Organization in a small kitchen

Organizing Solutions...

We live in a good-sized home...but the kitchen is cramped. There is very little counter space, it's a weird layout and there are only 2 1/2 small drawers to store all the necessary items that need to go in those drawers! Sigh...

I like to cook...therefore I have a lot of spatulas and whisks and wooden spoons and other important cooking tools. Then there are the sharp implements (knives, chopping blade, grapefruit tool...the things you want to keep separate for safety's sake). What about utensils? Not just everyday knives, spoons and forks but serving utensils, dessert forks and the like. And all those little doodads that you need to have handy in a kitchen (twist ties or bag clips, lighter, bottle openers, melon baller, baking cups and goes on and on). Oven mitts and dishtowels have to have a place as well...

What's a girl to do??

My previous kitchen had 8 full-sized drawers, so I've had to do a lot of downsizing and creative reorganizing to fit all my necessary tools into this space.

Unfortunately, counter space is very limited...but I've had no other choice but to incorporate some organizational tools on my counter top to offset the lack of space inside my cabinets.

My solution is not without flaws...I rethink it almost daily, wondering how I can improve it.

For now however, it is the best solution for my present dilemma, so it will work until a better solution presents itself, we renovate or we move...

Here's what I've done and maybe some of these solutions can help in your situation:

1. Vertical Storage for cutting boards and fragile platters are kept in my china cabinets, but this tin platter and my cutting boards are stored upright (where they don't constantly fall over) in this rack. They're easy to get to, they look neat and tidy and they fit nicely tucked in beside the fridge.

2. Large Containers for Oft-Used Utensils...utensil caddies from the store are always too small...I re-purposed this large cookie jar (without the lid) and a spray-painted juice can for my most used utensils. They sit in a little vintage tray right beside my stove where they are accessible when I need them and, better yet, are kept out of drawers! These are the ones I reach for on a daily basis...they might as well be within sight and within reach.

3. Re-purpose Small Containers for Small Utensils...this cute little jug sits on my stove and corrals my small whisk, lemon reamer, can opener, and other small utensils that would get lost in a drawer. A drawer full of small utensils (aka: clutter) becomes a mess. I forget what is in there and nothing gets used. I'd rather have these things where I can see them and remember to use them.

4. Cake Stands...reconsider cake stands as perfect catch-alls for oft-used spices near your stove. I use this small one to hold my salt, peppers and a little lidded pot that I keep my garlic in. It's handy, out of the way, looks neat and attractive rather than spread out all over the counter.

5. Under Cabinet Paper Towel...I've seen a lot of cute paper towel holders, but most of them stand upright and eat into valuable counter space. I bought mine from Ballard Designs almost 10 years ago (they still sell the same one) and have never regretted it. It can be mounted many different ways but I like to mount it under the cabinet.

6. Utensils in Jars...this is a fairly new solution for me and it came about out of necessity, both for storage and out of frustration. Our only 2 full-size drawers are tucked away in the small corner between our stove and fridge. Which means when I'm cooking and someone wants to get in the utensil drawer, I have to move out of the way so they can pull the drawer out. Uuugh. Not fun when you're in the last few minutes of cooking dinner. So I decided to remove all the everyday utensils (forks, knives and spoons) to our bar area. It's a very narrow bar and is too small for stools b/c our table comes almost up to it. I separated the utensils into the vintage-looking blue jars that Ball came out with this past summer, as well as a couple others and put them all onto a metal tray so they look neat. To protect the jars, I cut rounds of shelf liner and put those into the bottom so when the utensils are being put away, it gives the glass some padding. So far, it has worked very well. I don't really care for them being out in the open, but it is solving a bigger issue so for now, I'm going with it :)

7. Produce Storage...I used to keep a big bowl of fruit on the bar area, but this Christmas I got this awesome 3-tier storage stand from World Market. I love it for storing my fruit and potatoes. It fits perfectly in this little corner.

8. Create a Home Office in a Tiny Space...I used to have an entire drawer in my previous home that had all the phone books, checkbooks, pens, etc....(and it was a very messy drawer indeed!!) In this home I created a smaller version of that by utilizing this small cabinet I had purchased from Cracker Barrel several years ago. I used it to store cookbooks in my last house. Here, I have pens, scissors, paperclips and chalk corralled in a basket on the top, and the rest of the shelves hold mailing supplies, address book, bill-paying items, phone books, etc. To make it even more user-friendly, I sprayed the glass in a frame with chalkboard paint, mounted it above and use it as my impromptu shopping list. That way, when we run out of something, or the kids need something, everyone knows to "write it on the chalkboard". Before I go grocery shopping, I make my list beginning with the items on the chalkboard. It helps that it's so close to the fridge :)

Proof that my chalkboards aren't always works of art :)

Is this my dream kitchen? Absolutely not! Is it more cluttered that I would like? Yes! Do I wish I had more space, with a huge island and lots of cabinets? Absolutely! However, this is my solution to working with what I have.

Mr. Diy and I have been putting our heads together to come up with an affordable solution to create more counter space in our kitchen as well as more storage...hopefully I will have a "new" kitchen to share sometime this year with you!

If anyone has similar challenges in their kitchen and has found ways to overcome them, please share!!  I'd love to hear how you have solved your storage challenges!


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  1. Your utensil jars are both pretty and practical! We're on the same page today, my pearl post today is organizational as well. Happy Monday! ~Ann
    Tarnished Royalty

    1. Thanks Ann, I find if my organization solutions are attractive, I'm more likely to stick with them :) Love your pearl magnet!!

  2. These are great solutions to limited drawer space in the kitchen! Love the mini office and the three tiered stand! Thanks for sharing! :)

  3. It's so pretty! You have so many great ideas here; I especially love the mason jar silverware storage! Thanks so much for linking up at Get Your DIY On's organization month! Have a great week!

    ~Abby =)

    1. Thanks's working for now :) I have so many plans for this kitchen!! Wish I had more time (& more $$) :)

  4. Love your creative storage solutions! They all look great! I especially like the jars on the tray! Life to the full! Melissa @ DaisyMaeBelle

  5. Very pretty and functional storage solutions!

  6. I feel your pain . Your kitchen is so much like mine (same cabinets too). Thank you for the mason jar idea, I will implement this great tip right away. I currently have a half a dozen holiday containers sitting on a microwave cart. The containers are filled with some of the different flatware patterns that I use for tablescapes. Goodbye Santa, hello mason jars. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Aren't we the lucky ones, sigh...I'm so glad my ideas were helpful to you! I have a lot of ideas for getting more out of my kitchen this year without spending a lot of $ (working with the old cabinets, etc)...hopefully Mr. Diy and I can take a big chunk of time this spring/summer and make it a reality..I am so excited! Thanks for stopping by :)

  7. Hi Cindy. I'm your newest follower. :) Your organizational ideas for a small kitchen are right on. They're not only functional, but they're downright pretty. I love your positive spirit and problem solving attitude. I think it's really important for other small kitchen owners to see what you've done. I host a month-long blog party Every Room In The House. It's a month-long party, and this month we're partying in The Kitchen. I'd love it if you'd share this with us. Here's the link: I hope you'll join us. Blessings ~ Nancy

    1. Hi Nancy, thank you for your thoughtful comments! I just linked up to your party :)

  8. Cindy, you really have some great storage ideas. Not only are they functional, but they look pretty too! I have lots of storage, but still love using jars and cake stands. Just gives the kitchen a cozy feeling. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

    1. Thank you Jann...I really like a cozy feeling too, but I wish I had more space to work....working on some ideas for that this year :) Thrifty ones, of course!

  9. Hi Cindy! I've featured your Organization in a Small Kitchen in this month's Every Room In The House party. Thanks for sharing with us, and I hope you'll continue to join in the fun. This month we're partying in The Living Room. Hugs ~ Nancy

  10. Hi Cindy,
    I came from Throwback Thursday linky party!
    I have a small and ever messy kitchen too!
    I share some of your advices!
    Have a nice weekend,

  11. Hi Cindy,
    Good job! Your kitchen is well organized. I wanna try some of your ideas. Thanks for this informative blog you share to us! Plastic Storage Containers


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