Ask any homeowner, and they’ll tell you their kitchen’s too small. There’s never enough space, even if you’ve installed toe-kick drawers and an over-the-door organizer to sneak a few extra shelves into your pantry. But when your kitchen clocks in at 124 square feet total, you truly can’t afford to waste a square inch. That was the challenge the renovators hired through Sweeten, a platform that connects homeowners with licensed general contractors, faced as they remodeled a home in the Bronx, New York. They couldn’t expand the square footage, so they had to be strategic—and they came up with five smart storage ideas worth borrowing for your own home, no matter the size of your pad.
1. Built-in paper towel holder
You have a silverware drawer, a utensils drawer, a junk drawer—but be honest: How many more narrow drawers do you need above your cabinets? Why not use one of those spaces to stow a paper towel roll? The built-in look is sleeker than having a roll dangle from your upper cabinets, and it still frees up your counter space.
2. Peninsula breakfast bar
We’d all love to have an eat-in kitchen with its own breakfast nook, but that’s not always a reality. Sweeten’s contractors found a middle ground by creating a peninsula instead, then using the space under the table to fit in extra cabinets. Now four to six people can hang out near the kitchen, without being all up in the cook’s business. When people aren’t over, it’s blessed extra counter space for prepping meals. (Pro tip: Painting the wall navy helps make the peninsula feel like more of its own space, making the room seem a bit bigger than it is.)
3. Rethink the Concept of a Hutch
A classic hutch is a great way to display your nicest dishware—without them getting as dusty as they do on open shelves—but it’s hard to sacrifice what’s essentially a fridge’s worth of space to a single piece of furniture. Well, here’s a smart workaround: Install glass-front shelves from the ceiling to your countertop that are half as deep as your counter. That way, you can still display your wine collection or those Moscow mule mugs from that summer you got way too into ginger beer, while still sneaking in a little counter space.
4. Microwave cabinet
Nobody wants to stare at a microwave, and these days, you can buy plenty of drawer-style designs that get that box off your counter and largely out of sight—until the next Trader Joe’s frozen mac and cheese craving hits, of course.
5. Banish Your Wastebasket
Stop tripping around your trash bin. A pull-out cabinet—in this case, located right under the built-in paper towel dispenser—stows a wastebasket and recycling bin. This move frees up floor space, making it easier to get around, and best of all, it’s out of sight, out of mind...until it’s garbage day.