Here are the ingredients for additional space that won’t cost more than a fraction of the $80,000 that the "Remodeling Impact Report" from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® reported was the median national cost to upgrade a kitchen.
Hang ‘em High.
Put wire racks on the wall above your sink, add S-hooks, and hang cooking utensils. It’ll free up a drawer or two. The backsplash area -- the wall area right above the sink and countertops -- is often underutilized and a great place for easy-to-clean, stainless steel racks and shelves. Cost: $50 to $200.
Nooks and Crannies.
Bare walls above a phone nook or cabinets, and underneath windows, beg for storage. Make use of that open space above your cabinets with store-bought shelves and brackets painted to match the cabinets. Cost: Less than $200.
For a built-in look, build a soffit above the shelves. Cost: Less than $2,000.
A freestanding window seat stores rarely used kitchen gadgets and provides additional seating. Cost: $200 to $500.
Cool It Already.
Do you really need a behemoth 36-inch-wide refrigerator that looks like an entertainment center? Downsize to an 18-cubic-foot refrigerator. If your refrigerator stands at the end of your cabinets, as most do, downsizing could save a foot of space -- enough for shelving to store dishes, canned goods, and supplies. Cost: Less than $500.
Don’t need much room for perishables in your small kitchen? Try an under-the-counter 5.7-cubic-foot fridge. Cost: $1,200.
Nuke the Clutter.
Get the microwave off the counter and into a drawer. Cost: Less than $800.
Cutting boards that hide inside your cabinets do double-duty as small kitchen tables or a bill-paying station. Caution: It’s tough to add these to existing cabinets. Consider them as a custom add-on when ordering new cabinets. Cost: $300 or less, plus the cabinets.
Some custom cabinets offer a “drawer” that actually hides a 36-inch extension table. Cost: About $1,000.
Borrow Some Space.
Pantries are easy to create from a nearby closet using shelves and roll-out wire bins from a home improvement center. Cost: $200 to $500.
For a fancier solution, architect Sarah Susanka of "Not So Big House" suggests using store-bought shelving units and building them into a hallway space. Cost for a 10-foot hallway: $5,000 to $7,500.