Japanese kitchens are known across the world for being small, which is why organizing and making use of any storage areas is so important. Thankfully, kitchens in rental apartments have a similar structure so there are so many shops selling items that are specifically made to help organize most kitchens in Japan.
Some people have a knack for figuring out how to organize a space and finding unique ways of storing things. If this doesn’t sound like you, please don’t worry! Below are some of the easiest and most practical ways to organize a kitchen. These are all things that are either free or affordable and they work perfectly for small kitchens.
Storage containers are one of the most essential parts of organizing your kitchen. Put everything you can into containers! Storage containers help to divide up all your items which makes things much easier to find when you need them. Plus, having clear surfaces makes things look a lot more tidy and clean.
At most 100 yen stores you can find stackable storage containers. These are great because you can utilize vertical space rather than spreading things across your only surface. Use these to store dry food.
One way to get storage containers for free is by collecting any jars from your food that would otherwise just go in the bin. Clean these out and remove the label by soaking them in hot soapy water and then peeling it off. Larger jars can be harder to come across, so you may want to supplement this with some mason jars from a 100 yen store. If you want all your jars to be the same size you may also want to buy mason jars instead.
Some people like the look of having their dried foods in mason jars displayed along any available surface in the kitchen or living space. If this doesn’t suit you, we have various ideas for more discreet or alternative ways to organize your bits and pieces.
There are going to be things that you don’t need a whole container for, but that just exist in your living space. Keys, coins, cooking tools and ingredients, and other miscellaneous bits can end up spread across the kitchen top making the whole kitchen look messy and disorganized.
Simply putting all these miscellaneous bits into a tray will make things look and feel much more organized. A small tray for your keys and any other clutter will keep them in one place at all times so you won’t have to deal with losing them. A tray can add a nice personal touch to your kitchen space too. You can find beautiful small ceramic trays, bowls, and dishes made by local crafters, or you can find cheaper second-hand ones at stores like Off House and Second Street.
If you keep any cooking tools or ingredients such as spices and oils on the surface for easy access, you could put these in trays too. As well as making things more organized, trays will make things easier to clean. You could use all different kinds of trays; plastic, lacquerware, ceramic, and more. Consider the function of the tray when thinking about what you want it to be made out of. Plastic is much easier to clean, but if you are having this tray out for display, you may want something that looks nicer.
Have you got any two walls in your kitchen that are close to each other? Stick a tension rod between them for extra storage. You can even stick a tension rod in any cabinet.
Many kitchens have a large cupboard under the sink, and often it won’t have shelves. Make use of the vertical space that would otherwise just be empty or a mountain of mess. Put up a tension rod at the top of the space between the sides. This is a great spot for discreetly hanging any cleaning products or tools since you can hook spray bottles over the rod.
If you have any other places in the kitchen that would be good for a tension rod you could use these for extra storage. If it is an exposed area, think about storing things in a way that looks good to you. Add hooks over a tension rod to store your cooking spatulas, spoons, pots, and pans. Or you could store any fruit and vegetables that don’t need to be refrigerated in mesh produce bags.
If you don’t have anywhere to drain your dishes when washing up, make a dish drainer in your sink. Put up two tension rods and place a surface on top of these. You may want to use this technique to make more tension rod shelves in your kitchen space.
Hooks can be a creative storage solution if you don’t have much surface space. Use hooks in combination with a tension rod for all your kitchen tools. If you don’t have space for a tension rod you can still use hooks. You can find different hooks in 100 yen, furniture, and kitchen stores. There is one type of hook with a suction cup so that you can attach it to walls.
Hooks can be a great way of hanging your produce too. You can put any fruit and vegetables that don’t go in the fridge into mesh produce bags and hang that from a strong hook. Having fresh food on display may also tempt you to eat it more too!
Corner Shelves and Wheeled Units
If you can invest a small amount of money into some corner shelves or shelving unit with wheels it may be worth it. If you spend a lot of time cooking this can make a big difference, especially if your storage is overflowing.
At furniture shops such as Nitori, Ikea, and more, there are shelving units in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Check out Rakuten and Amazon too. You can even find thin shelving units on wheels that you can pull around. You can stick these in small spaces between your cupboard and fridge for spices for example.
If you have available corner space, use some corner shelves. Corner shelves add a lot more storage space without taking up too much space in the kitchen.
You can find plenty of organizing tools and bits of furniture at 100 yen stores. For more upmarket pieces look at Nitori, Ikea, Rakuten, and independent stores. If you have exhausted all storage options and you still don’t have enough space, it may be time to find an apartment with a larger kitchen space. This doesn’t mean you have to pay more rent however, please have a look at our rental apartments for an affordable home.