Kitchen interior

How to Create More Kitchen Counter Space

How to Create More Kitchen Counter Space

You know those glossy magazine spreads that show kitchens with enough counter space to land a 747? If you’re like the vast majority of folks, you don’t have that kitchen. You’re struggling to prepare meals on a counter the size of a TV tray and storing spices in your medicine cabinet. Don’t despair. With these tips, you can create more counter space in even the tiniest kitchen.

Simple Fixes
The cheapest, simplest way to find more kitchen counter space is to get rid of clutter. Organizing expert Stacey Platt says, “Counter top real estate is a hot commodity and should be reserved for items used frequently, if not daily.”

Good advice. So your first step is to take a long, hard look at what’s sitting on your counter and remove anything that doesn’t fit that description (hint: the collection of kissing salt-and-pepper shakers can probably go elsewhere). Follow the time-tested triage decluttering method and sort those items into one of three piles: keep, trash, and donate. You can also always opt to put seldom-used items such as the good china, silverware, crystal and holiday-themed tableware in a self storage unit, where you can easily access it when you need it and keep it safe when you don’t.

Storing the Keepers
Okay, that was the easy part. Now you’ve got to get creative and figure out where to put the “keepers” so you can get to them easily when you need them. The solutions will fall into one of two categories: free/cheap or an investment but well worth it.

Free & Cheap Storage
Some excellent free advice comes from Rita Morgan, owner of the website NotJustTheKitchen.com. “Limit the uses of your kitchen,” Rita says. “A kitchen is the place where you cook. Sometimes it may even be the place where you eat. But if you also include it as a place where you pay your bills, do your homework… and set up an office, it can get very crowded very quickly.” So if you don’t use it to cook or eat, clear it out.

Those cabinets builders insist on putting over the refrigerator – the ones you need a step ladder to reach – they’re perfect for seldom-used appliances like your combo hot dog grill and bun warmer. The only risk is that you’ll forget you own the item, maybe even leave it behind when you move out.

Vertical space is free. It’s just sitting there. Use it. Put up hooks or shelves and you’ve just created extra storage for canned and packaged goods, canisters or dishware. Sturdier shelves can be wall-mounted to hold your microwave or toaster, and don’t forget to screw some cup hooks underneath those shelves for hanging coffee mugs. Hang a metal bar an inch out from the wall behind your stove and use it to store pot lids. Install hooks on it and hang pans and cooking utensils.

Kitchen Counter Space Pic 2

Things You Can Buy
If you want to spend a little money (or a lot of money) there is no end to the amazing amount of clever storage solutions out there today that will free up precious counter space.

Instead of refrigerator magnets, buy a magnetic towel bar for your refrigerator door. Some models include small trays for holding gadgets and hooks for hanging pot holders, too. A bit pricier, but another great tool is a refrigerator side shelf that hooks over the top of the fridge to hold small jars, like the one featured on ApartmentTherapy.com . The same source also says you can create space where none exists with solutions that include a folding island kitchen and hinged shelves that fold down when not in use.

Houzz.com offers 17 clever solutions for tiny kitchens including:
• Knife blocks mounted to the wall
• Pot racks hung from the ceiling
• Replacing full-size appliances with smaller versions. For example, a two-burner stove top and oven instead of a four-burner.
• Furniture that does double-duty such as storage benches instead of chairs for the kitchen table

Clutter-free kitchen counters may not turn you into a better cook, but at least you’ll have more room for making PB&J sandwiches.

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  • katherine

    thanks for the useful tips and ideas.

  • Marie McG

    A clutter-free kitchen is important to me since four of us live in a single-wide trailer. So needless to say, the kitchen is EXTREMELY small. What we’ve done to increase space and decrease clutter is that my boyfriend built me a table out of repurposed wood and freshly sawed 2x4s at his father’s sawmill. Granted not everyone has a boyfriend whose father has their own sawmill, but 2x4s are relatively cheap at the box hardware stores. The way it was built gives me a prep area in the kitchen and underneath stores my containers for recycling.So now my recycling stuff is out of the way instead of stored all over my kitchen floor. Plus we keep the cooler under the prep table with a box for my potatoes and onions. Out of the way and in a dark space under the table.

  • go girl

    Some of the above-the-fridge ideas sounded new but – really, are you going to put your toaster or microwave over your fridge and then use your stepladder to get to THEM? Or climb up every time you want to grab a cup for coffee? I’d rather stock the appliances I don’t use often.

    • KS Granny

      That’s what the article suggested, go girl. It’s assuming the “combo hot dog grill and bun warmer” is something you drag out a few times a year. I don’t have any cabinets I need a stepladder to reach, but I store my seasonal equipment, like canning jars and canning kettle, up in the attic when they’re out of season. My toaster oven and microwave do sit on the counter, because I use them all the time.

  • Nancy

    Sorry, Pots and pans hanging up, unless they are new, look ugly. and who is gonna put a 2 burner stove in a full size kitchen? But I did like the idea of using your kitchen only as a kitchen, not an office/homework/craft station

  • Judi

    Utilizing wall space beside the stove with 2″ metal bars and hooks keeps my most used gadgets where I can see them! I also utilize a hanging pot rack with everything hanging except pots!

    • Uncle Bob’s

      Thanks for the tip!

  • Nancy

    I used a large computer monitor stand to put my microwave on. I store my cutting boards under it. It raises the microwave approximately 3-4 inches off counter. Just enough to pull hot food out and set right down and the microwave door can swing shut above the food. Not so high you have to reach up for hot food.

    • Uncle Bob’s

      Thanks for sharing! That’s an interesting way to use an old computer monitor stand!

  • Safarisue

    Pots and pans look ugly hanging unless you have pricey ones. I live in a high rise apt and the designers make cheesy cabinets that are way too tall to be of any use on a daily basis therefore really limitng usable space. One has to bring out the step ladder frequently or just not use it at all.

  • sluzy

    I have four boys, a decent sized kitchen. I do use all my cabinets and they do go to the ceiling (9′ ceiling). I do have a step ladder that I have stored right in the kitchen between counter and fridge. I use it frequently do to my short stature (5’2″) My boys are all about 6′ and eat a lot. I use everything in my kitchen and utilize everything I have. I really liked the magnet towel rack and the extra shelves off the fridge. I also like the folding down shelf. I will really look into that. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and those sound like excellent ideas. I do have to agree that the pots would look ugly in the open.