Whether you chose to create a unique aesthetic or your kitchen does not have space at all for cabinets, you will have to compromise on storage space. To help with this, sketch out how you will arrange the kitchen and get rid of items that don’t fit in your plan. Find ways to create additional storage space by utilizing the walls and filling in free space on the floor. Figuring out how to arrange a kitchen without cabinets takes some creativity, but it will make the kitchen a more comfortable place to work in
Having an organized, clutter-free kitchen makes everything from cooking dinner to making coffee a thousand times easier. But what if your kitchen doesn’t have cabinets? Where are you supposed to put your plates, mugs, and snacks?
When there’s no obvious place to store dishes, food, and appliances, you have to think outside the cabinet.
Store kitchen tools on a pegboard
A well-designed pegboard isn’t just beautiful to look at, and it’s also the key to maintaining your sanity in the kitchen — cabinets or not.
A pegboard organizes your cooking tools in a functional and aesthetically-pleasing way. Which saves you from having to rummage through multiple drawers just to find your whisk.
Resourceful and surprisingly stylish (just check out the blue iteration above from Refinery 29), pegboards are an excellent way to stay organized when you aren’t working with a ton of cabinetry in your kitchen. And though hanging one might leave you with a few unsightly holes in your wall, it’s nothing some spackle can’t fix before move-out.
Pegboards are boards with pre-drilled, evenly-spaced holes. Mount the pegboard by screwing it to the wall, then use pegboard hangers to hang anything you want. A pegboard is useful for organizing pots, pans, cooking utensils, and even hanging knife displays.
Installing the pegboard will create holes in the wall, which can be filled with spackling once you remove the board. An old door with slats can also serve as a pegboard. Stand it up and screw it to the wall.
Not all of us have kitchens with pantries. Sure, it’d be nice, and it’s a total #goal, but sometimes square footage has to be saved for things like refrigerators. And ovens. The good news? If you have a wall, you can have a pantry! It’s true! Just look at this makeshift pantry above and steal some of these ideas for your kitchen, er, wall.
Budget-friendly and unexpectedly stylish, pegboards are great for keeping the cooking corner spic-and-span. This wall wonders not only help keep your essentials in place, but it can also double as a statement decor piece depending on how you dress it up.
We have to be honest: If we had a stunning pegboard wall unit like this one, we wouldn’t even miss the pantry. Pegboard is one of the most versatile materials when it comes to adding storage to your kitchen. Hang baskets of fruit, shelves full of oils or utensils from the board for super easy access to every kitchen staple.
Your walls can hold more than you think they can. (Think: pots, pans, and even canisters that can hold utensils.) Instead of hanging a couple of more limiting shelves, try a pegboard, which adds very flexible storage space that can be adjusted over time as your needs change.
Install floating shelves
Floating shelves add style and personality to your kitchen while also housing your favourite dishes. They don’t take up any of your precious floor space.
Install open shelving on empty walls. Purchase shelving or create your own by mounting metal pipes to the wall and hanging wood boards on them. Place the shelves where the upper cabinets would be and use them to store anything, including plates and glasses.
Remember to measure your kitchen’s wall space first to buy or install shelves that fit. Whatever you store here will be visible, so consider it to be a part of the kitchen’s decorations.
Breaking: Your shelves have two surfaces perfect for organizing kitchen clutter. Place tins and bins on top, and hang mason jars filled with nuts, seeds, and spices underneath.
Think beyond your basic kitchen cabinets and shelves and add even more shelves anywhere you can. Consider hanging shelves on the sides of your cabinets, or even installing narrow ones along with your backsplash between your counter and your upper cabinets.
Invest in a cart that can transport heavy dishes from kitchen to dining and act as extra counter space for cooking and entertaining.
No matter how limited your small kitchen is in actual square footage, you can almost always create extra pantry storage space out of thin air—you just have to look to your walls. Blank walls can turn into a handy space to mount an extra shelf (even a narrow shelf can fit specialty ingredients or glasses), or add a rail for hanging pots, or attach a versatile pegboard for storing cookware (a la Julia Child). Even if you don’t use the newly created storage space on your wall as a pantry, you can still use it to free up a cabinet or two, which can then be put to work holding ingredients.
Use a rolling kitchen cart
Even the smallest of kitchens can accommodate a rolling cart. They’re surprisingly stylish and can provide tons of storage in a small space. If you need more space, simply roll the cart to your living room or dining nook.
Take a cue from the ladies behind A Beautiful Mess and give your cart a theme: Espresso Cart, Baking Cart, Snack Cart — you get the idea.
Or just put your extra dishes and cooking essentials on the kitchen cart and call it a day.
If weren’t already hip to the magic of mobile storage then now’s the time to listen up. Along with being super cute and affordable, rolling carts can carry everything from cleaning supplies to condiments, and squeeze just about anywhere in your kitchen (or anywhere else).
Rolling carts are affordable options at general stores and home decoration stores. Many of them have multiple shelves in addition to being mobile. Place these in tight corners or against a wall where nothing else fits.
Buy an inexpensive kitchen cart and let the meal prep go where the cook does by filling the top rack with frequently used spices and seasonings. When dinner’s over, wheel the cart against a wall or in a corner to tidy up.
You’ve probably seen utility carts pop up on your Instagram and Pinterest feeds. The iconic utility cart is a home design favourite for a few reasons: It’s small enough to tuck away into a corner, it can hold lots of ingredients, and it can be wheeled around to meet you at your kitchen workspace. Whether you’re partial to wood or stainless steel, antique or modern, you can find utility carts in just about any size and style. Use them to store canned goods, boxed ingredients, spices and nearly any pantry item you’ve got.
From cleaning supplies to condiments, dinnerware and dry goods, it’s safe to say you can store anything in these loose pieces. You can even use it to set-up a vignette if you’re looking for a way to squeeze in extra decor in your kitchen.
Consider moving that bar cart or cabinet out of your living room and into your kitchen. Not only will it give you easier access to wine while you’re cooking (major pro), but you can repurpose a closed bar cabinet to store dry goods and other kitchen must-haves.
An open rolling bar cart that’s easily tucked away can also be a great tool to store kitchen necessities. Push it into a coat closet or mudroom when not in use and roll it out the next time you bake mom’s chocolate chip cookies.
For many of us with small kitchens, a true kitchen island is out of the question. Instead, consider a small kitchen cart with storage. A cart on wheels can be easily pushed aside when you need the floor space, but also provides extra counter space and a bit of storage where you need it.
Try a Sideboard
If you have an open concept kitchen and dining room, a sideboard can be a great storage tool. While they are traditionally used to store table linens or dinnerware, you can repurpose this statement-making piece to accommodate nearly any kitchen staple.
To make a storage cabinet more practical for pantry items, stack a few baskets or bins to keep things organized. Don’t treat it as a black hole and toss things in willy-nilly—an internal method of organization will ensure you always know where to find what you’re looking for.
Use All Of Your Wall Space
Don’t neglect that unused wall space. When it comes to finding storage in a small kitchen, it’s important to look to those empty walls. From hanging magnetic strips for knives and other utensils to metal rods that can hold baskets of fruit, your wall space can work overtime when you’re struggling to find storage in a small pantry-less kitchen. Try installing wall storage behind your sink or near the area where you typically do food prep, so you have your go-to items easily within reach.
A must-have for small kitchens? A magnetic knife holder. This kitchen from Michelle Gage proves you don’t need a fancy knife block to hold your knives. A magnetic strip not only gives you easy access to your knives, but it keeps your countertops clear of a bulky knife block.
Hang some curtain rods
Who would’ve guessed those curtain rods could ever be so multi-functional? Hang a few ones above your oven to hold all of your favourite pots and pans or slide a couple of tension rods under your sink for some unexpected storage.
Set up a curtain rod on the wall to hold pans. Screw the curtain rod’s brackets into the wall, then hang the rod on them. Get some S-shaped hooks if they weren’t included with the rod. The hooks are useful for hanging pots, pans and mugs. The rods can be placed on any wall, including spots where you don’t have a lot of other storage options.
Hang aprons, pot holders, and dish towels on pegs (mount them at least two feet away from the stove
Hang coffee mugs on a rack
No room to stack your mugs? Hang them on a pretty rack instead. If you don’t have a coffee mug rack, repurpose a wooden coat rack or sleek towel rod with sturdy hooks.
Bonus points if you can create enough space for a coffee station below your mug display.
Use your windows as storage.
You might not think of windows as a storage space, but this Chicago apartment proves otherwise. The designer who lives there made the bold decision to hang her collection of pots and pans in front of her kitchen window. Thanks to a uniform collection and pop-y orange handles, it ends up turning into a fun focal point that is smart storage, too.
Mobile island to fill space in the centre of the kitchen
Mobile islands are similar to rolling carts and can be purchased at general stores and home decoration stores. The island’s top surface is a countertop. Most islands also have drawers or storage shelves below that for extra storage space.
Like rolling carts, mobile islands have wheels, so they can be moved into another room for storage. However, they’re typically bigger than carts and meant to be left in the centre of your kitchen.
Use Tool Organizers for Small Stuff
Use a craft or tool organizer with divided compartments to store baking and decorating items you don’t use every day. Close the lid and stack multiple cases in the cabinet.
Set up ground bins to hold excess supplies
Bins come in various sizes and materials, so you can use them to fill in any space in your kitchen. They’re especially good for creating space under sinks, storage carts, or anywhere else you can fit them. Store canned food or spare objects you can’t fit elsewhere.
For example, buy plastic storage bins at a general store. Alternatively, use cardboard boxes or wooden baskets.
Repurpose a bookshelf.
Stick an old bookcase in the kitchen (cute paint job optional) and load it with your dry goods and produce for a DIY “custom” cabinet. You can even make yours as cute as this one from The Elli Blog because the labels are free to download and print.
Go between the studs.
I am dying to do this in my kitchen: Open up the wall and build some shallow cabinets between the studs. Julie, from Live from Julie’s House, added hanging doors, which means she doesn’t even need clearance space to swing them open!
Think a bookshelf is only for books? Think again. Consider adding a bookshelf to your kitchen to make room for extra kitchen items. Stack either matching dinnerware and mugs or add baskets to hide food and keep things clutter-free and aesthetically pleasing. From dry goods to canned foods, a bookcase can easily store the items that your missing pantry would have held.
Turn your cooking necessities into countertop decor
Don’t have space to hide your baking and cooking ingredients?
Put them on display: Buy a set of matching jars and fill them with grains, flours, seeds, nuts, sugar, and dried pasta.
If you have more counter space than the pantry, store bulky items like flour and sugar in decorative jars on your counter. Look for tall and narrow containers or ones that stack to keep the footprint small. Need more space in the freezer for cool stuff? Consider a chest freezer in the garage or basement, and learn how to make the most of the chest freezer space here.
Adhesive hooks near the stove to hang cooking utensils
You can purchase individual hooks or bars with multiple hooks from most general stores and home stores. Peel the backing off the hooks, then press them against the wall to stick them in place. While you’re cooking, you’ll easily be able to reach for utensils such as a spatula or spoon.
You may also find hooks or bars that screw into the wall. These require more work to install, but won’t fall off under heavyweights.
Prevent pots and pans from taking over your working area in the kitchen by putting them up in durable hooks over the stove. This also makes your cooking spot efficient as you no longer need to move away from the range if you need to switch equipment.
Magnetic Knife Bar
Although they look professional, knife blocks take up way too much-beloved counter space. Instead, store knives and kitchen utensils on a magnetic strip on your wall.
When countertop space is at a premium, every square inch counts, squeeze out a bit more room by taking your cutlery to the walls with a magnetic knife strip. We like that this kitchen, featured on The Everygirl, has the knife rack running vertically, proving that you don’t need a ton of free wall space if you’re willing to get creative.
Store food in baskets on the counter
Rather than hiding everyday staples like bread and fruit, store them front and centre on your kitchen counter.
Get a stylish wire or wicker basket, cover the interior in cloth, and fill it up with your go-to foods.
Bags and boxes can quickly become a jumbled mess when they’re just plopped onto shelves (yes, even pantry shelves!). But add a few baskets to your kitchen shelves or cabinets, and they’ll help you keep groceries nice and neat. You can also use the baskets to sort like ingredients (cookie baking supplies in one basket, ingredients for Indian cooking in another). Then, just pull out whatever basket you need, and everything will be right there within arm’s reach.
Use a wall-mounted pot rack
Hang a sturdy pot rack above your sink, stove, or kitchen island. It’s an easy and artistic way to store your collection of pots and pans.
Install a Slide-Out Prep Station
Here’s an intelligent solution for a kitchen short on counter space: Build a butcher block board into a drawer as designer Jenn Feldman did here. With a hole right over the trash can, it’s easy to dump peels and pits as you go, using a scrapper-chopper.
Double your cabinets with stacking shelves
Funny how something as simple as an extra shelf can make or break your storage situation. Stacking shelves (like the one above from The Container Store) are an easy—and inexpensive—way to create extra room inside your small cabinets without taking up any additional space.
Place stacking shelves to add more counter space. Extend the legs on the shelves and stack them on top of each other on the counter. They’re great for holding anything for quick access, such as large bowls and pans. The shelves will provide vertical space in your kitchen while still leaving space for countertop items like microwaves and cutting boards.
That bookcase in the living room? Go ahead and put some canned goods on a few of the shelves. Just keep that room tidy, and absolutely no one will judge you. No one!
Take a note from professional restaurant kitchens and chefs (the people who know food best, of course!) and work a metal shelf into your room for added spots to stash everything from pots and pans to appliances. You can’t beat the extra square footage they pack in, and they add just a touch of an industrial vibe.
Use a Lazy Susan
We were Team Lazy Susan well before we started making them. Because, when it comes to oils, vinegar and other skinny bottles, there’s no better organizer. Just line the bottles up with the labels facing out, and you’ll be able to see what you need without knocking everything else over. Of course, we are partial to our turntables, which have non-slip feet and a deep ledge to keep items where they belong.
Yet another favourite: bins and tubs: this lazy susan is where the majority of my food is kept. I bought several small plastic containers and one large one for bigger items. Magazine files also work great in here for standing up boxes of pasta, tortillas, and for us, bags of seaweed for when we make sushi. I’m realizing this post sort of looks like we don’t eat much besides canned food and crackers, but we’re coming up on grocery day around here, so we’re a little low–or maybe a lot low.
Hang things over your stove.
Another often-overlooked spot that adds extra storage to a snug kitchen? The space above your stove. If your kitchen doesn’t have a hood, you can put that wall space (and more) to use with help from a shelf or pot rail. Here, the blogger behind Tidbits uses both to find room for her cooking utensils and larger cookware.
Let’s be honest: tiny kitchens can be tough for a lot of reasons. Along with cramped countertops and puny appliances, a small cooking space often means you’re stuck with little to no cabinets for storage. Throw in the fact that you’re renting (and can’t make permanent changes to your place) and things can start to look dismal.
Thankfully, with a little scheming, you can turn your skimpy kitchen into a stylishly organized (and storage-savvy) place.