Designing a small kitchen: Don’t let the size fool you, small kitchens can be great!
Contrary to popular opinion, a small kitchen does not have to be a design hindrance. A small kitchen can be an opportunity to think creatively and use design to your advantage for both aesthetics and organization. At the very least, a small kitchen will allow you to express your personality and organizational ability.
Let’s take a look at how you can design a small kitchen so that it functions well for its intended purpose – preparing and cooking meals – and also as a welcoming household hub where you and your family will want to spend time.
When designing a small kitchen, one consistent goal is to make the room feel bigger. To achieve a sense of spaciousness, use lighting, mirrors, and windows to your best advantage.
Under-cabinet and recessed lighting can make your room look like a ballroom (well, almost!) and take up very little space. This type of light can also serve as task lighting or more accent lighting to add ambiance.
Hang a mirror to create another source of light. Its reflected light will make the space look larger. Stainless steel appliances and mirrored or reflective tiles for a backsplash also amplify existing light in the room.
To increase natural light and brighten up a small kitchen, consider adding a skylight or window (or making an existing window larger.
For an open concept kitchen in a smaller living space, like a loft, apartment, condo, or smaller floor plan, bold cabinets next to a contrasting background can make your small space pop. Consider white cabinets against a black wall, or dark oak against a bright white, or blue against a white or cream. These contrasting colors will designate the space as “the kitchen” and make it a focal point instead of an afterthought.
Bold can apply to more than color. Consider how to use all available space possible – in some cases that means taking your cabinets to the ceiling. Taller upper cabinets will give you a bold look and create additional storage in parts of the kitchen you may have given up on as dead space.
A full backsplash in a smaller kitchen sometimes overwhelms the room. But with bold cabinetry, a half-wall backsplash can add a contrasting color to liven up the kitchen.
Hidden and in-cabinet appliances
When you install a smaller-than-standard appliance in regular cabinet space, you open up wall space for more storage. This extra space comes in handy in a galley or one-wall kitchen. Appliance panels hide the appliances and look like the rest of the cabinetry, so your kitchen always looks clean and inviting.
In standard base cabinets, it is easy to have rarely used items hidden in the back of the cabinet for long periods of time. They can be hard to find and cause the rest of your items to be in disarray. Pullouts allow you to see all of the items inside the cabinet because they are on a pull out shelf.
You can also reclaim countertop and cabinet space with pullout dishwashers, refrigerators, and compact stove or microwave; you can use your countertops for more important decorations or daily use items.
Besides adding pullouts to the base cabinets, you can add them to upper cabinets as well. You can maximize the storage space generally used by a microwave shelf by installing an upper cabinet with a pullout shelf, which doubles your storage capacity.
Storage, storage and more storage
Many homeowners think that with a small kitchen, they just won’t have enough storage. While there will be less storage than in a larger kitchen, well-designed cabinet accessories can help you make the best use of the space available.
Imagine your kitchen right now: As a starting point, let’s say a “small” kitchen footprint is 10′ x 10′ or 100 square feet. A 10′ x 10′ kitchen can accommodate 11 or 12 cabinets depending on the size of each unit.
A standard 10′ x 10′ kitchen cabinet package will include 5 – 6 base cabinets and 5 – 6 upper cabinets. A kitchen designer will help you determine the right combination for your space. Look at the showroom cabinet models, and you’ll see open space and spacious drawers … ripe with organizational opportunities.
Storage inside the cabinets
You don’t need to restrict shelving in your upper cabinets to limiting fixed shelves. With full-height cabinets you have opportunities. Consider pullout shelves to maximize access – and therefore usage – of the top permanent shelf. Another alternative is to add vertical tray organizers to the uppermost cabinet. This allows you to quickly grab a single pan or tray rather than pulling out the whole collection.
Base cabinet shelves can be fixed or roll-out. Depending on the shelf’s function, it can include built-in organizers for dishware, pots, canned items, or a mix of any of these. You can also tuck a pullout pot hanger inside a base cabinet instead of consuming valuable wall space to hang pots on a wall rack. A concealed rack to hang pots also eliminates the visual clutter of an overhead rack. Visual space should be considered when you have a small kitchen. You may also want to install another roll-out shelf or small drawer underneath a base cabinet – instead of a toe kick – to store flat pans or linens.
Don’t forget about doors and other empty spaces
Most existing homes have been built with standard cabinet sizes in mind. Those widths range from 12″ to 34.” A kitchen plan for standard cabinets almost inevitably involves dead space here and there. Those 9″ gaps are typically concealed with a piece of cabinet front to create a clean, uniform look. You can use this dead space for a pantry shelf, spice shelf, or tray storage cabinet. A thin cabinet also works well for cooking utensils, or cleaning supplies instead of an on the counter holder.
Don’t be afraid to remodel your small kitchen. Embrace the space as it is and make the most of it with varied lighting, bold colors, in-cabinet appliances, and creative storage. Visit our professional, in-house kitchen designer team today to design the small kitchen of your dreams.