Where to store pots and pans in a small kitchen – simple storage solutions for awkward utensils


Having a small kitchen can be challenging when it comes to finding enough space to store all your pots, pans and other cooking utensils. With some clever storage solutions and organization hacks, you can maximize every inch of space and keep your pots, pans and other awkward cooking tools neatly tucked away, yet easy to access when you need them.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore some of the best and most creative ways to store pots, pans and utensils in a small kitchen. From pot racks and pan organizers to drawer dividers and hanging rails, there are plenty of options to consider that can help declutter your space and make your small kitchen more functional.

Use Wall-Mounted Pot Racks for Visible Storage

One great way to free up some precious counter space or cabinet room in a small kitchen is to utilize the vertical wall space. Wall-mounted pot racks or pan racks allow you to store your larger pots, pans and lids in full view for easy access when cooking. Look for racks with multiple hooks and shelves so you can hang pans of different sizes. Opt for a rack with a simple, open design so your pots and pans can be easily grabbed when needed.

Position a pot rack on a wall close to your main prep and cook space for efficiency. Mount it just above your cooktop or on an adjacent wall that is easily accessible while you are cooking. The visible storage will also add some stylish kitchen flair. For awkward lid storage, you can find pot racks with specialized bars or ledges for holding round lids upright.

Optimize Cabinet Space with Pan Organizers

The cabinets in a small kitchen may fill up fast, especially with bulky pots and pans hogging up space. Specialized pan organizers can help you neatly arrange pots, pans and lids while maximizing every inch of your cabinet real estate.

Vertical pan organizers attach inside cabinet doors and allow you to store pans and lids upright rather than stacked. This saves on cabinet depth and provides visible storage so you can easily grab what you need.

For the cabinet floor space, use stacking racks or tiered shelves to neatly organize pots and pans. Some come with non-slip padding to prevent scratches and keep stacks secure. You can find customizable inserts with adjustable dividers too.

Also consider pot and pan racks that can be suspended from the underside of cabinet shelves to utilize all vertical space. Hang them using hooks, allowing pans to slide in and out while keeping the cabinet floor clear.

Get Creative with Unused Spaces

Don’t overlook unused nooks and crannies in your small kitchen—they provide prime storage potential! Here are some clever ways to stash pots and pans in otherwise neglected spots:

  • Install slide-out vertical racks in narrow gaps between cabinets or appliances. Great for cookie sheets, cutting boards and baking pans.
  • Use adhesive hooks inside low cabinet doors to hang pans from the doors.
  • Attach a tension rod across the back wall inside cabinets to hang pans from.
  • Use racks or hooks to hang pans from the walls inside open shelving units.
  • Mount a pot rack from the ceiling above your island or peninsula. Hang pans just above the surface.
  • Stash small pans and lids in wall-mounted spice racks or floating shelves.

Keep Drawers Organized with Dividers

Kitchen drawers often turn into black holes where pots, pans and utensils disappear into a jumbled mess. Prevent this with drawer organizers and dividers.

Cutlery dividers are ideal for organizing cooking spoons, spatulas, whisks and other utensils. Look for expandable options with adjustable compartments so you can customize the configuration.

For awkward or bulky utensils like pizza cutters, meat tenderizers or large serving spoons, use individual divided trays to keep these tools neatly contained.

Shallow pans like cookie sheets and cutting boards can be stored upright in divided drawers inserts. The compartments hold them neatly in place and make good use of vertical space.

Non-slip drawer liners are also useful for keeping pots, pans and utensils from shifting around in the drawers.

Install Hanging Rails for Cookware Storage

Hanging rails provide an organized storage method for your most-used pots, pans or utensils to keep them right at your fingertips while cooking. Mount a hanging rail just below your wall-mounted cabinets or shelving to take advantage of that space.

Opt for an adjustable double-hanging rail so you can customize the height for different size pans. Or choose a rail system with S-hooks that allow you to easily rearrange pots and pans as needed.

Hanging rails help maximize storage efficiency—you can hang pans vertically and keep the cabinet floors or countertops clear. For quick access to essential pans while cooking, install a hanging rail right next to your stove.

Store Lid and Bakeware On End

Lids, baking sheets, cutting boards and other flat items can be stored on their side rather than flat to save space. Here are some tips:

  • Use vertical holders mounted inside cabinets to store round lids of different sizes.
  • Place a vertical divider inside a drawer to neatly store cookie sheets and other baking pans on end.
  • Lean cutting boards against the wall inside low cabinets supported by a towel bar or holder.
  • Slide very large lids vertically into the gap between the fridge and cabinets.
  • Use wall-mounted ironing board holders to store large cutting boards and bakings sheets on end.

Opt for Multipurpose Storage Furniture

When space is tight, choose storage furniture and organizers that can serve multiple purposes. Some ideas:

  • A baker’s rack can provide a spot to store frequently used pans and utensils while saving counter space. Bonus: the open shelves are great for displaying pretty cookware.
  • An adjustable wall-mounted pot rack can double as a drying rack for hand washed pots and pans.
  • Shelving units with a mix of open and closed storage are useful for tucking away small appliances while providing open shelves to neatly store pans.
  • A rolling utility cart becomes extra storage for pots and pans. When cooking, you can roll it right next to your work area.
  • Sturdy wall-mounted shelving over the stove provides storage for oils, spices and small pans while acting as an attractive focal point.

Use Lid Organizers for Easy Access

Pots and pans are easy to stack, but their lids can be cumbersome to store. Specialty lid organizers help keep lids tidy and accessible. Here are some options:

  • Hanging lid racks mount inside cabinets and allow you to see lids at a glance. Great for pans you use frequently.
  • Spinning lid organizers sit on counters or in cabinets. Give them a turn to easily find the right size.
  • Sliding cabinet lid racks utilize vertical space and prevent avalanches when pulling out stacked lids.
  • Magnetic strips adhere inside cabinets so you can store lids by hanging them along the strip. Keeps them visible and prevents stacking.

Store Lesser-Used Items Elsewhere

Be strategic about what cookware gets prime real estate in your small kitchen. Reserve the most accessible spots—like pot racks or hanging rails—for your everyday pans and most used utensils.

Then, stash lesser used pots, bakeware and extra kitchen tools in alternative storage spots just outside the kitchen, like:

  • Coat closets or entryway storage benches
  • Bedroom closets
  • Laundry room shelves
  • Mudroom lockers
  • Basement storage rooms
  • Storage chests in spare bedrooms or living spaces

This frees up room for essential everyday items in your small kitchen.

Consider Alternative Cookware Storage Methods

Sometimes, thinking outside of cabinets and drawers is needed to find enough room for all your pots and pans. Here are some creative cookware storage solutions:

  • Utilize vertical space by mounting pegboard on a wall or inside a cabinet. Hang pots, pans and utensils from pegboard hooks.
  • Install wire storage racks mounted to the ceiling or walls. Great for stockpots, colanders and other large items.
  • Use an over-the-door storage rack to hang pans and utensils, freeing up cabinet space.
  • Store pans and lids in a freestanding hutch, armoire or storage cabinet placed in an adjacent space like the dining room.
  • For extra storage, mount shallow shelving high up on walls to display pretty pans like a piece of art.

best placements for storing pots & pans

When trying to maximize storage efficiency in a small kitchen, the location and placement of your pots, pans and lids can make a difference. Here are some of the best spots to store your cookware:

Near the Cooktop

The most convenient place to keep your essential pots and pans is right next to the stove where you use them. Mount pot racks or hanging rails along the wall behind or beside the cooktop. Install shelves above the cooktop for easy access when cooking.

In Corner Cabinets

Take advantage of hard-to-reach corner cabinets by installing vertical organizers or lazy susans to neatly arrange pots and pan stacks. The vertical storage allows you to see everything at a glance.

In Base Cabinets Near Sink

Reserve base cabinets closest to the sink for pots and pans storage. The proximity allows you to easily wash cookware after use and put them away while you tidy up. Use organizers to maximize the space.

On Countertop Rack

A countertop pan rack is perfect for storing those 1-2 pans you use daily. Keep them right on your prep surface for cooking convenience. For others, use hooks underneath upper cabinets.

Inside Cabinet Doors

Use vertical racks and hangers mounted to the inside of cabinet doors to take advantage of this often wasted space. It’s perfect for bulky pans and lids.

On Open Shelving

Open shelving units are great for small kitchens. Arrange your prettiest pots and pans on the shelves for a stylish accent. Use hooks underneath to hang utensils.

solutions for awkward shaped cookware

In addition to traditional pots and pans, kitchens often contain some awkwardly shaped cooking tools like pizza pans, baking sheets, colanders, steamers and more. Their unique shapes means they don’t neatly stack with other round or oval cookware. Here are some clever tips for organizing these odd-shaped pieces:

  • Store cookie sheets vertically in divided cabinet inserts, drawer organizers or countertop racks.
  • Hang colanders from hooks inside cabinets or pot racks. The holes allow them to hang freely.
  • Use an over-the-cabinet paper towel holder to store cutting boards vertically.
  • Arrange pizza pans, baking sheets and cooling racks upright in racks mounted inside cabinet doors.
  • Slide very large, flat items like pizza pans vertically into narrow gaps between cabinets or appliances.
  • Use adhesive hooks on cabinet walls or doors to hang flat bakeware pieces of different sizes.
  • Let large, flat pans and lids lean vertically against the wall in a low, open cabinet or shelving unit.
  • Store steamer baskets, wire cooling racks and splatter screens upright in sections of drawer organizers.

solutions for lid storage troubles

Lids present a storage challenge because they rarely stack neatly and take up precious cabinet real estate. Here are tips for creatively storing pot and pan lids:

  • Use lid racks mounted inside cabinets to stand lids upright so you can easily grab the right size.
  • Adhere magnet bars inside cabinets and place magnetic lids flat against the bar.
  • Attach lid racks to the underside of wall cabinets to hang lids just below the cabinet.
  • Hook lid racks onto the bottom of upper shelves to utilize that vertical space.
  • Use wall hooks, cup hooks or adhesive hooks to hang lids along a wall, door or side of a shelf.
  • Store a set of matching lids together in a lid organizer box that handles awkward shapes.
  • Place small lids in a slotted utensil organizer or mount them on the wall with floating shelves.
  • For oversized lids, lean them vertically against the side wall or fasten them to the wall with storage clips.

solutions for small kitchen utensils

In addition to cookware storage, finding space for all the small but essential cooking utensils can be tricky in a cramped kitchen. Here are some effective ways to organize cooking spoons, spatulas, whisks and more:

  • Use drawer organizers with divided compartments to neatly arrange utensils. Customize the configuration to fit different tool sizes.
  • Mount a wall-mounted utensil holder or crock near your prep area to keep essentials at your fingertips.
  • Store utensils in countertop crocks, canisters or upright utensil holders to keep prep space clutter free.
  • Use magnetic strips inside drawers or cabinets to hold metal utensils in place.
  • Attach small baskets, rails or mesh racks inside cabinet doors to hold utensils.
  • Mount pegboard inside a cabinet and use hooks to hang utensils. Makes them visible so they don’t get buried.
  • Use a segmented cutlery tray to separate tools into organized compartments.
  • Store lesser used tools like meat tenderizers and apple corers in a drawer organizer box to contain them.

solutions for awkward gaps & tight corners

Take advantage of awkward gaps and tight corners in your kitchen layout—they provide prime real estate for tucking away pots, pans or utensils. Here’s how to make use of those unconventional spaces:

  • Install slide-out trays, racks or vertical holders in narrow gaps between cabinets or appliances. They’re perfect for cookie sheets, cutting boards and other flat items.
  • Attach corner racks or vertical holders to utilize tight corner spaces inside cabinets. Great for pans and lids.
  • Use L-shaped organizers to fit into tight right-angled corners in your cabinets. They nicely hold bulky pans.
  • In deep but narrow drawers, install tiered dividers to double your storage capacity. Great for utensil storage.
  • Attach tension rods across the inside of sink base cabinets to hang pans from. Keeps them off the floor yet visible.
  • Fasten shallow, wall-mounted racks to the space between your cabinets and ceiling to hold lids—wasted space otherwise.

solutions for small cabinet storage

Having cabinets with a very small footprint can further limit your cookware storage capability. But with some clever solutions, you can make even tiny cabinets accommodate pans:

  • Use vertical pan organizers like wall-mounted racks or freestanding racks placed on the cabinet floor.
  • Install pull-out vertical racks on cabinet walls to hold pans upright. Maximizes limited depth.
  • Opt for cabinets with “roll-out” trays or shelves that fully extend for easy access.
  • Take advantage of unused vertical space with racks mounted to cabinet doors or undersides of shelves.
  • Use hanging racks, tension rods or adhesive hooks inside cabinets to hang pans from walls or doors.
  • Stack smaller pans inside each other to save on cabinet footprint. Use non-slip liners to secure them.
  • Store lids and flat pans vertically against the side wall in a floor-to-ceiling configuration.
  • For very shallow cabinets, consider removing the cabinet doors all together for open storage.

solutions for awkward cabinet layouts

Cabinets with awkward configurations or poor accessibility make storing pots and pans a struggle. But with some adjustments, you can overcome the challenges of a poorly laid out small kitchen:

  • For hard-to-access corner cabinets, install spinning “lazy susan” turntables or diagonal corner racks so nothing gets buried.
  • Replace regular shelves with pull-out shelves to improve access to back corners of base cabinets.
  • Use vertical space with racks mounted inside cabinet doors to compensate for shallow base cabinets.
  • Remove upper cabinets and replace with open shelves to improve visibility and access for bulky cookware.
  • Consider removing cabinet doors and shelves altogether to allow for improvised pan storage using hooks, racks, etc.
  • Pull the refrigerator out from the wall and install vertical pan storage in the gap.
  • Where cabinets meet at awkward angles, use specialty angled organizers to maximize the dead space.
  • For excessively tall cabinets, add extra shelving or racks closer to counter height for easier access.

Displaying cookware attractively

Even in a tiny kitchen, you can find ways to attractively display your favorite pots, pans and kitchen tools to enhance the look of the space. Consider these tips:

  • Arrange gleaming copper pots or colorful enameled cast iron on open shelves or in glass-front cabinets.
  • Mount shallow floating shelves high up on walls to creatively display pans as art.
  • Keep pretty ceramic cookware like ramekins and bowls in wall-mounted glass-door display cabinets.
  • Hang shiny pans from the ceiling above islands or peninsulas to reflect light.
  • Use S-hooks and hanging rails to artfully display frequently used pans and utensils right in the kitchen.
  • Opt for cookware racks with stainless or chrome finishes to complement modern kitchens.
  • Display vibrant vintage pans on baker’s racks, utility carts or dining hutch shelves.
  • Store stoneware, casseroles and teapots decoratively in a vintage Welsh dresser fitted with glass doors.
  • Arrange matching pans symmetrically on shelves or in cabinets for a cleaner look. Group lids together.
  • Choose sections of open shelving to break up monotonous cabinetry. Show off your pan collection.

Enhance accessibility for the mobility impaired

Those with mobility limitations benefit from easy-access cookware storage. Make life simpler for elderly family members or those with disabilities using these tips:

  • Store commonly used pans in easy-reach wall cabinets just 15″-48″ off the floor. Avoid high mounted or hard-to-access spots.
  • Opt for open shelving units with fully visible cookware storage at accessible heights.
  • Use D-shaped cabinet pulls that are easy to grasp vs. recessed handles that are tough to grip.
  • Install roll-out trays, racks and pull-out shelves in base cabinets for better access when cooking from a seated position.
  • Buy cook