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?
Well, there’s 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 area for both countertops and cupboards.
Islands with casters can be pulled into place quickly when you’re cooking, providing precious extra counter space. When your prep work is done, simply wheel it into an out of the way spot when not in use.
We like this midsized Catskill Craftsmen option that is sold through Amazon
Not only do you get more counter area, an island with open shelving or an enclosed cabinet gives more storage as well.
2. 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.
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.
Often times these are made of cheaper materials. We like those made by Cuisinart, not because of the brand name but because they are made of thick, heavy gauge metal.
And if you don’t like stainless, the wall mounted versions are also available in oiled bronze, shiny copper, and black.
3. Use A Hanging Bar
A hanging bar is easy to install on either a wall or the underside of upper cupboards.
Cooks Standard Ceiling Mount Wooden Pot Rack available on Amazon
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.
4. Put Up Open Shelving
Going vertical is a genius way of creating extra storage space, and open shelves can be put up anywhere that there’s a free area.
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.
5. Don’t Forget About Good Old Pegboard
Back in the day, Julia Child popularized the very clever idea of using 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. Strong and sturdy, it can handle any size or shape of cookware or utensils, including heavy items like a cast iron skillet.
Wall Control 30-KTH-200 RBU Kitchen Pegboard Organizer available on Amazon
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 galvanized steel pegboards are available in a variety of sizes, and come in different colors as well.
6. Use Cookware Racks for Big, Flat Items
YouCopia StoreMore Adjustable Bakeware Rack available from Amazon
An easy solution is to pick up an adjustable bakeware rack – they’re incredibly handy for organizing these oversized items and making the most of available cabinet room.
7. Undershelf Pantry Baskets
Another handy way to take advantage of underutilized cupboard space is with the use of undershelf pantry baskets.
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.
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.
8. 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.
InterDesign York Lyra Kitchen Cabinet Expandable Shelf available on Amazon
Place in any existing cupboard or cabinet over pieces of cookware, and you’ll instantly have another level of storage.
9. Use Door Rack Holders
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.
DecoBros Over Cabinet Door Organizer Holder available on Amazon
Available in numerous shapes and sizes, they’re brilliant for holding pot lids, kitchen wraps, and sandwich bags, paper towels, and so on.
Over The Cabinet Paper Towel Holder available on Amazon
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.
10. Put Up a Knife Bar
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 back splash close to your work station. As a bonus, your knives will stay sharper longer – and they make a striking display!
Available on Amazon in both stainless steel and in natural wood.
For more knife storage tips, be sure to check out Foodal’s in depth guide.
11. Look Up – Waaay Up
The tops of upper cupboards often offer up some untapped kitchen real estate as well.
Especially for the shorter chefs among us, this is an often overlooked space – and hunting around for storage options in these areas is also a great opportunity to clean your kitchen cabinets!
Whitmor Rattique Shelf Tote available on Amazon
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.
Remember to measure the available space before picking up baskets or bins – you want to be sure they’ll fit!
12. 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.
Slim Slide-Out 5-Tier Storage Tower available on Amazon
These slender racks are only about 5 or 6 inches wide, and they’re mounted on casters to easily slide in and out of place. They offer several tiers to hold bottles, packaged and canned goods, or cleaning supplies – clever indeed for small kitchens.
13. Use A Wall-Mounted Spice 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.
Available in a myriad of sizes, styles, and shapes, you can check out our review of the best spice racks for a primer on features to look for, and some inspiration.
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. 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!
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.