10 Big Ideas for Small Kitchens


Small kitchens can present a number of challenges, from lack of storage to cramped countertops. However, with some clever design ideas and innovative solutions, even the tiniest kitchen can be highly functional and beautiful. This article explores 10 big ideas to maximize and optimize small kitchen spaces.

From utilizing vertical space and multi-functional furniture to implementing space-saving appliances and lighting, there are many ways to make a small kitchen efficient and inviting. With a little creativity and strategic planning, limited square footage doesn’t have to limit your cooking functionality or style.

Space-Saving Ideas for Tiny Kitchens

When dealing with a small kitchen, it’s all about prioritizing the layout and finding ways to make every inch count. Here are some helpful space-saving tips and tricks:

  • Optimize storage with pull-out drawers. Install full-extension drawers that allow you to access items in the back. This takes advantage of all your existing cabinet space.
  • Add a breakfast bar. Make use of vertical real estate by installing a slim countertop and stools. This creates an eat-in dining space without taking up floor area.
  • Use sliding or pocket doors. Swinging doors take up a lot of room. Sliding doors, mirrored doors, or pocket doors help open up floor space.
  • Install adjustable shelving. Shelves that can move up and down or tilt down when needed are extremely useful for reaching items in a small kitchen.
  • Hang pots and pans. Utilize wall space by mounting pot racks, rails, or pegboards to get cookware up off the counters.
  • Maximize corners. Use specialized corner storage solutions like lazy susans or vertical corner shelves to put awkward corners to work.

10 Smart Designs for Tiny Kitchens

Here are 10 ingenious small kitchen ideas to maximize your available space.

1. Make the Most of Every Inch

  • Push large appliances like refrigerators and ovens into recessed alcoves to reduce protrusion into the room.
  • Use a freestanding range rather than a built-in range hood to save critical inches.
  • Opt for narrower specialty appliances like an 18-inch dishwasher or 24-inch refrigerator.
  • Install shallow cabinets to reduce depth and open up floor space.
  • Use open shelving rather than upper cabinets to avoid a closed-in feeling.

2. Illusion of Space with Mirrored Surfaces

Strategically placed mirrors visually double the space in a small kitchen by creating the illusion of more room.

  • Use mirrored tiles or backsplashes to reflect light and views.
  • Install mirrored cabinets and mirrored panels on shelves.
  • Hang a mirrored wall clock for added reflection.
  • Use glass cabinet doors and a glass kitchen table to bounce light around.

3. Multi-Functional Furniture

Integrating furniture that serves multiple purposes is a smart idea for small kitchens. Look for pieces that combine storage and workspace.

  • An island with seating and storage below maximizes floor space.
  • A rolling cart can provide extra counter space or table area as needed.
  • Bench seating at a table can have storage drawers installed underneath.
  • Look for tables or desks that fold up vertically to tuck against the wall when not in use.

4. Hidden Storage Solutions

Finding a home for everything in a small kitchen means getting creative with storage spots.

  • Make use of the often neglected area above the cabinets with tall open shelving.
  • Install utensil racks or rails on the backs of cabinet doors.
  • Use a tension rod system inside lower cabinets to hang pans and lids vertically.
  • Build pull-out vertical storage for trays, cutting boards, foil, etc. in lower cabinets.

5. Multi-Tasking Small Appliances

Look for appliances that can accomplish multiple cooking functions in one small footprint.

  • The Instant Pot pressure cooker also works as a slow cooker, steamer, and rice cooker.
  • An air fryer oven bakes, broils, and dehydrates as well as “fries” foods with less oil.
  • Small combo grills can be used indoors and grill, griddle, bake, and smoke foods.
  • Mini food processors chop, blend, puree, and slice in one compact design.

6. Peninsulas Extend Counter Space

A peninsula attached to the main counter creates additional functional workspace without eating up floor area.

  • Use the peninsula counter for active cooking prep.
  • Add high stools on the eating side for casual dining.
  • Install open shelving for cookbooks and small appliances.
  • Include drawers and cabinets for enclosed storage.

7. Stylish & Space-Saving Backsplashes

The backsplash is a prime spot to introduce eye-catching materials that also keep the space light and open.

  • Glass, marble, or metal tiles add interest without heavy visual weight.
  • Install a mirror backsplash to optically enlarge the room.
  • Floating wood shelving as a backsplash provides a rustic accent.
  • A painted or wallpapered backsplash contributes color and pattern.

8. Sink and Stove Swap

Putting the sink and stove on opposite walls rather than adjacent walls opens up valuable counter space.

  • This provides more landing space on each side of the stove.
  • The workflow improves by allowing you to wash dishes further from cooking messes.
  • With sinks under windows, the stovetop can vent outside more easily.

9. Warm, Bright Lighting

Proper kitchen lighting is especially important in small spaces that can easily feel dark or gloomy.

  • Use lots of under-cabinet task lighting to illuminate work surfaces.
  • Install recessed can lights in the ceiling with bright, focused beams.
  • Look for light fixtures and pendants that bounce light around the room.
  • If possible, add windows and skylights to draw in natural light.

10. Light Colors Reflect Light

Painting or finishing surfaces white or light colors paired with mirrors helps maximize brightness.

  • White, light woods, pastels, and high-gloss finishes reflect light effectively.
  • Keep countertops and backsplashes light to prevent a closed-in feeling.
  • Use light flooring such as maple, ash, or bamboo wood tones.
  • Add lots of bright white in backsplashes, cabinets, appliances and lighting fixtures.

Frequently Asked Questions About Small Kitchen Design

What are some good storage solutions for small kitchens?

Some excellent storage solutions for small kitchens include pull-out drawers, rollout shelves, specialized corner cabinets, wall-mounted racks and rails, under-cabinet hanging rods, and open shelving. Stackable storage containers also help maximize vertical space.

How can you create more counter space in a tiny kitchen?

Options for increasing work surface area include installing a kitchen peninsula or island, wall-mounted drop-down tables and cutting boards, rolling carts, and butcher block countertop extensions that store away when not needed.

What kind of sink works best in a small kitchen?

The ideal sink for a small kitchen is a compact single-bowl sink or a slimline undermount sink. Farmhouse apron-front sinks take up more room. A corner sink is also very space efficient.

What is a good refrigerator size for small kitchens?

Look for narrower 18 to 24 inch wide refrigerator units. Apartment-sized and counter-depth refrigerators around 22 to 26 cubic feet capacity are ideal for fitting into tight spaces. Top freezer and bottom freezer models have a smaller footprint than side-by-side refrigerators.

Should you put upper cabinets in a small kitchen?

Upper cabinets tend to make a small kitchen feel more closed in. Eliminating upper cabinets or replacing some sections with open shelving helps keep the space feeling open and airy. It also draws the eye up to the ceiling, which makes the kitchen appear larger.

What small appliances are space-savers for tiny kitchens?

Some of the most useful small appliances for small kitchens include the Instant Pot, air fryers, small food processors, single-serve blenders, mini choppers, compact convection ovens, microwave-toaster oven combinations, electric kettles, and single-serve coffee makers.


While a small kitchen presents certain obstacles, there are many innovative solutions for maximizing usable space through clever storage ideas, multi-functional furnishings, layout adjustments, and visual tricks involving lighting and reflections. Focusing on compact and streamlined appliances also helps prevent a cramped feeling. With some creativity and strategic planning, tiny kitchens can be both beautiful and highly functional. The key is working with what you have and making every square inch count.