A small kitchen presents unique design challenges but also exciting possibilities. With clever layouts, space-saving gadgets, and a dose of creativity, even the tiniest kitchen can be totally transformed into a beautiful, functional culinary oasis. This comprehensive guide will walk you through all the steps for planning and executing a stunning small kitchen makeover. Discover how to maximize every inch, introduce gorgeous finishes, and incorporate must-have amenities so you can finally have the kitchen of your dreams, no matter how petite.

Assessing Your Current Small Kitchen Layout and Storage Solutions

When embarking on a small kitchen makeover, the first step is taking stock of what you’re working with. Carefully evaluating your existing layout, storage solutions, and amenities will help guide your redesign plans.

Here are some key things to assess about your current small kitchen situation:

Measure Everything

Accurately measuring your kitchen will allow you to create a floor plan to optimize your new layout. Don’t forget to measure:

  • Wall to wall and floor to ceiling dimensions
  • Window and door locations
  • Appliance sizes (fridge, stove, etc)
  • The space between cabinets/countertops

Analyze Traffic Flow

Observe how you and others navigate the current kitchen. Look for:

  • Awkward corners
  • Narrow walkways
  • Appliances in the way of foot traffic

Review Storage Areas

Take notes on your existing storage to see what’s working and what needs improvement. Consider:

  • Cabinet, pantry, and drawer space
  • Organization inside cabinets
  • Underutilized spaces for extra storage

Assess Lighting

Make sure to note lighting options in your current kitchen:

  • Number and placement of fixtures
  • Natural light from windows
  • Any poorly lit spaces

Thoroughly assessing these key aspects of your existing small kitchen will help you identify priorities for the makeover and make informed layout and design choices.

Clever Small Kitchen Layout Ideas to Maximize Space

One of the biggest challenges in a small kitchen remodel is figuring out an efficient layout. The right design maximizes every inch while allowing for smart traffic flow and adequate workspaces. Here are some excellent small kitchen layout ideas to consider:

Opt for Galley Style

Arranging your cabinets and appliances in a single galley row is ideal for small kitchens. It creates a natural workflow and clears traffic paths. Just be sure to allow at least 36 inches between cabinets for comfort.

Incorporate Peninsulas

Peninsulas added to galley kitchens optimize space since they don’t take up as much room as an island. They also create a natural separation between the cooking zone and walkways.

Use Two Base Cabinets together

Placing two base cabinets together makes the most of high-traffic areas. Spanning them floor to ceiling provides tons of storage too.

Consider Drop Zones

Strategically place landing areas throughout your work triangle where you can put down ingredients while cooking. Try narrow counter ledges or carts.

Add a Skinny Dining Space

Tuck a slim banquette, bar area, or bistro table into the kitchen for casual dining. This opens up space in other rooms.

With smart layout techniques like these, you can have an efficient and eye-pleasing kitchen design even in a tiny footprint. Just remember to map it out first on paper to optimize the flow.

Choosing Space-Saving Appliances and Equipment

Another essential small kitchen makeover strategy is stocking it with appliances and equipment sized for limited space. Compact and streamlined options prevent a cramped look while maximizing functionality.

Slimline Refrigerators

Sub-zero width fridges provide refrigeration without eating up precious floorspace. Countertop or under-counter models work too.

Small Stoves

Opt for a 20-24 inch stove or consider a compact convection oven or microwave-range combo. Just ensure it’s sized right for your space.

Mini Dishwashers

A 18-inch slimline dishwasher tucks perfectly between base cabinets. Or choose a compact countertop model.

Vertical Storage Units

Tall narrow units like freestanding pantry cabinets, utility cabinets, and spice racks are perfect for small kitchens.

Two-Tier Carts

Rolling carts with two shelves for small appliances, spices, or extras are handy for adding storage without taking up more footprint.

With compact designs on your essential appliances and equipment, you can have a fully functioning cooking space even in a pint-sized kitchen.

Design Elements That Make Small Kitchens Feel Open and Airy

Even in a marginal footprint, various design techniques can make a small kitchen feel bright, open, and expansive. Incorporating the following elements is key:

Light Colors

Painting walls, cabinets, and trims in light neutral shades keeps things airy. Soft blues, greens, and grays work wonderfully to achieve this effect.

Glossy Finishes

High-gloss surfaces on cabinets and backsplashes reflect light around and add to the illusion of spaciousness.

Mirrored Backsplashes

Strategically placed mirror tiles amplify light and views of the outdoors. Keep them behind the cooktop for safety.

Glass Cabinet Doors

Swapping out solid cabinet fronts for glass doors keeps things visible and makes shelves appear floating.

Mini Pendant Lights

Punctuate the kitchen with pendant lights to direct light right where you need it. Go for slim, delicate fixtures.

Extra Large Window

If possible, expand a window along the entire back wall. This ushers in natural light and gives the illusion of more room.

With touches like these, your small kitchen makeover can feel bright, airy, and surprisingly big. Just stick to enhancing natural light and avoiding dark, bulky features.

Clever Storage Hacks to Maximize Space

One can never have too much storage in a small kitchen. Implementing these clever solutions will help maximize every inch for keeping items accessible but out of the way.

Install Shelving on Walls and Doors

Take advantage of vertical space by adding shelving to walls,doors, side splashes, and above windows. Great for frequently used items.

Use Cabinet Organizers

Maximize interior cabinet space with pull out shelves, lazy susans, tiered drawers, and specialized racks.

Multi-tier Carts on Wheels

Carts can hold appliances, utensils, prep items, or pantry goods while conveniently rolling out of the way.

Mount Pot Racks from Ceilings

Hanging pots, pans, and utensils from ceiling racks clears valuable counter and cabinet space.

Under Cabinet Lid Organizers

Mounting a metal rack under cabinets corrals messy lid storage to keep cabinets clutter-free.

Convert Dead Space Behind Appliances

Use filler panels with integrated shelving to transform awkward spaces behind appliances into storage.

With a mix of organizational solutions like these, even the most compact kitchen can have abundant storage capacity.

Beautiful Small Kitchen Makeover Ideas for Finishes

An important part of any kitchen makeover is selecting finishes that are both beautiful and functional. When space is limited, stick to materials that enhance aesthetics, stand up to use, and are easy to keep clean.

Subway Tile Backsplash

This classic tile look provides clean lines that draw the eye up, making the space feel taller. Use a glossy bright white grout for extra reflection.

Quartz Countertops

Durable, low-maintenance quartz counters are ideal for small kitchens. The seamless appearance maximizes visual space.

Stainless Steel Appliances

Stainless steel lends an elegant, professional look while being super durable. Smudge-proof models help maintain the sleek aesthetic.

Wood Flooring

Wood adds warmth and ties the space together visually. Durable engineered wood or laminate floors stand up to spills and traffic.

Painted or Glossy Cabinets

Bright white, light gray, or high-gloss cabinetry pairs beautifully with other sleek finishes to enhance light and space.

Patterned Accent Tile

Use small geometric, floral, or mosaic accent tiles sparingly as a backsplash focal point. They’ll make a big visual impact.

By carefully selecting finishes tailored for small spaces, you can achieve a polished, pulled-together look even in a pint-sized kitchen

Space-Expanding Tricks Through Decor

A few key decorative touches can also lend the illusion of expanded space in a small kitchen makeover. Keep these tips in mind:

Oversized Wall Art

Hang a large piece of minimal art on the longest wall. The eye will be drawn down the full length of the wall.

Floating Corner Shelves

Frosted glass corner shelves add surface space without cluttering up the room.

Repetition of Elements

Repeat finishes, light fixtures, hardware, or accent colors to establish visual continuity that makes the room feel cohesive.

Limit Clutter on Counters

Keep counters clean and free of appliances or accessories so they appear sleek and expansive. Stow items out of sight in cabinets or drawers.

Mirrors to Reflect Light

Strategically hang mirrors to reflect windows, enlarging views and drawing in natural light.

Sheer Window Treatments

Allow natural light to flood in through gauzy curtains or valances. Avoid heavy drapes that block sunlight.

With creative decor solutions like these, it’s amazing what a sense of space you can create, even in a tiny kitchen footprint.

10 Must-Have Small Kitchen Makeover Features To Splurge On

Certain amenities can make a world of difference when cooking and entertaining in a petite kitchen. Allocating your makeover budget to include these special features will take the enjoyment and functionality of your kitchen to the next level.

Cabinet Pull-Out Shelving

Maximize hard to access cabinet space with pull out shelves and trays that glide out smoothly.

Soft-Close Hinges

Prevent slamming and rattling with self-closing hinges on doors and drawers. They provide a satisfying and luxurious feel.

Under Cabinet Lighting

Illuminate tasks beautifully by installing strips of LED lights underneath upper cabinets.

Pot Filler Faucet

Located right above the stove, this faucet makes filling pots a breeze. A major convenience that frees up sink space.

Wall Oven and Separate Cooktop

This combo boosts cooking capacity without sacrificing counter space that a standard range would occupy.

Roll-Up Cabinet Doors

Recover niche storage space by installing tambour cabinet doors that roll out of sight.

Kitchen Vent Hood

An elevated vent blends in with upper cabinets, removing odors, grease, and moisture as you cook.

Slide-Out Spice Racks

Keep herbs and spices organized yet accessible with drawer inserts or side cabinet pull outs to reveal them.

Farmhouse Sink

The deep basin and drainboards provide enhanced utility in a small footprint. Plus it brings a touch of stylistic charm.

Wine Refrigerator Columns

Integrate seamless refrigerator columns into cabinetry to store wine or beverages at perfect temperature.

With upgrades like these, you can customize your small kitchen to truly enhance efficiency and indulgence. They make time spent cooking and entertaining pure pleasure.

6 Beautiful Small Kitchen Makeover Styles To Consider

There are so many gorgeous styles to draw from when embarking on a small kitchen remodel. Depending your taste, lifestyle and the home’s architecture, here are some inspiring directions to take your tiny kitchen’s design aesthetic:


Sleek surfaces, linear designs, and metallic finishes give this look a modern, polished edge that keeps a small space orderly.


Wood elements, vintage-style hardware, shiplap walls, and chef-friendly workspaces make this timeless style highly livable.


Bright white cabinetry, light wood flooring, marble accents and streamlined shapes create an airy, minimalist look.


The industrial look blends grey-toned brick or concrete with warm wood, black steel, and edison bulb lighting for an urban loft vibe.


Classically styled cabinetry, subway tile, granite, and stainless steel come together seamlessly for an elegant and timeless aesthetic.


Soft blues and greens, beadboard paneling, antique brass hardware, and marble lend a beach house feel.


Mixing and matching furnishes from different eras and aesthetics results in a personalized bohemian look full of character.

With endless options for achieving your ideal style, you can give your tiny kitchen just the look and feel you’ve been craving.

8 Impactful Small Kitchen Makeover Ideas on a Budget

If finances are limited, you can still achieve a dramatic small kitchen transformation. Focus on low-cost DIY projects and simple upgrades that make an outsized design impact.

Refresh Cabinets with Paint

Give outdated cabinets modern appeal with a coat of glossy latex paint in a light color.

Swap Out Hardware

Switching to trendy new knobs and pulls provides an instant facelift for a fraction of a full cabinet overhaul.

Apply Peel-and-Stick Tile

These self-adhesive tiles go up seamlessly. Use them to add a backsplash focal point on the cheap.

Install Open Shelving

Open shelves flanking the window boost storage and give a lighter, airier look compared to wall cabinets.

Dress up Counters

Jazz up laminate counters affordably using contact paper for a faux stone appearance until you can save up for new counters.

Change Plate Rail Molding

Swap in decorative plate rail trim for upper cabinets to add personality and visual interest.

Update Light Fixtures

New energy-efficient lighting paired with DIY under-cabinet lighting significantly brightens up the space.

Add Architectural Salvage

Work in reclaimed corbels, shelves, or shutters. These salvaged architectural elements add vintage personality.

With smart budget-friendly upgrades like these, you can give your petite kitchen a total new look for just a fraction of a full remodel cost.

Avoiding Pitfalls of Small Kitchen Makeovers

While tiny kitchen remodels offer big opportunities, it’s important to avoid common mistakes that could derail your plans. Keep these pitfalls in mind:

Choosing Trendy Finishes

On-trend finishes that feel dated quickly end up necessitating another pricey overhaul sooner than you may expect. Opt for versatile classics.

Overlooking Storage Needs

Failing to plan adequately for storage can leave your new space still feeling disorganized and cluttered. Maximize every single inch.

Undersizing Key Appliances

While it’s tempting to downsize appliances to fit a small kitchen, you’ll regret appliances that can’t handle daily cooking needs. Prioritize function.

Sacrificing Work Space

It can be tempting to go for full-wall cabinetry. But losing countertops limits prep space and functionality. Leave ample work surfaces.

Cluttering Vertical Space

Filling upper walls with cabinets and shelves can make things feel dark and enclosed. Allow some open space to keep things light.

Choosing Dark Finishes

Dark paints, cabinets, and finishes absorb light and make things feel closed in. Stick to pale paint colors and light wood tones.

Overlooking Traffic Flow

A layout that’s too narrow or awkwardly designed creates collisions between multiple cooks. Ensure enough clearance.

Avoiding missteps like these from the start will set your petite kitchen makeover up for both beauty and utility success.

FAQs About Small Kitchen Makeovers

What are the best paint colors for a small kitchen makeover?

Soft white, very light greys, pale blues and greens work wonderfully to keep small kitchens looking bright and feeling open. Avoid darker or intense colors.

How much does a small kitchen remodel cost?

A minor remodel to update finishes and layout costs $10,000-$25,000 on average. A full overhaul with new cabinetry, appliances and finishes averages $25,000-$50,000.

What lighting should you use in a small kitchen?

To keep things illuminated and spacious, use plenty of recessed can lights in the ceiling paired with under cabinet lighting and slender LED fixtures over counters and dining areas.

What kind of flooring maximizes a small kitchen space?

Wood effect porcelain tile or vinyl plank flooring looks great while being durable and water-resistant. If going for actual wood, choose a light-stained engineered hardwood for easier maintenance.

Should you have an island in a small kitchen?

In most cases, an island takes up too much precious space. A peninsula usually works better when some seating or counter space is still desired away from the perimeter.

How do you choose small but functional kitchen appliances?

Look for appliance models with “slimline”, “compact” or “24-inch” in the description. And don’t just go by size—carefully measure your space and compare to appliance dimensions.

Should I get rid of upper cabinets to open up a small kitchen?

Losing upper cabinet storage is risky in a small kitchen. Try reducing uppers to just one area for a more open look while keeping essential storage intact.


Although it presents challenges, a tiny kitchen makeover delivers big opportunities to create a space that’s beautiful, efficient, and uniquely suited to your cooking and entertaining preferences. With clever small kitchen ideas like space-saving layouts, compact appliances, illusion-enhancing finishes and decor, and customized amenities, your petite kitchen can feel like a chef’s spacious dream. Focus on maximizing every inch, ushering in light, planning adequate storage, and choosing materials to stand the test of time. With the guidelines in this article, you can now confidently tackle your small kitchen remodel and transform it into one of your favorite rooms in the house.