Make a Small Kitchen Look Larger

Stretch kitchen space without a major remodel. Check out these 15 tricks for making a small kitchen look and feel spacious.

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white kitchen
Paint It White

    White is your best friend in a small kitchen. It reflects light, which enhances the sense of space and makes the walls seem to recede. When you carry the white from the cabinetry to the countertops, walls, and ceiling, you create a seamless space without edges or boundaries to stop the eye. 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.

Use a Low-Contrast Color Scheme

    When there's little difference between the colors of the walls, the countertops, the cabinetry, and the woodwork, your eye glides over the surfaces looking for a place to rest, and that movement tricks you into thinking the space is larger than it really is. Here, the cabinets, backsplash, and flooring 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.

Replace Cabinet Doors with Glass

    Making a small kitchen feel larger is a matter of fooling the eye and tricking the brain into thinking the space is bigger. One way to do that 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.

Welcome the Light

    Lots of natural light enlarges any space. You may have no choice about the number and placement of windows in your kitchen, but maximize the light you do have by keeping window treatments minimal. Here, a valance softens the architecture and adds a dressy note to the kitchen, but it doesn't block the light. If you want privacy, an opaque shade like this does the trick while still letting in light.

Slenderize the Furnishings

    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 these metal ones. Clean lines don't distract the eye, and the open table and chair legs let you see the floor and walls beyond, making the room feel bigger.

Borrow Space

    Depending on your home's layout, you may be able to remove part of a wall separating the kitchen from an adjoining room. It won't increase the square footage of the kitchen, but it can vastly enlarge the sense of space, bringing in more light and a feeling of openness.

Streamline Storage

    Small kitchens can have storage challenges. Countertops often become storage areas, but eliminating clutter can help any space feel larger. Use this trick in your kitchen and reclaim lost storage space with a corner appliance garage. The cabinet conceals coffeemakers, toasters, and more but keeps them easy to access for food prep.

Stretch the Floor Space

    Some patterned wallcoverings or floor coverings add visual clutter that makes a space feel smaller, but certain types of patterns have the opposite effect. Oversize diamonds painted on this floor create diagonal lines that give the eye a longer path to follow from one side of the room to the other, so the room feels wider than it really is. Combine this technique with low-contrast colors for big results in a small kitchen.

Widen with Stripes

    Just as clothing with horizontal stripes can make a person look wider, striped flooring that runs from side to side instead of following the length of a room will stretch the apparent floor space. These broad stripes were created by alternating light- and medium-tone boards of laminate flooring. Achieve a similar effect by painting existing wooden or vinyl flooring or by covering the floor with a large striped rug.

Take the Eye High

    Giving the eye an up-and-down path to follow on the walls 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 would achieve a similar effect. For the greatest sense of expansiveness, choose objects that harmonize with the background rather than stand out against it.

Mind the Hood

    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.

Carve Out Storage Space

    Shelves flush with the walls and recessed into space between the studs add storage without consuming valuable floor or air space in a small kitchen. These recessed shelves -- trimmed and finished to match the woodwork -- blend with the architecture. If you don?t have space within your kitchen, instead look for a spot near your kitchen, such as a breakfast nook or passageway, to implement recessed shelves.

Eliminate Clutter

    Countertops crowded with cookware and cabinets crowned by collectibles swamp a small kitchen and cramp your work space. To enlarge the room visually, clear off the counters, the windowsill, and the cabinet tops, and stash as much as you can behind closed doors. To take decluttering farther, opt for minimalist European-style cabinetry with sleek flat-panel doors and drawers that shave inches off the space consumed by traditional cabinetry.

Stay Light and Bright

    Reflective surfaces, such as ceramic tile and stainless steel, subtly amplify the effects of natural and artificial light, thereby making the kitchen 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.

Choose Sleek Surfaces

    Clean lines and geometric angles eliminate visual clutter and expand the space, even if square footage is minimal. This narrow kitchen has a crisp look, thanks to clean-font cabinets. An expanse of tile also helps draw the eye across the space.

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