Top 10 Tips for Decluttering and Organizing a Small Kitchen

As a home decor expert born and raised in Austin, I’ve designed my fair share of stunning, efficient kitchens. However, only some have the budget or space for expansive marble countertops and commercial-grade appliances. The good news? You don’t need high-end finishes or walk-in pantries to create an organized, clutter-free, functional, and fabulous kitchen.

Take it from me – a few strategic tweaks can transform even the tiniest kitchens. From savvy storage solutions to decluttering must-dos, implementing these tips will help you maximize your available space. Ready to bid chaos adieu in your compact culinary corner? Let’s dive in!

Why Decluttering Matters

I won’t sugarcoat it; small kitchens hold unique organizational challenges. Limited counters and cabinets make clutter build-up almost inevitable, leading to crowded, stressful spaces that ruin the cooking experience. Trust me, I’ve been there!

Before and After Kitchen Declutter

But decluttering a petite kitchen is about way more than just aesthetics. Studies confirm that clutter directly impacts mental health by elevating stress, anxiety, and depression. It also reduces productivity by making tasks like cooking take longer.

The solution? A regular decluttering routine focused on efficiency over perfection. Maintaining an organized space clears both physical and mental space to cook confidently. Plus, a tidy kitchen appears cleaner, more significant, and infinitely more welcoming – even small changes create an outsized visual impact.

Envision Your Dream Kitchen

The first step in any organizational endeavor is identifying your ideal outcome. Gather inspiration from magazines or Pinterest, then think critically about your needs and lifestyle. Consider these questions:

  • What do I use my kitchen for most? Meal prep? Homework? Entertaining?
  • What’s my decorating style? Modern farmhouse? Traditional Texan?
  • What organizational systems best suit my cooking style? Do I meal prep weekly? Or cook dinner every night?
  • How can I maximize my current storage with the family I have? More shelves? Drawer dividers?
Clear Counters with Minimal Appliances

A clear vision keeps your efforts targeted and prevents you from feeling overwhelmed. To ensure everyone’s needs are incorporated, include the whole family in the brainstorming process.

Empty Everything Out

This initially sounds counterproductive. But Editing 101 is you can only know what to toss once you see what you own. Clearing cabinets, drawers, and pantries, then sorting and evaluating, reveals problem zones and brings organizational issues to light.

Follow these steps for a smooth start:

1. Choose Your Battle

To avoid fatigue, select one area, like a cabinet or drawer, to begin. Resist doing everything at once.

2. Take Everything Out

Yes, everything – appliances, cookware, food items, tools, you name it.

3. Sort into Categories

Group like items together as you empty, i.e., baking pans, spices, and plastic containers.

Drawer Dividers in Use

4 . Create, Keep, Toss, and Donate Stacks

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Be ruthless here! As you sort, pick favorites for keeping and eliminate expired or unnecessary items.

My guiding principles for deciding what cuts are frequency of use, condition, expiration dates, and functionality. If you last touched it a year ago, toss or donate it. Repeat until every cabinet, drawer, and shelf is empty, then put back only the keepers.

Organize By Category and Zone

Categorizing possessions takes on new import in small kitchens. Always keep kitchen zones based on room function in mind:

Cooking Zone: Stove, oven, microwave, fridge

Cleaning Zone: Sink, dishwasher, compost, trash

Storage Zone: Cabinets, drawers, shelves

Eating Zone: Table, stools, food prep area

When organizing items, consider how often you use them. Frequently used tools like go-to pans or most-reached-for spices deserve prime real estate in easy-access areas—Reserve high or hard-to-reach cabinets for occasional-use gadgets or ritual holiday dishes.

Stackable Storage Bins inside a Cabinet

Assigning a “home” for everything streamlines cooking and reduces rummaging through overstuffed drawers. Place everyday items in convenient spots and reserve less fortunate spots for tools of particular use.

Maximize Vertical Storage

In compact kitchens, overlooked vertical storage is prime organizational real estate. Take advantage of oft-ignored vertical space with these solutions:

Inside Cabinet Doors: Install removable metal strips to hang utensils or pots. Door-mounted racks double your storage capacity.

Wall Space: Mounted shelving, hanging racks, and pegboards keep items visible and within arm’s reach.

Hanging Baskets: Attach baskets to walls or ceilings for fruit and veggie storage. For heavy items like pans, ensure hooks are weight-appropriate.

Spice Racks: Vertical-mounted racks keep spices visible and eliminate drawer rummaging. For extra flair, mount shallow shelving and arrange jarred spices by color.

Wall Mounted Spice Rack 1

Pot Racks: Hanging racks elevate bulky pots and free up precious cabinet space. For safety, mount directly into studs.

Little touches like vertically staggered floating shelves or custom-mounted knife strips make small spaces shine. The organizational possibilities are endless!

Use Drawer Dividers

Extraordinarily narrow or deep drawers quickly become disorganized catchalls. Adjustable dividers optimize fidgety compartments and prevent jumbled messes. Consider your storage needs: Knives and utensils need individualized slots, while pans may do fine with basic segmentation.

When choosing organizers, look for non-slip surfaces to keep contents in place and removable segments to enable customization. Clear acrylic organizers enable easy item identification without opening for quick visual inventorying.

Pro tip: Buy a few adjustable options, then play around with setups until you find configurations that match your cooking style. Adding dividers also makes cleaning simple – remove and wash.

Under Sink Pull Out Organizer

Seek Out Multipurpose Items

In cramped kitchens, multipurpose tools pull double duty. Combining appliances conserves priceless counter and cabinet real estate. Consider these efficacious inventions:

Stand Mixer Attachments

With attachments like meat grinders and pasta makers, stand mixers evolve into food processors or electric knives.

Toaster Ovens

Toaster ovens bake, broil, and toast, eliminating the need for multiple appliances.

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Instant Pots

These electric pressure cookers slow cook, sear, steam, sauté, and more, replacing piles of single-use gadgets.

Immersion Blenders

Compact immersion blenders puree, crush, emulsify, and whip, standing in for heavy-duty blenders and food processors.

Open Shelving Styled with Kitchen Essentials

Whenever possible, seek out appliances doing double or triple duty. Bonus if they offer compact storage options like cord wraps or locking lids.

Style Open Shelving

Despite cabinet shortage woes, small kitchens can effectively utilize open shelving. The trick? Thoughtful styling to prevent clutter creation.

First, choose shelves sized appropriately for the space. Then, corral loose items into baskets matching your decor style. Woven bins offer breezy contrast in modern spaces, while vintage crates fit flawlessly into shabby chic nooks.

Use shelf height variety to add visual interest and store items thoughtfully. Place frequently accessed ingredients or cooking tools on middle shelves for ergonomic storage—style upper shelves with pretty dishware for an eclectic focal point.

Finish the look with personal touches like succulents or colored glassware. The result? An organized, curated appearance perfect for small spaces.

Keep Countertops Clutter-Free

As a designer and avid home cook, keeping counters clear is my hill to die on. Messy counters make small kitchens feel exponentially smaller and disorganized. Stop flat surface clutter before it starts with these preventative measures:

A magnetic knife strip on a kitchen wall

1. Purge Non-Essentials

If it isn’t used daily, it shouldn’t perch permanently. Find new “homes” for stray mail, pet supplies, and charging cords.

2. Assign Homes for Must-Stays

Designate permanent spots for absolute necessities like knife blocks and drying racks. To free counter space, use wall-mounted rail systems or specialized caddies.

3. Use Vertical Storage

Install extra shelving above counters for appliance storage. Use vertical space for everything from utensil crocks to paper towel holders.

4. Clean Daily

Quick daily wipe-downs keep grease and grime from accumulating long-term.

I recommend only keeping these few items permanently countryside:

  • Knife Block
  • Drying Rack
  • Fruit Basket
  • Kitchen Towels
  • Soap Dispenser
Hanging Pots and Pans Rack

Maintain the Magic

Maintaining an organized space is infinitely easier than tackling a chaos-ridden war zone. By decluttering and organizing just once, you build the foundation for long-term tidy kitchen success through simple daily and weekly habits.


  • Wash used dishes immediately
  • Sweep floors
  • Put away dry ingredients


  • Wipe down cabinets
  • Clean fridge by tossing expired items
  • Reorganize drawers and cabinets as needed

Staying on top of surfaces and putting items back promptly prevents accumulation and keeps your thoughtfully optimized space working for you long after the initial organizational sprint.

Personalize the Space

As a Texan to my bootstraps, I firmly believe the allure of any space lies in telling a story. Feel free to infuse organizational essentials with personal touches conveying your tale.

Customized Pantry with Labeled Containers

Display travel mementos and favorite cookbooks, or arrange a gallery wall showcasing cherished memories. Choose appliances matching your tastes, from retro stand mixers to color-coordinated color-coordinated knife sets.

Beyond visual appeal, personalizing cultivates deep affection for your thoughtfully curated oasis. Maintaining tidiness will motivate you to showcase treasured touches. It’s a win-win!

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When conceiving your one-of-a-kind space, consider:

  • What hobbies or interests could I highlight?
  • How can I share meaningful memories or beloved collections?
  • What favorite colors or textures make me feel at home?


Do you still have questions? Here, I answer some frequently asked queries about organizing small kitchens:

What if I have almost no cabinets at all?

  • Focus on vertical storage solutions like wall-mounted racks and shelving to gain space.
  • Repurpose unconventional spaces like inside cabinets or above refrigerators for storage.
  • Use lidded storage baskets to neatly corral items. These can be stacked, labeled, and moved as needed.

Can I use open shelving if space is limited?

  • Yes! The key is thoughtfully curating displayed items so shelves stay clear.
  • Use baskets to corral small items—style shelves with intention – group-like items and varying heights for visual interest.
  • If cleaning visible shelves seems daunting, you could opt for a few glass-front upper cabinets for a similar vibe.

How often should I redo my organization system?

  • Optimally, set aside time to reorganize every 3-6 months.
  • After any lifestyle change or remodel warrants reassessment, new family members or appliances call for updated storage considerations!
  • If your kitchen ever feels chaotic and messy, that’s also a sign it’s time to reorganize.

How do I store cumbersome appliances?

  • Install shallow shelves above counters or inside cabinets to house appliances when not in use.
  • Purchase or build rolling carts, which are movable storage for small appliances.
  • Mount wall racks specifically designed to store bulky appliances in vertical space.

Will organizing make me enjoy cooking more?

Absolutely! Studies show clean kitchens inspire us to cook more frequently and try new recipes. Beyond health perks, an organized space also allows for calmer, quicker cooking by reducing time wasted searching for tools. The benefits are numerous – less stress, easier meal prep, healthier eating habits. I find nothing more satisfying than whipping culinary masterpieces in my tidy, efficient kitchen!

Transform Your Tiny Kitchen

As you embark on your organizational odyssey, focus on progress over perfection. Completely overhauling a kitchen often proves overwhelming and unrealistic. Instead, tackle spaces one by one, celebrating small victories.

Open shelves in a kitchen

With strategic reorganizing, creative storage solutions, and inspiration from spaces you love, your modest kitchen can become a personalized sanctuary. No massive remodel is required!

A thoughtfully organized kitchen isn’t defined by glossy finishes or square footage. It’s the mindful merging of function and style explicitly tailored to you – your habits, preferences, and dreams.

Those special touches and intelligent solutions that make cooking more accessible and your space more livable make a house a home. Happy organizing!