8 Ways to Declutter a Small Kitchen

open shelving in a kitchen

The Spruce / Kevin Norris

For those who live in a tiny apartment, condo, or small home, there’s a good chance you have a small kitchen. Even some larger apartments and houses present this challenge. A primary organizational guideline for a small kitchen is to pare down belongings just to the essentials. Follow these tips to declutter a small kitchen.

Test and Evaluate Appliances

Kitchen appliances and gadgets can make cooking tasks easier. But if you have limited space in a small kitchen, they can be more trouble to store than they’re worth. When deciding which appliances and gadgets you need, consider the cooking tasks that can be done with another tool you already have. For instance, a specialized apple slicer can be nice, but you likely already have a knife that can cut your apples. Furthermore, for the appliances and gadgets you have, make sure to test them periodically to see whether they still work. Promptly repair any broken appliance you still want, so it's not just taking up space. Donate or trash anything that you won't use anymore.

Downsize Tableware

Only keep as many plates, bowls, mugs, glasses, and utensils as you use in your everyday life. Although tableware can be fun to buy and pieces are often given as gifts and souvenirs, they can end up crowding the cupboards. So unless you have large gatherings often, keep only what you need. If you host an occasional gathering, you can always borrow extra tableware if necessary. However, if you have special tableware for gatherings that you'd like to keep, consider moving it to a storage spot outside of your kitchen to free up cupboard space.

Multitask With Pots and Pans

The number of pots and pans you need varies depending on how elaborate one's cooking style is and how many people there are to cook for. Still, you often need fewer pots and pans than you might think. For example, small pots may be less to wash, but a medium pot can do the same cooking tasks and more. The same is true of pans. So instead of having to find space for several pots and pans in multiple sizes in your small kitchen, select only a few items in medium and large sizes, which should be versatile enough to meet most common cooking needs.

Limit Bulky Items

Many kitchen items are decorative and bulky, but a small kitchen demands more practical items. Although a huge, whimsical cookie jar can be a nice touch in a large kitchen, it eats up precious counter space in a small kitchen. This doesn’t mean forgoing anything fun in a small kitchen. Cool magnets on the fridge, attractive pot holders, and art on the wall can decorate without poaching space.

Check for Duplicates

Make sure your kitchenware is not cloning itself. For instance, did you receive a nice new blender, but you're keeping your old one just in case you might need it? A small kitchen usually can't accommodate duplicate items like this. If it's been several months and you still haven't had a need for the duplicate item, consider donating it or at least putting it in storage outside of the kitchen.

Know Your Culinary Strengths

Keep items for what you cook now, not for what you dream of learning to cook someday. For instance, if you never bake, don't let cupcake tins clutter your cupboards. And if you've never made a cheese plate, you don't need to hang on to that special cheese board you got as a gift. You always can borrow special cooking items as needed, rather than letting them take up precious space in your kitchen.

Choose Products With Multiple Uses

Kitchen stores with specialty products, such as cookie presses, are fun to browse. But these one-job items aren't typically practical for a small kitchen. Instead, look for kitchen items that can perform multiple functions. For instance, you probably only need a hand mixer or a stand mixer, not both. Also, if your cooking dishes are both oven- and fridge-safe, you can use them as storage containers to avoid keeping lots of plastic storage containers.

Clear Out Food You're Not Going to Eat

If you have a small kitchen, you probably don’t have lots of cabinets or a separate pantry. This often means you'll be storing food in your cupboards next to your kitchen items. Check all of your food regularly to make sure it's not expired. Toss anything that's inedible, and donate good food that you don't plan to eat. This will prevent food items from unnecessarily cluttering your cupboards.