Countertops for Small Kitchens

Transform your small kitchen by expanding the countertops, and learn how to select countertop surfaces, like tile and stone, that are durable, easy to clean and will complement your small kitchen style.
Modern kitchen with white cabinets

Modern White Kitchen

Glossy cabinets are used in the kitchen to reflect the natural light and, much like mirrors, make the space feel much larger than it actually is. Stainless steel appliances complete the high end look of this modern kitchen.

Photo by: Rachael Franceschina

Rachael Franceschina

By: Alison Miller

Small kitchen countertop space is often at a premium. High expectations are placed on the kitchen's all-in-one cook prep, dining, storage and homework landing pad. Therefore, it gets a lot of attention and even more wear and tear.

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To withstand the high traffic and to seamlessly blend with the kitchen's existing features, consider countertop dimensions, surface color and style, as well as customization

Whether your small kitchen is a narrow galley-style or an eat-in kitchen, reconfiguring the countertop layout can maximize efficiency and style. For example, extending the depth of your countertops from a traditional 24 inches to 30 inches will yield plenty of added space for food prep and appliances kept on the counter. If space allows, then obtain additional space by installing a peninsula on end one of the kitchen counter or below the built-in kitchen island. If your limited square footage won't allow for this expansion, then explore running the countertop stone or tile partially up the wall for a seamless look that will merge with the backsplash.

Uniformity and simplicity are characteristics that work to make a small kitchen seem larger. To this end, countertops offer balance and a smooth transition throughout your kitchen. Whether you choose stone, tile or wood, select a surface and color that complements kitchen accent fixtures, from cabinetry and stainless steel appliances to the paint color. Pair light cabinetry with dark countertops or flattering earth tones with copper fixtures. Although laminate offers the widest variety of colors and cost-efficiency, stone surfaces are preferred for their durability and style.

A chief concern when choosing countertop materials is staying power against spills, chopping and staining. Not only is stone nearly indestructible, but its style is also timeless. For top-of-the-line stone options, consider granite, limestone and marble; outfitting a smaller space makes them easier to afford. Granite that's rendered with a high-polish sheen reflects light, which can make a small kitchen feel larger. While granite is favored for its decorative veining and color choices, keep in mind that busy granite surfaces can make a small kitchen look smaller. To prevent this, opt for stones with simple veining or that offer a solid-looking appearance.

Other countertop surfaces worth considering include industrial concrete, ceramic tile and wood butcher block. Not only can damaged tiles be easily replaced, but large-scale tile can give a small space the impression of expansiveness. Butcher block is a style that's equally at home in traditional homes as it is in a modern home paired with a mix of textures. However, you'll need to pull out the coasters and cutting boards if you're wary of lived-in nicks and stains.

Finally, the key task to making a small kitchen layout work is integrating multi-tasking elements, which includes your eye-catching countertops. With thoughtful design, you can maximize efficiency by installing a pullout cutting board just below the countertop to expand your workspace. Also, make sure there's appropriate drawer storage that can make up for lost countertop space in order to prevent surfaces from collecting clutter.

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