Tired of cooking in chaos? These small kitchen storage ideas are genius

Space-savvy design tricks to maximise your space – from clever drawers to tall and slim pantries.

People often bemoan a lack of good small kitchen storage ideas. There never seems to be enough room for the cookware, the appliances, the crockery… let alone the food. Yet, when planned thoughtfully, a small kitchen can easily and efficiently cater to a streamlined storage approach.

Step number one is to do a “life”’ audit. What recipes do you cook the most? What’s your preferred cooking method? Do you shop daily, weekly, monthly? Answers to these questions will help you create a picture of what needs to be stored, where, and in what quantity.

Small kitchen along a single wall in green and pale woodCredit: Pluck

“With space at a premium, utilising the full height of the room and the depth of the cabinets means every inch serves a purpose,” advises Tom Howley, design director at Tom Howley.

Make a list of all the things you need to store and then map out how you will house them. Here, we take a look at the clever tricks top designers employ to make small kitchens big on storage.


1. Go narrow on larders and pantries

Ditch bulky wall cabinets in favour of tall, thin storage

Two narrow larder cupboard ideas by Tom HowleyCredit: Tom Howley

Narrow pull-out larders and slim pantries maximise storage and efficiency within a compact kitchen. These can be particularly useful for everyday cooking condiments, oils and sauces, where everything is to hand and clearly seen.

Howley advises “not to overcrowd your kitchen with wall cabinetry, as this will leave the space feeling more enclosed”. Instead, he recommends “fitting a deep cage structure for a multi-layered, discrete and effective storage system”.

Shown left is the pull-out pantry from The Devine Collection in Sorrel, while to the right, internal shelving, drawers and a door-mounted spice rack optimise the space inside a narrow bespoke cupboard, also by Tom Howley.

Start with a good declutter

Before you start to consider ways of sorting your storage, it’s worth decluttering your kitchen so that it only includes the items you really need. You may fid that items like tableware could live in another room. And seasonal items could even be kept in the loft or in an under-stars cupboard if they’re only used once a year.

2. Add more drawers

Tailor them to your needs with inserts

Blue under-sink kitchen drawer filled with cleaning productsCredit: Crown Imperial

Drawers of all shapes and sizes are your best friend when it comes to small kitchen storage, especially if they have good organisational systems within.

“They can be tailored to your exact specifications, allowing easy access to kitchen essentials rather than delving into the back of bulging kitchen cupboards,” says Howley. “Choose deep drawers for pots and pans, clever pull-out designs which reveal two drawers in one, bespoke internal organisers, knife blocks and even intelligent charging drawers for all your tech needs.”

Under-sink drawers also give easy access to cleaning products and everyday kitchen essentials, such as bin liners. The u-shaped interior layout of the Rimano collection styled in Sky from Crown offers two sleek compartments and is available in a variety of widths.

3. Choose sliding doors

They’ll need less clearance

Oak kitchen with sliding door wall cabinetsCredit: Masterclass Kitchens

For storing tableware and glasses, sliding door cabinets are a smart choice. They save space that traditional opening doors occupy while also displaying what’s in the cabinet.

“This makes the area more efficient and prevents doors from protruding and blocking a kitchen’s limited space,” says Cassie Jones, brand manager at Masterclass Kitchens. “Additionally, sliding doors provide a visually- stunning appeal to the kitchen design, giving any room a modern and sleek look.”

Shown here is the Madoc Henley Oak Sliding Door Cabinets with internal lighting fitted as standard.

4. Consider ceiling-hung shelves

A modern take on a pan rack

Dark wood pan rack shelf mounted above curved kitchen peninsulaCredit: Roundhouse

Fashioning a shelf from above is a clever small kitchen design trick. The benefits are both visual and practical, as shown in this curvaceous corner kitchen with hanging pan storage.

“Aerial shelving can be planned to suit and enhance any situation or need, but particularly when maximising storage is a must,” says Ben Hawkswell, senior design consultant at Roundhouse, who designed the space using Urbo and Metro joinery. “In this example, for added flair we mirrored the fluid curved peninsular below, with the same radius applied to the black steel frame and timber shelf; some recessed LED kitchen lighting completed the piece.”


5. Utilise corners

Use this deeper space for bulkier items

Pull out corner cabinet filled with pans in blue kitchenCredit: Naked Kitchens

When designing a bijou kitchen, there are often under-used spaces that can make everyday cooking storage easier and more efficient. This is especially true in a u-shaped small kitchen, where you’ll have at least two. Corner cabinets are especially useful for pans and oven-to-table cookware that can be bulky, heavy and awkward to get at from a standard cupboard.

“Corner caddies are an ideal storage solution in tricky spaces. The mechanism allows for a full set of wire mesh baskets to swing out for easy access, making the most of all the nooks and crannies in the kitchen,” says Elizabeth Sherwin, creative director of Naked Kitchens. The mechanism can be customised with a slab door style, as shown here, painted in Little Greene’s Deep Space Blue.

6. See through cupboards

Create a bright and breezy feel

White kitchen with glazed wall cabinets and shelvesCredit: LochAnna Kitchens/Paul Craig

Choosing glazed door fronts allows you to see into your cupboards before you’ve even opened the door. No more forgotten items stashed at the back of the cupboard. Everything is clear and on show, from tableware to pantry items.

There’s another added benefit for small kitchens. “Glazed storage is great for bouncing light around the room and gives a much more airy feel to a kitchen,” says Helen Parker, creative director at deVOL.

7. Hang it on a wall

Choose wall-mounted racks with tailored solutions

Dark oak wall panel hanging storage in kitchenCredit: Rotpunkt

Maximise storage with wall panel systems that make the most use of vertical surfaces and/or underutilised spaces, such as behind the hob, above countertops or on walkway walls. 

“Personalisation is a key part of contemporary living, ” says Matt Phillips, head of UK operations at Rotpunkt.The latest wall-hung solutions include matching accessories – tablet holders to knife blocks and storage caddies and metal shelves – which clip straight on for ease of use., 

Seen here in Dark Split Oak with complementary Matt Black accessories, this wall panel system includes glassware holders, industrial hooks, slimline storage caddies, plus metal shelves, a tablet holder, and side-facing wooden knife block.   

8. Go under with appliances

Appliance drawers offer the best access

Fisher & Paykel CoolDrawer fridge drawerCredit: Fisher & Paykel

Look to integrated built-below designs that will enable you to house fridges and freezers for short and long-term cold food storage.

These pull-out drawer appliances, such as the Fisher & Paykel CoolDrawer, mean that food is easily accessible when the drawer is opened. It also helps reduce waste, as out-of-date labels are readable.

“Built-under drawer fridges and dishwashers work brilliantly in small spaces, as well as ovens with doors that slip underneath the oven itself,” says Howley. Great British Bake Off fans will be well aware of the Slide-And-Hide ovens by Neff that are used on the show. They’re a perfect example.

“For the wine connoisseurs, built-under wine temperature regulators look incredibly sleek,” Howley adds.

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9. Choose a countertop cupboard

Hide a whole theme of items behind closed doors 

Countertop-to-celing half-height cupboard with coffee machineCredit: Daval

Half-height cupboards dedicated to a ‘task’, such as a breakfast, baking or drinks, are increasingly popular and convenient as small kitchen storage as they don’t impact on the rest of the space. Simply open the waist-height doors, for everything you need to start or end the day.

In Daval’s Salcombe Charcoal home bar, custom accessories include under-cabinet stem racks to safely store your wine glasses. Shelving for spirits and wine will keep the space organised. There’s even room for a barista-style coffee machine.

10. Multitask at the sink

Make your kitchen washstation work harder

Sink system with chopping board, colander and black tapCredit: Abode

Nowhere to put the chopping board or the colander? Streamline, simplify and synchronise the kitchen sink and prep zone with multi-purpose products that double up on practicality and storage. The System Syn is designed with three complementary accessories: a multi-functional prep board; stainless steel colander; and a roll-up FlexRack.

Paul Illingworth, design manager at Abode, explains: “The kitchen is looking towards state-of-the-art sink designs, which fully maximise the available space in the wash zone. By creating an essential tool kit with System Sync, we’re able to transform the kitchen sink area into a multi-purpose wash station that elevates both the home and lifestyle.”

11. Use both sides of a peninsula

Drop the breakfast bar in favour of shelving

Small colourful kitchen with peninsula bookcaseCredit: Pluck

In a small kitchen that’s open-plan with another space, a peninsula unit will maximise the amount of storage you can fit in. But while it’s tempting to use one side as a breakfast bar, if you have a lot to fit in, it may be better to sacrifice both sides to shelving.

Ideally, you should use this shelving to store items you may need in the adjoining space. If that’s a dining area, crockery, table linen and even cutlery stored in baskets are obvious choices. Or if it’s a sofa area made for relaxing, wine glasses or books might make more sense.


Written by Rhoda Parry


Rhoda Parry is the former Editorial Director of Ideal Home, the UK’s best-known media brand, and its sister titles, 25 Beautiful Homes and Style at Home. She is also former Editorial Director for Gardeningetc, Amateur Gardening and Easy Gardens.

As an experienced Interiors and Gardens journalist, she’s spent her career tracking the trends, interviewing the experts and reviewing the best products for inside and outside living spaces. When she’s not writing, she’s tending to her gravel garden that overlooks the sea in Sussex.