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Just because your kitchen may be on the smaller side, that doesn’t mean you are doomed to a life of disorder and chaos when it’s time for a meal. Many times, you simply need to adjust your use of the space.

Fortunately, you can work with what you already have to get your kitchen cabinets working for you. From reorganizing your cabinet orientation to rearranging their contents, small tweaks can equal big enhancements to your kitchen’s functionality.

And when you do need to bring in additional storage space, you can often find what you’re looking for in another part of the house or gathering dust in the garage!

When it comes to storage ideas for small kitchens, there are endless solutions at your fingertips. Here are a few fun, functional and fashionable ways to rework your kitchen cabinets and maximize even the smallest culinary spaces.

Arrange an Appropriate Flow

One of the easiest ways to address a dysfunctional kitchen is to tweak your cabinet orientation to make sure it aids in the room’s flow. In other words, it’s time to move things where they make sense!

If you have flatware on the other side of the room from your plates and your hand-mixer isn’t anywhere near the mixing bowls, you have a problem. The good news is there are quick and easy fixes. Keep these thoughts in mind when setting up your cabinet orientation:

  • Place items in cabinets where they are within easy reach of their intended uses. This includes:
    • Coffee mugs near the coffee maker
    • Plates and bowls close to where you serve food, most commonly next to the stove
    • Drinking glasses next to the sink or the refrigerator
  • Place like items together. If you have messy drawers, utilize drawer organizers to keep flatware separated and ensure a safer environment for reaching into drawers.

All About Inner Beauty

At the same time, what good are conveniently placed items if you have to empty out the individual cabinets to get your hands on them when you need them?

By setting up the contents of your cabinets in a cohesive manner, you can avoid the hassle of digging for buried treasure and the frustration of not knowing what items you have on hand at any given time.

  • Place the things you use most often toward the front of the cabinets and your seasonal or infrequent use items in the back.
  • Keep current with expiration dates by loading groceries into the back and pulling from the front.
  • Be sure to clean out your cabinets every so often ñ you don’t really have six jars of tomato sauce if they all expired a year ago.

*Tip: A simple solution for using the wasted space behind cabinet doors is installing door mounted spice racks to keep them straight and not cluttering your shelves.

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Repurpose a Bookcase

If you have a bookcase gathering dust in the garage or failing to attain its storage potential in another part of the house, move it into the kitchen so it can start earning its keep!

Bookcases with pre-determined cubby holes are ideal for arranging kitchen items according to different groups and for housing things that don’t seem to fit anywhere else, like cookbooks (not too much of a stretch, huh?!).

If you have the DIY knowhow or the remodeling means, a great way to increase storage space would be to build shelving into an otherwise wasted interior kitchen wall.

Now you have added property value with the built-in bookcase and décor flair by creatively using the space.

*Tip: If you have recently repainted your kitchen and have leftover paint samples from the colors that you didn’t select, reuse them in painting your bookcase. Many times the colors are in the same family and although they didn’t quite make the cut on the walls, they are perfectly suited for a supporting role in a less prominent location.

Consider painting the outside of the bookcase a single color to match your cabinetry (and thereby “extending” your kitchen cabinets) or wall trim (perhaps, a semi-glossy bright white) and painting the inside of the bookcase alternating colors on the shelves and on the back.

Open Season on Open Shelving

Or maybe you have sufficient storage with your existing cabinets but could use a bit more space in the rest of the room. For example, if you have adjacent cabinets that you cannot open at the same time because the doors open back to back and always hit each other, or if you have wall cabinets whose doors always slam into the wall when you open them.

In this case, consider removing your kitchen cabinet doors entirely. This way, you effectively eliminate the clearance area needed for opening and closing the doors and can fully utilize the kitchen space you have without sacrificing your cabinet storage.

What are some of your favorite storage ideas for small kitchens that you have seen?

Chris Long is a store associate at a Home Depot in the Chicago suburbs, where he has been helping customers since 2000. Chris also writes on kitchens and kitchen remodeling for the Home Depot website, providing advice to homeowners on everything from kitchen cabinets to doors and windows.

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