiple small trays to organize kitchen tools rather than one giant cluttered drawer.

Cabinet Organizers

  • Stackable racks double storage for canned goods, containers, or dishes.
  • Pull-out cabinet shelves create easy access to items in the back.
  • Tiered holders keep spices, oils, condiments, etc neatly organized and visible.

Storage Carts

  • Rolling carts provide storage flexibility and can be moved where needed.
  • Use for appliances, extra work space, or as an entertainment bar.
  • Great for frequently accessed items like oils, canned goods, or utensils.

Maintaining an Organized Kitchen

An organized kitchen doesn’t happen overnight. Maintaining order amidst the kitchen chaos takes effort and developing helpful habits over time. Here are some useful tips for keeping a clutter-free, space-maximized kitchen in the long run.

Give Everything a Home

  • Stick with the mantra – “A place for everything and everything in its place”.
  • Assign homes for appliances, tools, pantry items based on frequency of use.
  • Purge first to eliminate unused items taking up space.

Use Effective Labeling

  • Clear labeling makes it easy to identify and return items to their designated spots.
  • Create zones, use photos, or color code for different types of items.
  • Rotate older food items to the front of shelves/drawers with masking tape flags.

Clean As You Go

  • Put items away as part of your cooking clean-up routine. Leaving nothing out overnight.
  • Deal with paperwork, mail, and off-counter clutter immediately. Don’t let it accumulate.
  • Do a 5 or 10 minute quick tidy at the end of each day as needed.

Common Kitchen Clutter Culprits To Avoid

Despite best organizational intentions, most kitchens will inevitably collect some level of clutter over time. Be aware of these common clutter magnets as you work to maintain order.

Mail, Bills, and Paperwork

Piles of mail, receipts, kids’ artwork, and bills tend to accumulate on kitchen counters. Have an inbox, folder, or bill tray to corral paper and deal with it promptly.

Extra Appliances and Gadgets

It’s tempting to purchase every new kitchen gadget and appliance that catches your eye. But extra unused appliances waste valuable space. Only keep essentials you use regularly.

Too Many Dishes and Glasses

Oversized dish sets or a multitude of specialized glasses lead to overcrowding cabinets and difficulty finding items. Edit dish collections down to daily essentials.

Excess Food Storage Containers

It’s easy to accumulate a cabinet full of mismatched plastic containers in random sizes. Regularly purge old food containers and buy only what you really need. Matching modular sets save space.

Disorganized Kitchen Tools

When utensils, pots, gadgets, and tools are scattered about, they quickly clutter prime kitchen real estate. Assign them homes and return them there after use.

Junk Drawers and Odds & Ends

That chaotic drawer crammed with takeout menus, old batteries and random junk takes up useful space. Purge regularly and find homes for useful items like pens, tape, and scissors elsewhere.

FAQs: Organizing Your Kitchen

How do I start organizing my messy, cluttered kitchen?

Start small – don’t tackle everything at once. Focus on one area, like a cluttered drawer or cabinet. Remove everything, purge unused items, clean, then put back only what you need organized neatly. Check out Pinterest or YouTube for drawer/cabinet organizing tips. Repeat this zone by zone.

What are the best places to add storage in the kitchen?

Some top spots to add storage include mounting a rail above counters or islands for utensils/towels, adding a drawer organizer or shelf inside cabinets, hanging items on walls, and maximizing vertical space in pantries. Also look for wasted areas like gaps between counters and unused interior cabinet doors.

What are the best organizational systems for kitchen cabinets?

Some top organizational systems include storing by category (all mugs together), using dividers, employing roll-out trays or racks for items in back, installing pull-out baskets, and designating space for larger items on bottom shelves. Also utilize vertical space with risers and extra shelves. Labeling helps too!

How do I create an organized pantry?

Maximize vertical storage with extra shelves and stackable organizers to double space. Categorize shelves by type of food – snacks, breakfast items, grains, canned goods etc. Use clear bins or baskets to easily see items. Store bulk items and appliances up high, daily used items middle to low shelves. Purge food before expiration dates.

How can I add more kitchen storage on a budget?

Affordable options include dollar store drawer organizers, over the door racks or hanging wall-mounted utensil holders, tall cabinet risers, sink divider trays and cutting board organizers. Repurpose food crates or bottles as risers. Also check second-hand stores and online swap groups for cheap cabinets and carts to add storage.


A cluttered, disorganized kitchen with inadequate storage space can make cooking, meal prep, and even casual snacking feel like a struggle. But implementing some of the tips above can help transform even the tiniest kitchen into a highly functional and clutter-free space you enjoy spending time in. Start small, work zone by zone, and incorporate solutions that optimize your existing storage spots rather than just adding more stuff. With a little creativity and commitment to ongoing organization, you’ll find you have all the storage you need – with a good amount left over.