5 Clever Ways to Maximize Counter Space in Small Kitchens

As a home decor expert based in Austin, I’ve worked on countless kitchen makeovers. And if there’s one universal complaint I hear from clients, it’s “I wish I just had more counter space!”

I get the frustration. It’s easier to cook and bake to your heart’s content when you have room to roll out pie dough or chop vegetables. But maximizing counter space in a small kitchen isn’t impossible—it just takes some strategic planning and clever solutions.

In this post, I’ll share my top five tips for freeing up precious counter real estate. Whether you want to fit a fresh bouquet on your countertop or have space for a new stand mixer, these ideas will help transform your kitchen. From utilizing vertical storage to investing in space-saving appliances, please keep reading to learn my best small kitchen organization hacks!

Utilize Walls and Cabinets with Clever Storage Solutions

The first step to counter space bliss? Take advantage of vertical real estate! You likely have plenty of unused walls and cabinet space for getting items off your counters. Here are some of my favorite ways to capitalize on these hidden storage opportunities:

Floating Shelves for Spices and Cookbooks

Install Floating Shelves for Display and Storage

Floating shelves are a flexible and stylish storage solution perfect for small kitchens. Use them to store spices, cookbooks, decorative accents, plants, and anything else crowding your countertops. Wear a sleek metal utility or rustic wood shelf to match your kitchen’s aesthetic. Just ensure shelves are securely mounted and can support the weight of whatever you intend to display.

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Pro Tip: Stick to open shelving near prep areas for easy cooking access. Reserve enclosed cabinets for lesser-used items.

Mount a Magnetic Knife Strip

Magnetic knife strips attach to walls or cabinets to corral knives and other metal kitchen tools like spatulas, whisks, and tongs. They instantly declutter drawers while keeping essentials easily accessible as you cook. Plus, they look super sleek and modern! Choose strips sized appropriately for the number of knives you own, allowing for a little future growth. Install them far away from stovetops and out of reach of young children for safety.

Hang Pots and Pans Overhead

An overhead pot rack or pan hanger frees up precious cabinet space while enabling you to view everything you own at a glance. Racks mounted on the ceiling or wall also put pots within reach as you cook. When choosing racks, ensure they’re made of sturdy materials like stainless steel or solid wood and rated to handle the cumulative weight of your cookware. Also, measure carefully so pots fit and keep the space manageable.

magnetic knife strip mounted on a wall

Pro Tip: Incorporate S-hooks to hang utensils and free up more drawer space!

Invest in Multifunctional Appliances to Consolidate Functions

Another space-saving strategy? Seek out appliances that multitask! Combining several appliances into one helps limit countertop clutter. Here are two of my favorites:

Rely On Your Multi-Cooker

Programmable multi-cookers like the Instant Pot replace single-use appliances like rice cookers, steamers, and slow cookers. This kitchen hero can pressure cook, steam vegetables, simmer soup, and more—all in one pot! When shopping for a multi-cooker, consider your cooking habits and choose one with the functions you’ll use most. Select a model with air fry and sauté capabilities for even more versatility.

Choose a Toaster Oven With an Air Fryer

Toaster ovens with air fryers give you a compact, two-in-one countertop cooking machine perfect for small kitchens. It can toast, broil, bake, and roast just like a full-sized oven, plus it lets you air fry healthier versions of fried foods with little to no oil. When shopping, pick an oven with enough interior capacity to accommodate 9″ x 13″ pans or a 12-inch pizza to use for batch cooking or cooking for a crowd.

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Overhead Pots and Pans Rack

Maximize Vertical Storage Inside Cabinets

You likely have unused vertical real estate behind those cabinet doors, too. These organizational systems make the most of available height for seriously streamlined storage.

Use Interior Cabinet Door Storage

Take advantage of the space on the insides of cabinet doors by adding storage racks, shelves, and holders. Great options include:

  • Over-the-door spice racks.
  • Vertical utensil holders.
  • Towel bars.
  • Shelves for oils and condiments.

Install them at eye level for convenience and easy access. Just leave enough clearance so doors can still open and close.

Pro Tip: Removable adhesive hooks hang coffee mugs from upper cabinets without damaging doors.

Toaster Oven with Air Fryer Function

Install Pull-Out Cabinet Shelving

Convert awkward, hard-to-reach cabinet space into accessible storage with pull-out shelves. Mount them under sinks, in corner cabinets, or other narrow spaces to effectively organize lesser-used items like baking pans and cleaning products. Look for shelves sized appropriately for the cabinet’s dimensions and weight-rated for what you intend to store.

Save Surface Area with Retractable and Foldable Storage

Making the most of your limited counter space also means choosing savvy storage solutions that collapse, fold up, or tuck away from sight. These options give you more room when you need it without permanency:

Keep a Retractable Spice Rack Within Reach

Retractable spice racks conveniently swing out from cabinets to keep spices and condiments accessible as you cook. They fold back up out of the way after dining for clear counters. Select sturdy racks sized to fit your cabinetry to keep spices organized and easily visible. Customize racks with interchangeable jars to store oils, vinegar, and other cooking staples.

Interior Cabinet Door with Storage Racks

Use a Foldable Prep Station

Foldable prep stations give extra chopping, drying, and organization space when needed. Choose one with a built-in colander and ample surface area. When meal prep is finished, fold it up and stow it out of sight. Try using one near or over the sink for easy cleanup, too. There are even wheeled cart designs that tuck under existing counters and provide storage and hidden counter space in one.

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Embrace Minimalism

Even with all these storage solutions implemented, resisting clutter is an ongoing battle. Make it easier on yourself by embracing a minimalist mindset and making every item earn its spot. Keep the kitchen tools and gadgets you regularly use to limit accumulation over time.

Follow the tips below to cut through the clutter and maintain tidy counters:

Regularly Clear Countertop Clutter

Prevent mess from taking over by putting items away after each use. Maintain clear counters by returning appliances to storage, placing food in the pantry, and dealing with mail and paperwork immediately. Treat this as a daily habit to stop clutter before it starts, even if it’s just a quick 5-minute reset.

Organize with Coordinating Canisters and Bins

Use a system of matching canisters, bins, and baskets to corral cooking staples, gadgets, and other necessities neatly—group like items together for a cohesive look. Label everything clearly so other household members stay organized, too. Having a place for everything makes it easier to always put things back in their proper home.

Pull Out Cabinet Shelving

Pro Tip: Store lesser-used items like seasonal bakeware in lidded bins on high shelves or low cabinets.

Final Thoughts on Maximizing Small Kitchen Storage

While a spacious luxury kitchen would be nice, creativity and intelligent storage can work wonders even in modest spaces. Applying a few organizational hacks can make your small kitchen infinitely more livable and beautiful.

The key is taking advantage of every square inch vertically and through multifunctional solutions. Focus on keeping frequently used items easily accessible while finding innovative ways to stash the rest. A little strategic planning goes a long way toward maximizing storage and maintaining usable counter space.

What small kitchen organization tricks do you swear by? Share your best tips and ideas in the comments below! I love hearing directly from readers.