Where to store pots and pans in a small kitchen – 7 simple storage solutions for awkward utensils

These seven solutions are perfect for any tight spot, and they won't break the bank either

yellow kitchen with hanging rail and pot on stovetop
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Smaller kitchens need to fit all the same stuff as their bigger counterparts, which becomes particularly tricky when trying to store bulky essentials like cookware. So where do you store pots and pans in a modest kitchen without damaging them? 

While many of us may shove them stacked in a cabinet and hope for the best, this is not only one of the most inefficient ways of organizing pots and pans, but is a one-way ticket to damaging nonstick coatings and costing us money in the long run – both when we need to replace them, and when we burn our dinners.

Here, professional home organizers have shared their top tips for storing pots and pans in small kitchens without causing any damage. 

Where to store pots and pans in a small kitchen  

Small kitchen storage is, as the name suggests, rather limited, so it is not surprising if you have to prioritize storing food or other bulky appliances in cabinets and find another spot for your pans. Given that stacking pans haphazardly is a no-go, it is important to find some smart alternatives to prevent damage. 

1. Only keep pans you regularly use

bloomhouse twelve piece cookware set

(Image credit: Bloomhouse)

Decluttering a small kitchen is the best place to start when trying to store bulky but essential items. Besides decluttering the pans you no longer use, work through a full kitchen decluttering checklist to see if getting rid of other items frees up space for your pans to live. It might be that you get rid of an appliance you don't use in a cabinet and create space you didn't know you had.  

2. Stack pans in cabinets with protective covers between

Stack of pans

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The most common pan storage idea is to stack your pans in your cabinet, but as we have established, this causes scrapes and scratches on the protective patinas on your pans over time. The solution? Using protective covers between each of your pots, suggests Julianna Poplin, professional declutterer and founder of The Simplicity Habit.

‘In an ideal world, pots and pans would be stored in pull-out drawers in your kitchen. However, not all kitchens have them so storing them in a cabinet, or on shelves may be the only option. To protect them, you could use old pot holders, drawer liners with grips that you cut down to size, or another type of lightly padded material that will help to prevent wear and tear on your pots like a cotton trivet.’ 

3pcs Cotton Trivets | $10.89 at Walmart

3pcs Cotton Trivets | <a href="https://goto.walmart.com/c/1943169/565706/9383?subId1=hawk-custom-tracking&sharedId=hawk&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.walmart.com%2Fip%2F3-Pcs-Cotton-Thread-Weave-Hot-Pot-Holders-Multi-use-Hot-Mats-Non-Slip-Stylish-Coasters-Insulation-Hot-Pads-Trivet-for-Cooking-and-Baking-Grey-Set%2F995630661" data-link-merchant="walmart.com"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">$10.89 at Walmart
These cotton trivets are perfect for both protecting countertops and acting as a buffer between your stacked pans.

Julianna Poplin

Julianna Poplin loves to help clients discover an intentional life through organizing and decluttering their homes, having become a professional organizer in 2017 to help others find simplicity in their everyday lives. 

3. Store lids on the backs of cabinet doors

Storing pot lids in any kitchen can be a hassle as they slip and slide around cabinets and take up too much space – if they cannot be kept on the pans themselves for example if you were stacking them. 

‘You should make sure any lids you keep in the kitchen are ones you actually use regularly,’ advises Michelle Garb, professional organizer and founder of Free Your Space Now. ‘The others can be packed away until those rare times you need them.’ 

The ones you do use can then be kept in pan lid holders you can attach to the backs of cabinet doors to organize your kitchen cabinets without the fuss of a lid falling over when you want to get a pan out. You can find them all over the internet, but some highly-rated pan lid brackets are available at Amazon.  

Joseph Joseph Pan Lid Organizer | $11.99 for four

Joseph Joseph Pan Lid Organizer | <a href="https://target.georiot.com/Proxy.ashx?tsid=107655&GR_URL=https%3A%2F%2Famazon.com%2FJoseph-85149-CupboardStore-Cabinet-Organizer%2Fdp%2FB07R8VW2CT%2F%3Ftag%3Dhawk-future-20%26ascsubtag%3Dhawk-custom-tracking-20" data-link-merchant="Amazon US"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">$11.99 for four
This set of four pan lid holders is highly rated by users on Amazon and is ideal for quickly sticking to cabinet doors to contain awkward pan lids. Better yet, you don’t need any screws.

Michelle Garb
Michelle Garb

 Michelle Garb has helped hundreds of people just like you get rid of their clutter, organize their space, and get back in control of their lives with over 15 years of experience. With compassion and no judgment, she works with clients directly to help them get rid of the things they no longer need. 

4. Add in a hanging pot rack

white rustic kitchen with beamed ceiling and ceiling storage above white island

(Image credit: JLF Architects / Audrey Hall)

Depending on your kitchen's layout and the space available, a hanging pot rack could be a great, rustic alternative to your pan storage problem, suggests Julianna Poplin, a professional organizer.

Pot racks can come in two variations, ceiling mounts, and wall mounts, making them one of the best kitchen organizers for almost any kitchen if you don't mind a storage solution that keeps your pans on display. Just make sure you pick the right pot rack and fixtures to support the weight of your combined pans – especially if they are made of a heavy-duty material such as ceramic.

5. Add in a pull-out shelf to corner cabinets

White kitchen with pull-out drawer

(Image credit: HUX London)

Kitchen corner cabinets are often wasted space as they are awkward to reach into and pull things to the front. However, the simple addition of a pull-out shelf could be the solution you need to make this spot the perfect pan storage solution in a small kitchen.

‘These units are surprisingly easy to install in bottom cabinets and can double the amount of accessible space,’ enthuses Darla DeMorrow, professional home organizer and founder of Heart Work Organizing. ‘You can even do it yourself with some time and patience, making it a great quick fix too.’  

Darla DeMorrow

Darla DeMorrow is a certified professional organizer, productivity expert, home stager, and author. Her company, HeartWork Organizing, based in Wayne, PA, offers seminars and training as well as hands-on work with residential and business clients.

6. Consider a decorative peg board to hang pans on walls

Pegboards have become a great all-around home organizing solution from storing away clothing accessories to organizing a garage. In the kitchen, these wall-mounted organizers could also act as a great pot rack with adjustable pegs perfect for suspending your pans on display, says professional home organizer Darla DeMorrow. 

Bello Pegboard | $32.99 at The Container Store

Bello Pegboard | <a href="https://go.redirectingat.com/?id=92X1623321&xcust=hawk-custom-tracking&xs=1&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.containerstore.com%2Fs%2Fbello-pegboard%2Fd%3Fq%3Dbello%2520pegboard%26productId%3D11018274&sref" data-link-merchant="SkimLinks - containerstore.com"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">$32.99 at The Container Store
This customizable peg board is ideal for storing up to 22 pounds of weight, making it perfect for keeping everyday pans within reach. 

7. Store commonly used pans in your oven

Colorful tiled flooring, blue cabinetry, marble splashback, high decorated shelves

(Image credit: Always Sunday and CMS Architects, Inc Studio)

You may not think of an appliance as a great storage option, but when you are really tight on space, then you could pop your most commonly used cooking pots inside your oven when you are not using it, says Michelle Garb, professional organizer. 

‘There is a ton of unused space and racks you can adjust to fit your pots and pans. Just make sure you get everything out before you turn it on!’ she says. 


How many pots and pans should you own?

There is no set rule for how many pots and pans you should own, as it depends on how often you cook and the cuisines you indulge in. As a general rule of thumb, however, it is a good idea to have at least three saucepans ranging from small to large with lids, a frying pan with a lid, and maybe a wok, too.

How do you store pots and pans in a kitchen drawer?

When placing pans in a kitchen drawer, opt for the deepest drawer in your kitchen and try to avoid stacking them. Using a flat peg organizer can help to carve out designated spaces for each of your pans and their lids to make taking them out and putting them back simple without them falling on top of one another.
If you do have to stack them, be sure to place a protective layer in between each pan, such as a piece of clean fabric, a towel, or a trivet.

These smart tips for dealing with pots and pans when organizing a small kitchen are perfect for use in larger spaces too if you want to make clever use of space. For extra small spaces, consider combining two or more of these methods to create different zones, because the kitchen is many things, but more than any other room, it has to be functional.

Chiana Dickson

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.