So, you have a small kitchen. If your cabinets are overflowing, you’re constantly searching for counter space, and you bump into someone every time you turn around, you probably already know it’s time for an update – but what’s the best way to make this work?
Despite what home renovation shows or cooking competitions on TV would have you believe, you can get an awful lot done in a small kitchen. Some homeowners panic at the thought of knocking down walls or jack-hammering up floors in an effort to expand a tiny kitchen. As it turns out, you may not have to.
There are a lot of great small kitchen ideas out there, and somewhere there is a design layout which will be absolutely perfect for your situation. With years of experience in helping families make the most out of cramped or awkward kitchens, we have assembled some great tips and ideas that will help you get some inspiration for your own project.
Bright Colors Can Widen Narrow Spaces
Dark cabinets or dark painted walls can make it feel like the entire room is closing in on you. Lighter and brighter colors such as cream, a pale yellow, white, a bright and cheery orange, a spring green, or a robin’s egg blue can make the space appear wider than it is.
Never underestimate the effect that colors can have on your mood. If you are in an overly dark kitchen, you might enjoy the room less because it seems to closed in or depressing. Brighten it up both literally and figuratively.
Make a Bright Focal Point to Draw the Eyes Away From the Walls
If you would rather stick to mostly neutral colors in your kitchen, you can still create a bright and interesting focal point to draw the eyes away from the walls. A bright red refrigerator, a bold pink back-splash, or even sunny yellow laminate countertop can add just the right splash of color, without overwhelming the room.
Smart Storage Furniture Means More Floor Space
Walking paths sometimes become an issue in small kitchens, so getting as much stuff up off the floor as possible will help address that. Try these tips:
- Consider installing a trashcan in a sliding cabinet, rather than placing a large trashcan on the kitchen floor.
- A rolling appliance cart can be moved in or out of the kitchen as needed, freeing up floor space when it is not in use.
- A freestanding pantry can take up a lot of room, but installing spice racks on the inside of your cabinet doors, or adding shelving along your walls can help eliminate the need for that large cabinet.
Creating a wider walking path will allow you to work in your kitchen more easily.
You Can Get an Updated Feel With Modern Fixtures
One of the best things about small spaces is that you do not necessarily need to overhaul the entire room in order to change the look completely. You can do a lot simply by switching out lighting fixtures, refacing cabinets, or updating appliances. If your kitchen is looking dated, but you are working on a budget, consider a “facelift” as opposed to a complete demo and rebuild.
Don’t be Afraid to Work With What You Have
Some homes have kitchens that were clearly squeezed in at the last minute. This is especially true if you are living in an apartment or in part of a larger home that has been carved up into a duplex or twin. This can sometimes leave you with some very quirky features. However, rather than trying to completely reconstruct a brand-new kitchen, you can embrace those quirks and work with what you have.
Some kitchens have shelving instead of cabinetry, and that can make for a very unique look. Other kitchens may have exposed pipes, a rough concrete wall, or oddly sized cabinets. These don’t have to be an eyesore. Incorporate the uniqueness of your kitchen into your decor for a look unlike any other.
A Streamlined Look Reduces Clutter
If you’re looking to simplify your life, a very small kitchen may be a blessing in disguise. Getting a uniformly streamlined look throughout a small kitchen is much easier than trying to achieve the same look and a larger space. In other words, it’s much easier to keep 4 feet of counter space completely empty than it is for a 16 foot counter.
Take advantage of the small space and create a sleek, uncluttered look.
A Retro Style Compliments a Small Space
The sprawling kitchens that we see today are largely the product of new construction. Homes that were built in the last 10 or 15 years tend to have plenty of room for islands, large dining tables, double ovens, etc. However, people still expect that older homes will have smaller kitchens, and this can actually be a great decorating opportunity for you.
No matter how retro you want to go, you can get away with it in a small kitchen. Anything from 1950s Americana, to a more delicate Victorian look can really complement the small space. Now, instead of being something you try to hide, your kitchen can become a beautiful focal point at the center of your home.
Stainless Steel and Other Reflective Surfaces Make the Room Seem Bigger
You’ve probably heard that adding a mirror to a small room can give the illusion of space. While mirrors are not typically found in kitchens (although that’s no reason to exclude them from yours) other reflective surfaces are, and they have a very similar effect.
Stainless steel appliances with their shiny surfaces can help to open up a cramped kitchen. The same goes for bright white enamel, highly polished plumbing fixtures and even glass front cabinets.
Natural Light Makes the Room Inviting and Cheery
If you are lucky enough to have windows in your kitchen, be sure to put them to work. Don’t cover up these windows with heavy shades or blinds – instead, let the combination of natural light and a clear window make the room seem more inviting.
There is a reason so many electric light fixtures try to mimic natural light. If you already have it in abundance, take advantage.
Have Fun with Color
Another advantage of small spaces: you can get away with much bolder colors. While painting an entire living room in crimson might overwhelm all of the furniture (not to mention the people), painting the same color onto a small kitchen can really work.
Here’s another tip: the color doesn’t necessarily have to be on the walls. Neutral walls with colorful cabinets can also make a bold statement. Never seen colored cabinets? Talk to a cabinet retailer. You’ll be surprised at what you find.
Creative Storage Displays Can Become Part of the Decor
A good deal of small kitchen design comes down to clever storage ideas. At a certain point, you can only get so many shelves or cabinets onto the walls, so you may have to get creative in other ways. For instance, colored mason jars can store your dry goods or baking supplies, while also adding an attractive flair to your kitchen.
Baskets, bookends, hanging cookware or glassware racks, and ceramic containers can provide a lot of personality to your kitchen, while serving a very functional purpose as well.
Embrace the Coziness
Smaller spaces can be comforting, so why not lean into that and make coziness one of the main aspects of your small kitchen? For starters, go ahead and add comfortable seating to your table to make the space more inviting.
A good use of textiles can make a room seem softer. Area rugs, window valances, or even curtains acting as cabinet doors can give your kitchen a warmer and more peaceful feel. Perhaps your kitchen isn’t “too small” after all; perhaps it’s just cozy.
You Can Do a Lot With Lighting
A single overhead light may handle the entirety of a small kitchen, but there are so many opportunities to get really creative, why stick with the predictable? Custom lighting can sometimes cost a lot of money, but not necessarily if the space you are trying to illuminate is small. Here is yet another advantage of a tiny kitchen.
Seven or eight custom wall sconces might break the bank, but chances are you only need two or three for your kitchen. Any under-cabinet lighting you need can also be installed quickly and easily.
You Can Get a Very Sophisticated Look Without Too Much Fuss
It is completely redoing a large kitchen to achieve a more sophisticated book can be very expensive. With a smaller space, you can achieve the look more easily, and without spending nearly as much money.
Decide how best to allocate your budget. Perhaps stock cabinets will be just fine, because you would rather invest in a high-quality granite countertop and a really beautiful light fixture. Or perhaps you want to add a gleaming hardwood floor and custom tile backsplash and just reface your cabinets. However you decide to do it, your dollar will stretch a lot further in a small space
Exposed Brick or Stone Walls Add a Lot of Character
Again, small kitchens tend to be found in older homes, and there could be some real architectural gems hiding in that small space. If you can leave a single brick or stone wall exposed, that can add a rustic charm to even the most modern kitchen. Don’t cover over it, instead, let it stand out for its own uniqueness.
You Can Achieve a Uniform Look More Easily Than a Larger Kitchen
The tighter confined spaces of the small kitchen can lend themselves to simple, uniform designs very well. Because the entire space can usually be taken in at a single glance, you have a good opportunity to present a sleek and organized space.
If you are looking to go with a single color from floor to ceiling, or perhaps a single building material, you can get away with it in a smaller kitchen because the uniform theme does not seem as overwhelming as it might and larger space.
Geometric Patterns Are Great for Small Spaces
Bold geometric patterns are often often used sparingly, due to their tendency to make a space look a little too busy. However, with a small kitchen, the addition of a geometric pattern can lend a lot of color and character without the worry of overdoing it.
An accent wall painted in sharp zigzags, a uniquely tiled floor, or a repeating geometric backsplash all work great because they both draw the eyes away from the closed-in walls, and add lots of personality.
Don’t Forget to Go Up
When you absolutely need some extra storage space, the answer may be just over your head. Some cabinets stop before they reach the level of the ceiling, leaving anywhere from 6 inches to possibly 2 feet of unused storage space. Yes, you’ll probably need a step ladder to reach these upper shelves, but the option of extra storage is extremely valuable. Make a design statement and use every inch of space, floor to ceiling.
What do a black stove, a white sink, mismatched kitchen chairs, and a chandelier have in common? They could all be found in your kitchen. Because small kitchens are already viewed as somewhat quirky, you can get away with a bit of quirky decorating. For those who get bored with uniformity, or repetitive design, go ahead and let your kitchen decor reflect who you are.
Designing a small kitchen can seem like a very big job, but making some smart decisions can help you get the most out of the finished product. If you found some inspiration in this list, be sure to share on social media, especially if you have any friends who might be facing a similar challenge with their own kitchens.