Your kitchen doesn't have to be massive to be beautiful. Small kitchens just need some clever design ideas to make them practical and stylish.
Looking for small kitchen ideas? We might all covet a large and sociable kitchen-diner with room for a kitchen island, range cooker and dining table to cram guests around, but the reality is that sometimes it’s a case of making the most of what we have – in this case, a small kitchen. But diminutive doesn’t have to mean drab. There’s a wealth of clever ways to make your kitchen scheme feel spacious…
Clear away the clutter in small kitchens
Wall cabinets can really encroach on space, so consider doing away with yours. Open shelving can make a huge impact in a small kitchen, creating an open and airy feel, as long as you limit the amount of shelves you use, and what you keep on them.
And if there are too many items cluttering up the worktops, consider clever solutions like wall-mounted magnetic knife strips, rails to hang utensils, pans, mugs, spice jars and cutlery bins. Also think about what you need to have to hand every day, such as chopping boards, wooden spoons, washing-up liquid, and what can be stored away until needed.
Keep your kitchen scheme simple
Nothing makes a room seem larger like simple white walls, so why not take it further with sleek, contemporary details that open up the space. Light, reflective materials and minimal designs are your friends in a small kitchen, so consider white or frosted glass cabinet doors, white stone or composite, or stainless-steel worktops, and white splashback tiling.
Want more kitchen ideas? Take a look at our guide to U shaped kitchens
A simple monochrome scheme in this kitchen gives this compact U-shaped area a crisp and clean look. Keep materials simple using a maximum of three finishes in a small kitchen, which allows you to zone areas, create features and let other sections blend into the background.
Small streamlined kitchen
You may be short on space but, with some smart planning, you can have a beautiful, hardworking scheme. Integrating appliances into your cabinetry is a sure way to keep a compact space looking sleek. Here, a range cooker takes the central spot in a single row of hand-painted tulipwood units, while a coffee machine, oven and warming drawer form a functional bank.
Combining different materials is a great way to add interest in a small space without overwhelming it. Here, hi-gloss units have been kept at base level, while zebrano-veneer cabinets and wall cladding make a striking feature. Don’t overcrowd walls with units – if you need extra storage, then opt for one wall of cupboards with open shelving on another.
Don’t miss these brilliant designs for U shaped kitchens.
Mitchell and Stanley
Not every kitchen will have room, but if your heart is set on having an island or peninsula, consider a slimline design. The central workstation shown here may be small, but it provides extra storage space and a useful worktop for food preparation.
As part of an open-plan space, this L-shaped work surface is a great example of how you can still incorporate a breakfast bar into a compact area. Cream-painted wall units offer extra storage and make a pleasant contrast to oak-panelled, Shaker-style base cabinets.
Opting for open shelving and glazed doors on cupboards makes a great alternative to having standard wall units and means you won’t lose out on valuable storage space. This industrial-style kitchen features varnished plywood cabinetry and a moulded concrete worktop for an unusual yet natural look.
Hi-gloss Woodbury wall units and Linden oak cabinetry work together to keep a small space looking light, with a well designed layout that has even managed to squeeze in a compact peninsula. Base and wall cupboards have been installed to offer plenty of storage space, while a reduced-depth, full-height unit allows free flow into the kitchen.
Consider a kitchen trolley on casters, which provides an additional prep surface when you need it, tucks away when you don’t and also offers extra storage for cookery books, pots and pans. You can even use it as a handy food and drinks trolley when you have guests.
A 50cm-wide island unit will provide much-needed workspace in a small kitchen, while pale colours and half shutters add a feeling of space.
The New England Shutter Company
Avoid the temptation to cram as many units into the room as possible as this will make the kitchen feel smaller. Classic wall-mounted plate racks are an ideal way to keep a country kitchen tidy.
Similar plate rack
Recessed handles make for a streamlined design and will stop clothes catching on doors where space is tight, while reflective finishes such as a mirrored-glass splashback, hi-gloss cabinetry and stainless-steel appliances are effective in kitchens that lack natural daylight.
Position fully integrated appliances alongside pull-out larder units and wall cabinets with concertina doors to make the most of your available space.
Carefully locate storage according to use. Saucepans and utensils should be near the cooker and crockery, and glassware adjacent to the dishwasher.
Cast in Style
Choose compact versions of kitchen appliances and look out for products that perform more than one role, for example a combi-microwave or steam-combi oven. Luxury appliances aren’t just for large kitchens – this 45cm-high wine cooler stores 18 bottles in perfect conditions.
Create organised and efficient storage space in your kitchen cupboards by installing several tiers of drawers.
Think about how you’ll move around the space and choose a kitchen layout that won’t restrict access to cupboards, appliances or the room itself. Here, fully integrated appliances are kept behind closed doors for a clutter-free look.
Store away everyday essentials or showcase your favourite pieces in this floor-to-ceiling shelving unit. Add a touch of colour to the scheme with zesty lemon wallpaper and matching accessories.
Similar shelving unit
Ask your designer about special space-saving furniture, such as reduced depth cabinets and corner solutions. In this classic country kitchen, the width of the worktop on the left-hand side has been reduced by 10cm, leaving more space to move around in, and a slide-out corner cupboard brings hidden contents into view.
Barnes of Ashburton
Make good use of a corner space that is rarely used with a country-style wall-mounted cabinet.
Similar corner cabinet
Jeremy Hill Furnishings
Keep a bench hidden away under your table and pull it out when you have guests. This one has a removable lid – ideal for storing cleaning products or cookery books.
Kitchen extensions can benefit from a skylight, which will provide plenty of natural light without wasting precious wall storage. Flooring should be fitted in a vertical direction rather than horizontal or diagonal to create the illusion of length.
Grado range, Kütchenhaus
Make the most of a slim space between cupboards or in an alcove and fit a space-saving wine rack.
Similar wine rack
An island unit might be out of the question, but a butcher’s block or portable kitchen trolley will provide extra prep space and can be moved out of the way when not required. Here, a 60cm-wide reclaimed sideboard provides a link between cooker and sink, plus a long length of workspace.
Holloways of Ludlow
Keep your worktops clutter-free by fitting a spice rack to the inside of a cupboard door.
Similar spice rack
In a compact kitchen, wall space is your friend so make use of even the smallest area, such as next to a sink, with open shelving. Pop storage canisters and kitchen gadgets on the shelves to free up worktops and enhance the feeling of space, then add accessories in a cheery shade.
Clever storage ideas are vital in a compact kitchen, especially ones that allow you to free up cupboard space for other items. Look for a wall unit with a handy plate rack and a narrow, built-in shelf below to house small spice jars. Continue the country-style theme with a ceramic sink and choose elegant swan-necked tap and cream wall tiles.
Kitchen design has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years and there’s now a solution for even the smallest of spaces. If you’ve got a narrow unused space at the end of a run of units, next to a dishwasher or washing machine for example, fit a slimline cabinet with storage racks – they’re perfect for bottles, condiments and small items that are easily lost.
A quick and inexpensive way to increase the feeling of space in a small kitchen is to trick the light by placing a large mirror on a kitchen wall to bounce light around the space. It’s also a great way to make this room feel less like a kitchen and more like a living space, so is ideal for an open-plan layout. Pair white tiles with a glossy black worktop for a sleek, modern look.
If you can fit enough base units into your kitchen layout, don’t clutter up walls with cabinets – go for open shelving instead. They feel much less oppressive and provide more storage than you might think. Keep units and walls white for a spacious feel and choose contrasting dark worktops and flooring to balance the scheme.
A dedicated dining space is a luxury, but if you don’t have a separate room, it’s easy to add one to a compact kitchen with a folding table and chairs. It makes a great breakfast bar, so why not treat yourself to new crockery to go with your table? Finish the look with a vase of beautiful flowers.
Make open shelving work harder by fixing cup hooks to the underside. Not only do mugs look lovely displayed this way, but you’ll also free up cupboard space for other things. Add further pops of colour to your kitchen with a bright splashback and storage canisters, plus walls painted in a fresh blue shade. A lovely way to show off colour and pattern that would otherwise be hidden away behind doors.
In an open-plan kitchen, a separate dining space might not be practical, so get the best of both worlds with a breakfast bar. One side can be used as a kitchen prep area while the other can be used as an informal eating spot by placing bar stools under a worktop overhang. Choose stools with wooden seats to echo the worktops and fit pendant lights above to finish your breakfast bar off in style.
Try using large-scale accessories, such as this wall clock, or a collection of decorative plates, to anchor a small space. In this country-style kitchen, fabric make a simple alternative to cupboard doors.
Opt for a scheme which leaves one wall free of hanging units, to open up a small space. Here, a simple wooden shelf adds a decorative touch.
Make the most of a small, square room by building a wraparound counter and kitchen units. A butler’s sink in the centre of the scheme is a stylish addition.
Try making a style statement in a low-ceilinged kitchen by adding a mural or a vibrant piece of wall art instead of a traditional splashback.
Painted tongue-and-groove panelling throughout gives this small houseboat kitchen a sense of space. In a small kitchen, try pairing light units with a dark wood or granite counter for contrast.
This country-style kitchen gives a nod to Shaker style with its simple, pared-back design. Panelled white cabinetry allows plenty of space for storage and kitchen essentials. And don’t stint on the lighting. Incorporate adequate task lamps under cabinets for food preparation and include in-drawer and in-cabinet lighting where possible.
Open shelving is a stylish and practical alternative to wall cupboards. Try storing saucepans, cups and cookery books this way in a small kitchen area and consider downlighting to enliven the space.
Create a complete kitchen in a small alcove by opting for a narrow oven, generous open shelving, plenty of hanging space and extra-deep counters.
Add interest to a compact scheme by creating a painted feature wall. Here, a lime green wall adds a modern touch to a neutral kitchen, while glass-fronted cabinets and rustic artwork inject personality.
Not every home is blessed with a vast open-plan kitchen but, if your room is on the small side, there’s plenty to feel positive about. For a start, it’s easy to keep everything to hand, and you’ll find a wealth of storage ideas to get the very best out of your space. To avoid cluttering the worktops, plenty of cupboards have been incorporated into this kitchen design.
In a brick alcove in a country kitchen, you can’t really beat a sleek navy blue range cooker for real rustic appeal. If your alcoves can’t accommodate a cabinet, open shelves are a practical way to still make use of the space. Choose open shelving rather than cupboards in a small kitchen to keep the area looking open and airy.
A single run of kitchen units on one wall is a brilliant way of maximising space. Make sure there’s at least 3m of uninterrupted worksurface, as you’ll need to include storage, a sink, oven and a hob as the bare minimum. This highly functional kitchen radiates calm with its soft cream units and grey floor tiles. Traditional accessories such as the solid wall clock and silver kettle add character.
Farrow & Ball at Homebase
When it comes to the colour scheme, conventional wisdom suggests light and bright, but the opposite can also work. Dark and moody worktops and cabinetry teamed with a dramatic lighting scheme will make the kitchen feel smart, while mirrored mosaic tiles help to create the illusion of space in this compact L-shaped kitchen.
Walls and Floors
Think vertically by continuing your cabinets up to the ceiling but plan carefully to ensure the room feels as open as possible. Store less frequently used items in high cupboards. Add a breakfast bar if you can – the amount of storage and workspace it provides makes great use of the footprint and will ensure your kitchen is more sociable.
Include a display area if you can squeeze it in. Open shelves are ideal for showing off decorative items and cookbooks, which helps your kitchen to feel personal and can break up a wall of units. Also, reduced-depth units and worktops will give you more room to move – a minimum of two square metres of space is best for comfort.
As much as most people would love a large multifunctional kitchen, the reality is that many of us are working with a room that’s less than spacious. Compact appliances, including a dishwasher, were selected to take up less space in this small kitchen. Keep worksurfaces clear and add to the illusion of space with light-coloured or glass surfaces.
Achieve a living-room feel by incorporating a sitting and dining area into your kitchen. A separate seating and dining area, indicated by the change of flooring, gives this open-plan kitchen a relaxed and inviting feel. Tonal grey units contrast with the rich wood worktops in this large kitchen.
Feeling inspired by these game-changing designs for small kitchens? We love to hear which compact design idea is your favourite, leave us a comment in the box below.