How to Outfit a Small-but-Mighty Kitchen


Whether it’s a need for more counter space or the desire to knock out a wall to add an eat-in table, everyone wants a roomier kitchen. Thankfully, when it comes to even the smallest spaces, IKEA has solutions galore.

From wall racks and mobile islands to expandable furniture and dozens of drawer inserts, IKEA makes it possible to maximize every square inch of your kitchen, no matter how small. With these ideas, you may even have room to spare.

Lower cabinets often become catch-alls for every miscellaneous appliance and a mess of pots and pans. The things you use the most tend to stick near the front, while everything else gets lost in the back. Which means when you do need to pull out the waffle maker, everything else needs to be pulled out, too.

drawer of spices


Banish this problem from your kitchen forever by installing drawers instead of doors. You can easily see everything you have, and know if there’s a corner that’s not being used to its full potential.

If you like the look of one seamless panel on your lower cabinet, you can install interior drawers behind a cabinet door. IKEA’s SEKTION kitchen range allows for nine (!) different drawer combinations, so you can find the best fit for your needs.

organize with inserts

Drawer inserts are a tiny kitchen’s best friend. It may seem counterintuitive to add an extra item when space is already at a premium, but by keeping smaller items in check, you’ll be able to fit more, and find what you need with just a glance.

condiment bins


pantry shelves


  • Utensil and cutlery storage: Choose an insert that fills the drawer—that way, you’re using the entire space and the insert won’t slide around. IKEA has more than a dozen options for utensil trays, so you can also mix and match until you find a combo that works.
    • Medium-sized tools (like cheese graters, measuring cups, and hand mixers): Group them by use (baking supplies, prep tools) and organize them in bins. The VARIERA line has multiple sizes in bamboo and plastic, with handles for easy removal.
      • Pots and pans: These should be stacked in deeper drawers, and lids should be held file-style with a pot lid holder (which also works well for cutting boards and baking sheets). Carousels, like this one, are also useful for storing cooking vessels in hard to reach cabinets.
      • Condiments, spices, and canned goods: In upper cabinets, use bins or baskets to sort jars and containers, and shelf inserts to add another level of storage (perfect for canned goods so you can avoid stacking them on one another). In drawers, use a non-slip insert for spice jars, and the categorized basket method mentioned above, grouping items you often use together (oils and vinegars, stir fry ingredients, pasta sauce supplies, etc.).

            go vertical

            Wall space is often under-utilized in the kitchen, but taking advantage of that vertical real estate is a great way to free up stuffed drawers and crowded countertops. If you have a large blank wall, open shelving could be a good solution, but you might not have space for a shelf that sticks out 10 to 12 inches.

            Instead, add a wall rack. The slim profile hugs the wall and you can arrange hooks where needed to hang utensils, towels, jars, even plants or herbs! If you’re working with just an open backsplash, you can add a single rod or magnetic knife rack.

            No wall space? No problem. You can still go vertical. IKEA makes a clever rack that attaches to a kitchen island, so you can have hanging storage without needing to use a wall. It also has a high shelf that’s sturdy enough to hold things like large serving platters or mixing bowls.

            drop in island

            A kitchen island may seem like a dream feature even in large kitchens, but they can actually work wonders in a tight space, especially if you live in an apartment where the living room and kitchen occupy the same space. Adding an island allows you to differentiate between rooms, incorporate a dining area, gain storage, and double your counter space—all with one piece of furniture. IKEA offers a variety of sizes, ranging from 28 inches to 50 inches wide, and narrower options at 22 inches deep, so finding one that fits your space is easy.

            butcher block island


            For super small kitchens, a mobile cart is the answer. IKEA has five different three-tiered utility carts — each one a good home for pantry items, baking supplies, a bar cart, or miscellaneous storage — and five different carts with solid tops to give you extra counter space.

            modular furniture

            Flexibility is key in a small space, particularly when it comes to seating. You likely don’t need a dining table 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Opt for furniture that appears only when you need it. IKEA makes a variety of drop-leaf and extendable tables that range from as small as 10 ¼ inches long to 47 ¼ inches long. The NORDEN table is particularly suited for small kitchens, as it has three different length options and three middle drawers for storage.

            For a table that practically disappears, add a wall-mounted drop leaf. Just flip it up when you want to dine, and when not in use, it acts as a narrow shelf. When it comes to seating, choose chairs and stools that can be stacked for simple storage so they get out of the way when needed.

            trim the fat

            There’s no room for excess in a small kitchen. To maximize your space, you need to pare down your goods. Do you really need eight place settings? When was the last time you used that mandoline? Why let a toaster occupy valuable counter space when your oven broiler can do the same thing? Products that can pull double-duty are keepers: chopping boards can be serving platters, frying pans can tenderize meat, vegetable peelers can slice cheese and chocolate, and colanders are perfect steaming baskets.

            It’s time to say goodbye to the juicer you used once three years ago. Donate the items that aren’t essential and you’ll be amazed at the extra space that was there all along.

            No matter the size or shape of your kitchen, or if you rent or own, IKEA Kitchen Services is here to help you make the most of it. Schedule an appointment to get started.

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