If you’re an apartment dweller in a metropolitan city, you likely understand the struggle of having a relatively small kitchen. Beyond the obvious lack of square footage, you may also be dealing with a limited amount of drawers or overcrowded cabinets. Regardless of why you’re curious about streamlining your kitchen, there are actionable steps you can take and products you can buy to help make your kitchen more functional. To help, we asked a home organizational expert to share her favorite organization hacks and shopping advice. We also rounded up highly-rated items and asked one expert to share her thoughts on a few of them.
SKIP AHEAD Top-rated small kitchen storage solutions
How to streamline a small kitchen
Learning how to maximize space in a small kitchen is the most common issue facing the clients of organization expert Rachel Rosenthal of Rachel and Company. Before you can transform your tiny kitchen into a Pinterest-worthy space, the first and “most important” step you can take is to declutter, she said. “The only way to get there is to make things a bit worse before they get better,” said Rosenthal, who helps her Washington, D.C.-based clients organize their apartments and condos.
Her approach to decluttering is relatively simple: Remove everything from your tiny kitchen, taking inventory of what you own and evaluating if each item should stay, be tossed or donated. But what exactly makes a product worth keeping? “It’s simple: If you don’t absolutely love it and don’t use it, let it go,” according to organizing expert Gilat Tunit of Project Neat, whom we previously interviewed.
Top-rated small kitchen essentials
We rounded up highly-rated organizational products and asked Rosenthal to share her feedback on each one. We also included a few other items aligned with expert guidance from our previous content on home organization. These selections include a mix of well-known and smaller brands available at Shopping reader-favorite stores.
Rosenthal called turntables "game changers" for organizing small spaces because "they allow you to easily access items without a ton of effort." YouCopia's turntable includes removable sections for storage flexibility, she noted. The brand's popular Crazy Susan boasts an impressive 4.8-star average rating from more than 6,500 reviews on Amazon.
Rosenthal is a self-proclaimed “fan” of clear bins like these because they help make organization “super easy.” She also noted they are “great” for grouping together like products and easily see what is stored inside the bins. The Container Store and popular organizational company The Home Edit collaborated on a collection of home storage solutions, including these clear plastic bins with handles. You can order them as a set of eight or individually exclusively at The Container Store. The Modular All-Purpose Bins earned a 4.9-star average rating from more than 10 reviews at The Container Store.
“Pot racks are not for everyone as they can visually clutter space but you have to work with what you have and utilizing hanging space can be a great way to maximize your storage,” said Rosenthal. She called Cuisinart’s design “clean” so if you’re looking for an attention-grabbing storage solution, “it won’t add as much visual interest to the space.” If you prefer a minimalistic look, you may appreciate this brushed stainless steel hanging rack that can store up to 12 pots and pans. It received a 4.6-star average rating from nearly 60 reviews at The Home Depot.
“This shelf is a great way to maximize your space and keep things close at hand,” said Rosenthal. She suggested putting spices in matching jars and adding oil to another larger jar for a more visually appealing look. Yamazaki’s steel spice rack includes a small non-slip rubber mat to help prevent your spices from moving around. This popular option earned a 4.9-star average rating from 2,410 reviews on Amazon.
Rosenthal isn’t usually a fan of pull-out organizers because you “lose some space on the sides where they connect.” However, she noted simplehuman’s organizer could be a “great option” if you have a “super deep cabinet and don’t want anything to get lost in the back.” The simplehuman Pull-Out Cabinet Organizer is pre-assembled and can support products that weigh up to 20 pounds. The brand also sells cabinet organizers in two other sizes: 9- and 14-inches.
Rosenthal “loves” OXO containers and noted she uses them in her clients’ homes “all the time” because “they work really well in most spaces, keep food fresh and the variety of sizes makes the set super functional.” You can store an array of dry foods, ranging from coffee beans to pasta, in these BPA-free and dishwasher-safe containers. The OXO set garnered a 4.6-star average rating from more than 230 reviews at Bed Bath & Beyond.
Rosenthal is “obsessed” with Stasher bags and said her family uses them in their home because they are a “wonderful alternative” to disposable baggies and take up “way less space.” Shopping contributor Zoe Malin previously called Stasher “the best eco-friendly bags for your kitchen” because they’re multipurpose — you can store food on the go, in the fridge and in the freezer. They’re also dishwasher-safe and you can utilize them for cooking sous vide.
In our guide to small apartment living, interior designer April Luca advised Shopping readers to invest in a universal pot lid. This dishwasher-safe lid is made from tempered glass and features a stainless steel trim. The brand suggests using it with pots that have diameters of 20-, 22.5-, 25-, 28- and 30.5-centimeters. Invitations by Table Top Universal Pot Cover received a 4.4-star average rating from more than 260 reviews at Bed Bath & Beyond.
To maximize small spaces, it's essential to "think vertically" and use hooks and magnets on your walls for additional storage, Etsy trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson recently suggested in our small spaces guide. Johnson, who is also a judge on NBC’s craft competition show “Making It,” is a fan of mounted magnetic knife holders. You can store your handy chef knife, whisk and vegetable peeler on the 16-inch-wide Modern Innovations Knife Bar. It received an impressive 4.7-star average rating from more than 18,970 reviews on Amazon.
Foodies can take a cue from noted chef Julia Child and recreate her infamous pegboard backsplash for more wall storage, Johnson previously suggested. She noted a pegboard wall is her favorite tiny kitchen storage hack and recommended painting them to match the wall. “It gives you so much opportunity to hook things like your textiles and aprons,” she recently said. If you don’t want to deal with messy paint, you might be interested in Wall Control which makes highly-rated steel pegboards in 10 colors, like attention-grabbing Red and Blue. If you prefer more neutral hues, consider Galvanized, White and Beige. The brand also sells pegboard sets with Black hooks or Silver accessories. The Pegboard Pack earned a 4.8-star average rating from nearly 10,190 reviews on Amazon.