17 Smart Kitchen Storage Ideas You'll Want to Try ASAP

Stop (unknowingly!) wasting space and create a storage-packed kitchen with our clever solutions for your cabinets, drawers, island and pantry.

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February 22, 2021

As someone who lives in a smaller home, I know it's tempting to think that the solution to chronic kitchen clutter is a larger kitchen. But maybe it's not that you need more space, so much as that you need to use the space you have more efficiently. Scroll on to see how it's done, and get the most out of your kitchen.

Say Yes to Open Shelves

Open shelves and wire racks provide plenty of storage while keeping mugs, plates and more within arm's reach. If you want to create a bold visual contrast and have your supplies stand out, opt for wooden shelves in a darker finish. But if you want your items to fade into the background, go with white wire racks that match the walls.

Add Fun Spots for Kids

Keep the little ones busy while you prep dinner with hideaway kitchen storage for their art supplies. Roll-out shelves and plastic crates optimize the space at the end of this colorful island and ensure that the kiddos can access their crayons and paper.

Kitchen island with toy storage

Kitchen Toy Drawer

Photo courtesy of Mullet Cabinets, Inc.

Photo courtesy of Mullet Cabinets, Inc.

Customize Your Pantry

Your pantry is what you make of it. Make sure that you're putting every inch to work by adding an over-the-door rack for ingredients, a heavy-duty dispenser for soup cans and baskets for produce or your favorite snack products.

Think Vertically

Even if there isn't room for a walk-in pantry, you can still get the storage you need — by thinking vertically. An over-the-door rack can add functionality to an otherwise empty space, a cabinet shelf can hold twice as many dishes or boxes of pasta, and an expandable "tower" can make room for mugs or measuring spoons over your coffeemaker.

Convert a Shelf Into a Wine Rack

Curved cradles, like the acrylic one below, can turn an ordinary pantry shelf into a clever beverage storage center. We especially love how this unit ensures that your wine bottles stay properly stored on their sides while preventing them from rolling off the shelf.

Rethink Your Spice Situation

Storing spices in a drawer, rather than a wall-mounted rack, ensures that your seasonings are always handy for cooking. Plus, you'll preserve their delicate flavors by protecting them from sunlight, heat and moisture.

Take a Lazy Susan for a Spin

Put overlooked corners to work with a carousel-style rack that spins and helps you reach items in the back. You could use something like this for spices, condiments or even snacks.

Pair Your Produce With Baskets

Keep root vegetables, like onions and potatoes, fresh longer by storing them in a cool, dry, dark place. Handy open-weave and wire baskets, like these, provide air circulation to keep the veggies dry, while the cabinet's interior protects them from sunlight.

Separate Pots and Lids

Stop precariously stacking your cookware or squeezing it all together, and instead, separate your pots and lids with a two-tiered organizer like this. The unit features two distinct compartments: a tray on top for lids, potholders and trivets and a larger area for stockpots and other items.

Make False Drawers Functional

To really maximize the storage in your kitchen, put unused areas to work. Typically, the "drawer" in front of the kitchen sink is just a false front, but with the addition of cleverly hidden hinges and a stainless steel tray, it becomes out-of-sight storage for wet sponges and scrub brushes.

False front under-sink storage

Blue Kitchen Cabinets with Under-Sink Storage

Photo courtesy of Mullet Cabinets, Inc.

Photo courtesy of Mullet Cabinets, Inc.

Straighten Up Your Utensil Drawer

Make the most of your utensil drawer with dividers that hold the basics (read: forks, knives and spoons) and your go-to gadgets, like spatulas and tongs. Combining these items into one drawer will give you more space for pots and pans in another.

Stack Plates With a Peg System

A clever peg system, like the one below, will allow your dishes and pots to be placed in a base cabinet for easier access and organization. Sturdy slides under the drawer can support up to 250 pounds, so heavy plates are no problem.

Outfit Your Pantry With Baskets

Pull-out pantry racks are a smart place to store canned goods, dry goods, and fruits and vegetables, while still providing greater visibility and ease of access. "Your home and pantry should enhance your lifestyle, whether you are hosting friends or cooking dinner for the family," says Rozalia Kiss, design manager of transFORM.

Bring Items Below

Hideaway storage is key to keeping a kitchen looking well organized and clean. Over-the-door racks and slide-out drawers can help you get twice as much use out of your cupboards and free up your counters.

Put Your Island to Work

Large islands can become much-needed storage (or a special feature) in a pinch. Designer Jennifer Gilmer of Jennifer Gilmer Kitchens & Bath Ltd., included an under-counter beverage refrigerator, wine racks and even an extra prep sink to create an entertaining-ready island in this kitchen.

Kitchen island with wine storage

Traditional White Kitchen With Wine Storage and Pendants

Design by Sally Ross Designs and Kenzer Furniture; Photo by George Ross Photographs

Design by Sally Ross Designs and Kenzer Furniture; Photo by George Ross Photographs

Consider Location, Location, Location

Keep pots and pans within easy reach for cooking by storing them right below the range. To streamline the process (and prevent those precarious stacks we talked about), separate the lids from their containers and stash them in their own pullout drawer.

Splurge on a Double-Duty Solution

Vertical pullout racks, rolling carts and wall-mounted shelves with hooks are the perfect solutions for small kitchens since they take up minimal real estate while providing plenty of storage. If you need more prep space for cooking or serving, opt for the rolling cart, which has a flat top you can use for both.

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