Skip to main content

21OAK may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

DIY kitchen storage and organization ideas to maximize space

Whether you’re dealing with a tiny apartment kitchen or you lack adequate counter space, storing your kitchen supplies can be a hassle if done improperly. When you’re limited on space, it’s best to seek creative storage solutions to maximize the area available to you.

Kitchen organization starts with the cart

One of the best ways to implement more storage and counter space into a small kitchen is using a kitchen cart. Carts offer a unique solution for small kitchens that lack adequate space to prepare food or store goods and supplies. They provide more shelving options for dishes, spices, and towels and supply you with a feasible counter to prepare meals.

Recommended Videos

Kitchen carts have recently become a popular item in many households, and the main intrigue for them is their ability to be easily moved from room to room. This mobility allows you to shift the cart to the middle of the room to act as an island for your cooking or baking and provides the opportunity to be tucked away when you need more open space.

What’s more impressive is that there are several styles of kitchen carts to choose from. If you’re looking for a more industrial style cart, you might find metal piping and open cart shelving to work for your space. Alternatively, several classic wooden carts provide hidden storage solutions as well.

kitchen bar cart next to kitchen island

When to maximize kitchen storage for small spaces

When you’re dealing with a small kitchen, you’re limited on several things. You may not have a lot of counter space to prepare your food or enough surface area to hold your small appliances. While you can likely store these items in your cabinets, you’ll find that most kitchen storage solutions are outdated and don’t efficiently maximize the space you already have.

However, maximizing your space is relatively simple. It all comes down to creative thinking and a little DIY.

Stackable shelves in cabinets

Stackable shelves have become quite a trend in recent years, and for a good reason! Most kitchen cabinets are built to be large. They focus on depth and are meant to appear larger than they are.

Due to this, they often only come with one or two shelf dividers. While this can work for some storage situations, it is not ideal if every cabinet is built the same way. In your kitchen, you have supplies and utensils in diverse sizes and quantities. Your cabinets can better store your goods if they are appropriately sized to accommodate the variety of materials you have in your kitchen.

For example, if you own several delicate dinner plates and bowls, it can be impractical to stack them all on top of one another. What happens when you want a plate? Do you have to remove all of your bowls to pull one out?

Using stackable shelves allows you to create a division in your cabinet. This provides you with the opportunity to place your plates on the bottom and your bowls on top. Stackable shelves allow you to divide your kitchen cabinets further and eliminate all of the open space you cannot use.

There are several types of stackable shelving solutions from wire bins, plastic tubs, and wooden stair-step shelves. You can even utilize wire can holders to condense the space your canned goods occupy in your cabinets. It’s important to remember that the more creative and versatile your solutions, the better able you will be to maximize your space.

Built-in spice rack sliding cabinet

One unique solution for maximizing space in small kitchens is the use of a built-in sliding spice rack.

Your small kitchen likely struggles to organize and contain the plethora of spices in your pantry and shelves. It’s equally as likely that you have a bit of dead space between your fridge and cabinets or wall. To maximize this unused space, you can build a sliding spice rack concealed next to your fridge and maximize the space for your spices.

To build a built-in spice rack, you’ll need to measure the available space first. We recommend that you have at least four to six inches of clearance to perform this DIY hack. It’s also best if the back of the rack (where the sliding mechanism will be placed) is next to a wall.

Next, you can use a 2×4 to create the cabinet’s outer portion (the part people will see when looking at the built-in rack). It can be as tall as your fridge or shorter, depending on your needs. You will need at least two 2×4’s of the same length to create the shelf’s front and back. A popular choice is to make these boards an inch or two shorter than your fridge’s height for a full cabinet.

Next, using plywood, you can secure a back to your shelf. Use staples, nails, or screws to secure it. Using two more sets of 2×4’s, you can attach the sliding shelf’s bottom and top. Be sure to measure these accurately, as they’ll serve as the depth of your built-in rack.

Create the sliding mechanism with drawer sliders, similar to what you would use on your kitchen drawers. Be sure to connect them to the studs in the wall for optimal security. Place the sliders at the top and bottom of the drawer so it can slide vertically.

Use 2×4’s and wood trim to create the separate shelves, add a handle to the front board, and paint the rack to match your cabinets. You’ll be left with a rack fit for your spices.

woman in kitchen taking spices from spice rack
wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock

Pan and cutting board dividers

Another solution for maximizing your cabinet space is to divide drawers vertically. This is a unique alternative to what you may be used to as most kitchen cabinets are split horizontally. Vertical slats can be inserted into your cabinets to create separation for pans, cutting boards, and lids. Make sure that your slats fit snug in your cabinets to prevent them from falling over.

Vertical dividers are a simple DIY solution for maximizing space for these larger kitchen tools and create a more manageable approach to storing and using them when necessary.

Editors' Recommendations

Amelia Wilson
Amelia Wilson (author pen name Amelia J. Wilson) is a content writer in Greenwood, IN. She often enjoys topics on…
6 New Year’s cleaning resolutions you can actually keep up all year
These easy ideas will have your home sparkling in the new year
Woman sitting on a couch in a clean home

The new year always seems like a good time for new beginnings, including making some changes around your home. Whether you want to save money by using homemade laundry detergent, make some green changes in your cleaning routine, or just get on top of all the overwhelming housework, a few small changes can have a big impact on both your wallet and your peace of mind.

If you’ve decided to make getting your house in order a priority this year, we have six great ways to kick things off right. Let’s get ready for a cleaner, more organized 2024 with these New Year's cleaning resolutions.

Read more
6 unique Christmas dinner ideas so amazing they’ll become new family traditions
Try these ideas for a different feel during your holiday meals
Group of people gathered for the Christmas holiday

Christmas is all about traditions — from treasured family decorations to Grandma’s cookie recipes, right down to when and how you open your Christmas presents. But if the idea of another holiday turkey dinner, baked ham, and all the fixings has you saying "bah humbug," we have some unique Christmas dinner ideas that are definitely thinking outside the holiday box.

If you’re ready to break the cookie-cutter mold of traditional holiday meals, these out-of-the-norm holiday dinner ideas will inspire your taste buds and bring your holiday meal to a whole new level. Want something a little bit different for Christmas? Try these menu ideas.

Read more
Tired of sugar cookies? Try these ridiculously creative Christmas cookie ideas
Recipes perfect for the holidays — and not sugar cookies
Christmas cookie cutter cookies

The holidays are one of the busiest times of the year. With all the Christmas shopping, present wrapping, holiday decorating, and never-ending cooking, it seems like December is a blur of holiday parties, food, and spending far too much money.

One of the sweetest of all holiday cooking traditions, though, is baking. Particularly baking cookies. From gingerbread houses to Grandma’s sugar cookie recipe, Christmas is a time for indulging your sweet tooth and eating more cookies than you would dream of any other time of the year.

Read more