How to Make a Small Kitchen Feel Bigger

You can use light and colour to give your small kitchen the illusion of space.

It’s said that the kitchen is the ‘heart’ of every home. I think of it more as our home base. We go there to eat, cook, and prepare food, obviously. But we also gather in the kitchen to read, work, talk family business, and drop off ‘found’ items (if you find something out of place somewhere in the house, it usually ends up in the kitchen).

Point is, everyone agrees the kitchen is an important, multi-functional space. So why are some of them so small?

I’ve toured houses where the kitchen is most generously described as a ‘nook’. It’s especially bad in some century homes, built back when people preferred lots of tiny rooms instead of a few big ones. If that’s the heart of your home, you’d better take it easy, or the whole place might collapse.

Having lived in an apartment or two, I know what it’s like to deal with small kitchens. Here are some tips to help make it work.

Use Colour and Light

You can’t always make your kitchen bigger, but you can create the illusion of space through careful use of light and colour.

Natural light always makes a space feel larger. If you have a window in your kitchen, don’t cover it with blinds or curtains; embrace that light and let it shine. Use generous amounts of task lighting and ambient light to make up for it at night.

Colour is another important factor in the feel of your kitchen. While dark colours don’t always make a space feel small, it’s tricky to get the balance right when it comes to petite rooms, so it’s best to choose lighter shades for your walls and cabinets. Streamline your colour palette to a few basic colours and use it consistently throughout the kitchen for a unified design.

Decorate Lightly

It’s easy to make a small kitchen feel cluttered. When it comes to decorating, use a light touch, paring down your collection to a few favourite items. Be sure to leave some free space on the walls for balance.

Switch to Small Appliances

Appliances inevitably occupy quite a bit of real estate in your kitchen. However, unless you’re cooking for lots of people every night, you don’t really need full-sized appliances. There are lots of alternatives out there for people living in dorms and other small spaces. Singles, couples, and small families can make due with a miniature fridge, dishwasher, and oven.

To maximize the use of what little room you have, you should put away any appliances you don’t use every day. Designate a specific cabinet as your “appliance garage” and use it to store blenders, rice cookers, and other specialty items.

Get Smart with Storage

Getting organized is the best thing you can do for a small kitchen. The Internet is full of clever, do-it-yourself solutions for kitchen storage, from extra shelves to hanging pans. If you aren’t the hands-on kind of person, try using a wire shelving unit – it’s not much to look at when it’s empty, but plenty of designers have used them as part of a beautiful kitchen.