How to Make a Small Kitchen Feel Big

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Smart storage solutions can make any kitchen more spacious and efficient — whether the room feels tiny because it is small, or because it hosts too many housewares or people.

One of the cardinal rules of organization is to take advantage of vertical space, as homes offer more square footage in wall space than they do in floor space.

This is especially true in the kitchen, where pantry and cabinet doors add vertical surfaces.

So we’ve rounded up examples of functional and frugal ways to take advantage of the three main types of vertical storage found in kitchens:

  • Wall space
  • Ceiling space
  • Door space

Wall space: Storage for pots, pans and skillets

Photo: The Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking / hipgirlshome.com
Photo: The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking / hipgirlshome.com

Pegboard is an inexpensive way to turn a few square feet of wall space into enough storage space for a cabinet’s worth of pots, pans and skillets.

Ready-made pegboard panels can cost upward of $50, but DIY versions can cost less than half that. Author Kate Payne built and mounted a pegboard for a little over $15 and detailed the process on her blog, The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking.

For inexpensive pegboard accessories to hold smaller items, consider what you already have at home — even tin cans work. (See “10 Clever Uses for Old Tin Cans.”)

Wall space: Knife Strip

Photo: Richly Rooted / richlyrooted.com

Elsie Callender, author of “Your Simple Home Handbook,” lives in a 600-square-foot cabin with a kitchen that’s about 9 feet long.

One of her favorite kitchen space-savers is a magnetic knife strip.

For well under $20, this simple organizing device can free up drawer space while preventing knives from premature dulling caused by knocking against other objects in drawers. The strip also can be used to store other types of utensils made from magnetic metal.

Wall space: Spice rack

Photo: Domestic Imperfection / domesticimperfection.com
Photo: Domestic Imperfection / domesticimperfection.com

When she overhauled her pantry, Ashley of the blog Domestic Imperfection created a floor-to-ceiling spice rack out of the scant wall space. It took little more than drawer organizers.

Ceiling space: Pot rack

Photo: Refunk My Junk / refunkmyjunk.com
Photo: Refunk My Junk / refunkmyjunk.com

Like pegboard, pot racks free up cabinet space and make cookware easier to find.

They can also cost hundreds of dollars. But a variety of household items that you already own or could find secondhand can be used as pot racks.

For example, banker turned blogger Allison Griffith, who wrote “The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Furniture Painting,” converted a small ladder into a pot rack for $40.

Other creative pot-rack source materials include a dowel rod, cooling rack, bicycle wheel and wooden pallet.

Door space: Shoe holder pantry

Photo: Money Saving Queen / moneysavingqueen.com
Photo: Money Saving Queen / moneysavingqueen.com

Sarah Roe of the blog Money Saving Queen uses a $7 shoe holder in her pantry. Hung on the inside of the door, it creates more space by corralling small items that come in boxes that sometimes “take up way too much space,” Roe writes.

Door space: Mounted food wrapping

Photo: Ask Anna / askannamoseley.com
Photo: Ask Anna / askannamoseley.com

With only a few bucks worth of plastic hooks, food wrapping materials can be mounted on the inside of a cabinet door, according to Anna Moseley of the blog Ask Anna. This frees up drawer or cabinet space and makes the materials more accessible.

Door space: Paint sticks for measuring spoons

Photo: Infarrantly Creative / infarrantlycreative.net
Photo: Infarrantly Creative / infarrantlycreative.net

Beckie Farrant of the blog Infarrantly Creative hangs her measuring spoons and cups from paint sticks she got for free from a hardware store and then mounted on the inside of a cabinet door.

Again, this frees up drawer space and makes commonly used items more accessible. (Are you sensing a theme?)

Beckie explains:

I [was] always searching for measuring cups and/or spoons. … Tossing them in a drawer just wasn’t working for me.

Take note, however, that this project is better suited for plastic utensils, because metal utensils clang as they swing when the door is opened.

What’s the most helpful way you’ve used vertical storage space in a kitchen? Share your tips in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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