How come Mama didn’t think of this? 

If there’s anything that Mama taught us, it’s how to make a little go a long way. We’re well versed in the art of stretching a casserole to feed unexpected guests, and we’re experts at pulling off an entire room makeover with just one can of paint and some hand-me-down furniture. That’s why we’re kicking ourselves that we’ve gone all this time without taking advantage of every inch of our kitchen space.

The folks at Apartment Therapy recently schooled us in a space-saving lesson worthy of our mamas’ pure Southern genius, and we’re still reeling from our “Y’all! How come we didn’t think of this?” light bulb moment.

The answer to all of your kitchen storage needs has been right under your nose (or perhaps level with it) the entire time: Your kitchen cabinets. More specifically, the sides of your kitchen cabinets.

They’re a blank canvas for all your hanging and shelving needs, so you can free up room in your cabinets, on the counter, and in your drawers.

Want to maximize space in your kitchen? Here, a few smart ways to transform the sides of your kitchen cabinets into bonus kitchen storage.

1. Embrace the open-shelving trend.

Make the most of your cabinet-side storage by installing a few shelves. Line up your go-to spices (be sure to transfer them to matching containers for a sleek look), or put your favorite juice glasses on display. All about that morning joe? Create a one-stop coffee shop by stocking your shelves with everything you reach for when you stumble into the kitchen to grab that all-essential cup of caffeine: K-cups, mugs, sugar – all in one place. 

2. Hang cutting boards.

Say “so long!” to the cutting board lean-to that’s hogging all the counter space, and add nails to the side of your cabinets for them to camp out on instead.

3. Rethink the towel rack.

They’re not just for tea towels and dish rags. A towel rack on lower cabinets is prime real estate for hanging pots and pans with S-hooks, while upper cabinets are great for hanging utensils. Swap out the heftier towel rack for a slender bar that's just the right size to hold rolls of plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

How's that for thinking outside the box ... uh ... cabinet?