A compact kitchen presents unique design challenges, but with a little creativity and some smart solutions, it’s possible to create a highly functional and beautiful cooking space, no matter how small. This guide will explore tips and ideas for maximizing every inch of a tiny kitchen. From innovative storage solutions to space-saving appliances, these compact kitchen ideas will help inspire kitchen designs that are both efficient and gorgeous.
Clever Storage Solutions for Small Kitchens
Lack of storage is one of the biggest complaints in a compact kitchen. However, there are many innovative ways to add discrete storage that doesn’t clutter the space.
Use Wall Space Creatively
- Mounted open shelves let you make use of vertical space while keeping items visible and accessible. Stagger floating shelves at different heights for extra storage.
- Tall upper cabinets have a smaller footprint than lower cabinets. Choose cabinets that go all the way to the ceiling.
- Install rails or tracks for sliding baskets or drawers to access back-of-cabinet dead space.
- Use space between studs for narrow vertical storage of cutting boards, cookie sheets, etc.
- Lazy susans or other turntables are great for corner cabinet storage.
- Install pull-out shelves on corner base cabinet blind corners. Some even have a spinning “lazy susan” built in.
- Use corner wall cabinets with vertical storage systems for pans and trays.
Multitask with Furnishings
- Choose a small kitchen table with storage shelves underneath. An expandable table can double as extra countertop workspace.
- Look for stools that contain interior storage space. Storage ottomans are another option in place of chairs.
- Mount a knife block or utensil crock on the side of a kitchen cart or peninsula.
Keep the Floorspace Clear
- For a small, galley-style kitchen, consider overhead racks or tracks for pots and pans to get them off the counters.
- Opt for cabinet toe-kick drawers to hold kitchen tools and free up drawer space.
- Install pull-down shelves in upper cabinets to corral small appliances when not in use.
Space-Saving Appliances and Fixtures
With some savvy appliance choices and creative use of fixtures, even the tiniest kitchen can function smoothly.
Rethink the Sink Area
- Undermount or top-mount sinks save inches compared to traditional drop-in sinks.
- Choose a rectangular sink instead of round for more usable basin space.
- Offset the sink to gain a few extra inches of countertop.
- Opt for a low-profile faucet that won’t obstruct the window.
- Install a slide-out cutting board over the sink to expand prep space.
Take Advantage of Multi-Purpose Appliances
- Today’s compact appliances like microwaves, air fryers, and multicookers are workhorses in a small kitchen. Many serve multiple functions.
- Consider portable induction cooktops as an alternative to a traditional stove. They provide quick cooking power without taking up permanent counter space.
- Drawer-style dishwashers, undercounter ice makers, and fridge drawers only take up the space you need.
Look Up For More Room
- Microwave or warmer drawers built into lower cabinets free up counter space.
- Mount a pot rack, utensil bar, or knife rack on the wall or under cabinetry to clear counters.
- Install overhead racks or a pulley system for drying dish towels and pot holders out of the way.
Clever Design Tricks For Opening Up a Compact Kitchen
Strategic use of color, lighting, and materials can help a petite kitchen feel open and airy rather than cramped.
Use White (or Light Colors) to Expand Space
- White or light neutral colors will make a small kitchen feel larger and brighter. Use on walls, cabinetry, and counters.
- Variations like off-white, ivory, light gray, and soft blue work too. Avoid darker shades.
- Too much white can feel sterile. Incorporate texture with materials like subway tile or butcher block.
Direct Eyes Upward
- Draw the eye up with tall upper cabinets, high-hanging open shelving, or accent walls in lighter hues.
- Horizontal lines tend to emphasize that a space is small and narrow. Go vertical instead with backsplashes.
- Vaulted or high ceilings make a compact kitchen feel more open if possible.
Reflective Finishes Enhance Light
- Glass-front cabinet doors, mirrors, and metallics like stainless steel reflect light around.
- Use high-gloss finishes and floors for maximum reflectivity. Matte finishes absorb light.
- Installing a glass tile backsplash can make the kitchen sparkle.
- Hang a decorative mirror near a window to amplify natural light.
Consider Open Shelving
- Glass shelves have an airier feel than solid cabinetry and reflect light.
- Metal wire, rail, or pipe shelving adds industrial flair.
- Floating open shelves keep things visible and prevent a closed-in feel.
- Limit upper cabinets to just a few key ones. Too many obstructs light.
10 Design Tips For Functioning Well in a Tiny Kitchen
No matter how small the kitchen, a few smart design moves can help conquer clutter, streamline prep, and make the most of the space you have.
1. Incorporate Hidden Storage Everywhere
Tuck storage into every nook and cranny with solutions like built-in cutlery dividers, pull-out cabinet organizers, or slide-out shelving behind doors.
2. Add Pull-Out Accessories
Install pull-out shelves, baskets, racks, and other roll out accessories to access hard-to-reach cabinets and corners.
3. Use Portables When Possible
Having the ability to move appliances, work tables, and shelving around the kitchen as needed allows you to reconfigure your workspace on the fly.
4. Opt For Multi-Functional Pieces
Choose sink bases with storage drawers, kitchen carts that hold appliances, and stools or benches with interior storage space.
5. Take Advantage of Vertical Real Estate
Make use of vertical space with mounted rails, overhead shelving, double hanging rods in closets, and full-height pantries.
6. Have A Place For Everything
Stay organized by giving everything a designated storage spot off the counters. Luxury kitchen organization systems can help.
7. Limit Bulky Appliances
Stick to appliances that multi-task. Convection toaster ovens and microwaves serve as a second oven. Compact dishwashers hold full loads.
8. Incorporate Space-Saving Fixtures
An undermount sink, low-profile faucet, and drawer microwave save those extra couple inches that really count.
9. Use Mirrors and Lighting
Mirrors and puck lighting under cabinets expand space visually. Natural light bounces around white finishes.
10. Focus Workflow
Situate appliances, utensils, and prep space together in the work triangle to minimize steps during food prep.
Answering Common Compact Kitchen FAQs
Many homeowners have questions when it comes to designing and functioning in a small kitchen. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
What size should cabinets be in a small kitchen?
In general, it’s best to opt for full-height floor to ceiling upper cabinets. For the lower cabinets, drawers and other vertical storage are recommended over wide cabinets to save space. Have no more than 2 lower cabinets per wall, with pull-outs inside.
How much counter space do you need in a small kitchen?
Experts recommend at least 15-20 sq ft of accessible counter space in a compact kitchen. This allows room for food prep and staging appliances. But quality storage to clear counters is just as important.
What backsplash should I use in a small kitchen?
Mini subway tiles, mosaic tiles, penny tiles, and brick layouts give the illusion of more space. Light and reflective materials open up the room. Full slab backsplashes can feel heavy. Mix up patterns and textures.
Should I paint my small kitchen cabinets white?
White or light, reflective finishes tend to make a small kitchen appear larger and brighter. However, too much white can also feel sterile without contrast. Balance with some wood tones and accent colors you love.
How do you arrange a small kitchen?
Try to zone appliances together in the work triangle with main prep and clean up areas streamlined. Situate frequently used items in easy-to reach spots. Have a general inbox for appliances. Utilize traffic pathways wisely.
What flooring works best in a small kitchen?
Light, reflective finishes like wood or stone help expand space. Monochromatic floors visually continuous a small kitchen. Small geometric patterns give texture without overwhelming. Avoid dark floors or bold patterns.
Final Thoughts on Designing a Beautiful, Functional Compact Kitchen
While a compact kitchen presents some challenges, there are many beautiful, highly efficient small kitchen design ideas to explore. Getting creative with storage solutions, multi-functional fixtures, space-enhancing finishes, and a streamlined workflow can transform a tiny kitchen into a workspace you truly love. Although small in square footage, a thoughtfully designed petite kitchen can feel open, airy, and welcoming. With some strategic choices and smart organization, it’s entirely possible to have both beauty and full functionality even in the coziest kitchen footprint. What compact kitchen design ideas resonate with you?