Making the Most of a Small Kitchen

Create the illusion of a bigger space with these tips.


A skylight opens a kitchen ceiling to more light and raises part of the ceiling, visually expanding the space.

A skylight opens a kitchen ceiling to more light and raises part of the ceiling, visually expanding the space.

The kitchen has become more than just a food-preparation area, yet it remains one of the smallest rooms in the house. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) considers any kitchen 150 square feet or smaller to be a small kitchen, but that doesn't mean you can't make it look more spacious with some big ideas. Here are a few:

  • Use unique storage solutions. Install high pantry cabinets to eliminate extra-small cabinets. Add pullout shelves, rotating inserts and tilt-out bins to increase accessibility and storage within the cabinets. Light-colored cabinets, open shelves, wire organizers and glass-front doors will help to lighten the space. Also, by adding more open display shelves or cabinets, you'll make the room look greatly expanded. Too many cabinets, especially those made of dark materials, create the illusion that the room is much smaller than it is.
  • Choose sleek appliances. There are many high-efficiency appliances that allow people with small kitchens to have the same luxuries as those with large kitchens.
  • Consolidate. Try to keep your cooktop and oven in the same area, saving valuable counter space. Have microwaves built into the cabinetry to increase counter space. And keep all small appliances stored in either an appliance garage or a pantry to maintain a clutter-free work space.
  • Maintain a mix of natural and ambient lighting. A skylight will open the ceiling to more light and raise a portion of the ceiling, visually expanding the space. Bay and greenhouse windows create an open feel. Natural light should be complemented by ambient and task lighting to provide the same feeling during the night.
  • Keep the personal touches small. Display simple items that don't create a feel of clutter. Having too many displays will cause the kitchen to look much smaller, but the right amount can add to the warmth and provide an illusion of a larger space.

Reprinted with permission from NKBA

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