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Design Tips for Small Kitchens

Have a small kitchen? Don’t sweat it - there are plenty of design ideas to maximize square footage for small kitchens. Here are some helpful tips.

Maximize Function - Small kitchens can lack the space to accommodate typical daily tasks like homework, mail storage and laundry. Make the main focus meal prep, by making sure you have the appliances in the areas you need it. Save space with scaled-down or innovative appliances, including refrigerator and freezer drawers and pint-sized microwaves and single sinks. If workspace is at a premium, consider a counter-topped cart that can be rolled into a closet when not in use.

Realize the Focal Point – The key item that the room works around. For living rooms, it could be a fireplace, but for small kitchens, it's typically the entire space. So look at your kitchen as one solid unit. Use either a neutral tone or one continuous color throughout the space to keep the eye moving and for the kitchen to feel like one complete unit. One easy solution for creating this look is to make sure your back splash pattern is uninterrupted and even have the outlets blend into the design.

Consider Opening Up the Cabinets - Small kitchens can benefit from open shelves or cabinetry. Consider removing top cabinets and add open shelving – it can provide a clean and contemporary look, but also gives the illusion of a larger space since it encourages the eye to continue all the way to the wall. Keep your dishware and glassware neat and tidy, while also adding color to some of the dishes to give the look a personal touch. The shelves themselves can add a clean and modern look and often can be found in a variety of colors and styles.

Make an Accent Wall - If you are going with open shelves, you may want to consider making the wall behind the shelves the accent wall while leaving the rest of the kitchen neutral. This will provide balance in the space and a little pop of color.

Cabinet Considerations - Allow the eye to move through the space uninterrupted by using one neutral tone for the entire space - the cabinets, appliances and floor coverings. Use simple flat cabinets without a lot of detail or replace solid cabinet doors with glass ones (making sure the inside of the cabinets are painted the same color).

Color Tips - Cooler colors, like blues, tend to recede and make a space appear bigger. Warm colors, like deep reds, tend to close in a space and make it feel more intimate. Small kitchens tend to be better served by using neutral or cool tones to make the space feel open.

Go for Glass - One of the easiest ways to expand a kitchen visually is to incorporate glass. Try a glass table top or cabinet doors.

The Floors - Small kitchens can really benefit from adding a few extra touches to the floor. The eye often goes down as you walk into a room, making flooring an important element to consider. Adding a rug or floor covering that provides texture and color to the space can help your design aesthetic. Since the space is smaller so you may be able to upgrade the flooring material used.

Ceilings & lighting – Review both task and accent lighting. Consider countering the fluorescent lighting with pendant lights in the eating area and some under cabinet lighting. Add dimension to the ceiling with spot lighting above the cabinets, it will draw the eye up giving some vertical depth. Keep the ceiling white or a light color so the eye will continue moving up.

Design Elements – add some interesting architectural details to give your kitchen a bit of luxury. Maybe it’s the floor material, light fixtures or back splash. Create a personal touch that draws the eye, adds some color or interest, yet still affordable.


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