How to Organise A Small Kitchen

So the deal is: we have a decent kitchen as far as finishes go, but it doesn’t have a whole lot of space. Out of the last four places we’ve lived, this one definitely has the smallest kitchen.

Kitchen Bar Area Loft
Loft Kitchen Stainless Steel Appliances

Actually, each kitchen we’ve lived with has been smaller than the last. It became a problem in our last loft, because we’d amassed so much stuff.

Decluttering & Organising

I donated some bits but listed most a lot of stuff on Craigslist – duplicates of things (there were four sets of measuring cups), pots missing lids, mismatched bowls, baking dishes we rarely used, a too-big-for-us slow cooker and our token wedding-gifted fondue set (still unopened seven years later). Some of it, I replaced – I swapped a bulky colander for a collapsible one, and traded mismatched chopping boards for a neater matching set. The goal was to pare down to exactly what we needed and nothing more.

Our food cupboards were a mess.

Messy food cupboard - before

Because we couldn’t see everything, things would expire, or they’d run out before I realised they needed replacing. I had another clear out, then bought a load of food storage containers, decanted and labelled everything.

Organised kitchen cabinet - after
Organised kitchen cabinet - after

I wanted narrow food storage containers that came in multiple sizes. They had to be airtight, dishwasher-safe and BPA free. I found some stackable canisters at the Container Store.

I used a basic label maker to write on them.  If I change the contents, I just peel off the label and write a new one. They stay put in the dishwasher too -score!

Food storage containers with labels

I also added labels to the bottom of each container with the expiry date.

Food storage labelled with expiry date

And, because you can never have too many labels, I also went to town on some of the higher shelves, because the cabinets are so tall that I can’t see what’s on them otherwise.

Labelled kitchen shelves

Of course, our spices are still neatly nestled in a drawer, just like they were in our old place.

Custom spice storage labelled jars

The system works – I first organized the cabinets and the spice drawer over a year ago, and it hasn’t descended back into chaos yet!

Tackling minimal counter space

The cupboards were only half the issue, though. The other problem was counter space, or the lack thereof. There’s limited space for food prep, but it’s nice to have a coffee/tea station sitting out most of the time. By coraling it all on a tray, we can just unplug the grinder and the kettle and move the whole tray out of the way.

Organised coffee station on tray

Bunging everything on a tray is my fave trick for making things look tidier too, so there’s another tray for dishwashing shiz. And I found a collapsible drying rack that sits in the sink or folds away when we don’t need it out. It’s dishwashable too – bonus.

Tidy kitchen with collapsible dish drying rack

If you’re stuck on cabinet space but you do have floor space to fit extra shelving, do it. Again, baskets or trays keep things looking neat, and none of it is cluttering the counters.

Use a bookcase to add extra kitchen storage

I stuck all the recipe books, small appliances, dog treats, kids art supplies and other random stuff in a bookcase in a little nook next to the kitchen.

The bookcase sits to the left, next to the balcony door, in the photo below:

A Place for Everything

A DIY chalkboard gives us a place to keep note of things we run out of.

DIY Chalkboard Frame

How to Organise a Small Kitchen

Here’s a little roundup of the things that I’ve found most useful in making our little kitchen really rather efficient…

Useful products for organising small kitchens

Collapsible Stuff:
Similar Drying Rack – Amazon // Similar Colander – Amazon // Pan Rack – Ikea // Cake Carrier – Amazon

Clear Containers:
Container with Dividers – Ikea // Canisters – The Container Store

Extra Shelving:
Parsons Bookcase – Home Decorators // Wire Shelving – The Container Store

Pretty Trays:
Sponge Holder // Ceramic Brownie Dish – Anthro // Turquoise Tray – West Elm



  1. August 20, 2013 / 12:42 pm

    That is one organized kitchen! I love your idea of putting expiration dates on the bottom of the containers. I need to get a label maker and try this out.

  2. August 26, 2013 / 9:28 pm

    i definitely need that bookcase! love the use of them in the kitchen

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