12 Easy Ways to Extend Your Kitchen Storage if It’s Lacking

No remodeling required.

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When my husband and I moved in together, we had what my mom liked to call a “one-butt kitchen:” it was just big enough for a single person to be in there, but definitely not two. It worked fine for everyday meals, but since we like to entertain, we soon found our serveware and extra wine glasses living in some unusual spots throughout our apartment.

Interior of a modern kitchen

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These days, we’ve got a bigger kitchen—but as our family has grown, so has our need for added storage. Kid-safe plates, water bottles, and lunch gear now take up more room than fancy dinnerware, and I’m always looking for better ways to use the space we have. So, I tapped Kate Fisher of The Neatist in Durham, North Carolina and Tonia Tomlin of Sorted Out in Dallas, Texas for easy kitchen storage ideas that can make things feel less cluttered and cramped—without having to tear down any walls.

Make Use of Magnets

The side of the fridge, which is usually magnetic, is a great surface to load up. Fisher particularly loves magnetic paper towel holders, and Tomlin suggests you consider a magnetic rack or magnetic hooks to hold anything from kitchen utensils to oven mitts and aprons to the lids for pots and pans (which are notoriously annoying to store). Magnetic knife racks mounted to the wall are also a great solution for freeing up precious counter space. (In fact, the only magnetic item Fisher hasn’t had success with are spice containers: “They sound like the greatest idea, but in my experience they always gunk up and fall apart after a year,” she says.)

magnetic kitchen rack on side of fridge


Put a Shelf Above the Stove

Many ovens and stoves have a little ledge at the back, but they’re often sloped and under-utilized. Fisher finds that a simple magnetic over-the-stove shelf can turn these unused inches into a storage area for frequently-used spices and oils.

over the stove shelf


Make Your Cabinet Shelves Work Double

Both organizing experts are big fans of adjusting shelves to accommodate dishware, and in any cabinet, a shelf riser will help you use the full height of the cabinet. ”These are my go-tos when I’m doing a kitchen,” Fisher says.

Take Advantage of Cabinet Doors

Items like measuring spoons or pot holders can easily hang from adhesive hooks, either along the outside of the cabinet or inside a cabinet door. Fisher says this can be very helpful, because it means you can free up space from a drawer, or another cluttered spot, and utilize unused space.

Store Spices Horizontally

Another product Fisher likes is a slide-out under-the-cupboard drawer, which is just deep enough for items like spice containers or pill bottles. Use it inside a cabinet or underneath the bottom-most shelf to make up for lacking cabinet space and make small items more easily accessible. Similarly, Tomline likes a drawer system for spices, like this one from Youcopia, which allows to you stack spices vertically inside a cabinet, while still keeping them accessible.

under shelf spice rack


Corral Miscellaneous Items in Bins

For hard-to-contain items like napkins, spice packets or cookie cutters, consider investing in clear stacking bins. They’re perfect for those smaller, oddly-shaped items because you can still see them, and they'll no longer be randomly stuffed in drawers and empty spaces in cabinets. This method is also helpful for using up out-of-sight storage space. “Anytime you’re putting something in a cabinet that’s higher than eye level, it’s a good idea to put it in a container, preferably with a label—otherwise it will get lost,” says Fisher. Also, consider using something like OXO's fridge organization line to keep all your food neat and decanted.

Clear Storage Bins


Use the Ceiling, Walls, and Door

If your layout (or landlord) permits it, a pot hanging rack above an island or in a window nook can save loads of cabinet space. But even a smaller hanging solution, like a hanging fruit basket, can pull bulky but lightweight items, like napkins or drink koozies, out of a drawer. You can also consider mounting a pot hanging system to the wall, restaurant kitchen style, if you have the space for it, Tomlin suggests. Or, consider an over-the-door rack (if you have a door to your kitchen) to hold spices, canned goods, or smaller kitchen tools.

Measure Your Drawers

If you only have two or three kitchen drawers to work with, measure them before buying an interior organizer to make sure you use every square inch. “Many organizers are curved, or leave just a little bit of wasted space on the sides, if you don’t get the right size,” says Tomlin. “You really have to make sure things fit properly.” Measure the depth, too: if your drawers are deep enough, you just may be able to incorporate two drawer organizers.

Clear the Countertops

Give your counters a good assessment and determine what really needs to stick around, and what can find a home elsewhere. Anything that you can mount to the underside of your cabinets—like a paper towel holder or dish towel rack—clears space for small appliances or just room for food preparation.

mounted paper towel holder


Install Easy-Access Systems

Consider installing a drawer-style cabinet organizer to help reach items in the way back and make it easier to locate your stuff. Tomlin particularly likes organizer drawers with compartments to help corral pot lids. “Lids are the biggest thing that people complain about,” she says.

If you have blind corner cabinets in your kitchen that you struggle to organize, consider investing in a pull-out drawer organization system to make it easier to access bulky pots and pans.

corner cabinet organizer in kitchen


Add Some Wheels

Fisher is a big fan of storage solutions on wheels. “That’s my rule: For small spaces, put wheels on it,” she says. If you have space for a small rolling island in your kitchen, it works to both add storage and to create more surface area for cooking or entertaining wherever you need it. If you only have a few inches to spare, however, a narrow freestanding cabinet on wheels can slide right into wasted space between a cabinet and refrigerator.

rolling storage cabinet in kitchen


Think Outside the Kitchen

You may think bar carts in the dining or living room are just a design trend—but they're also a helpful idea for extending your storage, as they get your glassware, bar tools and bottles of liquor out of the kitchen. Similarly, an etagere, buffet, or bookshelf in the dining area can be a statement piece, while housing lesser-used items like serving trays, small appliances or bakeware. “If you don’t have cabinets, storage furniture can really help a small kitchen,” says Tomlin.

And remember...

Organizing your kitchen is an ongoing process. Accept that your kitchen will evolve and try to reuse what you have before buying new. “If you have bins or hooks, you can always change what they’re used for,” says Tomlin. (Yes, today’s bar storage may just become a future baby gear holder). And while there is no “right” amount of stuff to keep in your home, if you find that every cabinet is exploding, “it’s time to make some decisions,” says Fisher. “We all have to be able to say, enough is enough.”

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