Small Eat-In Kitchen Ideas

Make the most of mealtime with these design ideas for carving out a space to dine in your kitchen.
Small Green Kitchen With Wood Cabinets and Dining Area

Small Green Kitchen With Wood Cabinets and Dining Area

A wall-mounted bar-height table provides a dining area below a pot rack in this small kitchen. Clever storage solutions throughout the cabinets and drawers allow more usable counter space.

No matter its size, the kitchen is undeniably the heart of the home. Even if you have limited space, you can combine the spaces for cooking and dining by applying some small eat-in kitchen ideas.

Simple Design Tips for Tiny Kitchens

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Open Floor Plan

Make your small kitchen feel larger by following an open floor plan. Allow the space to carefully flow into the living or dining room. Change the wall colors from room to room to visually separate the two spaces. HGTV fan pilonieta kept the kitchen walls neutral but added a pumpkin-orange hue to the living room walls to show a bold and clear room divide.

Clean Hues

Make a small kitchen feel open and airy by using a light color palette and plenty of natural light. HGTV fan heatherbullard coordinated white beadboard, a light travertine backsplash, glass-front cabinets and a soft yellow hue on the walls for an elegant cottage feel.

Downsized Appliances

Light wood cabinetry and a large, open window prevent this small, apartment-style kitchen from feeling cramped. In an extra-tiny kitchen like this, downsizing is the best way to go. A pint-sized stove, range hood, microwave and kitchen table are in proportion to the space and take up less space than their large predecessors.

Sleek and Simple

The sleek, clean lines of this kitchen prevent the space from looking or feeling small and cluttered. Designer Ammie Kim kept busy decor to a minimum and allowed the glass-tile backsplash to be the colorful — yet soothing — focal point. When using the deep-toned cabinetry, keep the surrounding walls and countertops neutral for a more balanced look.

From: Ammie Kim

Proper Lighting

Small kitchens are often filled with the wrong lighting, making the space feel dim and enclosed. Using pendant lights on the ceiling and fluorescent lighting below the cabinets will gracefully cast light off the countertops and backsplash, visually expanding the space and uplifting the overall tone and mood. Photo by Maxwell Mackenzie

Clear Countertops

This Manhattan apartment presented a small floor plan with an even smaller kitchen. HGTV fan ruffingit renovated the entire space and updated the kitchen with state-of-the-art appliances and modern cabinetry for a clean look. A long, granite-top island separates the kitchen from the living room and provides extra seating and cooking space. When using an island as a room divider, be sure to keep the top clear and clutter free.

Extra Storage

HGTV fan Felt So Cute renovated her small 1920s-style kitchen with clean, white cabinetry and a white, subway-tiled backsplash. The lime green accents add a playful splash of color without making the space feel busy or over-the-top. Take advantage of extra wall space by adding additional cabinetry and drawers. This will keep kitchen essentials organized and stored, while clearing up the countertops.

Rather than relying on a single floor plan to transform your kitchen, choose from a variety of eat-in kitchen configurations that will maximize space and style in your small room. From dining tables and central islands to built-in banquette seating, here are layout ideas for making your eat-in kitchen an ideal gathering spot at every meal and in between.

Perhaps the most traditional kitchen layout is the family table—a table, chairs and lots of conversation. Though this eat-in kitchen layout promotes togetherness, it can often make an already small kitchen appear quite cramped. One solution is to seek out tables with a pared-down silhouette. Think round designs with a single pedestal base, or try tall bar-style tables that take up vertical space instead of spreading out horizontally. It's a smart idea to pass up the bulky chairs with arms, in favor of slender bistro chairs. However, if your small kitchen just can't handle the addition of a table and chairs, then it's time to island hop!

Centralized kitchen islands are not only a stylish focal point to anchor your room, but in the case of an eat-in kitchen, the island serves double-duty as a cooking prep space and a dining table. Simply pull up a stool to the island and watch the cook in action. It can be the ultimate workhorse in your kitchen, if shelving and cabinetry is built into the island. To this end, consider an open-base kitchen island; it offers a lighter look and visual access to kitchen supplies and gadgets. Some eat-in kitchen island designs feature a table extension, called a peninsula, that serves as a dining table or a buffet space for entertaining. Another idea is to tuck a narrow table under the island's ledge for the same effect with no construction needed—unless you opt to attach locking casters for flexibility. Though your small kitchen is likely bathed in neutrals, the seating, such as upholstered bar stools, is a design opportunity to introduce a small dose of color and pattern into your small kitchen.

Perhaps the most charming of the eat-in kitchen configurations is the breakfast nook. The often L-shaped restaurant-style setup showcases built-in banquette seating with a fixed table, creating a defined mealtime zone. Because it can be eased into an awkward corner, the footprint of this eat-in kitchen configuration is surprisingly small. Traditionally arranged around a bay of windows, the cozy seating area takes advantage of natural light streaming in, which gives the impression of spaciousness in a small kitchen. A major benefit to this style is the potential for storage space under the built-in bench for tucking away appliances or other bulky items.

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