How to Organize a Small Kitchen (With Gratuitous Giraffe)

Folks, I appreciate every one of you, especially on a rotten, no good day like yesterday. There aren’t very many days like them, but Saturday…uhg! First thing Saturday morning, I learned that my entire site was gone. GONE. Fourteen years, over 800 articles, over one hundred monthly newsletters. GONE. To make matters worse, I had just spent the last week of the year COMPLETELY redesigning my website and, if I do say so myself, it looked pretty snazzy. Then, you know, GONE. I cried. And then I spent the next 12 hours WORKING, OBSESSING over it. I KNEW there had to be a solution. Everyone said I’d have to wait until Monday to get any help at all. It took four calls to my host, $29 for a support call that never happened, and one very, very long Facebook conversation with kind people in all time zones, including Czechoslovakia, but by midnight, I HAD THAT SUCKER BACK UP. Because here in the middle of Get Organized month (aka January), I was NOT going to let you lovely folks down. I know you are busy turning over new leaves, and I’m here for you.

Turn Over a New Leaf GO month 2019
See all GO Month posts here.


After that terrible, horrible day, I’m celebrating a recent #OrganizingWin with one of my favorite clients. (Sure, sure, I say they are all my favorite clients… and it’s so true.) So if you believe in the power of perseverance, if you wonder what all the fuss was about, if you want to read more articles on organizing kitchen or anything else in your life, click through to see my beautiful website, raised from the dead. And if you want to come see me in person next weekend, click here to get your tickets to the Philly Home Show.

Thank you for trusting me to come into your homes and help you turn big projects into done projects, like this lovely kitchen organizing project. The backstory here is a recent cross-country move by one of my photo organizing colleagues. I was so honored when she asked me to help her make her apartment feel like home. It’s a bright and happy kitchen, but also small. Can you relate?

How to organize a small kitchen - before

Of course, she’s got the dreaded corner cabinet, and a nice big window ledge that is going to be the hardest working part of her kitchen on a daily basis. And the giraffe that makes her think of her dear friend.

How to organize a small kitchen - before

She’s already gotten a head start by bringing in this slim shelf unit. She’s got plans to paint it, but for now I love that it holds just enough, and it’s small enough (about 8″ deep) to be out of the way. How to organize a small kitchen - before

One of the things we did is to reconfigure what the corner cabinet held. We decided that spices might go well on a spice rack, so we brought some of the more frequently used items (COFFEE!!) closer to reach. It’s a devil lining cabinets that have six sides! If you ever take this on, line the front, and then overlap another piece in the back. No, you don’t have to line cabinets. Yes, it makes them easier to clean and helps them last longer.

How to organize small kitchen (2)


In fact, after careful measuring, we decided the best use of space was to raise the middle shelf, add a 2-tier spinning tray, and use the single-tray lazy-Susans on the second shelf for canned goods. Using three small spinners in a cabinet like this  works well. There are plenty of ways we could configure it, but raising that middle shelf was the real game changer here. The stuff on the top shelf? That’s the real long-term storage, things even tall girls like me would need a step-stool to reach, but only need to be accessed a few times a year.  She did move the spices out a few weeks later, and got even more room back in that cabinet.

How to organize a small kitchen - corner cabinet

One of my favorite parts of this organization was this little vignette. The blue cookware on the back of the stove was hiding in a cabinet, taking up precious space. It only gets used a couple of times a year to make a meatloaf, but it was just too pretty to hide. Also, it’s the heaviest dish in the whole kitchen, and I thought it really needed to be stored within reach, not overhead. It turns out that it is juuuuust slim enough to sit on the back of the stove. The red spice can and mug, both more cute than functional, make that area feel so cheery. And seriously, that blue dish!

How to organize a small kitchen - stove

I have noticed that countertop microwaves tend to catch papers on top. Not sure why. But again, we went for color. Some yellow-lidded glass canisters provide color and utility, end ensure that the spot doesn’t become a catch-all.

How to organize a small kitchen - microwave

Above that microwave is, well after moving a few things around once or twice, perfection.

How to organize small kitchen (2), dishes

That little shelf unit turned out to be the perfect place for bakeware and mixing bowls. There’s gotta be a joke in there somewhere about wine and cat food. Is that part of the crazy cat lady starter kit? Sign me up, please. The top is a mini convenience station, with napkins and party cups.

How to organize a small kitchen - mixing bowls

The best part of this re-do came later. She had already planned to store pots and pans on a pegboard above the small shelf unit, which I showed  ff a couple of days ago in this article. Didn’t it turn out great?

pots and pans on pegboard in small kitchen

Someone commented a few days ago that they thought most of my articles feature new kitchens. But actually, most kitchens I work in are not new. Most are like this, average kitchens with average amenities, or sometimes kitchens that have had a bit of a facelift. But if they look new-er to you, then I’ve done my job here, to inspire you to make the most of what you have, and keep those things around you that make you happy…like this happy giraffe in the windowsill.

How to organize a small kitchen - after


That reminds me of the giraffe in the closet. Do you remember that one?

Kitchen projects like this just make me happy. What about you. Has organizing cured a horrible, terrible no good day for you?  Pin for inspiration.

How to organize a small kitchen

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Rita

    That small kitchen with the shelving unit needs a white taller shelving unit and add luaver doors to match the door! That is a lot of wall space that is prime realistate that is being wasted! Just my thoughts! IKEA must have something reasonable.

  2. Susan

    Hi Darla, I’m sorry to hear about your no good, horrible, very bad day! Thank goodness you were able to get it turned around. Your new site is great!

    1. Darla

      Gotcha thinking about it! You might not have realized that the pegboard is directly above it. Any anything taller would have to be deeper to be stable, and there isn’t room for that. But I love your thinking.

    2. Darla

      Thanks, Susan, for stopping by my site and for sharing a little love. I’m still kind of recovering from that, so your warm wishes really mean something to me.

Comments are closed.