23 Gorgeous Ways to Transform a Small Kitchen

It's time to think big for your small space.

23 Gorgeous Ways to Transform a Small Kitchen

Small kitchens can be frustrating. There’s limited storage, minimal counter space, and you’re forced to make difficult decisions about appliances. (Slow cooker or espresso maker—that is the question.) However, just because your kitchen is lacking in square footage doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of things. With the right tools and tricks, it’s surprisingly easy (and affordable!) to transform a small kitchen into one that feels spacious and organized. Keep reading to discover some of the best ways to design a stunning small space.

Utilize your walls.

Magnetic Wall Strip with Knives in the Kitchen Transform Small Kitchen Shutterstock

In a small kitchen, you’ll want to free up as much counter space as possible. “Wall space is gold,” says Maud Maciak, lead interior designer and owner of Magnifique Homes. “Use magnetic brackets to secure all of your everyday kitchen tools like knives, scissors, etc. You can also add metal bars with hooks to store ladles and wooden spoons.”

Create kitchen space in other areas of the house.

Coffee Machine on a Kitchen Counter Transform Small Kitchen Shutterstock

When expanding the kitchen is not an option, Maciak suggests creating more kitchen space in other parts of your home. “A simple way to make your kitchen seem larger is by creating a coffee/tea bar in your dining room or eating area,” she says. “Make it fun and stylish; it will be sure to wow your guests as well!”

Turn an unused closet into a pantry.

organize kitchen pantry Shutterstock

If you happen to have a closet going somewhat unused in your house, then consider transforming it into a pantry. With this extra storage space, you can house everything from seldom-used small appliances to cooking sprays bought in bulk. That way, the only items taking up space in your immediate kitchen vicinity are the ones you’re using on a daily basis.

Get a lid organizer.

Organized Lids Transform Small Kitchen Shutterstock

Since pot and pan lids often have handles on top, they can be difficult to stack and store. The solution? A lid organizer. Various retailers make racks that are specifically designed for storing lids in a way that is conducive to taking up as little space as possible. Not to mention, using one will keep your cabinets more organized and help you avoid those dreaded avalanches of pots and pans.

Think vertical.

Pan Storage Rack for Kitchen Transform Small Kitchen Shutterstock

The more items you can store vertically, the better. This method of storage not only saves precious cabinet and counter space, but it also makes it easier to sort through your belongings when you need to find a specific pot or serving tray. The sky’s the limit!

Place your lighting carefully.

A Small Bright Kitchen With Overhead Lighting Transform Small Kitchen Shutterstock

The placement of light fixtures can make or break a small kitchen space. So where’s the best place to put them? According to Syd and Shea McGee, the husband and wife team behind design firm Studio McGee, it depends on what your space has to offer.

“If there is no island to hang pendants over, we love to hang one above the kitchen sink,” the couple writes on their blog. “We also love installing sconces above open shelving or a window. Flush mounts or recessed lighting on the ceiling will add to the overall brightness of the space.”

Invest in a statement light fixture.

Statement Light Fixture in the Kitchen Transform Small Space Shutterstock

A statement light fixture can go a long way in transforming a small kitchen space. Not only can a bright chandelier or hanging lamp help to illuminate the room literally, but a funky fixture can also bring about contrast in such a way that it makes your space feel larger.

Add drawers to your cabinets.

An Organized Pantry with Pull-Out Shelves Transform Small Kitchen Shutterstock

“In a small kitchen, cluttered cabinets can become your nemesis,” says Maciak. The good news is there’s a simple solution. “Switch your shelf cabinets to drawers. They remove the hassle of having to search for that lost pot, plus they allow you to use every inch of your kitchen.” For high-quality drawers that won’t break the bank, Maciak recommends checking out Ikea’s offerings.

Put small racks in small spaces.

Small Kitchen Rack for Smaller Space Transform Small Kitchen Shutterstock

Take advantage of your kitchen’s super small spaces—like the one between the fridge and the cabinet and the one between the cabinet and the wall, for instance. It’s the perfect spot for a thin, vertical rack that can store anything from baking sheets to spices.

Of course, you can easily incorporate these into your cabinetry if and when you do renovations—but if a complete kitchen overhaul isn’t in your budget, there’s also always the option to buy an affordable rolling rack.

Opt for a few open shelving units.

Kitchen with Open Shelving Storage Transform Small Kitchen Shutterstock

“Too much cabinetry can feel heavy and closed off, so we like to add one or two elements that break it up a bit,” note the McGees. Their solution for a more open-feeling kitchen? “Installing some open shelves,” of course!

Don’t forget about the corners!

A Kitchen Sink In the Corner Transform Small Kitchen Shutterstock

Don’t neglect the corners of your kitchen just because you feel like they’re inaccessible; they’re actually the perfect opportunity for a stunning and functional design feature. In an article for Houzz, kitchen cabinet designer Sam Ferris recommends using corner areas for features like a Lazy Susan, swinging pullout cabinets, or a breakfast nook.

“A corner sink base just might be worth it if there’s a view involved,” adds Ferris. “The extra counter space behind your sink can house your finest décor (and show it off to the neighbors, too).”

Choose metal appliances.

kitchen with high end appliances, downgrade upgrades, worst home improvements Shutterstock

According to the interior design experts at Crijns Consultancy, metal appliances (and stainless steel especially) “make the space appear larger than it really is.” That’s because these materials “have the ability to reflect the space around them, thus creating a sensation of space.”

Keep your appliances small and to a minimum.

A Small Kitchen with White Appliances Transform Small Kitchen Shutterstock

If your kitchen space is already small, then overcrowding it with oversized appliances is only going to make it feel even more cramped and confined. Instead, buy smaller appliances that won’t dwarf your cabinets and counters. With minimalism and tiny living on the rise, you’ll find more small (but oh-so-mighty!) appliances these days than ever before.

Build a shallow fridge right into your kitchen layout.

Modern Kitchen with a Built-In Fridge Transform Small Kitchen

If you have the money available to purchase a new refrigerator, then make sure to look for a model that’s either counter depth or integrated. A counter depth fridge, as its name suggests, sticks out only as much as the average counter does; similarly, an integrated (or built-in) refrigerator is installed right into your cabinets for a neat look that doesn’t overcrowd your space.

And an integrated microwave, too.

Microwave Built in to the Cabinetry in the Kitchen Transform Small Kitchen Shutterstock

Similar to refrigerators, there are many microwaves designed to fit right into your cabinetry. With one of these space-saving models, you can free up some much-needed counter space and still keep your microwave at the ready.

Always opt for brighter and lighter colors.

A Small White Kitchen With Overhead Cabinets Transform Small Kitchen Shutterstock

When picking out paint colors and appliances for your small kitchen, opt for airier colors over darker hues. “Light and bright colors make a space more reflective, maximizing any natural light in the room,” interior designer Abbe Fenimore of Studio Ten 25 told Well + Good. “Bright colors also have the ability to create the illusion of a larger space.”

Add an island.

Small Wooden Kitchen With an Island Transform Small Kitchen Shutterstock

If there is space going to waste in the center of your small kitchen, then Arizona-based interior designer Lori Smith of One Kindesign suggests building an island. This addition to the room can “provide storage that is also convenient from any spot in the kitchen,” Smith writes.

Only opt for the essentials.

Kitchen Drawer with Plates and Cutlery Transform Small Kitchen

If your kitchen area barely has room to house a blender, then odds are you aren’t going to be hosting a fancy dinner party any time soon. Therefore, instead of wasting precious storage space on unused plates, bowls, and other dinnerware that you keep “just in case,” you’d be better off trimming down your collection to only what you use on a daily basis. For a family of three, for instance, six of everything—at most—should suffice.

Install glass cabinet doors.

Kitchen with Glass Cabinets Transform Small Kitchen Shutterstock

“Glass fronts lighten the look of cabinetry and allow the eye to travel through to the back, which helps the kitchen seem more expansive,” explains Smith. “Just don’t clutter the interiors or you will defeat the purpose.”

Invest in a drop leaf table.

A White Kitchen Table Transform Small Kitchen Shutterstock

You probably don’t use your kitchen table quite as often as you’d like. Instead of letting more than half of your space go to waste, consider investing in a drop leaf table. You can fold the leaves down so it’s set for two, but when you want to have guests over, you can expand it to fit a few more.

Put things away when they’re not in use.

A Kitchen Counter with a Lot of Empty Space Transform Small Kitchen Shutterstock

If you’re limited in the counter space department, then you’ll benefit from putting away your small appliances when you aren’t using them. Your blender, your mixer, and your food processor should all be stowed in a cabinet—when you need to use them, they’ll still be within reach.

Make sure everything in your kitchen has a purpose.

Fruit Basket in the Kitchen Transform Small Kitchen Shutterstock

In a small kitchen, there’s no room for objects that serve no purpose other than to look pretty. If you want to decorate your dining space, then it’s much wiser to invest in practical items—things like a marble paper towel holder or a set of ombré mixing bowls—that are as useful as they are ornamental.

Keep it simple.

Simple White Kitchen Transform Small Kitchen Shutterstock

If there’s one overarching rule for transforming a tiny kitchen, it’s to keep things simple. Declutter your stacks of supplies, take it easy on the non-essential appliances, and be sure to curate your decorative items to those you really want. By streamlining things, you’ll create a calm and soothing space rather than a hectic and disorganized one. And once your small kitchen is all set up, read up on the 17 Ways You’re Using Your Kitchen All Wrong.

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