The No-Reno Way to Get More Kitchen Storage — Without Adding Cabinets

published Jan 16, 2024
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Credit: Lana Kenney

In small homes, storage space is a hot commodity — especially in ultra-practical areas like the kitchen, where you need to be able to squeeze in everything from dishware to pantry items to small appliances. If you’ve got the time and budget for a renovation, expanding that storage space is no sweat. But if you’re looking to stretch your dollars — and who isn’t? — then a full-on renovation might not be in the cards.

That doesn’t mean that you’re out of luck, though. Increasing the amount of storage space in your small kitchen is something you can achieve without having to tear down a single wall or install a single new cabinet. Skeptical? These 13 hacks will show you how to make the most of the cabinets you already have, and fake the functionality of cabinets where they’re lacking. Read on for fresh ideas for how to maximize every inch of your kitchen.

1. Tuck plates into pass-throughs.

Don’t ignore pass-through spaces. While they might only have a couple of inches of depth to spare, making them too narrow for full-on shelves, they can be a great place to tuck a plate rail or two. For inspiration, look to this artful display from Nicole Pankopp of Simply Aligned Home. After her DIY project, Pankopp turned what was once an awkward and unused space into a functional focal point.

2. Double dishware storage with risers.

Make sure the cabinets you do have are working as hard as possible for you. The best way to do that: dish risers, which can effectively double your dishware storage by making additional shelves behind cabinet doors. This set, from Cami at Tidbits & Company, is painted to match her cabinets so it looks like a custom extension.

3. Sneak storage onto the back of cabinet doors.

Another great idea from Cami at Tidbits & Company: Cabinet doors are a great spot to sneak extra storage. Here, she adhered clear organizers to the inside of a cabinet door, making sure they align with the existing shelves. When she closes the door, the pieces fit together perfectly to create seamless storage.

4. Repurpose closet storage.

Bulky items like water bottles can be serious space sucks. To store them, borrow organizers from your clothes closet. For this setup, Michelle of Practical Perfection repurposed a shoe organizer on the back of her pantry door.

Credit: Elisha Kelly

5. Put storage front and center.

Another kitchen staple that could utilize the pantry door? Your spice collection. Elisha of Our Aesthetic Abode made this elegant brass and wood spice rack that allows her to see everything all at once and frees up cabinet space to use for other storage.

6. Create a functional “gallery wall.”

Gallery walls aren’t just for photos. Beautiful kitchen pans can become their own display, too — a striking kitchen statement piece that’s also clever storage. In this cheery rental, copper pipes elegantly hold an array of pots and pans.

7. Take advantage of vertical space.

No wall space? No problem. Keep looking up! The owners of this Chicago bungalow installed a ceiling-mounted pot rack above their sink that keeps their most used items close at hand, but still out of the way. Having it above the sink means this pot rack can also double as a drying rack.

Credit: Sarah Crowley

8. Make the storage you do have more efficient.

If you’ve ever opened a cabinet and had an avalanche of food containers come down, this hack is for you. Skip fancy cabinet inserts and instead combine two napkin holders and a brownie tin from the dollar store to organize all your food storage containers for under $5.

Credit: Erin Derby

9. Turn dead space into functional space.

It’s not uncommon for cabinets to stop well short of the ceiling, leaving an unused gap that’s just wasted space. A smart solution: Add baskets up there to hold the stuff you can’t fit in cabinets. A brilliant solution? Make those baskets the same color as the cabinets to minimize visual clutter and make your kitchen feel larger, like this New York City apartment-dweller did.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

10. Free up drawer space.

Foil and parchment paper boxes can quickly clutter up drawers and cabinets, but there’s a smarter way to store them. Instead of stowing them in drawers, give them a dedicated spot on the back of a cabinet door with a dowel and two Command hooks to keep the boxes together.

Credit: Devon Jarvis

11. Install a pegboard.

One of the advantages of pegboards is their adaptability. It’s easy to move the pegs and hooks around as your storage needs change, allowing you to easily reorganize and optimize your kitchen space. Here, find three ways to turn a pegboard into a pseudo cabinet.

Credit: Erin Derby

12. Hang a multifunctional magnetic rail.

A wall-mounted magnetic rail — like the one in this New Jersey rental — pulls double-duty. Like a magnetic knife rack, it holds metal utensils and knives in place so they’re close at hand. But it also creates a spot to hang S-hooks, so you can hang other implements that aren’t magnetic.

Credit: Viv Yapp

13. Take advantage of under-cabinet space.

Floating shelves alone are a great DIY way to add more storage, but you can make them even more functional by installing storage rails underneath. You can even go all-in with under-shelf storage, like homeowner Farwa did here: She and her husband installed not only two IKEA HULTARP rails, but also a matching paper towel holder and mug hooks.