Hey friends! Angela here from Home Décor Chat with an exciting new post all about small kitchen ideas. I’m constantly getting questions from readers looking for tips on how to style, organize, and update their tiny kitchens. As someone decorating a cozy 1910s bungalow, I can relate to making the most of every square inch!
In this post, we’ll dive into all my tried-and-true strategies for maximizing functionality and charm in a small kitchen. Prepare for clever storage hacks, space-saving layouts, and tons of budget-friendly design inspo! I’ll also share lessons from renovating my petite kitchen over the years.
Whether you’re working with a galley kitchen, apartment kitchenette, or compact country kitchen, you’ll discover innovative ideas to create a cooking space that’s both practical and full of personality. Let’s get started!
- 1 Understanding Space Constraints in a Small Kitchen
- 2 Choosing the Right Color Scheme
- 3 Choosing the Right Lighting
- 4 Clever Storage Hacks and Organizing Ideas
- 5 Furniture Must Pull Double Duty
- 6 Cabinet & Shelf Styling Tips
- 7 Smart Renovation Ideas
- 8 Embrace Your Kitchen’s Quirks
Understanding Space Constraints in a Small Kitchen
When taking on a small kitchen project, the first step is constantly evaluating how you currently use the space and identifying any pain points. Before jumping into a layout overhaul or buying new cabinets, assess the existing storage, workflow, and overall functionality.
Here are some key factors I considered in my tiny kitchen renovation:
- Workflow between essential appliances and counters
- Frequency of use for various cabinets and drawers
- Positions that felt cramped or crowded
- Kitchen tools I used daily vs. ones used occasionally
- Weight distribution inside cabinets that caused straining
- Appliances and furniture that could be downsized
By carefully evaluating my family’s needs and habits, I could pinpoint the issues causing the most frustration. This process also helped me prioritize which areas to focus my renovation budget on first.
Pro tip: Try living in the small kitchen for a few months as-is before making significant changes. This allows you to observe natural traffic flows and storage needs.
Choosing the Right Color Scheme
The colors you choose for a small kitchen can make or break the illusion of space. I’ve experimented with various color schemes in my bungalow kitchen through the years – some more successful than others! Here are my top lessons learned:
Light, Bright Color Palettes
Pale, neutral colors like whites, grays, and soft yellows are your best friends in a small kitchen. They instantly make the space feel light and airy. Just beware of choosing colors with blue undertones, which can read as cold and sterile.
For my latest renovation, I opted for a crisp white on the cabinetry and pale gray quartz countertops. The result is a fresh, clean look that makes my petite kitchen feel more expansive.
Accent Colors Add Personality
While neutral base colors are ideal in a small kitchen, you can still have fun with bold accent shades. Consider painting an island or open shelving system in a deeper tone or use a vibrant color on the backsplash tile. These pops of color provide personality without overwhelming the space.
My personal favorite bold accent palette is navy blue paired with crisp white. I added some navy open shelving to bounce light around and provide a pleasing color contrast.
Avoid Dark or Intense Tones
Dark paint colors can make a small kitchen feel even more claustrophobic. Deep reds, browns, and similar intense shades tend to close a space in. Save these moody hues for larger kitchens or minimal accent areas.
I’ll admit to painting my first small kitchen a bold crimson shade (what was I thinking?). It was cozy at first but quickly started to feel oppressive and cave-like. Needless to say, that color experiment didn’t last long!
Choosing the Right Lighting
Finding the right lighting balance is vital for any kitchen but is especially critical for small spaces. Here are my top tips:
Maximize Natural Light
First, look for ways to maximize natural sunlight streaming into your small kitchen. Painting the walls white helps the light bounce around the space. Consider more reflective surfaces like glass tile backsplash. Adding a window over the sink can make a huge difference.
I added a slim window lined with gauzy curtains above my kitchen sink. This small change alone makes my formerly dark kitchen feel worlds brighter!
Layer the Lighting
Don’t rely on an overhead fixture as your sole light source. Layering lights creates a more inviting ambiance.
I mix recessed ceiling lights for general illumination with task lighting like under-cabinet strips and pendant lights above my table. This layered lighting keeps every area well-lit for prep work and adds warmth.
Focus on Functionality
Choose lighting that serves a functional purpose, not just aesthetic appeal. My industrial-style pendant lights allow me to spotlight the dining table. Pot lights above the stove provide focused cooking light.
Aim to have lighting options for everyday tasks like food prep versus casual dining. This keeps the lighting feeling intentional versus randomly placed.
Clever Storage Hacks and Organizing Ideas
Now, onto one of my favorite topics – storage! When dealing with limited square footage, you must get creative with the organization. Here are some of my favorite space-saving hacks:
The often-overlooked vertical space above eye level is prime real estate in a small kitchen. Take advantage of installing shelves or hanging rods specifically sized for frequently used items.
I have an industrial pipe shelf unit on the wall near my stove to store oils, spices, and cooking utensils. The vertical storage clears precious counter space.
Don’t let that awkward under-sink void go to waste! Add pull-out drawers or baskets to arrange cleaning supplies neatly. Label each bin so you can quickly grab what you need.
Pro tip: Place anything that could leak (dish soap, hand sanitizer, etc.) in a waterproof bin just in case.
Stop utensil chaos by adding dividers to kitchen drawers. You can find all sizes of removable dividers to neatly organize silverware, cooking tools, or food storage containers.
This simple upgrade makes it much easier for my family to grab the correct item quickly. No more digging through a jumbled mess of tools!
Another easy yet space-saving upgrade is installing spinning “lazy susans” in corner cabinets or pantries. The circular shelves provide quick access to items that would otherwise get buried.
I have a double-decker lazy susan for spices and canned goods that allows me quick access without rummaging. I highly recommend them for any awkward cabinet!
While cabinets hide away clutter, open shelving can provide handy access to items you use daily. I’m a massive fan of open shelving in small kitchens IF styled intentionally. Use this prime real estate to showcase beautiful dishware or practical cooking tools.
Just keep your open shelves organized and properly dusted/cleaned so they don’t look messy!
Furniture Must Pull Double Duty
When selecting furniture for a compact kitchen, multipurpose pieces are a must. Here are some space-saving furnishings I rely on:
For anyone short on dining space, I love the slim, fold-down tables that mount to the wall. They take up zero precious floor space when not in use but provide extra seating when needed.
Mine is not the sturdiest for hosting a huge dinner party, but it works great for weeknight meals or extra workspace when baking.
A slim rolling cart can add supplemental counter space or storage without feeling crowded. I use mine to tuck appliance cords, pot lids, and overflow pantry items.
When we have guests, I just wheel it out of the way under the table. I love the mobility!
Ottomans are a savvy small kitchen addition since their storage space doubles as extra seating. I have a brown leather bench that fits perfectly in my breakfast nook. The bar top lifts to reveal a hidden storage bin – perfect for table linens and cloth napkins.
This single piece of furniture takes care of both my storage and seating needs in one footprint.
Cabinet & Shelf Styling Tips
Speaking of storage solutions, you also need to style those cabinets and open shelves in a way that feels cohesive and visually appealing. Here are my top styling hacks:
Use Clear Canisters
I’m a huge fan of clear glass or acrylic canisters – they provide a streamlined way to see contents at a glance while protecting food from bugs. I label mine with chalkboard stickers to quickly ID ingredients.
Having supplies visible minimizes duplicate purchases of items I already have on hand hidden away in cabinets!
Style in Front to Back
When styling open cabinets or shelves, use the front-to-back method. Place larger accent pieces in the back, then layered smaller accessories in front. This helps create a polished, intentional look.
A few of my go-to “back” items are oversized pottery bowls, cake stands, or wire fruit baskets.
This is key – be highly selective about what makes it onto those prized open shelves or countertops. Only keep items you love, use often, or have special meaning.
Remember – space is your friend in a small kitchen! Don’t clutter surfaces for the sake of filling them.
Smart Renovation Ideas
If you’re doing a complete renovation, look at the layout critically. Even minor tweaks to the overall footprint or placement of fixtures can make your tiny kitchen more user-friendly.
Here are intelligent changes to consider:
Bump Out Walls
If possible, within your home’s structure, bumping out walls by just a few inches can allow more workspace. If a bump out isn’t feasible, adding an angled peninsula also “tricks” the eye and space.
I could bump out one wall of my galley kitchen by two feet, gaining room for deeper lower cabinets and an extended countertop – game changer!
Rethink Doors and Entryways
Sometimes, simply widening a doorway or changing the swing of your door can improve home flow. If your kitchen entryway feels cramped, explore options to open it up.
I switched my door to a space-saving pocket style that slides directly into the wall. The absence of any swinging door made the room feel instantly more open.
Add Height Where Possible
Aim to maximize vertical storage space with tall wall cabinets or open shelving that reaches near the ceiling. Going vertical expands storage options without expanding the footprint.
If your ceiling height allows, consider raising existing wall cabinets a few inches. The space gained underneath is perfect for tucking small appliances.
Embrace Your Kitchen’s Quirks
Part of maximizing a small kitchen is embracing its unique character. Personality can shine through without adding clutter or overwhelming the compact footprint.
A few ways I inject my essence into the space:
- Displaying antique kitchen tools inherited from my grandmother
- I use my collection of blue ceramic tiles as decoration on open shelves
- I chose a colorful retro fridge that reflects my kitschy taste
- Letting my sons’ artwork double as wall decoration
Even if your budget is limited, remember that attitude, style, and sentimental touches go a long way. Don’t be afraid to let your quirky personality shine through!
Your cozy kitchen should spark joy and represent you. With an intentional layout, savvy storage solutions, and a dash of creativity, you can take a cramped space and make it functional and fabulous!