Stretch a small kitchen space without a major remodel. Check out these tricks for cabinetry, color schemes, countertops, and more that make a little kitchen look and feel spacious.
White is your best friend in a small kitchen. It reflects light, enhancing the sense of space and making the walls recede. When you include white on cabinetry, countertops, walls, and the ceiling, you create a seamless space without edges or boundaries. Use several shades of white, and combine contrasting textures to keep an all-white room from feeling sterile. Recessed-panel cabinets and crown molding create subtle shadows that add interest, too.
Creating a kitchen scheme with little difference between the colors of walls, countertops, cabinetry, and woodwork makes a space appear larger than it really is. Here, the cabinets, trim, and backsplash are close in color value -- a soft gray-green -- so the eye doesn't trip over sudden shifts from dark to light. The effect is serene and expansive.
One way to make a small kitchen appear larger is to remove some cabinet doors or replace the solid fronts with glass. This pulls the eye past the cabinet frames, into the depths of the cabinets, so the walls feel farther away. This trick is most effective if you can keep what's in the cabinets orderly and color-coordinated; clutter tends to make a room feel crowded.
Natural light enlarges any space. You may have no choice about the number or placement of windows in your kitchen, but you can maximize the light you do have by keeping window treatments minimal. Here, blinds add a dressy note without blocking the light. If you want privacy, try an opaque shade that allows light in.
A small kitchen dictates small-scale furnishings, but take it a step further by choosing a work island, bar chairs, or stools that are visually lightweight, such as this small industrial island. Clean lines don't distract the eye, and the furniture piece allows you to see the floor and walls beyond, making the room feel larger.
You may not realize it, but your small kitchen has great potential for extra space. These smart secrets will have you cooking up a storm in no time.
Small kitchens present tough storage challenges. Countertops often become crowded with appliances, but eliminating clutter can help any space feel larger. Use a corner appliance garage in your kitchen and reclaim lost storage space. The cabinet conceals coffeemakers, toasters, and other small appliances, while keeping them easy to access for food prep.
Some patterned wall and floor coverings add visual clutter that makes a space feel smaller, but certain patterns have the opposite effect. Oversize diamonds or chevrons create diagonal lines that draw the eyes from one side of the room to the other, making it feel wider than it really is. Combine this technique with low-contrast colors for big results in a small kitchen.
Just as clothing with horizontal stripes can make a person look wider, striped flooring that runs from side to side, rather than following the length of a room, will stretch the apparent floor space. These broad stripes were created by alternating light- and medium-tone laminate floor tiles. Achieve a similar effect by painting existing wooden or vinyl flooring or by covering the floor with a large striped rug.
Giving the eye an vertical path to follow increases the apparent height of the ceiling, thus lifting the lid off a boxy room. Here, molding atop the sleek wood cabinets draws the eye upward. If there is a soffit above your cabinets, framed prints, decorative plates, or large ceramic tiles achieve a similar effect. For the greatest sense of expansiveness, choose objects that harmonize with the background rather than stand out against it.
A sleek, wall-mount vent hood over the cooktop trims the visual fat from a wall of cabinets, giving the room a greater feeling of openness. Minimalist vent hoods, like this one, require 30 inches between cabinets, about the same as an undercabinet hood, but give a cleaner, lighter look -- a plus in a small kitchen.
Add storage to a small kitchen, without consuming valuable floor space, by recessing a shelving unit into the wall space between studs. These recessed shelves -- trimmed and finished to match the woodwork -- blend with the architecture. If you don't have space within your kitchen, look for a spot near your kitchen, such as a breakfast nook or hallway, to implement recessed shelves.
Countertops crowded with cookware, cabinets, and collectibles overwhelm a small kitchen and cramp work space. To enlarge the room, clear off counters, windowsills, and cabinet tops, and stash as much as you can behind closed doors. To take decluttering further, opt for minimalist European-style cabinetry with sleek, flat-panel doors.
Reflective surfaces, such as ceramic tile, marble countertops, and stainless steel, subtly amplify the effects of natural and artificial light, thereby making small kitchens seem larger. Plus, adequate lighting improves functionality. Undercabinet lights come in handy while cooking, and pendant lights add ambiance to meals served at an island or peninsula.