Designing a small kitchen that is both beautiful and functional can be a challenge. However, with careful planning and clever design tricks, small kitchens can be just as stunning and usable as larger ones. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore numerous tips, ideas, and solutions to make the most of a modest kitchen footprint.

Key Considerations When Designing a Small Kitchen

When starting the design process for a petite kitchen, there are several key factors to consider that will impact the layout and features:


What is the overall budget for the small kitchen remodel? Setting a realistic budget and determining must-have items versus nice-to-haves will help guide cost-effective decisions.


Evaluate the existing kitchen layout and available space. Look for wasted areas that can be better utilized. Decide if walls can be moved or removed to open up the space.


Storage is even more important in a small kitchen. Assess how much storage space is needed for dishes, food, appliances, and more. Use creative storage solutions like pull-out drawers and dual-purpose cabinetry.

Work Triangle

The work triangle connecting the refrigerator, stove, and sink is key for an efficient kitchen workspace. Optimize traffic flow and counter space within the triangle.

Natural Lighting

Maximize natural light in a small kitchen with ample windows, skylights, and light colors. Task lighting and reflective surfaces also help brighten a small space.


Carefully select compact or slender appliance models to fit the available space. Evaluate must-have appliances versus those that can be omitted or combined.

Excellent Small Kitchen Design Ideas

Incorporating even some of the following excellent design ideas can help transform a cramped kitchen into an inviting and practical space:

Open Shelving

  • Open shelving displays items attractively and makes them easy to access without opening cabinet doors. This makes the kitchen feel more spacious and organized.

Hide Appliances

  • Conceal major appliances like the refrigerator, microwave, and dishwasher behind cabinetry fronts for a sleek, built-in look that saves visual space.

Floating Shelves

  • Floating shelves add display and storage space without taking up precious counter area. They keep the space lightweight and clutter-free.


  • A peninsula adds seating, work area, and storage without consuming much floorspace. The surface below can accommodate stools or appliances.

Mix Countertop Heights

  • Vary countertop heights for increased functionality. Standard height works well for prep areas while bar height is great for casual dining.

Sliding Storage

  • Sliding shelves in lower cabinets maximize every inch of space. Baskets or racks on slides bring items right to you.

Multi-Purpose Furniture

  • Furnishings like a storage ottoman or rolling cart serve as extra counters when needed. Fold-down tables deliver added prep space.

Mirror Backsplash

  • Mirror backsplashes visually double the space. They also reflect light to make the kitchen brighter.

Glass Cabinet Doors

  • Glass-front upper cabinets keep items visible while retaining a lightweight, open aesthetic. Illuminated cabinets can become a design focal point.

Bold Backsplashes

  • Make a big visual impact with a vibrant mosaic tile, marble slab, or patterned backsplash. It becomes a focal point when space is tight.

Slim Appliances

  • Take advantage of narrow refrigerator and freezer models. Streamlined, counter-depth appliances maximize roominess.

Retractable Hood Vent

  • A retractable hood vent tucks away when not in use, freeing up valuable wall space.

Vertical Storage

  • Floor-to-ceiling pantries, tall narrow cabinets, and hanging utensil racks remove items from counters.

Window Bar Seating

  • A counter and stools lined up below a window is a space-savvy seating solution.

Lighting Accents

  • Employ task lighting, under-cabinet lights, and dramatic pendant fixtures to add style and illumination.

Space-Saving Design Elements for Small Kitchens

It’s all about making the most of every inch when designing a petite kitchen. These strategic space-saving elements can help pack a lot of function into a modest footprint:

Utilize Corners

Take advantage of wasted corner space with solutions like lazy susans, specialty pull-out cabinets, and L-shaped shelves. Corner drawers and vertical storage help too.

Multi-Purpose Islands

A compact island squeezes in extra counter space and storage. It can double as a dining table, desk, or food prep station as needed. Add wheels for mobility.

Ceiling-Height Storage

Remove upper cabinets and install shelving or cabinets all the way to the ceiling. It keeps items high up and out of the way.

Flexible Furnishings

Integrate furniture that adapts as needed, like stools that slide under counters or a fold-down table. Look for multi-functional pieces.

Sink Drawers

Drawers under the kitchen sink maximize that space rather than letting it go to waste. Use for storing cleaning supplies or kitchen accessories.

Pull-Out Pantry

Install floor-to-ceiling narrow pull-out pantries in unused areas like next to the refrigerator. Stacked cabinets work too.

Reconfigure Doors

Consider pocket, bi-fold, or sliding doors that tuck out of sight. They eliminate swinging-door clearance requirements.

Microwave Drawers

Replace the microwave with a model that tucks away in an upper drawer. It frees up display space and looks sleek.

Hide Waste Bins

Keep garbage and recycling bins concealed within cabinetry or located in less prominent spots like under the sink.

Vertical Utensil Storage

Utilize the vertical space for utensil organization with wall-mounted rods, tall skinny containers, or hanging racks.

Smart Layouts and Floorplans for Small Kitchens

Strategizing the kitchen layout is essential to avoid an awkward, cramped workspace. Here are some of the most effective floorplans to optimize a petite kitchen:

Galley Kitchen

This linear layout works well for small spaces. Position the refrigerator, stove, and sink along one wall with lower cabinets and counters on the other side.

L-Shaped Kitchen

An L-shaped design opens up the space visually and allows for a small eat-in dining area. Place appliances along the legs of the L.

U-Shaped Kitchen

Optimal for fitting ample counter and cabinet space into a small footprint. Position a window, table, or island inside the U shape.

Single Wall Layout

Arranging all the major appliances and storage along one length of wall keeps the traffic flow simple and direct.

Peninsula Layout

Incorporates a peninsula for extra seating and prep area while keeping the rest of the kitchen compact. Allows for an open floorplan.

Island Layout

Centering the workspace around a small island provides a natural separation between cooking and dining zones.

Clever Storage Solutions to Maximize Space

It’s easy for a petite kitchen to become cluttered and disorganized. Make the most of every cubic inch with these savvy integrated storage ideas:

Pull-Out Cabinetry

Install drawers and pull-out shelves to fully utilize awkward interior cabinet spaces. Keep items easily accessible.

Vertical Dividers

Make narrow cabinets function better by adding vertical dividers to store baking sheets upright or subdivide wide shelves.

Under Cabinet Racks

Hang racks for pots, pans, utensils, and more underneath upper cabinetry to get these items off the counter.

Spice Racks

Mount skinny wall-mounted spice racks in unused areas. Or incorporate shallow drawer organizers for spices and other small goods.

Tiered Storage

Stack items like dishes, cups, and food boxes on layered racks and tiered cabinet inserts. Double your storage capacity.

Cabinet Door Storage

Affix sturdy hooks, paper towel bars, knife strips and other accessories inside cabinet doors to utilize this hidden space.

Hidden Waste and Recycling

Integrate pull-out waste and recycling bins inside lower cabinetry to conveniently tuck them out of sight when not in use.

Alternative Pantry Spots

Use an adjacent closet, mudroom, or basement stair landing as auxiliary pantry areas to remove bulky items from the kitchen.

Specialized Storage Ideas for a Small Kitchen

Beyond general storage, a petite kitchen requires smart systems dedicated to contain specific items. These specialized storage hacks can help:

Lid Organizers

Designate a drawer or shelf rack for pot lids. Vertical holders prevent them from getting jumbled and buried.

Under Sink Storage

Maximize the cavernous space under the kitchen sink with pull-out caddies, sliding shelves, and organizing racks.

Knife Block Drawer

Clear counterspace by storing knives inside a dedicated drawer fitted with built-in slots or inserts.

Vertical Bakeware Rack

Hang a metal rack inside a cabinet to file baking sheets, cooling racks, and pans vertically. Save cabinet shelf space.

Deep Drawer Organizers

Use extra-deep drawers to stash bulky appliances. Customize the space with bins and dividers.

Tray and Sheet Dividers

Add vertical wire dividers inside lower cabinets to neatly store large serving trays, cutting boards, and baking sheets on their sides.

Can Organizers

Keep canned goods tidy with riser shelves, countertop lazy susans, or pull-out cabinet can organizers.

Appliance Garage

Dedicate a base cabinet fitted with a roll-up door to tuck small appliances, mixer, and gadgets out of sight.

Split Trash & Recycling

Divide one large bin or designate two smaller bins for efficient separation and disposal of trash and recycling.

Smart Materials and Finishes for Small Kitchens

Selecting the right materials and finishes can make a modest kitchen feel more spacious and stylish. Consider these tips for finishes:

Light Colors

Paint cabinets, walls, and tile backsplashes in pale neutrals or whites to reflect light and create an airy look. Avoid dark, heavy colors.

Glossy Surfaces

Glossy finishes like polished stone countertops and lacquered cabinets reflect light around, making the space feel bright and open.

Glass Backsplashes

Glass tile or exposed glass panels allow light to pass through, adding to the illusion of increased space.

Mirrored Backsplashes

Mirror backsplashes double light and views, instantly making the kitchen look and feel larger.

Open Shelving

Floating open shelves keep the visual lines clean and lightweight. Avoid bulky cabinet boxes that close in the space.

Metal Accents

Warm metal finishes on hardware, fixtures, and appliances add style without heaviness. Brushed brass and bronze work well in small kitchens.

Patterned Tile

Small-scale mosaic tiles or subtly patterned ceramic tile creates visual interest without overwhelming a compact kitchen.

Clever Lighting Ideas for Small Kitchens

Proper lighting is essential for productivity and ambiance in a small kitchen. Maximize natural light and supplement with ample task lighting.

Large Windows

Expand windows or add new ones like skylights and glass doors to usher in natural sunlight. Frame views to make the space feel expanded.

Sheer Window Treatments

Allow light to filter in through sheer panels or cafe curtains. Avoid heavy drapes that block natural light.

Mirrored Backsplashes

Strategically placed mirrors reflect and amplify incoming sunlight to brighten up the kitchen.

Extra Light Fixtures

Supplement overall lighting with abundant task lighting, under-cabinet fixtures, and pendant lights over counters.

Ceiling-Height Cabinets

Omitting upper cabinets allows light to distribute from the window(s) throughout the kitchen space.

Light Kitchen Island

A portable kitchen island with an airy, light finish or glass top avoids blocking light like a bulky island would.

White Surfaces

Light wall and cabinet colors prevent the space from feeling dark and closed-in. Use reflective whites to maximize light.

LED Under Counter

Install LED strips underneath upper cabinets to illuminate countertops and create ambient lighting.

Small Kitchen Islands, Carts & Tables

While kitchen islands can eat up valuable real estate, several adaptable options maximize workspace and storage without sacrificing floorspace.

Movable Kitchen Carts

A wheeled cart adds portable prep space that can roll wherever it’s needed. Look for models with storage shelves or drawers.

Retractable Kitchen Islands

Islands that slide, fold down or retract into the wall or a cabinet free up floorspace when not in use.

Small Kitchen Islands

Even a compact, narrow island can provide ample workspace and storage while delineating the kitchen from dining zone.

Multi-Purpose Islands

Look for small islands that serve multiple needs – extra seating, dining table extension, and storage are ideal bonuses.

Wooden Storage Islands

A wooden island with shelves and cabinets built in makes a great grab-and-go pantry for frequently used items.

Butcher Block Islands

A sturdy butcher block island doubles as extra chopping and food prep space in a petite kitchen.

Rolling Carts

A rolling cart tucked against the wall can be pulled out to expand the prep area then slid back out of the way.

Drop-Leaf Cart

A small drop-leaf cart expands when you need more counter space then folds up compactly when not in use.

Microwave Carts

Free up counter space by placing the microwave on a compact cart with extra storage for kitchen essentials.

Small Kitchen Backsplash Design Ideas

While small kitchens don’t boast big expanses of backsplash tile, you can still make a stylish statement with petite, strategic backsplashes.

Modest Splashes Behind Sink

Limiting backsplash tile to the space surrounding the sink prevents it from overwhelming the compact kitchen.

Contrasting Tile

Make the backsplash pop with tile in a contrasting color or finish to the countertops and cabinets.

Mosaic Accent Stripes

Jazz up a simple tile backsplash with a few mosaic accent strips or geometric designs.

Statement Mirror Splash

A splash of mirrored tile draws the eye and bounces light around the room for a surprisingly spacious look.

Bold Painted Backsplashes

Painting a colorful accent backsplash adds eye-catching style without heavy tilework. Use high-gloss paint.

Etched Glass Backsplashes

Etched glass makes a delicate yet impactful backsplash that embeds texture without weight.

Subway Tile Patterns

Lay classic white subway tile in interesting patterns like herringbone to create visual interest.

Marble Slab Splashes

A single marble slab carved into a backsplash makes a clean-lined sculptural statement.

Contained Metal Backsplashes

Shiny metal backsplashes work nicely when concentrated behind the stove or in a small recessed area.

Decorating a Small Kitchen

A petite kitchen should be decorated with care to enhance charm without cluttering the compact space.

Limit Decor

Exercise restraint when accessorizing to avoid overwhelming a small kitchen with knick-knacks and decorative flourishes.

Wall-Mount Accessories

Mount common tools like utensil hooks, paper towel holders, and shelves to keep counters clear.

Minimal Window Treatments

Skip heavy drapes and opt for unobtrusive roman shades, cafe curtains, or simple blinds.

Floating Shelves

Arrange collections and accents on wall-mounted floating shelves to save precious counter space.

Under Cabinet Lighting

LED lighting strips installed under upper cabinets create soft ambiance without taking up space.

Seamless Appliances

Minimize appliance visual clutter by selecting models with matching finish colors and clean lines.

Multipurpose Furnishings

Use stools and carts that serve multiple purposes like extra seating and storage to minimize pieces.

Strategic Artwork

Hang a focal point piece of art on a prominent wall rather than clustering small works throughout.

Mirrored Surfaces

Take advantage of mirrors on backsplashes and cabinets to make the kitchen feel instantly larger and brighter.

Glass Pendant Lights

Hanging glass pendant lights maintain an open, airy look compared to opaque fixture shades.

Essential Countertop Appliances Only

Edit down to just the most frequently-used countertop appliances to keep surfaces tidy. Store the rest.

Small Kitchen Dining and Seating Ideas

Despite tight quarters, you can still carve out a spot for meals and mingling. These solutions create a petite dining zone.

Counter Height Seating

Add counter height bar stools on one side of the kitchen island for casual dining and chatting.

Banquette Seating

Tuck a space-saving banquette along one wall with a narrow table in front. Include storage below the seat.

Breakfast Nook

Carve out a cozy dining nook in a bumped out portion of the kitchen or adjacent to a window.

Fold-Down Table

When not in use, a fold-down table can be stashed on a wall or tucked into a narrow cabinet to save space.

Rolling Dining Cart

Use a slim rolling cart as a space-saving dining surface that can roll out of the way.

Counter Overhang

Accommodate bar stools beneath an extended counter overhang. Add a lip for plates and drinks.

Window Bar Seating

Position counter height seating belowkitchen windows to create a built-in dining area.

Small Expandable Table

An expandable table suits both intimate and larger gatherings. Push back together when not serving a crowd.

Multi-Purpose Island

Make the kitchen island do double duty as a dining surface with the addition of stools along one