Small kitchen ideas – 29 ways to turn your compact room into a smart, super-organised space

Small kitchens can still be mighty, they just need some clever design ideas to make them practical and stylish
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  • Our small kitchen ideas are perfect for those not blessed with a large and sociable kitchen-diner. Sure, you might not have space for a kitchen island, range cooker and dining table to cram guests around. But diminutive doesn’t have to mean drab. There’s a wealth of clever kitchen ideas to make your scheme feel spacious.

    Storage is one of the most important elements in a small kitchen. By maximising every spare inch, reorganising areas that don’t work as hard as they should and adding extra solutions where necessary, you can turn a tiny room into a Tardis. More and more kitchen design looks to benefit from minimal clutter and maximum efficiency.

    Start by thinking about how you use your kitchen and where everything needs to be as this will help you decide what sort of storage you require. For example, it’s best to store items by how often they’re used, so make sure that everyday dishes are on an easy-to-reach lower shelf with special-occasion pieces higher up.

    Small kitchen ideas

    1. Save space with a sliding door

    small blue kitchen with sliding glass door

    Image credit: Future Publishing Plc/ Colin Poole

    In a small kitchen where space is tight you may be tempted to remove the door to avoid the feeling of claustrophobia. But a door to a kitchen is a handy tool to be able to contain the smells of cooking from filling the rest of the house. In this clever compact kitchen the homeowners has used a sliding door to retain the practical element, but thank to it being retracting it takes up zero kitchen space. Even when it is pulled closed, because of the reinforced glass design means it doesn’t act as a solid barrier from one space to the next.

    2. Be mindful of dimensions

    small grey galley kitchen

    Image credit: Tom Howley, Hartford kitchen in Chicory, from £20,000

    ‘Kitchens need to be as functional as they are beautiful’ says Tom Howley, design director at Tom Howley bespoke kitchens. ‘If you take a standard galley kitchen to have a 6ft width and a 12ft length, island and peninsula counters are rarely an option in this sort of space. The importance of walkway space should be a key consideration.’

    ‘When designing your layout, always leave a metre of walkway space either one or two sides of your worktop, island, or peninsula counter. This is a functionally and aesthetically effective dimension to keep in mind.’

    3. Make more space with collapsable furniture


    Image credit: IKEA

    Choose collapsable furniture to allow the space freedom in the purpose. This extendable table provides an island of sorts, then when needed it extends out to form a sizeable dining table for meal times. The table could even provide a valuable desk space for working from home. Due to the nature of collapsable furniture the space isn’t in any compromised by the need for a table, it’s a highly efficient way to make the space work to full potential.

    4. Get creative with corners

    small white kitchen with corner cupboards and glasses rack next to orange fridge

    Image credit: Future Publishing Plc/ Fiona Walker-Arnott

    A tiny kitchen still has to cater for even the most basic of food prep and serving – which requires a lot of ‘stuff’. Meaning it is key to use every last bit of available space by being savvy with the design solutions. Ensure the units are as tall as physically possible to elongate the space. Make the most of magic corners and other clever mechanisms will also help use every millimetre of space – such as this under cupboard glass rack.

    Hanging glasses below the cupboards not only uses up space that is otherwise redundant, more importantly frees up storage space inside the cabinets.

    5. Utilise wall space to create a compact design

    compact kitchens

    Image credit: Kitchen Makers

    When space is at a premium clever compact kitchen design comes to the rescue. ‘When presented with a smaller space it is essential that the layout is carefully considered to make sure every inch of the kitchen is utilised’ says Ben Burbidge, managing director at Kitchen Makers.

    ‘Creating a bank of cabinetry along one wall is a great way of streamlining and opening up the space. Tall wall units are particularly suited to narrow, galley style kitchens as using this space ensures the area feels less cramped than if filled with larder style dressers.’

    6. Pay attention to details

    scandi kitchen ideas 12

    Image credit: Future Publishing Plc/ David Giles

    If you’re designing a new kitchen to make your small space more useable, don’t overlook the finer details. ‘Small details such as the use of materials is key when designing a small kitchen’ says Tom Howley. ‘Lighter wood finishes and paint colours work well to expand the perceived space of your kitchen.’

    ‘However, whites and creams are less popular at the moment, so a great compromise is a smoky grey scheme, using a smoked oak wood paired with a matte grey paint. Pair these tones with very light coloured countertops, and your kitchen will look spacious and airy.’

    7. Open up the space with glass

    Neutral kitchen with glass fronted cabinets

    Whether planning a new kitchen or carrying out a makeover on existing cabinets, glass is a key material to enhance a small space. ‘If you do decide on floor to ceiling cabinets, these should only be fitted with glass door display cabinets. This will open up the space in a way that opaque cabinetry will not in a smaller kitchen.’ explains designer Tom Howley.

    8. Use fresh mint green to promote calm

    Small kitchen with mint green kitchen with island and bar stools

    Image credit: Dulux

    Kitchens of all sizes can feel chaotic, but by their very nature, small kitchens are particularly vulnerable. Tackle this head on by painting your small kitchen in a colour that promotes rest and relaxation. Green is the ultimate tone when it comes to making us feel collected and calm, due to its abundance in nature.

    Mix in different tones in cabinetry, walls and accessories – that layering will mimic the green of a garden, woodland or forest glade, exaggerating the effect.

    9. Create an optical illusion using colour

    grey painted kitchen cabinets

    Image credit: Dulux

    Painting kitchen cabinets is having a resurgence, as homeowners look for affordable ways to revamp existing kitchens – rather than the expensive task of replacing. And what better way to make your kitchen look brand new than a splash of colour to revive the surfaces. In small spaces a new colour scheme can do wonders to help the space feel that little bit bigger too.

    A neutral on the surrounding walls, such as Dulux’s ‘Timeless’ provides a  fresh airy feel for the space. While a stronger, more dominant colour such as Dulux’s ‘Urban Obsession’ can give presence to the kitchen cabinetry. By painting all the base units in a darker shade the room will feel divided, creating the optical illusion of a greater sense of space between floor and ceiling.

    10. Opt for a crisp colour scheme

    eggshell blue kitchen

    Image credit:

    Make a small kitchen feel light and airy by opting for a neutral colour scheme. However, neutral doesn’t just mean beige or cream. Pair white pattern tiles and marble worktops with duck egg blue kitchen cabinets for a crisp kitchen colour scheme that will bounce light around, making the kitchen feel spacious.

    11. Invest in flexible storage

    String kitchen storage

    Image credit: String

    In a small kitchen you need to think creatively when it comes to storage. Instead of investing in ordinary shelves, this wire panel shelving from string maximises storage by adapting to your kitchen’s needs.

    Add in or take away shelves, hang glasses upside down and even introduce a wine rack. When space is at a premium you need to make sure every inch counts.

    12. Distract the eye with bold flooring

    small kitchen will copper accents

    Image credit: Jonathan Jones

    In a small kitchen go all-out with bold tiling. A strong pattern on the floor distracts the eye and makes the room feel bigger. Every inch of this kitchen has been designed to make the most of the small space from the slimline appliances to the hanging pot plant. Hanging the copper planter is a great way to add some life and decoration in the kitchen with out cluttering work surfaces.

    13. Hide appliances in a breakfast cupboard

    small kitchen ideas 6

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    Keep surfaces from looking cluttered by tucking the toaster, kettle and coffee machine away in a breakfast cupboard. As soon as you open the cupboard your favourite gadget a sat ready to use. This is a nifty trick for making use of awkward corners and that none of your kitchen tech gets lost at the back of a cabinet.

    14. Swap an extractor hood for a combined extractor induction hob

    IKEA induction hob

    Image credit: IKEA

    This combined induction extractor hob is a great space saver in a small kitchen. It means you can swap a bulky extractor hood above the hob in favour of extra storage. If you don’t require an extra cupboard of set of shelves, consider leaving the area above the hob empty to give the illusion of a more spacious kitchen.

    Buy now: FÖRDELAKTIG Induction hob/integrated extractor, £1,150, IKEA

    15. Swap a table for a kitchen island

    small kitchen island

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    Adding a kitchen island might sound like a terrible idea in a small kitchen. However in a long thin kitchen it is the perfect way to add in extra storage and surface space, whilst keeping the kitchen a sociable space. Choose an island like the one above with plenty of storage space underneath for stowing away vegetables and linens. A slight overhang from the counter top ensure than the four bar stools fit easily under the island, avoiding any potential trip hazards.

    16. Paint kitchen cupboards to match the walls

    small kitchen ideas

    Image credit: David Parmiter

    Create the illusion of more space in a small kitchen by painting the cupboards in the same colour as the walls. This works really with a white or grey colour scheme, creating a light and airy space where the units blend into the kitchen walls. In this kitchen every spare inch of space is crammed with storage but a uniform wash of white paint keeps the space looking neat and spacious.

    17. Turn an awkward corner into clever storage

    Small kitchen ideas

    Image credit: David Parmiter

    A small kitchen requires you making use of every inch of storage space you have. If you have a small boxy kitchen, rather than cramming all your pots and pans into a deep cupboard that is going to become a nightmare when you need to find a particular frying pan, consider swapping a cupboard for a drawer. This clever pullout drawer maximises space and makes finding your favourite frying pan easy-peasy.

    18. Consider compact containers

    Small kitchen ideas

    Image credit: Simon Scarboro

    Put a windowsill, shelf or recess to work by adding a selection of strong baskets and use to stow bottles, packets or even fresh herbs in pots. Baskets are also a great way to store condiments, meaning you can take them all to the dining table in one trip.

    19. Find a new home for the washing machine


    Image credit: Caroline Arber

    You may think the kitchen is the obvious place to put a washing machine. But in continental Europe, you’re more likely to find it in a bathroom. So if you’re stuck for space, it might be worth relocating your laundry appliances elsewhere. If your bathroom is just as teeny, you might be able to squeeze it in a cupboard under the stairs.

    Alternatively, if you have a separate washer and dryer, you consider keeping them in the kitchen but stacking them one on top of the other in a old larder cupboard. It hides them out of sight, saves space and helps streamline laundry days.

    20. Supersize the sink

    small kitchen ideas

    Image credit: Georgia Burns

    Your small kitchen might not have space for a dishwasher, so it’s worth finding room for a double sink. Keep one bowl for washing and one bowl for dirty dishes. That way you’ll have somewhere to stack mucky prep kit and plates out of sight, and without cluttering up the work surface.

    21. Turn every corner into a storage space

    Small kitchen ideas

    Image credit: David Parmiter

    Identify places where there’s wasted space, such as the gaps between shelves, at the back of cupboards, below the sink, unused corners and windowsills. Stack wherever you can and have a clear out of kitchenware that’s infrequently used or only has one purpose, so you have less to store.

    Think also about relocating items that aren’t in everyday use, but you don’t want to throw out, to elsewhere in your home. Next, think about the space on your walls and doors – try adding a utensil rail or magnetic knife board, hooks on the sides of your cupboards or racks hung over a door. Extra shelves in corners or across alcoves will also come in handy.

    22. Add storage helpers

    Small kitchen ideas

    Image credit: Dan Duchars

    Your cupboards and drawers are your biggest storage resource but it’s likely that they’re not being used fully. Internal storage solutions will make the most of them, so think about retrofitting wire racks that pull out of corners or slim cupboards, some plinth drawers, or using drawer dividers for utensils, spices, pans or plates.

    Boost your storage further with a mobile solution, such as a trolley or butcher’s block on castors, or think about popping baskets or containers on top of your wall cupboards – just keep a sturdy stool nearby so you can reach them.

    23. Clear away the clutter in small kitchens

    Small kitchen ideas

    Image credit: David Brittain

    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.

    24. Tidy your work surface

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    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. Look for genius ways to arrange your kitchen appliances layouts to save even more space

    25. Keep your kitchen scheme simple

    Small kitchen ideas

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    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.

    26. Look to portable storage

    Small kitchen ideas

    Image credit: Simon Whitmore

    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.

    27. Don’t let space go to waste

    small kitchen ideas

    Image credit: Colin Poole

    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.

    28. Neaten up a compact kitchen

    Small kitchen ideas

    Image credit: Lizzie Orme

    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.

    Opt for handleless designs for a sleek, steamlined appearance. Don’t overdo the materials in a small space. This kitchen features a maximum of three different materials, all in muted colourways.

    29. Install floor-to-ceiling cabinetry

    Small kitchen ideas

    Image credit: Barbara Egan

    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.

    How do I plan a small kitchen?

    As with any kitchen, large or small, you need to think about the journey. How do you use the space? There’s a triangle of use within every kitchen, the journey made from fridge to sink to oven – the key elements that need to be considered. Plan your layout around the best way to use the floorspace. Look to use vertical solutions to make the most of every storage space available.

    What is the best layout for a small kitchen?

    Ben Burbidge, at Kitchen Makers says small kitchens needn’t compromise on dream layouts. ‘Don’t be afraid to include an island or breakfast bar but try not to make the overall dimensions too big as it may restrict movement around the kitchen. Opting for an open or floating island will keep all areas accessible and provide additional seating opportunities. The area under the island’s worktop can offer ample space for storage and kitchen.’

    What is the best colour for a small kitchen?

    Light is the greatest tool to help a small space feel bigger, brightening the space by bouncing light into shadows and lifting the entire room. Therefore white is a great option. A staple for small spaces, pure brilliant white is devoid of all pigment. This means it reflects back nearly all light that hits it – conversely, the darker the colour, the more light it absorbs.

    Help your chosen colour go even further in a small kitchen by painting the cupboards in the same colour as the walls. An allover colour scheme helps to keep the look light and airy, by seamlessly blending the cabinets into the kitchen walls.

    Thinking of knocking through? Consider Kitchen extension ideas that will open up your space

    Will you be using any of these small kitchen ideas to create your dream space?

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