13 Clever Ideas to Find Kitchen Space You Didn’t Know You Had

Looking for a bit of extra space in your kitchen?

Silly question, I know – when it comes to kitchens, finding more storage is on pretty much everyone’s wish list.

But if your cabinets are full and the countertops already overflowing, where will the extra area come from?

Horizontal image of assorted cooking gear and ingredients on a countertop.

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Well, there are a few simple ways to create space you didn’t think you had!

Going vertical is always a good idea, and so is taking advantage of unused areas like cabinet ends, or putting up a few strategically placed shelves or racks.

If you’re feeling the storage pinch, here are 13 smart ideas to utilize space you may not have thought of before.

And all can be achieved without having to completely renovate the kitchen!

1. Add a Freestanding Kitchen Island

Even in a small kitchen, adding a movable island or butcher’s block stand can address a lack of a work area for countertops, and a storage area for cupboards.

Islands with casters – small wheels fastened on the bottom – can be pulled into place quickly when you’re cooking, providing precious extra work space.

Homestyles Mobile Kitchen Island Cart

When your prep work is done, simply wheel it into an out-of-the-way spot when not in use.

We like this Homestyles Mobile Kitchen Island Cart, which is currently available from Amazon.

It’s 54 inches wide, and includes an 11.75-inch dropleaf for extra work space. Two adjustable shelving units and three drawers can accommodate differently sized kitchen tools, utensils, dishes, and more.

There is also a small spice rack on one end, and a paper towel holder on the other.

Not only do you get more counter area, an island with open shelving or an enclosed cabinet gives more storage, as well.

2. Be Sneaky with Undershelf Pantry Baskets

Another handy way to take advantage of underutilized cupboard space is with the use of undershelf pantry baskets.

It’s a sneaky area you might never have thought could be a potential storage solution… until now!

Astotsell Undershelf Storage Baskets, 2-pack

With many models, two arms slip over an existing shelf and an open-ended basket sits firmly underneath, offering a spot to cache a variety of objects from home-canned goods to onions to packaged pasta.

We like the Astotsell brand of storage baskets. Buy a set of two now from Amazon.

A smart solution for shelves that don’t adjust, pantry baskets can be bought singly or as a set, with sizes ranging from small baskets to matching large bins.

Look for ones that have a large mesh so you can see the contents at a glance.

3. Create Storage on Cabinet Doors

Handy for freeing up drawer space and clearing up clutter, rack-style holders are quick and easy to attach to the inside of a cabinet or pantry door.

Deco Brothers Over-Cabinet Door Organizer

Available in numerous shapes and sizes, they’re brilliant for holding pot lids, kitchen wraps, and sandwich bags, paper towels, and so on.

Easy to mount, some units will require attachment to the door with a couple of screws, while some models simply slip and clip over the top of a door.

Clear the clutter with the Deco Brothers Over-Cabinet Door Organizer, available now from Amazon. It’s great for holding all those boxes of plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and airtight bags!

4. Don’t Forget about a Good Ol’ Pegboard

Back in the day, Julia Child popularized the very clever idea of using a pegboard in the kitchen to hold an array of pots, pans, and utensils – and it’s still a great organizer today!

Easy to cut and mount, a pegboard is perfect for use on the ends of cupboards and cabinets, or for any unused wall expanse.

Wall Control 30-KTH-200 Kitchen Pegboard Organizer Kit, white

Strong and sturdy, it can handle any size or shape of cookware or utensils, including heavy items like a cast iron skillet.

Leave it unfinished, or paint it to complement your kitchen.

And if you want to get super organized like Julia, outline where each piece will live with a permanent market – you’ll always know the exact spot it should be returned to.

If you’re looking for a modern update to this old gem, sleek steel pegboards are available in a variety of sizes, and come in different colors as well. This material adds a decorative design element.

You’ll like being able to select a vast array of colors if you purchase the Wall Control Store’s Kitchen Pegboard Organizer. There are two 16-inch-by-32-inch panels, as well as 18 assorted board hooks.

Available from Amazon, choose different combinations of pegboards and hooks, like blue or red.

You can also stick with a neutral color scheme, and choose metallic, black, or white finishes.

5. Install Pot Racks

A fabulous way to display your pots, pans, and other pieces of cookware, a pot rack (or racks) may also free up valuable cabinet room.

Cuisinart CRBS-36B Chef’s Classic Rectangular Wall Mount

Mounted on the wall or hung from the ceiling, they come in a variety of styles, like stainless steel bars or mesh boxes, and can be found in all sizes from small to large.

We like those made by Cuisinart, not only because of the reputable brand, but because they are made of thick, heavy gauge metal.

Cusinart’s rectangular bookshelf rack is currently available from Amazon in a brushed stainless steel finish. The space-saving design is extra practical, due to the additional shelving unit that sits above the rack hooks. Use this shelf for cookbooks or other kitchen accessories.

It is 8.74 inches in diameter, 36.78 inches in width, and 12.97 inches in height. It comes included with 12 “S” hooks, allowing you to customize their positioning.

Cuisinart CRC-29BP1 Octagonal Hanging Cookware Rack

For an option that is hung from the ceiling, choose Cuisinart’s octagonal hanging cookware rack in brushed stainless steel. This option is also available to purchase from Amazon.

It is 32.28 inches in diameter, 15.43 inches in width, and 14.76 inches in height, and also comes with 12 “S” hooks.

6. Keep All Your Knives in a Row

Another smart idea for freeing up a drawer or countertop space, a magnetic knife bar is a convenient option for kitchen knives and utensils.

They can be mounted either vertically or horizontally on a wall, cabinet, or backsplash close to your work station.

wooDsom Walnut Knife Strip, 16 inches

As a bonus, your knives will be more accessible and organized – and they make a striking display!

Made in the USA, the wooDsom company crafts a variety of simple and sleek wall mounts for knives in different materials and sizes.

We particularly like wooDsom’s 16-inch walnut magnetic knife strip, which you can buy on Amazon now.

For more knife storage tips, be sure to check out Foodal’s in depth guide.

7. Look Up. Waaaaay Up

The tops of upper cupboards often have some untapped kitchen real estate. And once you realize that potential, you can be the best bidder!

Especially for the shorter chefs among us, this is a typically overlooked space – and hunting around for storage options in these areas is also a great opportunity to clean your kitchen cabinets.

Whitmore Rattique Basket, Brown

Wire or wicker baskets and plastic bins all tuck nicely into the space between cupboard tops and the ceiling.

It’s an ideal spot to hold items that are only used on occasion or seasonally like canning or camping gear, a picnic basket, or party supplies.

Organize in style with Whitmore Rattique Baskets! These scute totes offer a stylish solution in your kitchen. Check available colors, sizes, and sets on Amazon.

Remember to measure the available space before picking up baskets or bins – you want to be sure they’ll fit!

8. Put Up Open Shelving

Going vertical is a genius way of creating extra storage space, and open shelves can be put up anywhere with a free area.

Sauce Zhan 16-inch Wooden Wall Shelves, 2-pack

Install open shelves above upper cupboards, on cabinet ends, over windows, or on any available patch of wall.

You can make your own and cut the length to suit your space, or buy prefabricated kits with brackets and shelving included, in stainless steel, wood, wire, or laminate.

We love the contemporary appeal of floating shelves! Install this set of 2 wooden wall shelves from Sauce Zhan for a practical yet eye-catching choice.

Vertical image of assorted cooking utensils and dinnerware on shelves and on a countertop.

The dark brown finish is deep and gorgeous, and is currently available in two different length sizes on Amazon, either 16 inches long or 24 inches long.

9. Save Your Spices with a Wall-Mounted Rack

Going vertical again, a wall-mounted spice rack is a simple solution to free up cupboard space, and keeps your spices organized as well.

AllSpice 60-jar Wooden Spice Rack, Cherry

Available in a myriad of sizes, styles, and shapes, you can read our review of the best spice racks for a primer on features to look for, and some inspiration.

But one of our favorite designs is from AllSpice, with their 60-jar wood spice rack. It’s available in a few different stains – we like the pretty cherry stain! Find it now on Amazon.

It’s also available to purchase in a smaller 30-jar size, also on Amazon.

10. Stack with Stacking Shelves or Trays

Stacking shelves or trays are another good option for creating additional space in cabinets that don’t have the option of adjusting the shelf height.

Shantton Kitchen Organizers, 2-pack

Place in any existing cupboard or cabinet over pieces of cookware, and you’ll instantly have another level of storage.

This is also a phenomenal option for pantry storage, giving you an opportunity to keep your small items organized and set.

We like Shantton’s organizers. These tiered shelves are available in a set of two in multiple size options to suit your space requirements. Check Amazon to review all of the currently available sizes.

11. Think Skinny with a Pull-Out Pantry Rack

If you have any narrow spaces, like between the fridge and a cabinet end, a pull-out pantry rack is a brilliant gadget.

Spacekeeper Slim 4-Tier Rolling Storage Cart, White

We are so thankful for Spacekeeper’s Slim 4-Tier Rolling Storage Cart!

Available on Amazon, this slender cart is only 4.75 inches wide, and it’s mounted on casters to easily slide in and out of place. Each tier is 14.2 inches long, with 9.8 inches of space between each tier, totaling 34 inches in height.

Purchase the cart with a black, gray, or white finish.

The tiers can hold bottles, packaged and canned goods, or cleaning supplies – clever indeed for small kitchens.

12. Use a Hanging Bar

A hanging bar is easy to install on either a wall or the underside of upper cupboards.

Like racks, bars come in a variety of sizes and styles and can be used for pots, frying pans, colanders, utensils, kitchen towels, oven mitts, gadgets… pretty much anything you can think of!

Cooks Standard NC-00269 Single Bar Rack

Consider purchasing the Cooks Standard NC-00269 Single Bar Rack from Amazon now. This 36-inch wooden model includes six swivel hooks that can be turned 360 degrees.

It’s important to note: if you plan to install one of these beneath a cupboard, do be sure to check the screw length – you don’t want the sharp tips poking through to the interior.

13. Use Cookware Racks for Big, Flat Items

Are you an avid baker? Or do you have multiple cutting boards, with no place to store them?

Large, flattish items like cutting boards, pie pans, baking sheets and tins, cooling racks, and platters are all awkward to store! And they always seem to take up more than their fair share of storage area.

An easy solution is to pick up an adjustable bakeware rack.

YouCopia StoreMore Adjustable Bakeware Rack

They’re incredibly handy for organizing these oversized items and making the most of available cabinet room.

The YouCopia StoreMore Adjustable Bakeware Rack is our top choice, currently available to purchase from Amazon or Wayfair.

There are seven adjustable dividers for flexible organization, and keeps all of your flat equipment and bakeware upright and separated – no stacking!

With the dividers inserted, it is 11.5 inches wide, 7.3 inches in diameter, and 6.3 inches in height.

Oh, and you can also purchase YouCopia’s lid holder with the same design! It’s also available from Amazon.

Putting a Nail in It

Isn’t it great to know you can create more storage space in your kitchen in just an hour or two, without renovations?

You can take advantage of any unused space with shelves, bars, pull-out stands, and door racks. They’re all quick and easy solutions to create more storage, seemingly out of thin air!

Ensure that you use the proper tools and equipment to safely anchor racks, bars, or shelves in place, as cookware and jars can add a lot of weight.

Horizontal image of a countertop with different cooking utensils.

Brackets need to be securely mounted to wall studs, or use heavy duty self-drilling anchors for drywall – not the lightweight tap-in ones.

Now it’s your turn, readers – what are some of your favorite ideas for making more space in the kitchen? Let us know in the comments below. Your tips are always appreciated!

If you are still determined to reorganize and renew more areas of your kitchen, we can certainly help! Any of our cleaning tutorials will guide you in the right direction to systematic paradise – start here with these three next:

© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Uncredited photos via Shutterstock. Product photos via Amazon. With additional writing and editing by Nikki Cervone. Originally published November 2, 2016. Last updated January 29, 2024.

About Lorna Kring

Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.

2 thoughts on “13 Clever Ideas to Find Kitchen Space You Didn’t Know You Had”

  1. I like that you talked about being able to free up cupboard space with a wall spice rack! I’ve been trying to think of gift ideas for my wife that she would really enjoy, and I think that being able to give her some more cabinet space this way would be great. I’m going to have to see if I can find a good model that would match our kitchen and see what the options are!


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