Our Favorite Small Kitchens that Live Large

A successful small kitchen needs an efficient layout, smart cabinetry, and plentiful storage. See how it's done by touring these savvy small kitchens.

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white cottage small kitchen
Cottage Kitchen

    Can-Do Attitude

    With budget smarts and a knack for DIY adventures, homeowners transform this kitchen into a bright and cheery gathering space. Cottage and vintage-inspired details bring charm to the tight space.

Cottage Kitchen

    Floor Plan

    The footprint of the kitchen was left intact, which eliminated the need for electrical and plumbing changes. An L-shape work space is efficient for cooking and meal prep but leaves the kitchen with limited counter space. A spacious island solves that problem.

Cottage Kitchen

    Creating Space

    Although this kitchen's floor plan is on the small side, it appears spacious and inviting thanks to a few design tricks. Blocks of darker colors (on the floor and island) ground the area, while crisp white and creamy bisque on the appliances, trims, ceiling, and walls keep the room light. Small pockets of color, in the form of vintage accessories, give rhythm to the space and keep your eye dancing around the room.

Cottage Kitchen

    Spacious Amenities

    An oversize apron-front sink was a generous addition to this petite kitchen. With plenty of landing space on both sides of the sink, there is enough countertop real estate to stack dirty dishes on one side and dry dishes on the other.

    Next: Fresh & Functional Kitchen

Fresh & Functional Kitchen

    From Midcentury to Modern

    Once furnished in dark cabinets, a dated color scheme, and a cramped floor plan, this kitchen was uninviting and not work-friendly. The homeowners couldn't even open the refrigerator and oven door at the same time -- there simply wasn't enough room in the close quarters.

Fresh & Functional Kitchen

    Smart Change

    For some kitchens, it's important to invest money in expanding square footage rather than focusing solely on cosmetic changes. Such was the case with this kitchen. By addressing the kitchen?s usability issues, the budget allocated money toward adding space for functionality's sake and also aesthetic improvements. The oven wall was bumped out into the adjacent garage, adding 25 square feet to the kitchen. Moving an interior wall, rather than the exterior sink wall, cut down on costs, as well.

Fresh & Functional Kitchen

    Out of the Dark

    Upper cabinets, although a storage must-have, can create dark recesses in kitchen corners. The solution for this kitchen? A white mosaic backsplash to brighten the space between the upper cabinets and countertop. Undercabinet lighting also helps solve the dimness problem and is another functional addition. Good lighting not only improves the kitchen's appearance but is an extremely handy cooking aid.

Fresh & Functional Kitchen

    Big Style

    Pay attention to the details and a small kitchen can surprise you. Fun cabinet hardware, bright colors, and a few accessories breathe life into any space, big or small. While there is strength in numbers, a small space needs only a few extras to keep the room clutter-free and fresh.

    Next: Nature-Inspired Kitchen

Nature-Inspired Kitchen

    Renewed & Recycled

    Tucked away in a wooded neighborhood, this kitchen remodel drew inspiration from its surroundings. The old cabinets and countertops were removed and recycled, given to the neighbors for their own remodel. The kitchen stayed within its original footprint, but a skylight was installed to bring in more natural light.

Nature-Inspired Kitchen

    Efficient Floor Plan

    Careful space planning made the most of this 10x9-foot kitchen. The microwave was installed in an upper cabinet, which freed up valuable counter space. A small peninsula doubles as prep space and a gathering spot for visiting with the cook.

Nature-Inspired Kitchen

    Height Trick

    To make the small kitchen feel more open, the cabinets were run to the ceiling, giving the appearance of higher ceilings. The light maple cabinet finish and buff-color granite counters and travertine tile backsplash play off the natural theme of the room and create a soothing, cohesive look.

Nature-Inspired Kitchen

    Open Shelving

    A basic solid side cabinet would have closed off the kitchen to the adjacent dining room. A section of airy shelves provides an open transition between the spaces and serves as storage space for pretty serving dishes.

    Next: Small & Sunny Kitchen

Small & Sunny Kitchen

    Smart Moves

    Clean lines, plenty of white, and an abundance of light spell success for this small kitchen. The room feels unconfined by its 11x11-foot footprint. Although small in square footage, several smart design strategies open up the area for a statement-making space. Understated and sophisticated finishes, such as the white backsplash and glass-front cabinets, keep the room simple and inviting.

Small & Sunny Kitchen

    Plan for Success

    A small rolling cart, such as the one placed in the middle of this kitchen, adds the benefit of an island without the bulk of a standard built-in unit. The countertop height makes it ideal for meal prep. Designated work zones also make efficient use of space. Plenty of landing space next to the range is handy for cooking. The sink area follows suit, with counter space on both sides of the sink for easy cleanup.

Small & Sunny Kitchen

    Invigorating White

    Too much white can be a little dull, but the neutral hue perks up when used in standout ways, such as on these beaded-board cabinets. The grooved design adds texture to a flat, white surface. Wide white crown molding between the cabinets and ceiling tops the room with a final detail.

Small & Sunny Kitchen

    Finishing Touches

    Although a colorful tiled backsplash would have added visual interest, a clean, white mosaic version was a more fitting choice for this kitchen. The simple design stays in step with the room's airy vibe. Accessories and extras, such as a copper light fixture and potted plants, introduce color.

    Next: Dose-of-Drama Kitchen

Dose-of-Drama Kitchen

    Detail Oriented

    This small kitchen aims to be big with dramatic flourishes of black cabinets, a contrasting white subway tile backsplash, and unique cork flooring. Plenty of planning, down to every detail of the pantry, also makes this kitchen a star.

Dose-of-Drama Kitchen

    Tight & Efficient Layout

    This 10x9-foot kitchen layout exemplifies the kitchen work triangle. The sink and range are adjacent to each other for easy meal prep and cleanup. The refrigerator is at the farthest "point" of the triangle, so it's close without being in the way of the major kitchen traffic flow. A bank of cabinets around the refrigerator store infrequently used items.

Dose-of-Drama Kitchen

    Clutter-Busting Details

    A built-in drain board added to the countertop eliminates the need for a bulky plastic one. Cutting clutter is key to making a small kitchen feel larger. Clearing the space of unnecessary items makes the room feel more open and less busy.

Dose-of-Drama Kitchen

    A Well-Appointed Pantry

    Careful planning makes this pantry a storage success. Jars and baskets were purchased to fit the shelves. Packages of dry goods can be transferred to air-tight jars, which all line up perfectly along the shelves, eliminating the challenge of trying to configure packages of different sizes.

    Next: Galley Kitchen

Galley Kitchen

    Perfect Finishes

    An inefficient layout and dilapidated features inspired a complete overhaul of this small kitchen. Though the space was modernized, the look stayed in step with the rest of the home, a 1920s Mediterranean-style house.

Galley Kitchen


    The cooking space was relocated to an area that previously housed cabinets and an eating area, creating a galley-style kitchen, which is an efficient use of the narrow 13x8-foot room. An arched doorway was added between the kitchen and the dining room to create a more open space. For authenticity, the new arched doorway was modeled after the doorways seen throughout the house and melds nicely with the home's architecture.

Galley Kitchen

    Cooking Space

    While a double oven would be a dream for a serious cook, limited space demands a creative solution. This kitchen is outfitted with a single oven on the wall facing the cooktop and combination microwave and convection oven. The dual-function appliance performs two jobs while only occupying a sliver of space.

Galley Kitchen

    Smart Storage

    Maple cabinets with a honey stain and hand-rubbed mocha glaze add warmth to the narrow kitchen and also stay in step with the home's traditional style. This plate rack stores daily-use dishes and the open display of plates adds a splash of color to the space.

    Next: Cozy Kitchen

Cozy Kitchen

    Efficient & Stylish

    In this 9x8-foot kitchen, every inch of space is used effectively to give the cook a clean, comfortable space to work. Upper and lower Shaker-style cabinets maximize storage. The white-painted cabinets and the stainless-steel appliances, fixtures, and hardware keep the kitchen light. Glass-front doors on the upper cabinets create the perception of greater depth and increase the visual space of the kitchen.

Cozy Kitchen

    Space Planning

    To maximize space in the kitchen's layout, the sink was placed adjacent to the range. A landing space on both sides of the range provides slivers of much-needed counter space. To add in more storage, a traditional, full-size refrigerator was vetoed in favor of refrigerator drawers, installed below the counter.

Cozy Kitchen

    Smart Buys

    Stacked refrigerator drawers take up less room than a standard refrigerator, leaving more room for cabinetry. Open shelving above the appliance garage gives the eye a rest, breaking up the expanse of white cabinetry. Black granite countertops balance all the white in the room and provide a strong, stylish work surface.

Cozy Kitchen

    Practical Pullouts

    In a narrow space between the wall and range, a handy pullout shelf stores oils, canned goods, and more.

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