15 Ways to Organize Kitchens Without Many (or Any!) Cabinets

updated Nov 30, 2023
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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 kitchens without cabinets — or very few at the least. Throw in the fact that you’re renting (and can’t make permanent changes to your place), and things can start to look really dismal.

Thankfully, with a little scheming, you can turn your skimpy cook space into a stylishly organized (and storage-savvy) kitchen. Forget that you only have two drawers and some under sink space, there are still plenty of ways to carve out more storage room.

Read on for 15 of our favorite ideas for keeping your kitchen organized when you aren’t working with a lot of cabinetry. 

Credit: Viv Yapp

1. Use the space above appliances.

Have an oven, refrigerator, or microwave with nothing above it? Congratulations! You found extra storage space. Try to keep items you use regularly near the front since they’re so front and center, and use the hard-to-reach area in the back for things you need less frequently. As this minimalist UK kitchen illustrates, this storage space isn’t concealed at all, so try to keep things looking clean and organized.

Credit: Erin Derby

2. Hang up your kitchen utensils on a magnet.

Magnets are ideal for storing cutlery and other metallic utensils. Don’t be afraid to make your magnetic bars do double-duty, like the owners of this New Jersey apartment, by hanging hooks on the bars so you can hang up non-magnetic items.

3. Get a wall-hung spice rack.

Wall space isn’t the domain of cabinets alone, and an eye-catching spice cabinet can add visual appeal while also reducing clutter on your counters and cabinets. Just look at how well this wooden spice rack goes with the rest of the decor in this adorable Los Angeles country kitchen decorated by the professional home stager who lives there.

Credit: Erin Derby

4. Use wall space to store kitchen items.

Granted, the first thing you probably notice when you look at this stove-top scene is the stunning wallpaper, but that’s just the backdrop for the excellent storage set up in this tiny New York City studio. When you don’t have much space and lack cabinets, take advantage of vertical space as much as possible, using rods to hang pans and cooking utensils and shelves to hold seasonings.

5. Implement a pot rack.

Because they’re so big and bulky, pots can quickly overrun a small cabinet space —so let them shine as the stars of your meal prep by giving them a space of honor right up on your wall. We love the pot rack, shelve, and individual hooks used to support the pots and pans in this 1950s California cabin.

6. Install some hooks for mugs.

When you’ve spent time looking for cute and funky mugs that fit your personality, there’s no benefit to hiding them away in a cabinet. Instead, let them multitask as beverage holders and decor by hanging them from your shelves using nails or hooks, like the residents of this eclectic Brooklyn townhome.

Credit: IKEA

7. Make smart use of a rolling cart.

If you 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 use these carts just about anywhere else in the house).

Credit: Anik Polo

8. 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 in this Swiss kitchen, are an easy and inexpensive way to create extra room inside your small cabinets without taking up any additional space.

9. Divide and conquer your drawers.

Clutter quickly becomes public enemy #1 when you’re short on space. To keep drawers from piling up with this-that-and-the-other, divide and sort your drawer’s contents. While there are plenty of wonderful drawer organizers out there in a variety of shapes and sizes, you can easily custom-make your own with a little DIY know-how.

Credit: Emma Fiala

10. Hang some curtain rods.

Who would’ve guessed that curtain rods could ever be so multi-functional? Hang a few ones above your oven to hold all of your favorite pots and pans or slide a couple of tension rods under your sink for some unexpected storage.

11. Create a pegboard wall.

Resourceful and surprisingly stylish, pegboards are a snazzy 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.

Credit: Sarita Relis Photography

12. Add a (mobile) island.

Much like a rolling cart, mobile islands are a cunning approach to creating more storage space in your compact kitchen. On top of being portable, these multifunctional islands moonlight as cutting boards, meaning you get extra countertop space, too!

13. Use an open shelving unit.

While it may seem like a no brainer, open shelving units are a smart (and sturdy) way to forge more kitchen storage when you’re lacking cabinet space. “My biggest challenge with the space was the kitchen. The apartment has virtually no cabinets. I found a rusty baker’s rack and restored it for what I thought would be a temporary solution, but I ended up loving it,” said Daphne Pastard, the owner of this New Orleans kitchen.

Place a sleek one in a tight corner or along a narrow wall, and show off all your cool dishware in style.

14. Stash dinnerware on a wall shelf.

Whether you use one as a drying rack or for additional storage, wall-mounted shelves make awesome dinnerware displays, like this one in a Massachusetts kitchen. And if you’re worried about leaving behind holes, fret not. They’re super easy to patch up in a pinch.

15. Use your oven (really!).

It might sound cliché but ovens are in fact, a clever way to create more room for storage in a tiny kitchen. You can stash your cutting boards and baking sheets without using up any cabinet space and look slightly more cosmopolitan for doing so.