Smart and Creative Small Apartment Kitchen Ideas

Hey friends! It’s Amanda here, your resident small space decor guru. I’m so excited to chat with you about one of my favorite topics – small apartment kitchen ideas!

I’ve lived in my fair share of pint-sized spaces as a born and raised New Yorker. And let me tell you, designing a functional and fabulous kitchen in limited square footage can be tricky! But with some planning, creativity, and know-how, you can transform your small apartment kitchen into a space you love.

So brew a fresh cup of coffee (in one of those space-saving single-serve coffee makers, of course!), cozy up on the couch, and let’s dive into all things small kitchen design, shall we?

small apartment kitchen ideas

Understanding Your Space

The first step to any kitchen redesign is assessing what you’re working with. Small apartment kitchens come in all shapes and sizes, so analyze your current layout and storage solutions.

Here are some key considerations:

Assessing the Layout

How is your kitchen situated in the rest of your home? Is it entirely closed off or part of an open-concept floor plan? Take note of the traffic flow and consider how people move from the kitchen to adjoining spaces.

You’ll also want to identify your kitchen shape and layout. The most common options for small spaces include:

  • Gallery: This narrow, hallway-like layout features cabinets and countertops lining each wall. It’s great for creating distinct work zones.
  • L-Shaped: Provides a natural work triangle with countertops forming an L shape. Allows for efficient movement between sink, fridge, and stove.
  • U-shaped: Countertops form a U shape for ample prep space. But beware of too much walking space in a small kitchen.
  • Open Concept: In one expansive space, the kitchen flows into the living and dining areas. Great for small apartments, but define zones carefully.

Look at the relationship between your sink, fridge, stove, and other appliances. Is there an efficient work triangle in place? If not, could adjusting the layout improve workflow?

Measuring for Appliances and Storage

Now it’s time to break out the measuring tape! I always tell my clients to take detailed kitchen measurements before selecting new appliances, cabinetry, or storage solutions.

Make sure to measure:

  • Doors and entryways to ensure large appliances and furniture can get into the kitchen
  • Windows, pipes, vents, or other built-in elements that impact placement
  • Exact dimensions of existing appliances to replace them with the proper sizing
  • All cabinetry and countertops – take notes on what works and doesn’t work currently
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Additionally, examine how you’re utilizing vertical storage space. Are cabinets fully stocked? Are walls blank when they could host floating shelves or pegboards? Comprehensive measurements reveal all these details.

How to Cook in a Small Kitchen Without Going Crazy

Design Principles for Small Kitchens

Ready to dig into the fun stuff – designing your new small kitchen! Keep these principles in mind as you plan:

Color and Lighting

Two of the best tricks for making a kitchen feel spacious are strategic use of color and lighting.

For a breezy, open look, aim for:

  • Light, airy paint colors like soft whites and pale grays
  • Monochromatic color schemes using different tones of one color
  • Glossy finishes and surfaces that reflect light
  • Wide windows, skylights, or solar tubes usher in natural light
  • Task lighting under cabinets and above countertops

I’m obsessed with the warm glow of undercabinet LED strip lights – it makes even the tiniest kitchen feel inviting!

Choosing Appropriate Furnishings

Every piece of furniture and decor needs to earn its place in small kitchens. When reviewing your current setup, ask:

  • Is this item multi-functional? Can it serve more than one purpose?
  • Does it maximize vertical storage with shelves, racks, or pegboards?
  • Is it scaled down in size appropriately for the space?
  • Can it tuck away or fold up when not in use?
  • Does it have an open, airy look with legs or a floating design?

Some of my go-to space-saving furnishings include:

  • Collapsible bistro tables for extra serving space
  • Rolling carts for portable storage and prep
  • Floating open shelves rather than upper cabinets
  • Magnetic knife racks, spice racks and pegboards
  • Multi-purpose kitchen islands with storage and seating

Don’t be afraid to think vertically – utilize walls, hanging racks, narrow shelving, and other tricks to get everything off the floor and counters.

Tips for Making the Most of a Small Kitchen Space

Storage Solutions

We’ve covered the fundamentals. Now, let’s talk storage – maximizing every nook, cranny, and vertical inch. Get ready for some of my favorite space-saving ideas!

Maximizing Cabinet Space

Take advantage of every square inch inside those cabinets with solutions like:

  • Vertical dividers for plates and trays
  • Pull-out shelves for easy access to items in the back
  • Lazy Susans in corner cabinets
  • Tiered racks for spices, cans, or mixers
  • Under-cabinet racks for pans and bakeware

Also, check that shelves are adjusted to the optimal heights. Consider new cabinet inserts like a knife block or appliance garage for small appliances.

Innovative Storage Ideas

Think beyond the average kitchen cabinets with these crafty storage spots:

  • Inside drawers lined with shelf liners for utensils
  • Underside of table or island topped with crates or baskets
  • Between studs in the wall – use brackets for narrow shelving
  • Around plumbing pipes with adjustable wraparound shelves
  • Inside a cabinet or sideboard to hide small appliances
  • Under sofa cushions or ottomans with lift-top storage

My favorite thing is a magnetic strip across the wall behind the stove. It catches all those pots, pans, and utensils perfectly!

Get the Most Out of Your Small Apartment Kitchen by Choosing the Correct Layout

Open Shelving vs. Upper Cabinets

Should you stick with traditional wall cabinets or opt for open shelving? A few things to consider:

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Open Shelving Pros

  • Creates airy, spacious look
  • Allows display of decorative dishware
  • Easy to access items without reaching
  • It can be highly customizable

Upper Cabinet Pros

  • More enclosed storage for less clutter
  • Easier to keep organized
  • Offers opportunity for task lighting
  • It feels more sleek and streamlined

Take your kitchen size and personal style into account when deciding. Shelves beat cabinets in my tiny Brooklyn kitchens, but I prefer the clean look in larger spots.

Appliances and Fixtures

Appliances are essential in any kitchen. But when square footage is limited, you have to be extra selective.

Here are my top tips for appliances and fixtures in a small kitchen:

Compact and Multipurpose Appliances

  • Mini fridges: Opt for a refrigerator without freezer for extra space savings
  • Compact microwaves: Many fit over ranges or have slide-in hidden designs
  • Toaster ovens: All-in-one cooking without a bulky stove
  • Single-serve coffee: Perfect morning pick-me-up without a sturdy machine
  • Electric kettles: Boil water in a snap while freeing up stove space
  • Air fryers: Fry up crispy favorites minus the oil with these compact wonders!

Whenever possible, look for appliances that multitask. Like a blender that can also chop, mix and puree.

Create the kitchen of your dreams, no matter the size!

Efficient Fixtures

Don’t overlook sinks, faucets, and other often overlooked items:

  • Slim sinks: Shallow single bowls take up less room than deep double sinks
  • Fold down faucets: Flip up when not in use to maximize space
  • High arc faucets: Raised neck gives more room for washing dishes
  • Pull-down sprayers: Help rinse off every container and corner of the sink
  • Garbage disposal switch: Flip on when needed to grind scraps without a bulky unit

Little upgrades like these make all the difference, especially with fixtures you use constantly!

Make the Most of Vertical Space

In small kitchens, look up! Utilize walls, hanging racks, and multi-tiered shelving to maximize vertical real estate.

Hanging Storage

Take these essentials off the counter by hanging them up:

  • Pegboard, magnetic strip, or rail for utensils
  • A wall-mounted knife block or knife rack
  • Paper towel holder by the sink
  • Pot racks and pan racks above the stove
  • A fruit basket suspended from the ceiling
  • Wall-mounted cooking utensil holder
  • Floating shelves for oils, spices, and dry goods

Shelving Strategies

Beyond hanging storage, open shelving adds style and function. Try these shelving ideas:

  • Ladder shelves for a modern, industrial look
  • Wine glass racks so glasses are readily available
  • Slanted shelves above work zones to hold recipe books
  • Glass shelving with built-in LED lights
  • Cubby storage for waste bins or appliance garage
  • Extra shelves and ledges over the fridge

Mixing wood, metal, and glass makes shelving visually interesting, too!

Flexibility & Mobility

Look for furnishings and features that can be adapted for a small kitchen. Here are some of my favorites:

Fold-Down, Tuckaway Pieces

  • Tables that fold down when the company leaves
  • Rolling carts that tuck under counters
  • Countertop extensions that slide out
  • Stools that fold flat and stack against the wall
  • A rolling butcher block island on wheels
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Movable Islands & Carts

A kitchen island on casters takes mobility to the next level. Look for:

  • Extra workspace that doubles as a breakfast bar
  • Locking wheels so it stays in place while in use
  • Open shelving for storage and display
  • Optional electrical outlets for convenience
  • Customization – like a butcher block or marble top

A kitchen cart offers similar flexibility on a smaller scale. Use it as a bar cart, storage rack, or extra surface space.

Visual Illusions

A few sneaky tricks involving lighting, mirrors, and sightlines can make your kitchen appear more significant than it truly is.

Mirrors & Reflective Surfaces

Strategically place mirrors to enlarge the space:

  • Full wall mirror to double the look of a wall
  • Mirrored backsplash over the stove
  • Glass fronts on cabinets for added reflection
  • The mirror placed across from the window reflects more light

Open Floor Plans

Removing walls between the kitchen, dining room, and living room makes even a tiny apartment feel more expansive. Consider:

  • Knocking down the wall separating your kitchen and living room
  • Creating a large breakfast bar or open pass-through between rooms
  • Using the same flooring and paint colors to unify rooms
  • Adding barstools for casual dining and chatting

Smart Technology

Today’s high-tech appliances offer compact convenience. Plus, they look super sleek!

Space-Saving Smart Appliances

  • Smart pressure cookers like the Instant Pot Max do the work of 9 appliances!
  • Smart ovens have intuitive controls and apps for remote use
  • Compact smart fridges have cameras to peek inside and sensors to track freshness
  • Voice assistant devices like the Echo Show 15 replace bulky screens

Clever Kitchen Gadgets

Check out these space-saving smart gadgets:

  • Meater Plus smart meat thermometer monitors your food from afar
  • Qooil portable burner and oven provides stovetop and oven functions in one
  • Suvie kitchen robot cooks entire meals with no supervision needed
  • Oliso self-leveling smart containers – no more spills!

Final Touches

You made it to the end – thanks for sticking with me! To wrap up, here are my top tips for pulling your small kitchen design together:

  • Add greenery – even a small herb garden or succulents make a difference
  • Incorporate personalized accents like framed art and decorative dishware
  • Have seating nearby – stools at a raised counter or table by a window
  • Use multifunctional lighting like pendant lamps over an island
  • Declutter regularly so everything has a dedicated place
  • Establish zones by area like baking station, drink nook, spice central

Most importantly, embrace what makes your kitchen unique. Show off your personality with fun art, quirky antique finds, and pops of your favorite colors.

Alright, friends, it’s your turn now! Have you recently designed a small but mighty kitchen in your apartment or home? I would absolutely love to see photos and hear all about it.