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9 Ways to Organize a Small Kitchen Without a Pantry

9 Ways to Organize a Small Kitchen Without a Pantry

Not having a pantry can mean that you don’t have nearly as much storage space as you might need.

Have you ever been in your kitchen preparing dinner or making your coffee in the morning only to wish that you had more space?

If you’re anything like me, then you go through this all the time. But without a pantry to help you organize everything, it can be tough. What are some ways you can do it?

The best ways to organize your small kitchen without a pantry include using your cabinet and drawer space, repurposing a bookcase, adding kitchen shelves, maximizing your counter and wall space, buying a rolling island, and using the tops of your refrigerator and cabinets.

If you’re like most people, you don’t have a lot of extra space in your kitchen, but there are plenty of ways to organize a small kitchen without a pantry. In this post, we will discuss some of the best methods for doing so.

Best Ways to Organize a Kitchen Without a Pantry

Organizing your pantry is one of the most important things you can do to keep your kitchen running smoothly. But what do you do if you don’t have a pantry? 

Here are some tips for organizing a small kitchen without a pantry. With some (or all) of these in mind, you’ll be able to find that extra space that you need in no time flat!


1. Use your existing cabinets effectively

One of the best ways to organize a small kitchen without a pantry is to use your cabinets effectively. If you have limited cabinet space, make sure to use it wisely. 

Because if you’re anything like me, then your cabinets are an unorganized mess and could definitely do with a cleanup and reorganization.

By doing so, you’ll be able to create more space and have a better system for keeping things organized.

This is also a perfect time to reorganize items in your kitchen in a way that makes the most sense to how you use them.

Keep the items that you use most often in the cabinets closest to the stove and fridge. 

For example, keep your pots and pans in the cabinet closest to the stove, and your plates and bowls in the cabinet closest to the fridge.

This will make it easier to find what you need when you’re cooking and will save you time in the long run.

2. Make a bookcase into a makeshift pantry

Another great way to organize a small kitchen without a pantry is to make a bookcase into a makeshift pantry.

If you have an extra bookcase or two – and if you don’t, you can easily find them at most garage sales – you can use them to store non-perishable food items as well as cooking and baking supplies.

This is a great way to free up space in your cabinets and keep your kitchen organized.

For those with the extra piece of furniture around the house, repurposing it as a makeshift pantry for this use can work great! Since bookshelves and cube organizers never really look out of place in any setting, this can easily become a more permanent solution as well.

Just make sure that if you’re going this route to choose a bookcase that’s the right size for your needs.

And if you have smaller items, make sure to use baskets or containers to keep them from falling through the cracks or behind the bookcase!

3. Fill and organize your drawers

This one goes almost hand-in-hand with the cabinet organization from above, but another way to make the most of a small kitchen without a pantry is by filling and organizing your drawers.

This can be a great way to keep things like silverware, cooking utensils, and even spices organized and within reach.

If you have deep drawers, you can even use them for storing non-perishable food items, like canned goods or dry goods in airtight containers.

This will help free up space in your cabinets and keep your kitchen organized and functioning smoothly.

Just like with the cabinets, make sure to measure the depth of your drawers before purchasing any additional organizational solutions.

This way, you can be sure to get the right size for your needs and maximize the space you have available.

And unlike having to repurpose a bookcase or cube organizer like in the tip above, you’re not adding any sort of footprint to your small kitchen here – you’re just making the most of what you have.

4. Add shelves to your kitchen and dining room

If you aren’t afraid of a bit of a DIY project, another great way to organize a small kitchen without a pantry is to add some shelves.

This can be the perfect way to not only create additional storage space in your kitchen but to also keep things off of the countertops and out of the way.

You can add shelves to just about any wall space in your kitchen or dining room, and there are a ton of different ways to do it.

You can buy some pre-made shelves and then install them yourself, or you could even build them from scratch if you’re feeling really ambitious.

For a quick solution, I would certainly recommend buying some from the store so you can just get right to hanging them up.

Shelves not only add invaluable storage space to your kitchen, but they also look amazing themselves. Floating shelves have been growing in popularity and are a great way to spruce up your kitchen or living space.

These get their name from the fact that there are not any visible supports above or below the shelf, giving them the appearance that they’re just floating on the walls.

5. Take advantage of your counter space

In the trick above, we mentioned adding shelves in order to free up some of your counter space.

But if you don’t have a pantry and you’re trying to organize your kitchen to take advantage of what you do have, then don’t overlook the counter space.

Once you’ve added the shelves and cleared up some extra room, it’s time to make the most of it.

With this extra counter space, you can start strategically storing things in plain sight that you would usually put in the pantry.

For example, if you have a coffee maker or toaster, put them on the counter instead of hiding them away in a cabinet. 

The same goes for things like your kitchen scale or even your mixer. This also frees up more cabinet space. See how everything is tying together?

By taking advantage of this extra counter space and storing things in plain sight, you can make your kitchen feel much more open and airy.

It will also be easier to find what you need when you’re cooking or baking.

6. Use all of the open wall space in your kitchen

While we talked about adding some shelving to your kitchen above, that’s only one way to take advantage of the wall space that you have available.

That said, don’t skimp out on adding shelves! After all, that is one of the best ways to make use of extra wall space in your kitchen, but it’s not the only way.

You can also hang certain things on the walls to help free up some extra cabinet or drawer space.

If you’ve ever worked in a commercial kitchen, then you’ve probably seen some of the ways that they hang cooking utensils and other small items on the walls using magnets or other means.

This usually helps to free up drawer space while keeping everything within arm’s reach.

Another popular option for making use of your wall space includes a coffee mug rack. These are usually hung near the coffee maker and can store all of your mugs in a neat and tidy way.

This also helps to clear up some cabinet space since you won’t have to store all of your mugs in there.

Finally, another option for using wall space is to install a pot rack. These come in all shapes and sizes, so you can definitely find one that will fit in your kitchen. They’re great for storing not only pots and pans, but other cooking utensils as well.

This helps to clear up even more of that much-needed drawer and cabinet space.

7. Buy a rolling kitchen island

If you have a small kitchen without a pantry to help with storage, then you might also be struggling in terms of prep space. That’s where a rolling kitchen island comes in handy! 

These are usually small enough to fit in even the most cramped of kitchens, but they provide invaluable extra prep space.

Plus, they usually have built-in storage in the form of shelves, drawers, or even a wine rack.

Not to mention, a rolling kitchen island can be hidden away when you’re not using it.

This is great if you have a small kitchen, because it means that you can clear up some extra space when you need it.

And since they’re on wheels, you can easily roll it into another room if you need to use it for other entertaining purposes.

The caveat to this is that when you’re not using the rolling island for kitchen prep and storage, you need to find somewhere to store it. In small homes or apartments, this could become a bit of a headache.

But it can always be used as a wine cart, a mobile concession stand for movies, or anything else that you can think of!


8. Put a lazy Susan in your kitchen

In most homes, the corners of your cabinet spaces go almost entirely wasted just because of the way that cabinets are designed.  But you can change that by adding a lazy Susan to those spaces! 

These are great for storing things like spices, oils, and other small items. And since they rotate, you can easily access whatever you need without having to move everything else out of the way.

If you’re really short on space in your kitchen, then you might even want to consider adding a multiple-layered lazy Susan.

These are two shelves that rotate independently of each other, so you can store twice as much in the same amount of space.

9. Use the tops of your refrigerator and cabinets

If all else fails and you’ve done everything that you can to come up with more efficient storage solutions in your kitchen, you should consider using the tops of your refrigerator and cabinets. 

These are usually pretty underutilized spaces in most kitchens, but they can be great for storing things that you don’t use very often.

Just make sure that whatever you put up there is stored in airtight containers to keep things fresh.

One thing to keep in mind with storing things at these heights is that it can be hard to reach them, so only put things up there that you don’t mind using a stool to get to. If you have small children, this might not be a bad way to keep things out of their reach either. I’m looking at you, cookie jar.

Conclusion to Organizing a Kitchen Without a Pantry

There are many ways to help organize a smaller kitchen that doesn’t have a pantry. It all depends on the room you do have and what kind of style you want to add in.

Floating shelves, lazy Susans, cabinet space, and additional drawer usage can all assist when trying to organize a smaller kitchen. It doesn’t have to seem impossible to get the space you need – use some of these tips to make the organized kitchen of your dreams.

Lindsay Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! I created this website to be a resource for everyone who wants to make the best home possible.