Space-Saving Ideas for Making Room in the Kitchen

See how a small kitchen is made more functional by updating storage and creating a more efficient dining area.

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March 23, 2015
By: Brian Patrick Flynn

©Brian Patrick Flynn

The Inspiration

When designer Brian Patrick Flynn dined in this 75-square-foot L-shaped kitchen, he knew it could be better utilized with an integrated dining space — especially since the owners, John and Sarah, enjoy eating fresh, home-cooked meals. After convincing them to give their space up for a three-day design update, he focused on one clear goal: maximize storage and free up enough space to seat four people comfortably.


First on the to-do list was to create and install a four-person seating arrangement. Secondly, add warmth and pizzazz to the existing beige walls and ceiling with olive-green paint. Since a 52-inch radiator wall divided the kitchen from the living room, it was put to good use with a wall-mounted counter-height table. Former HGTV Design Star contestant Dan Faires created a one-of-a-kind table, designed to be kid-friendly, sturdy and made from reclaimed wood.

The Table

After cutting the lumber to size, sanding it, then finishing it with a wax treatment, Dan installed it directly into wall studs using heavy-duty anchors and drywall screws. With the table in place, the focus was turned to seating — adding a set of four stackable steel stools done in a powder-coated celery green finish. Since saving space was the most important element of the kitchen's update, keeping the stools stacked and tucked below the table ensured the floor surface remained open and unobstructed.

Pot Rack

Next, the goal was free up as much cabinet space as possible by moving all the cookware to a ceiling-mounted rack. A pot rack with an integrated light fixture with small halogen bulbs was the perfect fix. In order to take advantage of the vertical space and instantly add much-needed ambiance to the dining area, the lighted pot rack was installed above the table.

Open Storage

Since the kitchen is located just a few feet from the apartment's entrance, the dead space near the door was used to add open storage for everyday items such as cereal bowls, water glasses, coffee cups and bottled drinks. Basic plumbing supplies and darkly stained pine wood were utilized to create a low-cost, rustic farmhouse aesthetic. The project was created and installed in two days and cost less than $250 in materials. Approximately three cabinets' worth of items were moved onto the new open shelving.

Coffee Cup Holder

The final step in the kitchen update was to add space-saving tricks to the cabinets and countertops. Since coffee in the mornings is important to Sarah and John, adequate space for coffee cups was added by mounting an extendable coffee cup holder just a few inches from the coffee maker.

Bold Artwork

Although the kitchen is tight on space, personality was still squeezed into the design. One of Sarah and John's favorite art pieces hangs on the wall above the bar-height table. Not only does this add a true focal point to the kitchen, it also adds a touch of bold color to the otherwise earthy neutral space.

Soap Dispenser

The overall style of Sarah and John's home is contemporary, organic and rustic. To add a touch of farmhouse charm, a simple Mason jar was repurposed as a soap dispenser by drilling a hole into the lid, then inserting a pump from a discarded plastic soap container.

Paper Towel Holder

To free up extra counter space, a cabinet door-mounted paper towel holder was added to one of the kitchen's base cabinets. This is an easy way to save space without any handy skills; the holder simply clips to the top of the cabinet door and holds itself in place.

Spice Jars

Spice jars with chalkboard fronts allow Sarah and John to note which spices are contained within each jar. By choosing jars in the same green accent color used throughout the space, they double as decoration.

Pan Racks

Reaching for and sorting through pans can be irritating — especially inside of extra-deep base cabinets. Make life easier by installing upright pan racks, which use vertical space rather than the base cabinet's depth.

Wire Racks

Shelving space inside Sarah and John's wall-mounted cabinets is maximized with stackable wire racks. The racks come in different heights and widths, and they allow various sizes of plates to be stacked neatly within the same cabinet.

Wine Storage

To properly integrate wine storage into the kitchen, vertical space near the refrigerator was outfitted with wine bottle racks.

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