Small Kitchen Decorating Ideas

Enhance your small kitchen with great decorating ideas. A little goes a long way in a small kitchen, so get inspired by pictures of inspirational rooms that deliver a balance of form and function.
Unique Contemporary Glass Backsplash

Unique Contemporary Glass Backsplash

Designer Ammie Kim wanted to give this kitchen a modern look by creating a unique backsplash. The glass tiles in the backsplash alternate between glossy and etched, complementing the glossy stainless steel appliances and honey maple cabinets.

By: Alison Miller

"Less is more" when it comes to applying small kitchen decorating ideas, but that doesn't mean you have to do away with all of the extras.

10 Tricks to Wake Up a Kitchen

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Before: Boring Big White Box

The list of design crimes: Barely any cabinet space, the awkward peninsula cabinets that chopped the room in half, broken oven, nasty peel-and-stick floors, and fluorescent lighting

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The Winner at Work

When Meg first scoped out this kitchen emergency, she found an out-of-order cooking space in desperate need of a remodel. Turns out the Chicago family of four had plans for an overhaul, but projects in other parts of the house demanded their attention—and their budget—so their reno dreams were put on hold. But then: Meg swooped in to the rescue!

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After: Much Smarter Space Planning

Meg didn’t tear out a single wall, but it sure feels like she did! By lining everything up on two facing walls, the layout is a lot less cramped. Meg’s tip: “Countertops on opposite walls shouldn’t be more than eight feet apart,” she says. “Any wider and you’ll want an island in between them.”

Photo By: Douglas Friedman

Sleek Storage

For the cabinets, Meg paired rich cherry wood with modernish nickel knobs. Find the same ones at cabinetparts.com.

Photo By: Douglas Friedman

Invincible Countertops

The smart selection: off-white Corian that looks like marble but won’t stain.

Photo By: Douglas Friedman

Cushy Floors + Durable Pretty Furniture

Meg picked dark-stained cork for the floors. It’s warm and sound-absorbent. “It feels like you’re walking on gel!” she says. The dining benches can take a beating and keep on seating. Meg gave the floral fabric an iron-on vinyl coating so they can be cleaned with a Windex wipe-down after meals.

Photo By: Douglas Friedman

Glam Lighting

Meg created a custom fixture by hanging a cluster of mercury glass pendants at different heights over the dining table. “It makes the room shimmer,” she says. A leftover pendant was suspended above the sink.

Photo By: Douglas Friedman

Unexpected Stripes

Thinking outside the box, Meg flipped the funky glass tiles to run vertically along the backsplash. Little change, big impact!

Photo By: Douglas Friedman

No-Limit Mixing

Forget dining sets (so The Price is Right!). Meg prefers to mix styles and materials, so she pulled up a pair of cane-back wood chairs and upholstered benches to a painted metal table. “These are the kinds of risks that add personality to a room,” she says.

Photo By: Douglas Friedman

Hide-and-Seek Window Shades

Custom valances made of plywood and supercute fabric cover the blinds, which drop down for privacy.

Photo By: Douglas Friedman

Multi-Functional Space

It’s art. It’s a bar. It’s both! You have to love a house that says, “Help yourself to a drink.” Meg amped up the kitchen’s bar area with zigzag wallpaper and floating shelves.

Photo By: Douglas Friedman

Even More Seating

Metal bistro stools scoot under the extra-thick Corian counter. They come in handy for parties.

Photo By: Douglas Friedman

With a dose of restraint to balance your kitchen's small scale, you can proudly display a collection, hang window treatments, and accessorize your kitchen to reflect your style.

Don't believe what you've been told! Small kitchens do indeed have the potential to charm as much as their larger counterparts. Because visual clutter can minimize an already small space, approach your small kitchen redesign with the charge of keeping things simple. Attain simplicity by keeping countertops clutter-free. Take advantage of unused space, like a bare wall, the alcove above the cabinetry or an empty window sill to add decor sparingly. Uniformity also produces simplicity, as evidenced in a monochromatic color palette and grouping similar items. For example, create visual continuity by pairing like items such as a collection of decorative plates, a set of storage baskets or a grouping of photos in coordinating black frames.

Color plays an important role in decorating the kitchen, especially if you bathe the room in a flattering tone-on-tone palette that gives the impression of spaciousness. For a bold and unexpected design touch, not to mention a departure from play-it-safe white, consider painting an accent wall in a vibrant hue. An attention-grabbing wall adds depth and style, and it will even highlight architectural elements particular to your room.

Not committed to a broad stroke of dramatic color? Then infuse color and pattern through window treatments, a room-anchoring rug, or upholstery in a built-in banquette. Both basics work to soften the kitchen and are a reflection of your personal design style, be it casual or formal, classic or modern.

During the decorating process, remember to look up and assess your lighting situation. Although recessed and under-cabinet lights leave the smallest footprint in a small kitchen, a pair of pendant lamps above the center island or a trendy drum shade above the built-in breakfast nook will give the kitchen a finished look.

Everything in a small kitchen must serve double-duty, so cabinetry and shelves aren't just for storing dishes. With proper styling, floating shelves or glass-front cabinets are easily transformed into chic vignettes for treasures or a stack of cookbooks. If storage space is limited, then bring in a freestanding cabinet like a bookshelf or a baker's rack to hold your kitchen essentials.

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