Ten Smart Kitchen Storage Ideas and DIY Projects

March 11, 2022

Ten smart kitchen storage ideas and DIY projects that make the most of your space!

I'm always trying to utilize our storage spaces well -- from small drawers to big closets, I really enjoy trying to figure out how to use all the available space and make them function better. 

Even though I'm a decor lover and want things to look great, my priority is to make them function just as well as they look! 

Over the years I've figured out some great ways to create an organized kitchen that fits our needs. These storage solutions work for smaller gadgets to larger appliances, and make our spaces work how we use them! 

I've gathered ten of the best ways I've made the most of our kitchen storage...some are easy, some are more involved DIY projects. 

Most of these solutions are hidden, but I've also created some storage that has become part of the design of the kitchen! We'll start with the pretty ones first...

1. Utilize the side of your fridge

This is one of my all time favorite kitchen DIY projects! If you have a built in fridge with cabinets around it, you may be able to put that big space on the side to good use.

(If you don't have cabinets surrounding it, see how to build in your refrigerator here!)

A few years back I added this pretty and functional cutting board and tray storage to the side of the fridge
cutting board pretty shelf

DIY skinny shelf on fridge

I just love how it looks! The leather straps and wood boards add some warmth to our kitchen. 

But it's also so nice to have such easy access to serving and cutting boards like these. They are large and awkward, so finding a spot to store them in lower cabinets is difficult. 

You can also use the side of your fridge to hold a family command station with calendars and mail, or add small shelves to hold spices or oils if you don't have a lot of pantry space. 

2. Window seat storage in the kitchen

This is another favorite...because what's prettier than a window seat in a kitchen? Nothing, I tell you. 

If you add one in your home, make it functional by creating access to all that empty space inside! 

bay window seat with pillows

In our first house I used that seat to store large kitchen appliances and entertaining items
storage inside window seat

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It was wonderful! 

That deep extra storage space is perfect for items that you don't reach for every day -- maybe appliances you only use occasionally or big serving dishes. 

It's such a great secret space and of course looks great from the outside! I always knew the window wall in our dining area off the kitchen would be the perfect spot: 
long window seat with bookcases

We use that for some outdoor items like citronella candles and bug spray, since it's so close to the patio. The other side is usually empty, so I use it to store year-round decor from around the house when I decorate for Christmas. :)

I also added a window seat in our old loft/craft room for gift wrap supplies and large crafty items. It was great!

3. Add storage by extending your kitchen island

This is another one that adds so much storage but also looks GOOD! 

Years ago I added on to our builder grade kitchen island and created a TON more storage! One of my favorite parts was the simple wine bottle rack I added in the island
island extension with wine storage

But I didn't stop there! I created a spot for our microwave at the end of the island and added open storage for cookbooks and baskets
microwave with island at end

Even the rod with hooks to hold the towel and pot holders was so handy!

It was fun to work on the extension and figure out what I wanted do with with that space. I love the idea of placing pet bowls a similar spot at the end of an island as well.

Now let's move to the storage ideas inside the cabinets! 

4. Tip out trays by the kitchen sink 

I discovered these when we were building our first house and thought they were brilliant. 

These little plastic storage trays can be installed in front of your sink behind the false cabinet drawer fronts. They utilize those few inches of space...you'll be surprised what you can fit in there!: 
tip out trays behind cabinets

They are small, but in the kitchen hold sponges, the sink stopper, scrapers and our dishwasher pods. You just tip the drawer out to access the trays. 

We had two in our first house pictured above, and now we have a long drawer front that has two: 
tip out trays by kitchen sink

They can be a little tricky to install because you're working in such a small space. It's easier to install these before the sink, but you can definitely do so after as well. 

They are so useful, we used them in our bathroom as well. They are perfect for toothbrushes and toothpaste!

5. Awkward pan and tray storage

I find the best spot for all the long cooking trays and pans is in the cabinet above the fridge
using space above fridge

I use the Variera organizers from IKEA so I can slide these longer kitchen necessities in and out easily. 

If you build in your fridge using my tutorial above, measure your items to see how much space you'll need! 

The key is storing these items vertically -- if you stack them up it's a pain to get what you need. 

Although you could build very small shelving inside those cabinets that holds one item on each shelf. That brings me to my next simple fix!

6. Make base cabinets functional with DIY shelves

I hate regular base cabinets with small drawers and doors. They are an abyss of underutilized and hard-to-reach space in my opinion, and if we ever redo our kitchen, it will have mostly drawers like our mud/laundry combo

For years now, I've tried to make the most of the storage space under the counters by building these very simple DIY wood shelves/ledges
DIY wood shelf for platters

They allow me to store way more in that tall space, and are super easy to make! I usually have plenty of scrap wood to throw one together. 
simple wood shelf inside cabinets

The assembly isn't fancy -- I use a couple screws into each "foot" or the side supports. 

7. DIY pull out pantry drawers

I just shared this project last week, and it has allowed us to store SO MUCH food in the new pantry makeover. 

I used tall pantry cabinets in there, and as is, those are almost as bad as the base cabinets I hate. 😂 I knew I could make them way more functional with these pull out pantry drawers
DIY roll out pantry drawers

You can make them fully extend or soft close (or both!). 

The best part is they allow you to create storage that works for your family -- add a bunch to hold a ton or space them out for taller items. 

8. DIY pull out shelf for appliances

These rolling shelves are along the same lines, and work well both inside a cabinet or on open shelves. They are a great way to free up some counter space in the kitchen! 

Our pantry had melamine shelving before I started the redo, and a few years ago I wanted to store some of our small appliances on one shelf. 

We quickly realized we'd need more clearance above (especially for the toaster!), so I used full extension drawer slides to create this easy pull out appliance shelf
DIY roll out appliance shelf

If you're planning to use this for a mixer or other heavy appliances, make sure the shelf your pull out is attached to is secure and that the slides can hold the weight. 

I used the same idea to build a roll out shelf for our pans
DIY roll out for pans

Those IKEA racks are also great for storing container lids or plates. 

And finally, some of my favorite organizing products for inside the kitchen drawers! 

9. Expandable drawer dividers 

These bamboo dividers are awesome! Place them inside your drawers to create compartments for organizing smaller kitchen utensils
easy fix messy utensil drawers

They come in different sizes that fit narrow to wide drawers. 

These expanders are perfect for organizing forks, spoons and knives in a cutlery drawer as well!

Not only do they keep things separate, but also keep things from moving around when you open and shut the drawers: 
expandable drawer dividers

10. Coffee pod drawer storage 

My husband started drinking coffee about a year ago, so all the sudden we had all of his coffee items I wanted to corral into one spot. 

I created a beverage center of sorts by building this heavy duty open shelving and creating a spot for all of our wine glasses, coffee, hot chocolate needs and more: 
shelves with wine glass storage

I wanted to utilize the in the cabinets and drawers underneath, and this flat coffee pod organizer was PERFECT!:
coffee pod drawer organizers

It allows us to see what we have at a glance -- I'm always looking for hot chocolate, he only wants his coffee. ;) 

These K-cup inserts come in a ton of sizes and shapes. Check the depth of your drawers to make sure it will fit! 

Thankfully we have full extension drawers so we can open them allll the way out and access everything. 

There you go...my top ten favorite pantry and kitchen organization ideas I've incorporated in our home. I'm always thinking about how we use our spaces and trying to figure out the best storage solutions. 

Do you use any of these as well? I'd love to hear some of the ways you've organized your kitchen!

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  1. Sarah, I purchased the expandable drawer dividers you recommended, and I’m so happy with the result! I used to dread having to get out wrap or bags. I raised the dividers up just a little off the bottom of the drawer, and I can double-stack boxes. Thank you!


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