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The Drawerless Kitchen: How to Organize a Tiny Space

By Elizabeth Wolff | January 7, 2013 7:00am

NEW YORK — City apartment kitchens come in all shapes and sizes. The smaller ones suffer a common problem: too few drawers. Or worse — as in my case — no drawers at all.

Where do you put the utensils, cooking spoons, knives, wine opener and measuring cups?

For this cook, it was a challenge I took on with gusto. And allow me to report: I do not miss drawers. I do not miss the crumby build-up in the corners, the drawer liners that make it worse, or the random miscellany and clutter that accumulates over time. Without drawers, what you see is what you get. I show off my favorite silverware and see all my spatula options at once.

Here’s how I turned my drawerless kitchen into a happy, functional space:


You do not need two sets of measuring spoons or two wine openers if you only ever use your favorite. Believe me, you only need one ladle. In New York City, you will realize that all storage-related issues begin with cutting the fat.


Divide your utensils into seven categories: forks, spoons, dinner knives, cutting knives, serving-ware, cooking implements and frequently used miscellany (or, FUM). The first four should require one jar each, while cooking supplies may require two. If you have more than this, it’s time to pare down.

Stack 'em

Piles can look neat, especially when you stick to one or two colors. In the kitchen, white and gray are your best bets. Mix stainless steel with silver-plated for texture. Throw in a few colors as you collect them for personality.


If you lack drawer space, I suspect you also lack surface area. Do away with clunky knife blocks and buy yourself a knife magnet. They will change your conception of storage and ease your clean-up routine. For those who fear the magnet may dull your knives, time to invest in a sharpener.

Frequently-Used Miscellany (FUM)

I’m talking wine openers, vegetable peelers, cheese graters, scissors, tongs, measuring cups and the like. Many smart designs are already ready to hang on a hook. If you have one that doesn’t, tie a loop of butcher string around one end.


Quart Wide Mouth Ball Jars - Set of 12

Local deal: $1.49 each at Zabars

Best bets: $10.99 for 12 if you order for pick-up at your local Ace Hardware store

Convenience factor: $10 for 12 on Amazon

From the manufacturer: $15.00 for 12 plus shipping from Ball

Ikea alternative : $2.99 to $4.99 each at Ikea

Magnetic Knife Rack

Best bet: $13.99 at Ikea

Variety of sizes: 18 to 24 inches for $16.95 to $23.95 on Chef Depot


Shop local: $10.99 True Value Bruno's Hardware, 85 Court St., Brooklyn. Find your local store here.