While most people would jump at the chance of having a large kitchen, this is not always possible depending on the layout of your home. Rather than footing the bill for a home extension, there are creative ways that you can utilize your small kitchen space to fit the needs of your family.
If you read my previous article on kitchen design ideas and took note of the tips that I gave, you’ve probably already created a wishlist of what you want in your new kitchen. If you’ve been working on this list for a while, then you’ll probably realize that there is a lot on there. If you have a lot of ideas that seem out of reach, we’ll help you strategize and visualize other options.
Prioritize your wish list and make compromises. Since you can’t have everything on your wish list, you’ll need to go through and prioritize the things you really want over those you can do without. Some ideas or wishes you may be able to compromise on, so have the mentality of ‘I can do without this if I can have that’ when cutting down your list.
4 Successful Strategies to Utilize Your Small Kitchen Space
There is a multitude of things that you can do to utilize your small kitchen space, which can be grouped into four main strategies:
1) Reorganize the available floor space
When working with a small space, you need to make sure you organize it in a way that’s going to provide the best functionality.
REMOVE WALLS THAT ARE NOT NECESSARY
In particular, older houses usually have a closed off kitchen instead of the open floor plans that we see in modern homes. Consider whether knocking down a wall will allow you more space that you can utilize effectively.
EXPAND INTO ADJACENT AREAS
When your kitchen lies directly next to a dining or living room, see if you can expand your kitchen out to use some unused space in the adjacent area.
COMBINE FUNCTIONS INTO ONE SPACE
If your laundry is right next to the kitchen, look at whether you can knock down the dividing wall. You could incorporate a stackable washer and dryer and still have room for an island or more cupboard space.
CHECK HOW DOORS AFFECT YOUR SPACE
Sometimes swinging doors encroach on all important space. Therefore, it may be useful to remove doors that are not needed or replace them with bi-fold or sliding doors.
MAKE USE OF DEAD CORNERS
Dead corners are a waste of valuable space, but you may be able to utilize them. Think about moving a cooktop or sink into this space.
2) Maximize storage space with your cabinetry
Having enough storage space that is easily accessible is vital to a functional kitchen.
BUILD THE CABINETS TO SUIT THE COOK When organizing your cabinetry, you should always take into account the needs of the person who does the most cooking in your home. If that person is short, there is no point in installing high kitchen cabinets that they won’t be able to reach. In addition, if that person is elderly and has trouble bending down, then floor cupboards are not going to work either. How you cook will determine the best placement or type of cabinetry you choose. For example, could you use a narrow pull-out pantry next to the range that holds oil, vinegar and condiments? If you bake more often than cook, would a narrow cabinet that holds cookie sheets and baking tins in that spot be more useful?
BUILD TO SUIT THE ITEMS THAT WILL BE STORED Before designing the size of cupboards and drawers, make a list of all the items that you will want to store in your kitchen. If you have a lot of big items, make sure there is enough space for them. Do you always have a lot of food in your pantry? Ensure the new one is going to be able to accommodate this. Put all of your items into groups so that you can easily store them together; e.g. all pots and pans in one cupboard or drawer.
MAKE SURE FREQUENTLY USED ITEMS ARE EASILY ACCESSIBLE Frequently used items such as glasses should be easily accessible. Think about their placement in relation to the fridge, as having them on the opposite side of the kitchen could become frustrating. Also, think about the items that you use regularly for preparing meals and how easy they are to access when working at the countertop.
- UTILIZE WALL SPACE WITH SHELVING
Don’t forget about using empty wall space for shelving. Shelves are a great way to keep items like coffee, tea, or seasonings in reach.
3) Select the right appliances and find the best placement for them
Large appliances are often focal points of a kitchen. Therefore, you need to be wise about choosing the right appliances for your needs and ensure that you can place them in your kitchen effectively.
LEARN ABOUT HIGH QUALITY APPLIANCES THAT ARE SMALLER IN SIZE
In this day and age with the advancements that we have made in technology, there is no need to buy big clunky appliances that take up a large amount of space. Today, it’s easier than ever to learn about appliances that will give you the same high-quality performance in a smaller frame such as 18-inch dishwashers.
LEARN ABOUT MULTI-FUNCTIONAL APPLIANCES
One great advantage of some kitchen appliances is that they are multi-functional. You may find that you don’t need two appliances when you can buy one that can perform different tasks. If you have a small family and don’t use your oven to do a lot of baking or roasting, consider buying a combination microwave oven which will allow you to bake or roast when you need to. An induction cooktop is perfect if you are lacking in counter space, as you can use it as both a cooking surface and counter area.
USE LESS OBTRUSIVE VENTILATION SYSTEMS
If you don’t like the idea of a wall or ceiling-mounted range hood over your cooktop, consider a downdraft ventilation hood. These are ideal when space is limited, as they can be hidden away in your cookspace until it’s time to use it. A ventilator power pack hood is also a great idea, as it’s unobtrusive and can be easily added to existing cabinetry without taking up precious space.
THINK ABOUT MOVING UNUSED APPLIANCES TO A DIFFERENT SPACE
When you are tight on space, you really think about how frequently you use all your appliances, big and small. If you have a freezer in the kitchen, could it be moved to an adjacent space? If your washer and dryer sit in your kitchen, is there a coat closet that you could retrofit and stack a washer dryer combo in?
4) Make creative seating
Not all small kitchens allow for seating, but if this is something that you really want to have, you may need to get creative.
DO NOT USE FREESTANDING TABLES
Freestanding tables are going to take up too much room in a small kitchen, so this is really not an option if you don’t have the space. When you have a table, you also need to consider room to walk, which is valuable space that can be used for something else.
UTILIZE COUNTER TOPS FOR DINING/WORKING AREAS
The best way to incorporate seating into your kitchen area is by utilizing the countertops. You can make good use of space by having cabinetry below your counters for storage. Find some stools that can fold down and easily be stored away in a nearby cupboard when not in use if you would prefer not to have permanent seating.
CONSIDER A BREAKFAST NOOK
Breakfast nooks are a great idea if you have free wall space. They allow you to create seating against the wall.
Extra design tips for small kitchen spaces
Consider an integrated fridge. An integrated fridge uses the same cabinetry finish as your other cupboards, allowing it to blend in seamlessly. This is ideal for those who don’t like the idea of a white or stainless steel fridge standing out in their kitchen.
Install a corner sink. While the idea of having a corner sink may not be ideal for some (especially if there isn’t a window), it can free up valuable counter space on either side.
Wide sinks can be multi-functional. Some wider sinks around 30” to 36” come with food preparation accessories. You can use these sinks for chopping, draining, rinsing, and of course, washing your produce.
Don’t scrimp on lighting. Even if your space is small, lighting is still very important, as it can add personality to the room. Accent lighting adds drama while task lighting provides practicality.
Keep colors and materials simple. Multiple colours and materials can make a small space look cluttered. By choosing a monochrome color scheme, you can avoid this. Lighter colors like creams and whites can make a space appear bigger than it actually is.
The bottom line on small kitchens
As you can see, there are many great and innovative solutions for designing your ideal kitchen in a small space. With some creative and careful planning, you can easily build a kitchen that is functional and suits the needs of you and your family. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to check out my tips on designing a new kitchen to get a head start on your planning.
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SIDENOTE. This post was last modified on October 13, 2021. However, we regularly update our content as we test more products and new models are released. We also listen to the feedback of our customers and make changes to our product recommendations based on their experiences. So don’t be surprised if you see some old comments below! Since reader comments contribute to the topic, we have decided not to delete them.