Organising a small kitchen presents a number of creative challenges. Balancing functionality and personal style is difficult enough when there is ample room available to you, but if you’re low on space, it is that much more difficult.
Whilst there are plenty of decorating tricks and storage solutions that you can use in a small kitchen, there are also some more pragmatic organisational decisions to be made.
‘Whilst the lack of space can feel frustrating, a small kitchen can actually be one of the most charming rooms in a home,’ says Jen Nash, senior design lead at Magnet. ‘Requiring extra design consideration and innovation, the end result can be a unique space that’s bursting with character. But when it comes to these considerations, there are a few elements to avoid in order to prevent the space from feeling cramped and impractical.’
Below we look at six things you should discard to make your small kitchen look bigger.
1. Oversized dining arrangements
Whilst a combined kitchen and dining room creates a social hub in the home, a large dining arrangement should be the first thing to discard when designing a small kitchen.
‘Squeezing in a large dining table with chairs will only overwhelm the space and make its flow impractical. Instead, trade this in for some clever small space dining solutions,’ says Jen.
‘When not in use, drop leaf dining tables allow you to preserve precious floor space but still provide comfortable dining with fold out arms when dinner time calls. Or, make the most of empty wall space with a slim floating shelf and some colourful bar stools. This will serve as a great informal dining area with a breakfast bar feel. If you can squeeze in a table, it’s always best to opt for a rounded design as the softer edges are less intrusive on the small space.’
2. Duplicates and single-use items
From spatulas to measuring cups, it’s very easy to quickly accumulate duplicates in the kitchen.
‘Whilst those with plenty of space and storage might have the luxury of doubling up, it’s not as feasible in a small kitchen,’ Jen continues. ‘Scrutinise your kitchen belongings and recycle or donate any duplicates along with items you don’t actually use. You’ll be amazed at how much extra space and storage you free up.
‘Whilst it’s also tempting to invest in the latest kitchen gadgets, such as bagel cutters or egg slicers, it’s more efficient to get into the habit of investing in kitchen items that have more than one use.’
If you’re unsure whether to get rid of a kitchen item or appliance, try the box method. Put it in a box and store it out of sight. If in a month or two you need the appliance, keep it. If you never think about it again then it’s probably time to donate, recycle or sell it.
3. Small tiles
‘Often, people think small floor tiles in a compact kitchen are the best option as they are in proportion to the room,’ says Jen, ‘but in a small kitchen, the larger the floor tiles and the finer the grout lines, the more seamless and expansive a room will actually look and feel.
‘Experimenting with the shape of the tiling in relation to the layout of your kitchen is also a great design trick to give the illusion of more space. Triangle grout lines for example, will lead your eye along a galley kitchen and enhance the perspective and stretch of the room. Or, if you’d prefer to expand the width of the room, opt for hexagonal grout lines. These will deceive the eye into thinking the space is wider.’
4. Cupboards with a single shelf
Awkward kitchen cupboards with a single shelf are a huge barrier to maximising storage space in small kitchens. Most cupboards are manufactured with interchangeable shelving, and even with modest DIY skills, inserting extra shelves will make a huge difference to storage capacity.
‘Measure the existing shelf, find some new ones of the same size and insert them into cabinetry with mounting hooks,’ says Jen. ‘This hack also enables you to customise your shelving – layering them at different heights depending on what you want to store there. You can even insert these new shelves vertically as an ideal way to store and access chopping boards with ease.’
5. An unbalanced colour palette
There’s a common misconception that dark colours should be avoided in small kitchens as they can make the space feel more compact. But when used correctly, they can create an intimate feel and a space that is full of warmth.
‘It’s not about avoiding a specific colour in a small kitchen, it’s about avoiding an unbalanced and monotone palette,’ explains Jen. ‘Having just one tone throughout the entire space will make it feel one dimensional and smaller than it actually is.
‘Instead, balance out your desired kitchen colour – dark or light – with contrasting accents through the likes of metallic handles and hardware, decorative splashbacks and furniture. This will add depth and visual interest to the space. Metallic accents and accessories are particularly successful in small kitchens as they subtly bounce light around the room – making it appear bigger than it actually is.’
6. Standalone appliances
Standalone appliances such as fridges, freezers and wine coolers are bulky and occupy a lot of counter space.
‘Investing in integrated appliances is a great way to free up floor space and create a more streamlined finish,’ says Jen. ‘Sitting flush against the wall and often able to be disguised as cabinetry, they also offer a more stylish and sleek aesthetic.’
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