The Very Best Ideas from Super Small, Stylish & Smart Kitchens

updated Dec 16, 2019
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(Image credit: Ellie Arciaga Lillstrom)

Since we all must consume food every day to fuel our bodies, it’s not surprising many of us spend a lot of time in the kitchen—or that we spend so much time thinking about ways to improve the kitchen. Since limitation is often the the birthplace of clever solutions, there are small kitchens out there absolutely bursting with good ideas. No matter the size (or organizational state) of your current kitchen, check out these lessons from teeny tiny kitchens that make great use of only a few square feet.

Strategy 1: Hang it up

Hands down, when it comes to a small kitchen, using wall and ceiling space is one of the smartest ways to add function and storage. Take notes from these teeny kitchens:

Wall-Mount Pot Rail
Pot rails (like these from Wayfair) line this small kitchen wall and free up cabinet space as well as put pots and pans within arms’ reach when cooking.

Peg Boards
Peg boards can find a use in any room of a home, but maybe most practically in the kitchen. In this kitchen it holds mostly heavy pans but you could also use basket attachments to store smaller items and utensils. For heavy duty use, we like this steel one at The Container Store.

A wall-mounted bar with s-hooks is so versatile. In this teeny Airstream kitchen it holds a wide gamut of items from a dish scrubber to a tea towel to a plant. Here’s a similar one on Etsy.

Hanging fruit baskets
Not only does this studio kitchen use pot rails, but a hanging fruit basket frees up valuable counter space. Here’s a similar copper one at World Market.

(Image credit: Lana Kenney)

Ceiling racks
Don’t forget about using the ceiling for storage. You could buy a heavy-duty ceiling pot rack (like this one from Crate & Barrel) or try a diy project like the owners of this small kitchen who created a hanging bar. You can find the full tutorial here: A Modern Copper Kitchen Hanging Rack You Can DIY.

Wall Shelves

Above is the small kitchen of a very small 350 square foot studio. Not an inch of space is wasted including the wall at the kitchen’s end. Five identical shelves hold plates, cups, utensils and pantry items.

Wary of open storage? Get the truth from people actually living with itThe Inside Scoop: What It’s Really Like Living With Open Kitchen Shelving

Strategy #2: Add extra work surfaces

Kitchen Island
This teeny corner kitchen had almost no counter space (especially for someone who has a baking project as a side gig) until the occupant added her own island which offers both storage and workspace.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Kitchen Cart
Don’t have room for a island, even a small cart can save the day in a small kitchen. Senior Writer Nancy Mitchell lives in a small NYC studio and calls her own kitchen cart “the biggest lifesaver” in her kitchen. It’s on casters so she has the flexibility to move it out of the way when needed. Hers is from Target and only cost around $75.

A Counter-Height Table
Pamela’s small kitchen in her Chelsea apartment above features an added table, but it’s used as dining rather than a kitchen work surface. Who says you can’t have an eat-in kitchen in a small kitchen? And look in the background of the photo: a cutting board atop the stove that can be an extension of the countertop during meal prep.

Strategy #3: Take it outside the kitchen

There’s a lot of focus on how you can make the space within your kitchen as efficient as possible. But who says you have to store everything kitchen-related in the actual kitchen? No, it doesn’t make sense to store your coffee mugs in the bedroom, but there are non-everyday essentials that can find a home somewhere else. In Sarah’s kitchen above, she created an entire wall of stylish shelf storage for her collection of servingware and wine outside of her apartment’s small kitchen.

More smart small-kitchen solutions:

Carly and Brad’s Chicago home features a custom-built three-sided storage unit that offers plenty of storage outside the kitchen but still within close reach. It acts as both a room divider and storage workhorse.