Soft colors and clean lines create a soothing, welcoming kitchen in this South London home. Strategic design choices make the space feel open and airy despite its modest size. Read on to learn how the homeowners achieved their dream kitchen on a budget.

Embracing the Natural Light

One of the first steps was maximizing the natural light in the room. The existing layout had limited windows and felt dark and closed in. By opening up the space and adding more windows along the back wall, sunlight now streams in, making the small kitchen feel more expansive.

The increased light also bounces off the soft white and cream palette, further enhancing the bright and open atmosphere. To balance the light colors, the homeowners opted for grey stone countertops, which add subtle contrast without detracting from the calming vibe.

Strategic Window Placement

  • Installed new large windows along the back wall to let in ample sunlight
  • Positioned windows high on the wall to allow light to penetrate deep into the room
  • Added a skylight over the sink for extra daylight
  • East-facing windows capture the morning sun

Reflective Paint Colors

  • Soft white paint reflects and diffuses natural light
  • Warm cream cabinets bounce light around the room, avoiding a stark look
  • Light countertops also reflect sunlight to enlarge the space

Avoiding Dark Elements

  • Stayed away from dark cabinetry, which would absorb light
  • Did not use strongly patterned tile or decor that would visually shrink the room

Clean-Lined Cabinetry for a Streamlined Look

The existing kitchen layout was chopped up and cluttered. By simplifying the cabinetry design, the homeowners created a cleaner, more unified space.

Straight cabinet fronts with recessed handles maintain the streamlined aesthetic. Drawers and cabinets have a continuous line for a seamless appearance. The consistent color palette also avoids visual breaks.

Open shelving offers storage without adding bulk, and the visibility keeps the look minimal. The sparse, organized styling prevents clutter.

Cabinet Design Choices

  • Shaker-style cabinet doors with clean lines
  • Recessed handles for flat front and minimal hardware
  • Continuous line of cabinets and drawers for a streamlined look
  • Consistent soft white paint color connects the cabinetry
  • Open shelving for visible storage without added bulk

Clutter-Proof Styling

  • Use shelving sparingly for most essential items only
  • Group like items together for an organized appearance
  • Avoid over-filling shelves or letting items spill over
  • Keep counters clear of appliances and accessories when possible

Maintaining the Clean Look

  • Wipe down cabinet fronts regularly to avoid grime buildup
  • Prevent doors and drawers from sticking to sustain clean sightlines
  • Frequently edit items on open shelves to prevent clutter
  • Clean shelving before restyling to refresh the look

Cool Toned Countertops for Subtle Contrast

Crisp gray soapstone countertops pair beautifully with the warm white cabinetry in this kitchen. The cool toned stone provides subtle contrast without disrupting the peaceful color scheme.

Soapstone was chosen for its gentle mottling and natural soft look. The gray veining adds organic interest while matching the calmly modish aesthetic.

By opting for a neutral gray rather than a bolder stone, the countertops blend in while still adding definition between the cabinets and island. The homeowners wanted contrast without starkness for a harmonious design.

Benefits of Soapstone

  • Cool gray color provides subtle contrast from white cabinetry
  • Natural stone appearance complements the calming vibe
  • Gentle mottling and veining add organic yet muted interest

Why Gray over Other Stones

  • More subtle than black or brightly colored stone
  • Less harsh than pure white stone against the cabinets
  • Cooler toned than beige/brown stones to avoid clashing

Seamless Look Achieved

  • Gray soapstone pairs beautifully with both the white paint and wood accents
  • Consistent countertop material creates cohesive lines
  • Contrast is minimal enough to avoid segmented or disjointed appearance

Warm Wood Accents for Organic Texture

The homeowners brought in natural wood elements to add organic texture and balance the sleek cabinetry. Wood introduces natural variation while the neutral tone maintains the subdued color scheme.

Wood barstools with visible grain add warmth and visual interest around the kitchen island. The open shelves are also made of raw unfinished pine for a rustic touch.

For the flooring, the homeowners chose wide plank oak. The varied grain and knot patterns inject natural texture. The light stain keeps it toned down enough to complement the airy space.

Wood Elements

  • Barstools with visible wood grain around the island
  • Raw pine open shelving with organic texture
  • Wide plank oak floors with varied patterns and knots

benefits of Wood Accents

  • Warm up the cool tones of the countertops and backsplash
  • Add natural visual interest through grain patterns
  • Prevent the space from feeling too sterile/clinical

Finished Wood to Balance the Look

  • Barstools and floors are stained/sealed for a refined finish
  • Finished wood maintains the clean lines of the space
  • Raw shelving adds just a touch of organic roughness

Cost-Conscious Design Choices

One of the homeowners’ priorities for this kitchen was maximizing the impact while keeping costs low. Their careful selection of finishes and materials balances style and affordability.

They chose inexpensive IKEA cabinetry but elevated it with custom shaker fronts, high-quality hardware, and a fresh painted finish. Open pine shelving saved costs over custom cabinetry.

Soapstone offered the look of higher priced natural stone for less. For the backsplash, they used subtle white subway tile. And for the floors, they chose budget-friendly oak over pricier woods.

Savings on Big Purchases

  • IKEA cabinetry frames fitted with custom shaker fronts
  • Prefabricated wood open shelving vs custom cabinets
  • Soapstone countertops rather than pricier quartz or marble
  • White subway tile backsplash instead of statement materials
  • Oak hardwood floors over premium exotic woods

Splurges Worth the Investment

  • Multiple large windows amplify light and views
  • Custom paint finish unifies and elevates cabinetry
  • High quality cabinet hardware ensures durable function
  • Wide plank hardwood floors preferred over thin strip floors

Maintaining the High-End Look

  • Consistent color scheme prevents mismatched appearance
  • Clean lines and clutter free surfaces keep space neat
  • Regular cleaning/maintenance helps finishes last
  • Few higher priced focal points over inexpensive everywhere

Achieving an Open, Airy Ambiance in a Small Space

Opening up the kitchen during the remodel was a must for the homeowners. Though the room itself is modest in size, they wanted to avoid a cramped closed-in feeling.

Creating an open floor plan connecting the kitchen to the living space helped expand it visually. The increased natural light also contributes to the airy vibe.

Despite its small footprint, the layout focuses on airflow and avoiding bottlenecks. The island and shelving are positioned to reduce clutter without obstructing movement and sightlines.

Connected, Seamless Spaces

  • Entryway connecting kitchen and living room
  • Peninsula island opens the kitchen to dining area
  • Visually continuous flooring between rooms

Unobstructed Movement and Sightlines

  • Island located away from heavily trafficked doorways
  • Ample walkways around and between cabinet runs and appliances
  • Open shelving rather than upper cabinets in some areas

Clutter Removal for Breathing Room

  • Frequently clearing counters of small appliances and accessories
  • Using organizing solutions inside cabinets to reduce visible clutter
  • Storing bulkier items outside the main kitchen

Warm and Welcoming Yet Practical

Although the homeowners wanted to cultivate a peaceful ambiance, the kitchen still had to function efficiently as a cooking and gathering space. Their design choices strike the perfect balance between cozy and practical.

Small touches like pendant lighting over the island and accent tiles inject warmth and personality. At the same time, durable surfaces and multitasking storage support busy everyday use.

The pet-friendly space features easy-clean flooring that blends seamlessly throughout. Appliances are full sized for serious cooking and positioned for efficient workflow.

Personal Touches for Character

  • Hanging pendant lights add soft ambient lighting
  • Accent subway tiles over the cooktop
  • Fruit bowl and decluttered surfaces minimize visual noise

Durable Materials for Everyday Use

  • Water resistant low-maintenance LVP flooring
  • Easy-clean soapstone countertops
  • Scratch resistant painted cabinetry

Functional Layout and Storage

  • Peninsula island allows for bar seating and prep space
  • Generous countertops either side of the cooktop
  • Deep drawers for pots/pans and anti-tip organizers inside

Frequently Asked Questions

What colors are used in this kitchen?

This kitchen uses a soft white and cream color palette accented by cool toned gray soapstone countertops and natural wood tones. The white subway backsplash ties into the airy scheme.

What flooring works best for a kitchen like this?

Durable water-resistant vinyl plank flooring is an excellent choice for kitchen spaces. It withstands spills, pet claws, and high traffic while providing a cohesive look under cabinetry.

What are some good ways to save money on a kitchen remodel?

Some cost-saving tips include using prefabricated cabinetry fitted with custom fronts, opting for affordable countertop materials like soapstone over pricier stones, installing inexpensive subway tile backsplashes, and choosing budget-friendly oak flooring.

How do you keep an open floor plan kitchen from feeling too cold?

Adding warmth through wood elements and pendant lighting helps prevent a stark look. Maintaining clutter free surfaces and bouncing natural light around with light reflective paint also keeps the space feeling welcoming.

What are some islands designs that maximize space in a small kitchen?

Locating the island away from doorways and designing it with seating on one side only helps open up traffic flow. Opting for a peninsula connected to the kitchen rather than a bulky standalone island can also help maximize space.

How important is storage in small kitchens?

Very important! Clever and concealed storage like deep drawers, pull-out organizers, Lazy Susans in corner cabinets etc. keep kitchens from feeling cluttered. Dedicated zones for different items also helps.


With thoughtful design choices driven by natural light, clean lines, and calming colors, the homeowners created their ideal kitchen sanctuary. A soothing atmosphere doesn’t have to come at the expense of practicality. This breezy yet functional South London kitchen is proof you can have the best of both worlds.