Dead space. You know what I’m talking about. We all have some weird corner of the house where literally nothing fits. In this scenario, I’m using the kitchen as a case study, getting stuck into some small kitchen storage ideas to help you out of that spatial rut.
Being as they are such a personal space, there is no one size fits all solution. If it’s not possible to completely gut your kitchen and start again, particularly if you’re renting, then it’s likely you’re living with someone else’s configuration.
I’ve been there myself with our own kitchen. The cupboards were (and still are) a badly considered home DIY job, so despite the fact we chose to keep them for now, they’re completely impractical. Next to the fridge was a gaping 1m wide empty space that I felt could be put to better use. And then there was the conundrum of making the best of the available wall space.
But where to find the right piece of storage to fit that tiny gap? Having spent a good few hours sourcing the right fit for my own kitchen, I’d say I’m fairly qualified to answer that question now…
Keep Worktops Clutter-Free and Edit Your Kitchen Equipment
One of the worst things you can do in any kitchen to make it feel smaller is to have all your equipment out on the worktop. It’s a recipe for instant overwhelm. Tidy away the heavy-duty cake mixer or the toaster and bring them out as and when you need. You’ll find having that extra worktop space leaves the entire kitchen feeling bigger and you get back the much-needed elbow room to prep with. While we’re on the subject of tidying, try to edit your utensils and equipment once a year or so. You might feel that you don’t have enough storage space in your existing cupboards, but sometimes it comes down to owning too much stuff. Be ruthless. If there are things you’ve not used for 6 months then its time to move them out.
Utilise Walls and Ceilings For Storage
There’s a shelf for every nook (as my shopping page below reveals). Make the most of all the available wall space with compact storage. Adjustable shelves will be your best friend. I love my String Pocket shelves for that reason. I can play with the height of the shelves if I need to and I’ve used them to zone a tea and coffee spot, holding all the necessary accoutrements for a decent cuppa.
Ceiling mountable pot racks and rails are also brilliant for freeing up space. Cooking utensils hung from a simple rail next to the oven keeps them close at hand (see top image) or you might have a spot above an island or butcher’s block that would support a hanging pan rack.
Retrofit Kitchen Cupboards
If you can’t replace the units, retrofitting your kitchen cupboards is a straight forward way to maximise space. You can get hold of all sorts of gadgets to fit inside not-so-practical cupboards that slide out and unfold. Tiered wire racks that sit on top of existing shelves are useful for stacking mugs and glasses inside. Store pan lids on racks attached to the inside of a cupboard door to put an end to battling with them in drawers.
Break Up Your Cabinetry and Consider Open Shelves
Sometimes wall to wall cabinetry can make a kitchen feel overwhelming and enclosing. Introduce open shelves to break them up. Mine were already here when we moved in so I sanded them back and lightened them up with a white Osmo oil. They create an instant feeling of space and give then kitchen a more informal and relaxed look especially when you mix up stacks of glasses and crockery or display dry food in glass storage jars.
Freestanding Units Give Empty Corners Purpose
If you have a narrow corner going to waste in your kitchen, a freestanding unit might just be the answer. They add visual interest and look effortlessly stylish. I’ve written a post that covers how to style wire shelves to help with that.
Possibly my favourite piece of furniture in the kitchen for its flexibility, this wire rack holds all the kitchen essentials we need to hand. Its open, gridded structure helps the kitchen retain a feeling of space and I can use the sides for hanging utensils too. There’s also enough space beneath to keep a small carry box of veg and a stool – sometimes friends like to sit and chat to me while I’m cooking.
I’ve sourced 25 small kitchen storage ideas to whet your culinary whistle, from narrow units and hanging pegs to trolleys and folding tables. I’ve made a note of the width for each design with most coming in at less than 60cm wide.
1. Hahn premium wall rack, John Lewis. £110. 60cm wide. Make the most of wall space above the oven with a professional-grade chrome pan rack. Stack pots and pans on top, hang utensils from the rail below. (Affiliate link).
2. Iris Hantverk Knoppbräda hook rack in birchwood, Nordic Nest. £15. 67cm wide. I’m a huge fan of this Swedish heritage brand who employ visually impaired craftsmen to produce their products, made from natural and sustainable materials.
3. String Pocket shelves, Skandium. £126. 60cm wide. This miniature version of the classic String shelf is ideal for small nooks. They come in just about any colour and the height of the shelves is adjustable to support how you use them.
4. Storage board grid shelf and additional wire basket, Granit. €49.90 and €9.90. Shelf 60cm wide, basket 20cm wide. Any storage you can configure yourself is an instant winner. This grid shelf is brilliant, with add-ons such a mini shelf, hooks and baskets to store spices or washing up essentials.
5. Verberöd shelving unit, Ikea. £95. 45cm wide. Corners and narrow spaces are always tricky in a small kitchen, which is why I’ve picked this steel-framed shelving unit. Use the drawers for cutlery and linens and style the open shelves with dried foods in glass jars and stacked tableware.
6. Kriptonite Shelf with borders, SCP. £99. 60cm wide. Sometimes you just need a little shelf above the kettle for your mugs and tea bags. This simple aluminium shelf from Italian company Kriptonite brings a contemporary look to any nook.
7. Frama D27 shelves in brass or steel, Finnish Design Shop. £131. 40cm or 60cm wide. A reinterpretation of Scandinavian shelves from the 1950s, this minimal design with oiled oak shelves come with brass or steel supports. (Affiliate link).
8. Hay Medium Indian Dresser, Made In Design. £155. 40cm wide. Inspired by ones seen in traditional Indian kitchens, this versatile dresser works really hard. Stack plates, cookbooks and crockery on the shelves. Hang tea towels and mugs from the rail underneath.
9. Maze Triple Shelf, Trouva. £131.49. 38cm wide. Maze is an environmentally conscious brand from Sweden where all its products are made by hand and shipped, not flown. Made from powder-coated wire, this nifty little unit has bags of storage potential. (Affiliate link).
10. Ferm Living Wooden Multi Shelf, Utility Design. £405. 59cm wide. The epitome of sleek, minimal Nordic design made from stained ash.
11. Jessie Oak Leaning Shelf, Habitat. £95. 36.5cm wide. You won’t take up huge amounts of floor space with this leaning shelf and it can be attached to the wall for extra stability.
12. Verso Design Koppa Shelf, Finnish Design Shop. £86.65. 40cm wide. A sweet and beautifully crafted birchwood shelf for keeping your washing up bits and bobs off the kitchen top. (Affiliate link).
13. Ombyte storage on castors, IKEA. £50. 38cm wide. Got empty space underneath your worktops? These stackable, moving crates might be the perfect solution.
14. Alta hanging aluminium pot rack, MADE.COM. £25. 91cm wide. Keep pots and pans clear of the worktops with this ceiling mounted brushed aluminium pot rack with adjustable hooks. (Affiliate link).
15. Small oak shelving unit, Rose & Grey. £175. 81cm wide. This clever little oak shelving unit has compartments on the bottom shelf – perfect for linens and cutlery, and a narrower open top shelf.
16. Izzy Bistro Wall Dining Table, MADE.COM. £199. 56cm wide. Having seen this at the press launch last summer, I’d still very impressed by it. With space for concealed storage when folded against the wall, it becomes a neat little fold down dining table when opened up. (Affiliate link).
17. Hay Woody Column Shelf, Finnish Design Shop. £322. 75.5cm wide. A modern take on the traditional ladder shelf with a soap treated oak frame and bent steel removable shelves. (Affiliate link).
18. Hakola Riippu wall shelf, Finnish Design Shop. £240. 60cm wide. These playful oak shelves designed by Finnish company Hakola feature sailing rope struts. A similar design, the Riippu ‘Gardening Shelf’ holds space for three small plant pots on the bottom rung, perfect for herbs.
19. Round Bamboo Shelf, Rose & Grey. £75. 60cm wide. Undoubtedly the sustainable material of the moment, this sweet bamboo shelf is perfect for displaying a collection of mugs and other ceramics.
20. Long Lina Shelf, Noo-Ma. €170. 80cm wide. A minimal design from Polish design brand Noo-Ma, the powder-coated steel shelf comes in black, blue and beige.
21. Yamazaki three-tier storage trolley, Amara. £130. 13cm wide. The Japanese know a thing or two about utilising space. A brilliant storage solution for tiny nooks, this narrow storage trolley fits neatly inside the gap between your fridge and cupboards. (Affiliate link).
22. Adjustable brass and wood shelf, Rockett St George. £90. 64cm wide. Bring some warmth into the kitchen with these brass and mango wood shelves. You can adjust them according to what you’re displaying and they’re ideal for smaller items.
23. Karakter Trio Shelves, Holloways of Ludlow. £372.30. 50cm wide. Take on those sneaky little corners and make them work harder. The result of a collaboration between Achille Castiglioni and Giancarlo Pozzi, these shelves utilise unused space hiding in corners.
24. Antique bronze finish hook rail, Rockett St George. £22. 70cm wide. Perfect for hanging kitchen essentials and small chopping boards.
25. Skagerak Norr Shelf, Amara. £225. 36cm wide. Designed by a company known for its sustainable and ecological practices, the Skagerak Norr shelf effortlessly combines oak, leather and brass into a beautiful, tactile piece. (Affiliate link).
Photography and Styling © Tiffany Grant-Riley