Modern small kitchen ideas to inspire a cooking space fit for contemporary living

Trend-led and practical up-to-date designs

Light oak modern small kitchen with island
(Image credit: Magnet/Jen Nash)

Modern small kitchen ideas are the key to making a compact cooking space work for everything day to day life throws at you. Navigating a small kitchen can be tricky and when the design isn't fit for your daily needs then it becomes all the more frustrating.

'Size doesn’t have to be a constraint on the style and look of your room, and with thoughtful design, small spaces can be incredibly chic. To create a luxurious ambience within a confined kitchen space, it’s important to hone in on the finer details,' explains Mike Whitfield, interiors expert at LUSSO.

From clever storage solutions that speak to busy family life to design features that will enhance, not overwhelm, a small kitchen, these tips will help you get the most from your modern kitchen idea.

1. Choose an earthy colour palette

Light oak modern small kitchen with island

(Image credit: Vesta London)

Kitchen colour schemes are essential to your decision-making when designing your new layout. But when it comes to a small kitchen, choosing the right colour that enhances the sense of space rather than drawing it in will be key to making it feel like an enjoyable spot to spend time in.

While you might be inclined to stick to a lighter palette, one way to make your small kitchen super contemporary is by choosing an on-trend earthy shade. They're still bright and airy but will ground the look, making it feel welcoming.

2. Work in natural materials

A kitchen with open shelving and white-painted exposed brick walls

(Image credit: Future PLC/James Merrell)

Another modern small kitchen idea involves incorporating many natural textures into the design. Embracing different textures is a great way to add tactility, especially in a small space where you don't want lots of clutter, so interest through materials will instead do the talking.

Whether this is through handmade kitchen tiles that reflect light or rustic shelves that allow you to display your favourite pieces of crockery - the effect is a design that doesn't scream modern in a typical way, but is up-to-date and thoughtfully designed.

3. Go for simple coloured fronts

HUSK kitchen island with sink

(Image credit: HUSK)

Shaker kitchen ideas are no longer solely associated with traditional kitchens, but if you're looking for a super sleek contemporary look then slab door fronts will be the ultimate choice.

The clean, unfussy cabinetry lends itself well to a small kitchen as it keeps visual clutter to a minimum and instead allows you to get creative with a statement colour, like this Husk kitchen in a verdant green shade.

4. Spruce up with trendy hardware

Husk Plant Natura in Terra

(Image credit: HUSK)

If you've chosen to keep your cabinetry pared-back, but you still love more of a bold look, then there's still scope to make an impact.

Cabinet hardware is a small addition but one that has a huge influence on the overall appearance of your space. Want to add a touch of tradition? Antique brass cup handles might be for you. Or would you rather stick to a Scandi-inspired modern look? In that case, opt for handles with intriguing shapes and slim profiles.

'Bring in a touch of elegance and sophistication by opting for cabinet pull handles, kitchen taps, and finishes in beautiful brushed gold or aged bronze,' echoes Mike Whitfield from Lusso.

5. Add interest with textured doors

Harvey Jones one wall kitchen

(Image credit: Harvey Jones/Swoon)

In a modern small kitchen idea, you're unlikely to have tonnes of space to work with in terms of showcasing accessories and fun kitchen decor. So to make your look trendier without taking up valuable space, turn to your cabinets.

In what is inherently a functional feature, a span of cabinetry is prime real estate when it comes to adding flair to your design. Reeded fronts are one of the biggest kitchen trends for 2024 and are subtle enough for small spaces - they'll also help to zone the room visually if it's open plan.

6. Pick an all-white scheme

HUSK white hamdeless modern kitchen

(Image credit: HUSK)

If you're wanting to make a small kitchen feel bigger then you can't go wrong with an all-white colour palette.

White kitchens are so effective when it comes to making a room feel bright and inviting and paired with sleek cabinetry and matching white walls, it feels modern too. Warm up the look with herringbone wood-effect flooring and wishbone dining chairs in the same tone.

7. Make the most of every inch of space

HUSK kitchen coffee station

(Image credit: HUSK Kitchens)

Modern life requires modern solutions. Enter: nifty kitchen storage ideas.

When you're designing a small kitchen you will need to think more carefully about where to incorporate storage. Rather than just focusing on base and wall cabinets, consider awkward spaces that would otherwise be empty. Bespoke built-in cupboards will make use of these gaps, while open shelving will keep the top half of the room light and airy.

'Utilise the full height of your kitchen by installing tall cabinets or open shelves that reach up to the ceiling. This maximises useful storage space and also draws the eye upward, making the room feel larger,' adds Darren Watts, showroom design director at Wren Kitchens.

8. Extend a statement surface

Jen Nash kitchen

(Image credit: Magnet)

To make a modern small kitchen idea feel a little bit more luxe, dramatic veined surfaces will be your best friend. However, there might not be much work surface available in your compact cooking space to showcase enough of the beautiful stone, in which case continue it up onto a backboard.

Not only does extending the work surface onto the walls create a high-end look but it also protects walls from cooking splashes and spills. Combining practicality with style is essential in a small kitchen and this clever trick certainly fits the bill.


What is the best colour to paint a small kitchen?

Committing to any colour scheme in your home can be tough but when you add the context of a small space that you want to make look as large as possible, it makes it even trickier.

There is no right or wrong colour to choose for a small kitchen but depending on your goals and how the light hits your space, some shades will be better suited than others.

'White is the perfect colour for any small kitchen, as it will make the room appear to be larger and brighter. White reflects light, so even in the darkest kitchens, the light source will bounce around the room. Its bright qualities also make it a colour in interior design that instantly makes a room feel clean, airy, and tranquil,' explains Darren Watts, showroom design director at Wren Kitchens.

You don't need to stick to neutrals though. Green kitchens have proven to be a huge hit in recent years with emerald shades and lighter sage tones being well suited to compact living. And if you're feeling bold then a small kitchen will also benefit from a dramatic black look for a cosy feel.

Holly Cockburn
Content Editor

After starting out her journey at Future as a Features Editor on Top Ten Reviews, Holly is now a Content Editor at Ideal Home, writing about the best interior ideas and news. At Top Ten Reviews, she focussed on TikTok viral cleaning hacks as well as how to take care of investment purchases such as lawn mowers, washing machines and vacuum cleaners. Prior to this, Holly was apart of the editorial team at Howdens which sparked her interest in interior design, and more specifically, kitchens (Shaker is her favourite!).