How to Organize a Small Kitchen Without a Pantry

How do you organize a small kitchen without a pantry?

I think most of us would agree that having a pantry makes kitchen organization much easier. Large things can be stored on the floor, wide open shelves to hold everything, and a door to close off the mess. 

There are many choices such as carts, shelving, and nonpermanent furniture pieces to make more storage in a small kitchen space.

But what do you do if you don’t have a pantry? Whether you’re sharing a house with roommates, living abroad, or live in a tiny home with no pantry, you’ve likely found yourself in need of more kitchen space. 

Staying organized in a tight space can be tricky, so here are 15 genius ways to organize a small kitchen. 

Create Storage By Adding Furniture

The simplest solution to having more space is adding more space. Cabinets, shelves, or additional storage furniture can easily expand kitchen storage. 

Use kitchen cabinets

Cabinets can both add storage both inside and on top. Additional workspace, storage, or decorations can be set on top.

If your kitchen doesn’t already have cabinets, there are some freestanding options available. Or if it’s within your budget, having some installed can add the storage that you need to stay organized. 

Get a freestanding pantry 

Like cabinets, this handy free-standing pantry can add some much-needed storage with the convenience of shelving built with food in mind. 

Not only will a freestanding pantry add storage space, it can also add counter space. Pots or appliances can be set on top of it, leaving the counter open for preparing food. 

Freestanding shelves

A very simple option to add storage space is using freestanding shelves. These range from low-cost plastic shelving to elegant and expensive. 

These shelves can be used as soon as they’re assembled, with pots, pans, and food stored right out in the open. Or if you’d prefer a more organized look, storage bins can be used to hide the food. 

Moveable island

If your kitchen has enough open space, a moveable island would be an excellent addition. This easy solution not only adds more hidden space but also adds more counter space. 

With the island on wheels, this option can be stowed out of the way and against a wall or in a corner when not in use and rolled into the kitchen when needed.

Not only will this add a splash of style to your kitchen, but it will also provide useful storage and workspace. 

Rolling kitchen cart

Similar to the moveable island, a rolling kitchen cart adds both open shelf space and a bit more counter space.

This small, moveable addition to the kitchen can hold a microwave to clear up counter space and the clunky pots and pans to free up storage space. Or, if nothing is stored on top, it can be used to add more usable counter space. 

Like the kitchen island above, this kitchen cart is also on wheels. Moving it out of the way is a breeze, same with pulling it where needed. 

Add shelves everywhere

If floor space is an issue, then look to the walls for additional storage. Shelving comes in lots of different styles and adds both storage space and decoration.

To add some visual appeal to your shelving, put like items together like baking supplies, spices or pastas in decorative jars. 

To get the extra mile out of these wall-mounted shelving, hooks can be added underneath to hang mugs, cooking utensils, and smaller pots and pans.

Buffet or dresser

For a more classic storage alternative, a buffet or a dresser can add both storage and style. A buffet for shelving or a dresser for easy-access drawers can add a lot of storage space. 

With so many sizes, styles and colors to choose from, this can be used as either a bold statement piece or be matched with the current kitchen style.

Storage without adding furniture 

If adding or installing furniture isn’t an option, there are still plenty other alternatives. There are many options to repurpose space or find space hiding in plain sight. 

Look to your walls

Taking advantage of height and wall space can provide plenty of options for storage. Looking to walls and above existing furniture and appliances often reveals unused space.

Clean out a coat closet

Cleaning out a nearby coat closet can add a ton of useful space. If it’s possible to move your coats and nicknacks to another place, then this option would work as a wonderful stand-in for a pantry. 

To add shelves for this option, there are many options. Freestanding shelves, or tension rod shelves, or even a shoe rack can 

A shoe rack or tension-rod shelving can turn any closet into a working pantry. Over-the-door shelves can add a perfect place for spices or other small items. 

Dry storage in another part of the house

If your kitchen is just too cramped, consider storing long-lasting food or lesser-used cookware in a different part of your home. 

Keeping cans, box-mixes and large pots and pans in a closet or tucked in a dresser elsewhere can free up kitchen space for things used often. 

Use drawers

Instead of keeping a junk drawer, clear out the clutter and use the space for more necessary kitchen items. 

Clearing out anything not used for cooking leaves space for what belongs in a kitchen. 

Sliding slim pantry between fridge and counter

If you have a space between the fridge and the counter, or the fridge and the wall, then this rolling slim pantry can take advantage of that space.

This option is excellent for storing spices or slim box mixes. It tucks out of the way when not in use, and the wheels provide easy access when needed. 

Hanging baskets

Hanging baskets can be placed in many spots around the kitchen and add a rustic flair to space. They provide a good amount of storage space and are conveniently close yet out of the way.

There are as many places to mount baskets as there are surfaces in the kitchen. They could be placed on the wall, on the side of the fridge, underneath a shelf, or above the counter on the bottom of the cabinets. 


Pegboards add very customizable storage space. Baskets, hooks, and shelves can be inserted anywhere on the pegboard, making this a very versatile option. 

In addition to being very organized, pegboards are a cool statement piece to a kitchen. These boards can be cut and used as a backsplash to a counter or used in one piece on a wall. 

The top of cupboards

Take advantage of space between the cupboards and roof, or space above the fridge. A stool and some storage containers can easily turn this overlooked space into functional storage. 

Stacking large pots or less used appliances on top can free up cupboard and counter space. If the look of things stacked up high is an eyesore, using storage bins or baskets can help the top storage look more appealing. 

Counter Tops

Consider kitchen counter storage. Adding jars for frequently used pantry items like oatmeal or coffee in large mason jars can add a minimalist and functional decorative element.

Adding a tree mug for the favorite coffee mug or hanging hooks under the cupboard for a less cluttered look can make saved space inside the cabinet for other things.

Cutting boards and cookie sheets can slide into some skinny spots or displayed in a wire magazine rack on the wall.


Troubleshooting Tiny Kitchen Organization

Many of us find the same issues when it comes to organizing. Each living situation comes with different storage obstacles and complications. 

Here are some of the most common problems with small kitchen organization and some suggestions of how to solve them. 

What do I do if I share a kitchen? 

Sharing spaces can get complicated. If the entire space is shared, then organization should be a team effort. But if it’s a split space, then beyond keeping things clean, then you’re only responsible for your portion of the organization. 

If there still isn’t enough space for everything you need in the kitchen, then try dry storage in your room or another part of the house. Putting long-term food beneath your bed (with bed risers if necessary) can help you store everything you need out of the way. 

What do I do if the open shelving and storage look cluttered?

Storage bins provide a nice coverup for storage out in the open. Coordinating the colors/styles of the storage bins can add a neat look to the space. 

In addition to organization ideas, storage bins can help with transporting things to the counter. Having bins for specific cooking activities makes transport and clean-up very easy. 

What if I live in a tiny house?

Tiny houses, like the name implies, have very limited small space. Wall-mounted fixes, like hanging baskets and pegboards, will likely be the most functional fixes. 

Kitchen gadgets with multiple uses are key for keeping tiny spaces organized. There are lots of multifunctional tools available that can help keep a tiny house organized and functional. Make sure everything you bring into your space can be used in several ways. 

What if I don’t have money to buy organizing products? 

Although everything might look better in uniform storage containers, shoeboxes can be just as effective for organizing a small kitchen. Look through the containers and boxes you already have at home and get creative. 

Empty food containers can be recycled as organizing products. You’ll be organizing your kitchen and helping save the planet at the same time. 

Also, ask your friends and family if they have any old baskets/bins/containers that they aren’t using anymore. People sometimes overbuy and are excited to get rid of their excess in a helpful way. 

Final Thoughts on How to Organize a Small Kitchen Without a Pantry

When you are facing the problem of how to organize a small kitchen with no pantry, the most important things to consider are accessibility and keeping the living area clear. 

New furniture will take away some of the living space, but in return, will provide lots of extra storage space. If you have the budget and space to add a rolling island or a buffet it is an excellent solution for organizing. 

Wall-mounted or repurposed storage solutions are best for people with extremely tight living spaces. Reclaiming unused spaces is the best way to make the most of your kitchen. 

Your kitchen space is what you make of it, having a good attitude and creatively attacking the problem will be the best way to organize your small kitchen. 

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