7 Design Ideas for Small Kitchens

Style tricks, storage tips, and renovation possibilities for the not-so-large kitchen

Updated on June 30, 2017 10:06 am

Samantha Echavez


We dream of spacious and stylish kitchens with big windows and efficient islands, with a breakfast nook at the corner and a skylight on the ceiling. However, even if we are not gifted with a huge kitchen, it doesn't mean that we cannot transform it into the kitchen of our dreams. Being the heart of the home, the kitchen has to be well-organised and pretty, no matter how small.

"Getting your kitchen to reach its full potential starts by looking beyond what it is to what it could be. List—and rank–your priorities. Then let those priorities guide your makeover and inspire clever ways to work them in. Remember it's not the size of the room that matters, but what you can do with it. Even in a small kitchen, you can do a lot," say the editors of Small Kitchen Solutions by Better Homes and Gardens.

Here are makeover ideas that can add pizzazz and panache to your current or future kitchen:

1. Consider open shelving. "Keep the kitchen light and airy by lining a wall with open shelves instead of upper cabinets. Display special-occasion dishes on top shelves and everyday items on lower ones," says Samantha Thorpe, author of 100 Decorating Ideas: Big Style for Small Rooms.

Jai and Noora's industrial kitchen features open shelving to make the space less closed in.

James and Ann's kitchen makes use of open shelving.

2. Use the walls for extra storage. Make this space extra hardworking—hang your pots, utensils, knives, and other kitchen implements on your wall.

In Sophia and Maqiyin's kitchen, chopping boards, utensils, and pots are all out in the open.


3. White works wonders in the kitchen. "In a small house white makes everything look cleaner and larger, it's optical. Avoid dark colours unless you specifically want to create a dramatic focal point," says designer Wendy Furman. Install glossy-white laminate cabinets or shelves and drawers, opt for white subway tiles, or make use of white marble countertop. To keep it from looking too sterile, use several shades and textures of white.




4. Enhance the design of your floor. "If the kitchen isn't large, use only a few colours so as not to overwhelm the room. You can use a checkerboard floor to make the room eye-catching," says Thorpe.



5. Spice the space up with colour. Even if your kitchen is done up in an all-white motif, you can still add pops of colour to make it livelier. Bright yellow cabinets? Orange backsplash? Pastel green fridge? No problem!

Anna and JR's kitchen gets a lively boost via the yellow cabinets and the colourful knick knacks on the countertop.

John and Justina's home features a bright, get-happy kitchen.

A vividly yellow Smeg kitchen—that's all Don and Octavia need to energise their kitchen.

6. Beautify the backsplash. "Create an eye-catching focal point without dropping a lot of cash by lining the wall behind the cooktop with decorative tile," Thorpe says.

Consider using these backsplash tiles, $5.90 each at Cat Socrates, for a pretty Peranakan touch to your home.

Original Peranakan tiles on the centre of the kitchen wall in Matthew and Mark's eclectic home

7. Personalise the kitchen—make it fun, happy, quintessentially you. Display your DIY projects, inspiring typography, chalkboard lists, photos, and other personal collections. Tip: Just make sure you don't clutter your counter.

Chalkboard wall in Octavia and Don's kitchen

Retro tin cans in Jai and Noora's kitchen

"Lapar?" (which means hungry) letter cutouts in Salina's kitchen

Got a kitchen renovation tip or project to share? Email us at hello@cromly.com. You can also check out more inspiring kitchen photos here and here.

Cover photo by Xiangyun Lim (Alexa)


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