The (Unexpected) Essential Item I Keep in My Small Kitchen

The (Unexpected) Essential Item I Keep in My Small Kitchen

I don’t have a huge kitchen, considering I have an otherwise fairly spacious four-bedroom suburban house. You enter it from the living room or the garage and always end up hitting the refrigerator with the door on your way in. The kitchen has skinny pantry cabinets on one side and the counters form a U shape. To the right is a tiny coat closet — which sits under the stairs, limiting the overall space — where I store the trash can and a recycling bin. 

Even though my entire kitchen measures 100 square feet, I still make room for one non-traditional yet essential (to me!) item: a plastic laundry hamper. And I stash it in the dead space of my coat closet, right next to the trash can and recycling bin.

I started keeping a hamper in my kitchen because of the pandemic (which is also when I moved into this house). Dirty masks came home in backpacks and purses and I’d leave them at the foot of the stairs to take to the laundry room. Then, my puppy (another pandemic addition) would take it upon herself to eat them up, or, they’d get trodden on or kicked around and by the time I’d find them (if I did!) I didn’t know if they were clean or dirty. I was sick of the mask mess, so I stuck a hamper in the coat closet and started throwing masks and dish rags in there. 

Soon random discarded t-shirts, sweatshirts, pee-soaked pants, and all other manners of “things needing washing” found their way to the kitchen hamper. My son has a propensity to remove his socks the moment he gets in the car after school so I started scooping those up (or, if I’m lucky, prompting him to) and getting them to the hamper. In the summer, pool towels or post-water fight towels had a receptacle here. In the winter, wet gloves got tossed in too.

When it reaches capacity or we run out of masks or dish rags, I take it upstairs and wash it all on hot since it’s the kind of stuff that’s dirty enough to require the sanitary cycle. 

Making space for these gross things has made my house cleaner. And finding something that logically goes in the dead space of my imperfectly designed closet makes me feel like I’m using the space to the fullest potential. I was happy to hear that I’m not alone in this: My neighbor shared that she too stores a hamper in her kitchen, which she primarily fills with clothes that her toddler destroys after every meal. Barring a full remodel, I feel I am making the most of the kitchen space I have.

Whether it’s a kitchen hanging basket or mesh bag, mudroom hamper, or garage basket, many of us have a catch-all tool in our homes. What’s yours?

How to Keep Pet Supplies Organized

How to Keep Pet Supplies Organized

Shifrah Combiths


With five children, Shifrah is learning a thing or two about how to keep a fairly organized and pretty clean house with a grateful heart in a way that leaves plenty of time for the people who matter most. Shifrah grew up in San Francisco, but has come to appreciate smaller town life in Tallahassee, Florida, which she now calls home. She’s been writing professionally for twenty years and she loves lifestyle photography, memory keeping, gardening, reading, and going to the beach with her husband and children.

This Ingenious Organizer Instantly Doubled My Under-Counter Bathroom Space (It’s on Sale!)

This Ingenious Organizer Instantly Doubled My Under-Counter Bathroom Space (It’s on Sale!)

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

I’m in the middle of moving (which is one of my least favorite activities) and noticed that in my new one-bedroom apartment that I have even less bathroom storage space than I used to. As a former beauty writer, I have quite the skincare and makeup collection — eight bags worth. My new place only has a cabinet under the sink for me to use (and share with my boyfriend). If you do the math, you’ll realize that eight bags definitely can’t fit in there. I immediately took to Amazon to see what budget-friendly storage solution I could find.

Luckily, I stumbled upon this genius two-tier organizer from madesmart. I’ve come across my fair share of inside-the-cabinet organizers but this one is more innovative — and requires no tools to build. Instead of an organizer that has two tiers fused together, this organizer allows you to easily slide the tiers in and out. You can even pick up and remove both bins; they can live on their own in your home without the organizer structure if you no longer need it.

The organizer took advantage of so much previously unused vertical space. I was able to fit two bags worth of skincare into the top tier and used the bottom tier for extra toothpaste, Q-tips, contact lenses, and dental floss. The only downside is that you can really only put shorter objects in the bottom organizing bin.

Now, it’s easy to grab what I need out of these bins in the morning. I simply slide out the bottom drawer if I need to get my contact lens or restock my toothpaste.

I’ve moved apartments five times in the last seven years, so I’m used to pivoting based on how much storage space I’m going to get. Maybe I won’t have a bathroom cabinet at my next place (though I don’t even want to think about moving right now)! These bins can be repurposed in the kitchen (even in my fridge), on my desk or even on my closet shelf. I know that regardless of where I live that these bins will be with me for a while.

And I’ve got some good news — even though I didn’t manage to snag these on sale (I paid the full $29 and bought two), these organizers are only $20 right now. I opted for the clear version, but there’s also a frost one available.

Alicia Kort

Senior Commerce Editor

Alicia Kort is the Senior Commerce Editor at Apartment Therapy. She enjoys writing about cool finds and all things organizational. She’s based in Brooklyn and is from the suburbs of Chicago.

5 Products AT Editors Swear By for an Organized Pantry

5 Products AT Editors Swear By for an Organized Pantry

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

If there’s one area in your kitchen that can quickly fall into disarray, it’s your pantry. Housing all of your cooking staples (and then some), keeping this essential space organized is not only a want but a need. The best way to do this? With a great organizer, of course! But finding the perfect one? That’s a different story. With so many options, finding the right one for you can be a challenge — that’s where we come in. At Apartment Therapy, we’re always on the hunt for top-notch products, with smart organizers being some of our favorites (because an organized home is a happy home, right?). To help you out, we polled our staff to find out which organizers they use to keep their pantry in tip-top shape. From classic over-the-door racks to shelving units, turntables, and more, here are five of the best pantry organizers you can buy today.

Do you have a pantry organizer you swear by? Let us know in the comments below!

Sarah M. Vazquez

SEO Commerce Editor

Sarah writes about all things shopping for Apartment Therapy, The Kitchn, and Cubby helping you find the best deals and the best products for you and your home. A Brooklyn-born Jersey Girl, she loves a good playlist, a good bagel, and her family (but not necessarily in that order).

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See How This Family of Five Is Able to Live Stylishly in Just 600 Square Feet

See How This Family of Five Is Able to Live Stylishly in Just 600 Square Feet

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

Name: Heather, Michael, Lennon (4 years), Georgie (2.5 years), and James (15 months)
Location: Upper West Side — Manhattan, NYC
Size: 600 square feet
Type of Home: Apartment
Years Lived In: 9 months, renting

Six hundred square feet of living space is small even for just one person. But for a couple and their three kids who are doing so both stylishly and functionally? Now that’s impressive. But that’s just what Heather and Michael are accomplishing with their three young daughters after moving from California to New York recently. “We found our apartment while we were still living in California, prior to moving to New York City,” writes Heather. “We did a virtual tour of the space, fell in love from afar, and the rest is history!

Despite so many people living in so little space, their home doesn’t feel too crowded or busy at all, thanks to both architectural elements the apartment provides and decor and storage ideas the couple implemented. “Our favorite thing about the apartment is definitely the view of Central Park. Looking out the window and seeing wide open space and lots of trees makes the small space feel so much bigger — almost like we have a yard (*almost*)! We live in a corner unit which has given us some additional windows and lots of natural light — a very close second favorite feature about the space.” Along with embracing all the natural light (and enhancing it with a few well-placed mirrors), the couple also stuck to a neutral and light color palette, which helps make the place feel serene and airy. And they used vertical space wisely to free up floor space, like the living room’s sleek wall-mounted shelving, and the primary bedroom’s petite wall-mounted work space.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Cozy, thoughtful, not fussy, somewhere between minimal and collected.

Inspiration: I find a lot of inspiration from interior design books and Pinterest (I could look at photos of beautiful interiors for hours!). I love and appreciate so many different styles and I find that my inspiration is always changing and shifting, which is usually reflected in our home in some way. Definitely inspired by nature as well — natural textures, materials, and colors are some of my favorite design elements.

Favorite Element: Most definitely the corner window in the girls’ room. It has a little perch — just big enough to sit on — and it makes for the loveliest little window seat. They get tons of natural light in their room and have a wonderful view of the park that we love to enjoy from the corner window.

Biggest Challenge: Finding a way to create a functional and beautiful 600-square-foot space for a family of five was no simple task! We had to be very intentional about the choices we made when it came to furniture, storage, and “stuff” in general. We majorly pared down when we moved here and kind of started over in a sense — we wanted to make sure all the big furniture items were just the right size, in hopes that it would make the space feel bigger and to make the most of every square inch, all while maintaining some negative space as well and not filling every single inch of every room with stuff.

We’re constantly editing our things since even bringing in a couple of new things can affect how the space feels. Minimalism in this sense has been key for us to not feel like we’re bursting at the seams!

Proudest DIY: I’ve been painting a lot the past few months, and I had a lot of fun creating some original pieces for our home (one in the living room, one in our room above the desk). I really enjoyed getting to create unique paintings that I felt complement the rooms and make them feel unique and collected.

Biggest Indulgence: Our Serena & Lily sconces in our bedroom — 100 percent worth it! I love them so much and feel like they make such a lovely statement while still feeling really simple. They bring so much to the space.

What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why?

Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Utilize the walls and go up when it comes to storage (think hanging wall baskets, shelves, stackable storage crates, etc.), hang a large mirror to make a small space feel bigger, and tidy up often! Also, bring in multipurpose items where you can — we use a big stack of books as a side table in the living room, use the small wicker bench as a footrest and an extra seat, etc.

Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Be patient when it comes to decorating! If you’re at all second guessing a purchase for your home, wait. When the right thing comes along, you’ll know.

Thanks Heather and family!

Erin Derby


Originally from California, but turned New Yorker since 2000, I’ve been shooting my entire life and am still inspired and excited about it. Lately I have been putting my energies into my Fine Art, which can be seen on my website and on Saatchi Art. Being infatuated with interior design doesn’t hurt either, which mixes well with my love of photographing interiors.

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