Small Kitchen Makeovers

Revolutionize your small kitchen functionality and style to achieve optimal efficiency in a tiny kitchen with a makeover to the layout, decor and storage, without cramping your style.
Open Kitchen With Semi-Circular Island

Open Kitchen With Semi-Circular Island

Granite countertops, a glass-tile backsplash, and stainless steel appliances highlight this kitchen with wood cabinetry. A steel hood hangs over a conduction cooktop on the semi-circular wooden kitchen island with chairs.

By: Alison Miller

It's not the size of the room, it's about making the right design choices with the square footage you have. In the case of a small kitchen makeover, use your space to create a new and improved cooking, dining and gathering center.

Small Kitchens: 8 Design Ideas to Try

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Focus on Function

A small kitchen cannot accommodate homework, mail storage, laundry duties and recipe hunting. Unless you don't cook at all, the small kitchen's main chore is meal prep. So focus first on function, making sure you have the appliances and work areas you need. You may be able to save a bit of space by using scaled-down or innovative appliances, including refrigerator and freezer drawers and pint-sized microwaves, stoves (some with just two burners) and single sinks. If workspace is at a premium, consider a small-scale island or a counter-topped cart that can be rolled into a closet when not in use.

Open Up Cupboards

Tiny kitchens can feel claustrophobic when cabinets are towering overhead. Many cooks can't reach what's in them and the overall feeling is boxy and closed in. Get organized and trade the top cupboards for open storage. Consider shelving, pot racks and magnetic knife or spice holders instead. Your kitchen will look more spacious and serve up display space for your favorite dishes, shiny pots and pans, or artwork.

Mix Up the Materials

Because your kitchen may be short on interesting architectural details, it's up to you to add the all-important style via compelling countertop surfaces, cabinetry, fixtures, flooring, lighting and color. To ensure a cohesive look, create a mix board with samples and swatches of materials under consideration. One tip: Using the same color and style of fixtures and cabinet pulls can help unify a look.

From: Ammie Kim

Go for Glass

One of the easiest ways to visually expand a kitchen is to incorporate glass. Try a glass counter or tabletop, tile, door cabinets or kitchen doors that lead to the outside world or to the next room. Mirrors, in a backsplash or strategically placed around a room, or pass-through windows into the next room, also lighten up the look.

Visually Expand With Lighting

A small kitchen requires a combination of task and atmospheric lighting. To counteract the bluish cast of fluorescent lighting and add drama, install pendant lights in the eating area, incandescent lighting underneath upper cabinets and incandescent spot lighting above cabinetry. Lighting can also be installed under base cabinetry so it shines down onto the toe plate.

Invest in Flooring

Where does the eye go when one walks into a room? Often it goes down — right to that dust bunny or scuffed floor. That's why flooring in a small kitchen is so important. Linoleum in a checkerboard pattern can be really eye-catching and relatively inexpensive. Since square footage is small, you may be able to afford a beautiful tumbled marble. Marble tends to be cold and hard underfoot, but the impact may be worth it. Or try cork, a beautiful — and eco-friendly — choice.

Go Bold With Color

The color of walls, appliances, counters, stools — even the dishtowels — can change the atmosphere and perceived size of the kitchen. Pastels or light colors, with good doses of white, reflect light and draw the eye up, making ceilings appear higher. Bold colorations can be very effective in smaller kitchens. How about some Porsche red metal cabinets with celery green walls and a banana-colored concrete countertop?

Embrace the Space

Rather than using tricks to visually enlarge the space, consider embracing your kitchen as-is. Instead of going light or sleek, opt for country cozy. Make sure there is a little nook where you can sit with a visitor knee-to-knee. Or choose a rich dark color that creates a sophisticated feeling — and use accessories that emphasize that look. The kitchen is small, yes, but it sure is inviting.

Small to major tweaks can go a long way to delivering a made-over kitchen with improved functionality and style. Consider creating a small kitchen makeover to-do list for reimagining your compact space.

Before diving into a kitchen makeover, establish the scope of your project. First, assess the layout of your small kitchen. Ask yourself whether the current room configuration is the most efficient use of space or if it could benefit from smarter planning to the tune of a galley-style floor plan or the addition of an eat-in kitchen nook. Know that transitioning to a narrow galley layout will likely call for a "musical chairs" of the kitchen's major appliances to improve upon the natural work flow. On the other hand, it's all about customization to fit an underused corner of your small kitchen with an L-shaped built-in bench.

After addressing the floor plan issue, consider the effectiveness of the kitchen's cabinetry for storage and style. Will raising the cabinets to the ceiling allow for more storage? If you decide yes, then you're consequently increasing the depth of your counter space and expanding room for a dramatic backsplash. For a cabinetry alternative, questions whether open shelves will create an air of spaciousness? If you take on this project, then you're increasing efficiency by placing essentials in plain sight; plus, it updates the room's aesthetic by displaying everyday dishes and glassware.

Ultimately, a kitchen makeover is often made up of a series of DIY weekend projects, which tend to be small tweaks that add up to a big difference in your small kitchen. These include updating the hardware, installing modern appliances and replacing or repositioning the faucet. A shiny chrome faucet cheers up a sink, while unique cabinet and drawer pulls can convey a sense of your personal style.

Your small kitchen makeover should also include slapping on a new coat of paint and refurbishing the window treatments, upholstery and rugs that will complement your color choice. Never underestimate the transformative power of paint! Whether you go for a soft tone-on-tone look or pair a neutral color with the pop of an accent shade, a new, lustrous paint job can instantly refresh a room. Although simple design elements help make small kitchens appear larger, it's also nice to introduce a small dose of color or pattern drama. This can be done through a Roman shade above the sink or by accent pillows on the eat-in banquette, thus connecting the look of the kitchen with that of the rest of the house.

Painting Kitchens

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