Small Kitchen Magic: Tricks to Make Your Space Look Larger

Hey friends! It’s Amanda here, coffee in hand and ready for another cozy home decor chat. Today, we’re tackling a topic near and dear to many of us city dwellers – how to make a small kitchen look and feel more spacious. 

Living in New York, I’ve seen my fair share of cramped, narrow galley kitchens. But over the years, I’ve gathered plenty of tricks to help transform even the tiniest kitchen spaces. The keys? Illusion and smart design. With a few strategic changes, you can completely change the perception of your kitchen’s size and make the most of every precious square footage. 

So brew a fresh cup, add upbeat music, and dive in!

Light is Your Best Friend

When opening up a small kitchen, light is hands down your number one ally. Both natural and artificial light can make an incredible difference in how broad and airy your kitchen feels. Here are some of my favorite ways to maximize light in a compact kitchen:

light colors for a small kitchen

Natural Light: 

Do everything possible to allow copious amounts of natural light into your small kitchen. Keep window areas clutter-free and use window treatments like sheer curtains, valances, or blinds. This ensures sunlight can stream in unobstructed. Sheer kitchen curtains in light colors like white or beige are perfect for diffusing sunlight without blocking it out.

If your kitchen lacks windows, consider adding more – skylights can be a game changer! Analyze the direction of sunlight and ensure new windows or skylights are placed accordingly. North-facing windows receive the most even natural light throughout the day.

Artificial Light:

In addition to natural light, a layered lighting scheme is essential for a small kitchen. Incorporate ambient lighting like recessed downlights or track lighting, task lighting like under-cabinet fixtures, and accent lighting like mini pendant lights. 

Under-cabinet lighting is crucial for illuminating dark countertops – you’d be amazed at the transformation! Some affordable options for layered lighting include recessed downlights, statement lighting, globe pendants, table lamps, LED strip lighting, and spotlights. 

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Consider the size of your kitchen, existing natural light, and wall colors when deciding on your lighting scheme – a kitchen with white walls will need less overall lighting than one with dark colors. The goal is to avoid dark, shadowy corners and ensure your compact kitchen is bright from multiple angles.

small kitchen white

Opt for a Monochromatic Color Scheme

Color choices can affect the mood and perceived size of a kitchen. Lighter shades are expansive, making small kitchens feel more open and airy. Some go-to options include whites, creams, soft grays, and beiges – these colors reflect the maximum light and give the illusion of more space. 

While a wholly white or beige kitchen may feel too sterile for some, don’t resist injecting personality with accent colors! Metallic accents like brass and copper add a glamorous touch, while colorful accessories, natural elements, and plants create a lively atmosphere. Simple curtain patterns or an upbeat refrigerator can also do wonders.

Consider the existing cabinet and trim color when selecting wall and accent shades. While lighter wall colors work best, consider deeper hues like navy blue if you use them strategically, like on just one accent wall. The most important thing is choosing a cohesive color palette that enhances the mood you want for your kitchen.

Reflective Surfaces to Enhance Depth  

Want to double your visual space easily? Incorporate reflective surfaces like mirrored or glass backsplashes. The reflective quality creates the illusion of depth, allowing you to see past the boundaries of the kitchen. 

small kitchen open shelves

Other options include glossy countertops like quartz or granite. Stainless steel and chrome finishes on appliances, hardware, and lighting fixtures also introduce eye-catching shine. When using reflective materials, stick to a few statement pieces not to overwhelm the compact kitchen. Their strategic placement makes all the difference!

Streamlined and Consistent Design Elements

Maintaining a streamlined aesthetic dramatically improves the look and functionality of a small kitchen. Handleless cabinets create a clean, uncluttered appearance, as do cabinets reaching the ceiling. 

Maximize storage space and reduce visual clutter by eliminating gaps between cabinets and ceiling. Open shelving is another space-savvy option, but beware of chaos! Use only a few streamlined decorative items so shelves stay neat.

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Small kitchen stainless steel counters

The goal is to stick to a minimalist, cohesive look using sleek finishes and consistent design motifs throughout the kitchen. This could mean matching cabinet hardware, repeating a subway tile pattern on the walls and backsplash, or using the same light fixtures.

Limiting Clutter and Maximize Functionality

Clutter is the nemesis of small kitchens everywhere. Ensure to keep countertops, sinks, and cooking zones clear of everything but the essentials. Store gadgets, appliances, and other items out of sight in drawers, cabinets, or shelves when not in use. 

Multi-functional appliances like microwaves with convection ovens or all-in-one cooking gadgets are a compact kitchen’s best friend. They streamline your cooking process while saving precious real estate. Under cabinet spice racks, pot lid racks, and paper towel holders also help organize necessities in unused vertical space.

Small kitchen with glass table

Use Furniture That Doesn’t Overwhelm the Space

Furniture placement and scale are so important in a small kitchen. Ensure your table and chairs are appropriately sized – round tables are great space-savers. Bar stools with low backs can fit along a kitchen island without impeding movement. 

Clear acrylic or glass furniture instantly creates a lighter, more spacious look. A petite wire bistro set on your breakfast nook can provide seating without crowding the room. If space allows, transparent furnishings like a glass dining table or acrylic chairs make popular additions.

Optimal Floor Choices 

Floors may seem an afterthought but they hugely impact your kitchen’s aesthetic. Light, continuous flooring helps small kitchens appear seamless with adjoining rooms. Extending the flooring material like wood or tiles from the kitchen into nearby hallways or dining areas makes spaces feel connected.

Small kitchen with light wood floor

The direction of floorboards also plays a role. Laying floors lengthwise with boards running from the front to the back of a home elongates and expands the look of a narrow kitchen. If you have existing floors, experiment with area rugs in light colors and small patterns to give the illusion of more expansive space.

Integrate Appliances Where Possible

Integrated appliances like refrigerators, ovens, and dishwashers create a unified, built-in look rather than appearing as standalone pieces hogging up space. Their streamlined design gives a tidier, upscale aesthetic. 

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Pop-up range vents offer a similar sleek alternative to bulky overhead hoods. They lie flush with countertops and can be lowered when not in use. For small kitchens with high ceilings, pop-up vents prevent the awkward gap a standard hood would leave.

Play with Vertical Lines

You must draw the eye upward in a small space to maximize all available height. Backsplashes with vertical tile patterns, stacked pendant lights, tall window valances, and floating shelves are easy ways to introduce verticality. 

Small kitchen with subway tile backsplash

Display your statement cookware, serve ware, or glassware sparingly on the shelves to maintain balance. Add height with floor-to-ceiling drapes, narrow wallpaper patterns, and high-hanging light fixtures and plants. There’s so much underutilized vertical space in kitchens waiting to be capitalized!

Simplify Decor and Accessory Choices

As I always say – less is more! When decorating a compact kitchen, limit your tchotchkes and focus on function. Carefully choose just a few statement pieces like an oversized work of art, a colorful rug under the table, or a sleek buffet cabinet for linen storage. 

Showcase items you love while keeping surfaces and walls relatively sparse. Your cookware collection or vintage accessories tell your kitchen’s story without requiring loads of decor. And remember the value of texture – wood cutting boards, natural fiber baskets, and cozy window valances add visual interest through touch and feel.

Small kitchen where cookware is hanging

Wrap Up 

Who said you need a palatial space to create a Pinterest-worthy kitchen? Creativity and illusion make even the humblest kitchen look more spacious and inviting. Your home should represent you – so embrace what makes your cozy kitchen unique. 

What are your best small kitchen tips? Have any game-changing layout hacks or storage solutions? Let’s keep swapping ideas in the comments below! Wishing you lots of cooking joy in your brilliant little kitchens.