How to Organize Your Small Kitchen for Maximum Efficiency
From arranging the contents of your refrigerator to keeping countertops tidy, our smart tips will keep your small space in tip-top shape.
From keeping your pots and pans neatly stacked to accessing pantry staples in a flash, keeping your small kitchen organized is no easy feat. Do you find yourself reaching for the same set of plates and mugs each day? Put them on an easy-to-reach bottom shelf and place less frequently used pieces of cookware and dinnerware—such as a roasting pan or specialty bakeware—on a higher shelf or toward the back of a deep cabinet. Whether you're living in a small apartment or just find you're short on space, these smart tips will make your kitchen more organized. It is, after all, the heart of the home.
Make Ingredients Accessible
Leave basics like salt, freshly cracked pepper, olive oil, and vinegar on your counter so that they're easily accessible instead of tucking them away in a cabinet. But don't worry about making a mess—keep your countertop clean from runaway peppercorns and oil spills by corralling these essentials on a marble tray ($59.95, williams-sonoma.com) or lazy Susan ($10.99, thecontainerstore.com). As for spices and condiments, if you don't have a built-in spice rack in a drawer or cabinet, this three-tiered option will make it easy to find everything from vanilla extract to oregano to red-pepper flakes (from $9.99, thecontainerstore.com).
Stack It Up
Keep pans, lids, cutting boards, and sheet pans in order with organizing racks, such as an eco-friendly maple wood rack (from $8.99, thecontainerstore.com) or an adjustable cookware rack ($24.99, thecontainerstore.com). Not only will you be able to fit more in your cabinet, but it will be so much easier to find what you're looking for. If you want to keep multiple dinnerware collections separate or simply avoid the precarious nature of stacking salad plates on top of dinner plates, use these sturdy chrome cabinet shelves ($14.99, thecontainerstore.com).
How to Organize the Refrigerator
Whether you're organizing a mini or a full-size refrigerator, one key thing to consider food safety guidelines. Fish, poultry, and red meat should always go on the bottom shelf in order to avoid cross-contamination and the risk of spreading salmonella. Another way to make sure you're using up leftovers and open canned goods is to label and date every container; painter's tape and a permanent marker will do the trick. Of course, finding space for everything in your refrigerator can be a challenge, too. One genius way to store soda cans or jarred foods is with savvy stackable bins, like the iDesign Linus Fridge Bins Soda Can Organizer ($15.99, thecontainerstore.com) or deep fridge bins (from $11.99, thecontainerstore.com), which work especially well for corralling condiments, deli meat and cheese, and bottled beverages.
Maximize Wall Space
Instead of storing your knives in a drawer or in a bulky wooden knife block, attach them to a magnetic knife bar—we like one from Schmidt Brothers ($59.99 for 24", crateandbarrel.com)— which can be mounted to your wall. It frees up space in more crowded areas of your kitchen and is an impressive way to display your collection of knives. Store ladles, spatulas, Microplane graters, and even pots on a metal bar with hooks, which can also be screwed into your wall and will free up cupboard and drawer space ($26.99, bedbathandbeyond.com) or in stash tools in a utensil crock.
For a truly picture-perfect pantry, transfer non-perishables like pasta, crackers, popcorn, and pretzels to matching airtight containers, such as the OXO Good Grips POP 10-Piece Canisters ($99.99, thecontainerstore.com). As an added bonus, these containers will stack seamlessly so you don't waste any space in your cupboards. For a more eco-friendly option, use all-purpose glass mason jars or these Bormioli Hermetic Glass Storage Jars that have airtight bail and seal closures (from $3.99, thecontainerstore.com). In addition to maintaining a tidy pantry, they'll also protect your nonperishables from pests.