Learn how to make the most of a small kitchen footprint when you can't add on or borrow space.

By Tim Laehn
June 08, 2015
kitchen decor

You'll often hear the first step of any remodeling project is to develop a wants and needs list. Perhaps nowhere is this more important than in a small kitchen when adding on or borrowing space isn't an option.

"Remember the kitchen will only be as big as it currently is," says Allen Curran, a certified kitchen designer with Bella Domicile, Inc. in Madison, Wisconsin. "Think about all the activities you do in the kitchen and what you will need to accomplish those activities."

Tips for a Small-Kitchen Remodel

Here are some tips for making the most of a small footprint.

Multitask. Look for spaces that can be used for more than one purpose. For example, instead of setting up a table and chairs, consider opting for an island or peninsula that offers a spot for casual meals, an additional work surface, and storage. "One of my favorite small-space design solutions is to put a base cabinet on wheels so it can be rolled out to the center of the room for serving or work space, then rolled back in place below the main counter," says Marie Lail Blackburn, a certified master kitchen and bath designer with MLBdesigngroup in Seattle.

Be appliance-smart. Don't get larger appliances than needed. Consider appliances that maximize space, such as a freestanding range with two ovens compartments below and a combination microwave-convection oven. Many appliance manufacturers now offer 18-inch-wide dishwashers in addition to the standard 24-inch widths. Also note that side-by-side and French door refrigerators do not open into walkways as far as refrigerators with full-width doors.

Maximize counter space. It's better to have one larger countertop area than several smaller sections, so create as few interruptions in your countertop as possible. By the sink, Blackburn recommends incorporating a cutting board that slides over to cover the sink, thus expanding the countertop.

Get creative with storage. Perhaps there is a soffit or bulkhead above the upper cabinets that isn't being used. "Yes, this storage is harder to reach, but it certainly could help with seasonal dishes or bakeware used only a few times a year," Curran says. Investigate options, such as pullout racks and lazy Susans, that make hard-to-reach storage areas more accessible. "Consider the thickness of any interior walls," Curran says. "Can they be removed and replaced with cabinets, or can the space between studs be used for storage?"

Rethink walkways. Take a look at walkways and doorways to see if there's a way to redirect traffic flow and provide more storage or work space.

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