Very Small Kitchen Ideas

Rise to the challenge of designing for the smallest of small kitchens, from the RV to the urban apartment.
Rustic Modern Loft Kitchen

Rustic Modern Loft Kitchen

Designer Tyler Karu added a bright paint stripe on the brick wall so that the exposed brick doesn't feel too overwhelming. The rustic mirror is from Portland Architectural Salvage, and he chose a marble subway tile from Home Depot for the backsplash.

When it comes to very small kitchen ideas, "small" is a relative term. In this case, we're talking about the New York City apartment, college dormitory, retro airstream trailer and RV variety of small kitchens.

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.

The commonality between very small kitchens isn't just their limited square footage, which is generally 70 square feet or less. It's their shared distinction of being minimal, orderly and hardworking all at once. Here's a blueprint for rising to the challenge of a very small kitchen.

For the owners of modestly-sized kitchens, the first key is to think like a minimalist and edit your culinary collection down to the bare necessities. Whether your kitchen is 20 square feet or 200 square feet, it's a healthy habit to eliminate the non-essentials in your home. Among the keepers, of course, are the appliances. Great solutions for a tight space include petite European models, an under-counter refrigerator and freezer drawers and a wall-mounted faucet.

Now that you've pared down to those things you really need, it's time to arrange them efficiently. Toss out those gadgets that never get used or knick knacks that aren't necessary. As the hub of your household, a kitchen easily attracts clutter; this tendency is heightened in very small kitchens.

Introduce organization by investing in a custom cabinetry system with features such as concealed storage or a tall, narrow silhouette for added stock space. Alternatively, open shelving grants the illusion of more space to kitchens with a small footprint.

Paramount to a kitchen's efficiency is its layout. When space doesn't even allow for a galley-style floor plan, a one-wall kitchen becomes the ultimate space-saving solution. Because this single wall will house your countertops, cabinets and appliances, it's smart to consider the most efficient order for placing each item, like installing the sink next to the dishwasher and taking advantage of the entire wall real estate by installing floor-to-ceiling cabinets.

Everything in a very small kitchen must earn its keep! Instead of serving one purpose, elements are needed to work double-duty. For example, cabinets can house hideaway nooks for appliances, spice racks can easily attach to the inside of cabinet doors, and the wall can be used to mount necessities like a paper towel holder or a pot and pan rack. Carefully consider a product's multiple purposes before bringing it into your cramped quarters.

Not only will these changes make your very small kitchen live larger, but they instantly propel your small space toward a tidy, modern and sophisticated culinary headquarters.

Small Kitchen Design Ideas

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