7 Design Tips for a Small Kitchen

While most magazines and catalogs are filled with glossy photos of enormous kitchens complete with an industrial sized refrigerator and an island large enough to seat twelve, many of us simply don’t have that much space in our home kitchens.  Perhaps you live in an older home built before the days when huge kitchens became the norm. Perhaps you live in a loft space or a condo that is streamlined for efficiency. Perhaps you’re an empty nester and just don’t need quite as large a home anymore.  

Whatever the cause of your cramped kitchen woes, take heart: there are plenty of tips from designers to help you make the most of your small kitchen remodel.  From storage solutions to illusions to trick the eye, you may just end up loving your small kitchen more than you ever imagined.

Look at Your Layout

Before beginning any kitchen remodel, it’s important to take a step back and thoughtfully assess your space.  While not an option for every situation, consider opening up the room to gain some square footage simply by taking down a wall.  Especially consider this if you have a galley kitchen. Removing a wall and adding an island with storage, a sink, or a range may one way to have a larger kitchen.  Wall removal not an option? No problem. There are plenty of other ways to maximize your limited space.

Function First

While today’s large kitchens often include a homework station, desk, or mail collection area, these are extras you cannot well afford in your small kitchen.  Above all else, plan for meal prep: counter space for cutting and mixing, accessibility of all necessary utensils, and efficiency in appliance choices should be the first priorities.

Consider Color

It’s no secret that lighter colored spaces feel larger.  In your small kitchen, choose light colored cabinets, countertops, backsplash tile, and paint.  

  • “Light” does not have to equal white, but your color choices should be on the lightest end of the spectrum.  

  • If you had your heart set on a deep shade of peacock, pull that color in with accessories and linens.  

  • Small kitchens are a perfect opportunity for a beautiful and showy backsplash.  Gorgeous wall tile can be pricey, but less square footage means less tile making that spurge choice reasonable.  Choose a tile that will reflect light for an appearance of openness.

Storage Solutions

Lack of storage is perhaps one of the biggest woes of the small kitchen owner.  A remodel is the perfect opportunity to address this problem.

  • Have cabinets installed all the way to the ceiling to maximize space.  In addition to providing more room for your stuff, ceiling height cabinets draw the eye upward giving the illusion of a larger space.

  • Consider open shelving for your most used plates and mugs.  While you certainly don’t want to put plastic sippy cups on display, a neat stack of pretty everyday plates or a row of clean drinking glasses looks attractive while the lack of bulky cabinets at eye level makes the kitchen feel more open.  In addition, open shelving makes those everyday items easy to access and put away.

  • Glass front cabinet doors act similarly to open shelving in that they create an illusion of more open space.  The advantage of glass fronted cabinets over open shelving is protection from dust.

  • When designing a new cabinet layout, leave no space unused.  Lazy susans make the most of often wasted corner spaces. Pull out racks in lower cabinets make buried pots and bowls easy to reach.

  • Shallow drawers can be installed in the toe kick of your cabinets, and a niche between wall studs over the range is the perfect spot for olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Leverage Light

Light colors reflect light, but you need light in your space to reflect.  In a small kitchen, don’t skimp on lighting.

  • Recessed lights, pendants lights, and under-cabinet lights work together to significantly brighten up your room.  A lighting designer can help you make appropriate choices.

  • If your home’s layout allows it, add a skylight to bring in more natural light.

  • Similarly, consider adding windows or expanding existing windows.  

  • If your kitchen windows are dated, look into upgrading to a single pane window that will flood your kitchen with sunlight making it appear bright and airy.

Appliance Awareness

Your choice of kitchen appliances can also help your kitchen feel larger.

  • Paneled appliances blend in seamlessly with the kitchen cabinets giving the appearance of a larger space.  

  • If your kitchen is very small, research alternative appliances.  An internet search for apartment sized appliances will turn up refrigerators, stoves, and dishwashers in narrower than standard dimensions.  

  • Small footprint appliances come in all of the trendiest finishes and colors, including stainless steel.  Shrinking your appliances will open up much needed counter space in the most space challenged kitchens.

Don’t Miss the Details

Hidden details can often make the biggest differences in small kitchen design.  

  • Specialized drawers for frequently used appliances clear these bulky items off of precious counterspace.

  • A slide out cutting board just under the countertop utilizes what is often wasted space.

  • Under counter soap dispensers installed next to the sink clear the clutter of bottles off your counters.

A small kitchen undoubtedly presents design challenges, but with careful planning, you can utilize every available space in your home’s center of activity.  And you never know: that small space you currently loathe may become your favorite spot in your house.

Are you looking to invest in a kitchen remodel? Contact our team of Richmond kitchen design and remodeling experts today!