Arranging Appliances in Small Kitchen Doesn’t Have to Be So Hard

How to arrange appliances in small kitchen // Kitchen Layout Ideas for a Small Kitchen

Kitchen Appliance Layout Ideas for a Small Kitchen

Do you wonder how to arrange appliances in small kitchen?

Are you struggling to figure out where in the world you will store all your kitchen gadgets?

Do you love the idea of open shelving but don’t feel like this is possible because your kitchen is so tiny? If you raised your hand to any of these, you’re not alone because I said yes to all three.

Every inch in a small kitchen is valuable space, so putting your appliances in the wrong spot can mess up the flow so badly that you may have accidentally put a cabinet in a place that blocks your oven from ever opening. That’s a problem, ya know?! Another kitchen layout issue is where the heck to put the microwave and trash can.

I’m on my third home reno and have the same issue of wishing I just had a liiiiitle more space. There always seems to be one major kitchen appliance making me wish I had more room to work with.

I will admit that I do like the challenge! It’s like a life-sized puzzle working with a little space and making all those large appliances fit.

Kitchen Layout Ideas for Small Kitchens

So, what I’m saying is I know what you’re going through, trying to find the best kitchen layout for your bigger appliances while working with a small space.

The good news is I’ve spent countless hours looking at different kitchen configurations and have come up with some clever ways to make even the smallest kitchens have a natural flow, all while maximizing storage space.

Here I am sharing my tips on configuring a kitchen layout so all the big and small appliances fit. And not just fit, but work for how you live and use your kitchen. 


Just a friendly reminder: This tutorial and any opinions or recommendations are genuinely mine, but this is not a substitute for consulting a professional. I also use affiliate links to earn a commission.


The Working Triangle for Arranging Appliances in a Small Kitchen

I’m pretty sure you already know about the working triangle in a kitchen. And for good reason, because it works! You may or may not also already know that I am not a designer. I’m a highly passionate home and decor enthusiast, so I immerse myself in this stuff all day. So, what I’m trying to say is I’m not even going to try to explain the working triangle.

I’m going to give you something better. My resource and trick for finding the best kitchen layout for all your major kitchen appliances. Here is it, Pinterest! I’m serious. Forget design school and jump right in by scrolling through endless inspiration. 

My trick is finding a kitchen most similar to the one I am redesigning. From there deep dive into different layouts until I find one that satisfies all my wants and needs. Here is my kitchen board on Pinterest if you’re looking for a nudge to get started. 

Best Spot to Hide a Microwave in a Small Kitchen

I’m not a fan of the microwave above the stove and have gone to great lengths, even in a small kitchen, to find a spot other than here to keep it.

I’ve considered removing the microwave altogether. But then, based on my frequency of use with the darn thing, I realized that would be a terrible idea. As a busy mom carting kids all over town morning and night, I hate to admit it, but the microwave is often our best option, particularly for veggies. So, the pro of the kids getting a veggie far outweighs that I “cooked” them in the microwave.

So, the microwave stays. But above the oven is out, so where is a good spot to keep the microwave? In a smaller kitchen, the microwave is often an afterthought.

Same with the garbage can, but I’ll get to that in a bit. The two best spots for your microwave are in the lower portion of an upper cabinet, one without cabinet doors, or tucked away in the kitchen island. 

Since I am on the shorter side, the kitchen island is ideal for me to prevent spilling hot liquids on myself. Also, it’s much easier for kids to reach. The height of your microwave is important because once they are mature enough to help make their own food, you’ll want them to access the microwave easily.

A word about wall-mounted microwaves

You can not take an above-the-stove wall-mounted microwave, set it in a cabinet, and call it good. And the reason is this style of microwave vents from the bottom. So if you cover the bottom by resting it on a surface, it no longer has a way to vent safely, and that’s no bueno.

I know this, not because I tried it. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t consider it. I definitely considered it. And the reason is that all the major appliance brands do a bundle deal, which always includes this microwave style. And to get the best deal, you have to buy that particular package. It’s a little frustrating because I don’t want that microwave, but I want the deal! I thought I could have my cake and eat it too.

I thought I could make it work by getting the above-the-stove micro and build it into the kitchen island. Not so fast, Amanda! Making this work requires modifying the cabinet to elevate the bottom of the microwave off the surface of the cabinet so air flows. And the idea of modifying my beautiful new cabinets A) sounded like a terrible idea and B) would take more time than the savings were worth.

P.S.  If you are a major appliance brand and are reading this, I’m speaking for the masses; no one wants a wall-mounted microwave!

How to arrange appliances in small kitchen // Small Appliance Storage Ideas // Kitchen Layout Ideas for a Small Kitchen

How to Arrange Appliances on a Kitchen Counter

Clutter on the counter is like nails down a chalkboard. And by clutter, I mean more than a few everyday items that serve a specific function. I’m also the queen of small appliances and have somehow accumulated them all. 

In a small kitchen, cabinet space and countertop space are at a premium. Electrical outlets are also a factor in this equation, making that valuable counter space even more limited. Here’s how I arrange small kitchen appliances on my small kitchen counter.

Coffee Maker

Coffee is life. It’s how I get out of bed at 5:30 before my kids and anyone else in the house. Knowing this, you can guess the coffee maker has the highest priority regarding countertop space.

The best spot for a coffee machine is either near the fridge so your creamer is within easy reach or near the sink so you can easily fill the tank. Mine is currently right next to the sink because the mug cabinet was right under this spot, so it made the most sense to put it there.

In my dreamland, I have a full-on coffee station (and a barista, a massage every day, and someone also to dry my hair), where everything I need to make coffee is right there. There is a pot filler, but not for a pasta pot, for my coffee pot. There is a mini-fridge with a shelf tall enough for the creamer container and a concealed trash can to throw away the used coffee grounds. 

A buffet is a great way to free up a little counter space if your dining room is nearby. I know this goes against everything I just said about the two best spots for the coffee maker. But if you have a buffet, you should consider this option because then you’re one step closer to creating the dream coffee bar.

Where is the Best Place to Put the Toaster

The toaster is another necessary kitchen appliance you’re looking for ideas on where to keep. Its shape makes it tricky, but I found a solution to that. It’s to find a slimmer-styled toaster. So instead of the bulkiness of the toaster facing out toward you, it’s longer and more narrow. 

The benefit to this is you’re not wasting valuable counter prep space. With a more narrow toaster, I can better use the counter directly in front of it to butter my bagel. 

But here is the secret sauce! In my quest for a slim four-slot toaster, I found one that also looks super sleek because it has very few knobs and levels. My Breville Smart Toaster is something straight out of the Jetsons with its automatic up and down with the push of one button. Who knew toasting could be so much fun? Check it out to want to add a little excitement to your morning breakfast routine.

With a narrow toaster, you can put it almost anywhere on your kitchen countertop, and it looks good because it looks less like an appliance. The best spot for a toaster is near the kitchen sink, so you can more easily brush crumbs away. 

Where to Put a Toaster Oven in a Small Kitchen

A toaster oven is even next-level difficult because of its size. And for this reason, I got rid of it! Yup. That’s right. The aesthetics of my kitchen design outweighed the functionality of the toaster oven. 

Although I used the thing quite regularly. Like most nights between mini pizzas, chicken tenders, sourdough toast, and so on, I decided what’s the point of having an oven if I’m always cooking in the toaster oven.

Why do I need a toaster, oven, and toaster oven? Since the toaster toasts the best and the oven bakes the best, I said bye-bye to the appliance that didn’t do either the best.

If you truly can’t part with your toaster oven, I suggest putting it wherever it is least noticeable. Somewhere like next to the fridge, so the side panel hides it. Or tuck it away in a corner on the counter you otherwise have no use for.

Small Kitchen Appliance Storage Ideas

I can’t talk about appliances and a small kitchen without also touching on storage. First, a small kitchen and storage are an oxymoron. Second, a small kitchen means you will have to store some of your smaller appliances and kitchen gadgets because there is just not enough space on the counter.

Where you want to store each appliance is something to consider when configuring your kitchen layout. Although storing your small kitchen appliances means concealing them, it doesn’t change the fact that you need easy access to them. 

There are two ways to approach storing small kitchen appliances: 

1) Have a designated area, either a pantry or cabinet, for all the overflow.

2) Keep each appliance in the cabinet closest to where you will use it.

3) A mixture of both of these options. 

I currently have a mix of storage going on in my kitchen because I have that many kitchen appliances. For example, the rice cooker and slow cooker are in the cabinet right below the counter space where I use it. The pizza cooker, stand mixer, and similar items are in the overflow pantry, tucked in a corner nowhere near I use it because I don’t actually use it.

If you’re completely renovating your kitchen, you should also consider and invest in some space-saving solutions such as an appliance garage, shelf risers or a lazy susan. 

Do’s and Don’ts of Small Kitchen Appliances

As tempting as it may be, do not get a pot rack and suspend all your dirty pots and pans over your kitchen island. I’m just saying that no matter how hard you try to clean them, they at some point had raw meat in them, and I don’t want to see that hanging over the spot where I make my turkey and cheese sando. It’s tacky. And too much clutter. And just gross. 

Do invest in a pots and pans storage rack that fits nicely inside most kitchen cabinets. There are plenty of options out there, and affordable ones too. Here is one that is reasonably priced, right around $20, and what I like about it is how it stores one of each size pot and pan. Remember, you have a small kitchen, so you don’t need more than one per size!


I hope you’re feeling better about how to arrange appliances in small kitchen and can find the best possible layout that fits your needs and lifestyle.


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