How to organize a small kitchen, according to a designer

I recently moved into a New York City apartment, so you’re probably not surprised to hear that the kitchen is short on counter and pantry space. If you’re also limited in square footage, you likely understand the struggle of sacrificing style for functionality. What if I told you that you could have both?

Shop TODAY spoke with Natalie Manima, interior designer and owner of Bespoke Binny, about the benefits of keeping your small space tidy. She also has plenty of tips on how to organize a small kitchen to suit your needs.

Benefits of keeping your kitchen organized

Manima pointed out that in a home with less square footage, seeing the kitchen is typically unavoidable. “People walk past my kitchen to get to the living room, so it’s really important that the kitchen is clean and tidy,” she chuckled.

Manima is also a trained cognitive behavioral therapist, so she knows how much home organization can impact the way you feel, too. “You don’t have to be a minimalist, but there’s always a way to organize a lot of things where it doesn’t feel like they are going to pop out of the cupboard,” says Manima. “It gives people a certain level of calm.”

In addition to keeping the space clean for visitors, research shows that decluttering your kitchen items might also help you feel less stressed.

How to organize a small kitchen

“People think you can’t have style if you don’t have space,” said Manima. “You just have to be more clever with how you use your [square footage].”

Manima said a great first step in organizing your kitchen is assessing how you move throughout your kitchen. “Think about how you use the space,” she said. “Where do I gravitate to if I’m going to cut vegetables? If I’m more likely to cut my vegetables in one area, I’ll store the chopping boards in the cupboard above that area.” Instead of randomly throwing items in cupboards, try to assess where you do certain tasks and place related items in that area.

Utilizing the wall space for storage can also make a huge difference in a small kitchen, Manima harped. “Take your storage up to make as much use of the wall space as possible,” she said. Things like kitchen racks, magnetic knife holders and shelving are great (and stylish) ways to accomplish this.

Adding layers to your countertop and drawers is also a great space-saving organization tactic. “There are organizers [made specifically] for deep drawers. That way, you can separate things and make it look more organized,” says Manima. You can add layered shelving to your cabinets, countertops and even in your fridge.

Based on Manima’s expert advice and glowing customer reviews, we’ve gathered the best kitchen organization products to get you started on your next organization project.

Small kitchen organization products, recommended by shoppers

Ouddy Magnetic Knife Holder

Free up some cabinet space by displaying your large knives and other metal kitchen tools on a magnetic strip. This one from Amazon has over 7,000 five-star ratings and is extremely easy to install.

As Seen on TV Spice Spinner

If you’re low on cabinet space, you’re going to love this spinning spice rack with adjustable heights and enough space for 40 condiments. This product has gone viral on TikTok for good reason!

mDesign Metal Wire Pot/Pan Organizer Rack

One simple product, like this rack, can turn your cabinets from drab to fab. Organize pots, pans, baking sheets and other kitchenware vertically or horizontally. You’ll be thankful for how much space this frees up!

Joseph Joseph DrawerStore Cutlery Organizers

Manima mentioned taking advantage of deep drawer space, and this cutlery organizer does just that. Its slanted design allows it to take up less space in a long drawer. This organizer is also non-slip, so it won’t slide around every time you go to grab a fork.

ORG Metal Mesh Expandable Cabinet Shelves

Shelving brings the opportunity to stylishly yet effectively store more kitchen items. Manima explained, “Adding a layer can allow you to put bowls on top and plates underneath.” These metallic chrome cabinet shelves are great for placing plates, bowls, mugs and platters.

Miles Kimball Slim Storage Cart

If you’re dealing with a small kitchen space, you’ll want to take advantage of every nook and cranny you can. This narrow storage cart is designed to slip into those hard-to-reach places and can be used to store kitchen tools or dry food.

Punched Metal 2-Tier Corner Shelf

Use this two-tier shelf on your countertop or even within a tall kitchen cabinet to store miscellaneous spices or other frequently-used everyday items. This shelf has a 4.8-star average customer rating, with one reviewer noting, “The shelf is very sturdy and looks super cute in the corner.”

Joseph Joseph CupboardStore Expandable Tiered Organizer

Increase the surface area of your cabinetry with this compact organizer. It’s adjustable, so you can snugly fit it inside virtually any cabinet. Shoppers particularly love this shelf for organizing spices and condiments.

H&M Metal and Wood Wall Shelf

Manima said the best way to save space is to utilize your kitchens walls, and what better way to do that than with clever shelving? These affordable and cute wooden shelves from H&M are not only useful, but they’re also aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Industrial Pipe Wall Mounted Pot Rack

Take your pots and pans out of the cabinet and display them out in the open instead! This industrial-style pot rack hangs on the wall and comes with enough hooks to hang 14 items.

Over The Sink Dish Drying Rack

If you don’t have a dishwasher and want to utilize the least amount of counter space possible, opt for this over-the-sink drying rack. It has a 4.6-star average from over 1,800 Amazon shoppers, but the brand notes to measure your counter space before purchasing to ensure this fits over your sink.

Cullowhee Shelving Unit

Big enough to hold large kitchen items but cute enough to be decor, this shelving unit helps to give a small kitchen more surface area to work with. One Wayfair review mentioned that this unit is the “perfect size.”

Seseno Stackable Plastic Food Storage Bins

Add additional layers of storage within your refrigerator with these highly-rated plastic bins from Amazon. Made with a food-safe, shatter-resistant plastic, these make everything look so organized. This set comes with 8 same-sized drawers that are great for stacking.

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