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  • Writer's pictureSophie Baylis

27 big ideas for your small kitchen

Is your kitchen a bit on the small side? Are you constantly looking for ways to make the space work better and more efficiently? You’re not alone! And I’m here to help. Read on for a whole host of big ideas for small kitchens.


1. Take wall cabinets to the ceiling

Make use of the full height of your room by taking wall units to the ceiling. This may mean investing in a made-to-measure kitchen design, but the extra square inches will provide invaluable extra storage, which can be in short supply in a small kitchen. What’s more, it’s a nifty way to draw the eye upwards, tricking it into seeing a space that’s bigger than it is. Design note💡store non-essentials at the top and keep everyday cookware within reach.


Storage is key in the kitchen. If yours is on the small side, a little creative thinking goes a long way. For example, sneak in a little extra storage as Imogen at @elm_terrace_interior has by adding hooks and racks to the end of a cabinet run.


2. Boost prep space with a kitchen trolley

If you’re hankering after a kitchen island but simply can’t squeeze one into your small kitchen, consider a kitchen trolley instead. You can move it around the space so that it never feels in the way. Plus, it will make your kitchen look and feel ‘lighter’, as furniture on legs tends to add a sense of space because you can see the floor underneath.


3. Maximise storage with a larder unit

Use space efficiently in your small kitchen with a pull-out larder unit. These can be designed to be narrower than a standard 600mm unit — ideal if you have an awkward space to fill. Plus, a pull-out larder provides a substantial amount of storage. A few words of warning: the racks that comprise a pull-out larder typically don’t carry as much weight as drawers, so be careful not to overload them.


4. Ditch cupboards for drawers

Drawers are typically more expensive to install than kitchen cupboards but they have many benefits if you have the budget. They’re easier to access and can be pulled out all the way to reveal what’s inside. This means no more scrabbling at the back of a cupboard to find what you need! Add drawer inserts to ensure cutlery and utensils are stored efficiently – essential in a small space.


5. Don't cut corners when it comes to storage

Depending on the layout of your kitchen, it may feature corner cabinets. The contents of these cupboards can be difficult to access without clever solutions, so … 👉 For easy access to the back of corner cupboards, install a carousel, which is designed to swivel so you can reach every item stored in the cupboard. 👉 If you prefer a pull-out storage solution, consider a Le Mans, a kidney-shaped shelf that pivots forwards as the cupboard is opened. 👉 Magic corners are another pull-out storage solution. Each tier is made up of two separate racks. As the front rack slides out of the cupboard, the back one slides across for easier access.


6. Squeeze in shelving

If your kitchen is compact, make use of dead space between your worktop and wall cabinets. One option is to add a narrow shelf so you can display a few prized pieces. Don’t forget that the shelf needs to serve a purpose, so make sure it’s deep enough to be useful.

📸 @marylovedeco 7. Keep cooking essentials within easy reach

Make use of the dead space above your worktop with a handy hanging rail. This is a great way to keep essential cooking utensils close to hand and it can look super stylish too.


8. Build in banquette seating

Banquette seating will help you squeeze more sitting space into a small area because it eliminates the clearance space that dining chairs need. (This is why you often see it in restaurants.) Design note💡incorporate drawers into the base of the benches to boost storage space.


9. Plan for a peninsula

Love the idea of a kitchen island but don’t have space for one? Choose a space-saving peninsula instead. It’s similar to an island in that it offers additional storage and prep space, but instead of standing in the middle of the kitchen, it’s attached to a wall at one end. Design note💡make it work even harder by incorporating a breakfast bar – perfect for informal dining.


10. Make your small kitchen more sociable

Don’t assume that just because your kitchen is on the small side, you can’t squeeze in a breakfast bar. Be inspired by @iamhayleystuart, who’s removed base units on one wall so she can extend her work surface to create a sweet spot for casual dining.


11. Dine in small style

Just because your kitchen is on the cosy side doesn’t mean you can’t have a dining table in it. A fold-down design like this one is a great way to have the best of both worlds.


12. Slot in a slimline island

Not every small kitchen will have room for a kitchen island, but if you have your heart set on one, source a slimline design like this one.


13. Consider compact appliances

Create more space in your small kitchen by considering compact appliances. Reduced-width dishwashers and reduced-depth washing machines measure around 45cm wide and 45cm deep respectively – a significant saving on the standard 60cm.


14. Hide your appliances

If your kitchen is small, consider hiding appliances behind closed doors so they blend with the rest of your kitchen cabinets. This option is more expensive than having your appliances on show, but it’ll create a seamless, uncluttered look that gives the illusion of more space.


15. Declutter your countertop

In a small kitchen, every square inch counts, so why not replace your kettle with a hot water tap? It’ll free up space on your worktop and deliver boiling water in an instant.


16. Consider handleless cabinetry

Handleless kitchen cupboards lend a sleek look to your kitchen that in turn creates the illusion of more space. There’s a couple of handleless designs to choose from: 👉 Look for kitchen cabinets featuring a channel that runs along the top or side of the door. This creates space for fingers to grip and pull open the door. 👉 The beauty of push-to-open handleless drawers and doors is that all they take is a light push to open.


17. Zone your small kitchen

It can be tricky to create zones within a small space – but it’s not impossible. In this narrow kitchen, Irene Gunter of @gunterandco has wrapped fluted wooden batons around the island. Rising above the worktop, the batons create a distinction between the cooking and dining areas. It also means that any prep mess can’t be seen from the dining table.


18. Remove your kitchen door

If space in your kitchen is particularly tight, you might be tempted to remove the door. This means cooking smells can escape into the rest of your house, so why not swop out your regular door for a space-saving sliding one?


19. Make white work

White is a great colour to choose if you want your compact kitchen to feel light and airy. Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, if you’re not careful, an all-white space can feel cold, particularly if there are lots of straight lines and hard surfaces adding to the clinical feel. My suggestions include: 👉 Steering clear of one shade of white, as it will make your space look flat. The trick is to layer in three to four different shades throughout the kitchen. 👉 Injecting colour will take the sterile edge off a white kitchen. Introduce it through accessories, the window treatment or a simple jug of bright blooms. Feeling a shade braver? Add in a colourful appliance. 👉 Introducing warm materials to your white kitchen will instantly make it feel more cosy (think wood). 👉 Adding fabrics brings instant softness to an all-white kitchen. Window treatments are an easy solution, but you could also layer in a floor runner to take the chill off.


20. Buy bold flooring

Small shouldn’t stop you from daring to be different! A bold floor creates a natural focal point and can distract from the lack of space.


21. Space-enhancing paint trick

An easy way to create the illusion of more space in a small kitchen is to paint everything the same colour - the walls, the cabinets and even the ceiling if you are feeling brave). What’s more, painting everything the same colour gives your kitchen a chic, seamless look.


22. Relocate laundry appliances

If you’re stuck for space in your kitchen, consider moving your laundry appliances elsewhere. Just make sure you consider practicalities, including: 👉 The further away a washing machine is located from an existing kitchen, bathroom or cloakroom, the more likely you are to need additional plumbing to connect it to the waste pipe. You’ll also need a cold water pipe (although this is generally quite simple to run somewhere new). 👉 Building regulations mean that plug sockets can’t be fitted in the bathroom unless they’re at least three metres from the bath or shower (shave-supply units are an exception due to their lower voltage). Bear this in mind if you’re looking to move your washing machine to the bathroom.


23. Let in light

Natural light is a decorator’s best friend, helping you create a light, airy feel in even the smallest of spaces. So if your cosy kitchen has a window, make the most of it by keeping window treatments minimal: a simple blind often does the trick. If your kitchen isn’t overlooked, you could do without a window dressing altogether.


24. Commission bespoke cabinetry

If your kitchen is a tricky shape (for example, if it has a sloping ceiling), you may find that units tailored to its quirks will be a better fit than something off the shelf. A bespoke design will be more expensive but can make more effective use of what would otherwise be dead space.


25. Boost the sense of space with reflective surfaces

A mirrored splashback is a brilliant idea for a small kitchen. The reflected light gives the illusion of a brighter and more spacious room.


26. Extend your living space

Patio doors are a fantastic way to open up your living space. They blur the boundary between inside and out, and help to make your home feel bigger even when the doors are closed. Plus, they allow more natural light and fresh air to flow through.


27. Open-up your space

Depending on the layout of your home, you could remove the internal wall separating the kitchen from an adjoining living or dining room. This will not only enlarge the space but also bring in more light and add a feeling of openness.


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