10 Small Kitchen Design Ideas to Maximize Space

Since buying an abandoned 1930 Craftsman Bungalow, I have been eating, sleeping and breathing floor plans. If the current room layout is any indication, people who built homes in 1930s did not care about maximizing floor space and designing efficient flow from room to room.

Case in point: The current living room and kitchen are separated by a bedroom.

Needless to say, I have been drafting and re-drafting house plans to the point of delirium – so much so, that I literally see them in my sleep – or rather, nightmares.

Did I mention I have no professional drafting experience?

To get my mind off the impossible task of what literally feels like trying to fit square pegs into circular holes, I have turned to something I know quite well: Looking at other people's perfect houses on the Internet (also known as spending seven hours straight on Pinterest)!

Hence, this list of ideas to maximize a small kitchen.

15 Small Kitchen Design Ideas to Maximize Space

1. Proper Lighting.

Maximizing natural light makes a room feel bigger – especially the kitchen, which, in a small home, tends to feel dark and cramped.

In my dream kitchen, I picture an entire wall made of glass that seamlessly slides open to a beautiful outdoor living space.

A girl can dream, right?

Realistically speaking, the most ideal way to incorporate natural light into the kitchen is to place a window right above the sink. If a window is out of the question, the next best-case scenario is installing cleverly placed lighting to make the space appear much larger than it really is. 



15 Small Kitchen Design Ideas to Maximize Space

2. Maximize Awkward Corner Cabinets

You know when you have to fit your entire body inside that bottom kitchen cabinet in the corner just to reach something?

Of course you don't, because no one in their right mind puts anything so far back.

That, my friends, is called dead space. 

Transforming that useless space into a pull-out, lazy Susan-type shelf lets you store all sorts of things back there. Best part? It's all within reach.


Small Kitchen Design Ideas to Maximize Space

3. Extend Cabinets to the Ceiling

Speaking of dead space, I've never understood the purpose in having a major gap between the top of cabinets and the ceiling. Such a waste of perfectly usable storage space!

Extending your cabinets all the way to the ceiling elongates a room, tricking your eyes to think it's quite bigger than it really is. By expanding up instead of out, you keep all of the functions of a kitchen at a fraction of the space. 



Small Kitchen Design Ideas to Maximize Space

4. Eliminate Clutter

With a small kitchen comes the challenge of not having enough storage, which results in every inch of counter space being used to store everything from food items to utensils to appliances.

The result? A cramped and cluttered kitchen with very little work space. 

By eliminating clutter, you give the kitchen a seamless, streamlined appearance, which in turn, visually enlarges the space. My hope for when we finally move into our new place is to purge kitchen belongings to the bare minimum, because the reality is that unless you're entertaining a crowd every evening, there's no reason to own multiple sets of dishes, more than three pots or pans, and six different casserole dishes.


Small Kitchen Design Ideas to Maximize Space

5. Plan Ahead

A major bonus of renovating a kitchen (or a house in general), is that you're given the opportunity to re-think the space to fit your own lifestyle needs. By organizing and designated a specific spot for every item in your kitchen, you eliminate the issue of hoarding unnecessary items. 

For example, if you're a regular cook with an ample collection of spices, why not create a skinny pull-out rack to store that collection, instead of taking up precious cabinet space that is far too tall and deep to be functional? Besides, a spice rack is skinny, so it can often be carved out of space that might otherwise be wasted. 

Custom sizing doesn't have to be expensive. No one is suggesting you go out and hire a carpenter to build you custom cabinets. Some additional, budget-friendly ways to maximize every inch of your kitchen cabinets is to use drawer organizers, plate racks, lazy Susans, shelf risers, cabinet dividers, custom pot drawers and utensil trays, all of which increase the amount of stuff that cabinets can hold.


Small Kitchen Design Ideas to Maximize Space

 6. Trade an Island for a Peninsula

As much as I love the idea of having a large island in the middle of the kitchen, I know that it's completely out of the question, given our limited square footage. 

A peninsula is a great alternative for an island in that it offers multiple functions: additional preparation and storage space, as well as an alternative eating space. 


Small Kitchen Design Ideas to Maximize Space

7. Open up the Layout

By remodeling the kitchen to remove walls and create one large, open space, the design options are endless. An open kitchen not only allows for better traffic flow from room to room, but the open space also appears brighter and larger . 


Small Kitchen Design Ideas to Maximize Space

8. Recess the Fridge into the Wall

When aligned with countertops, a typical refrigerator can stick out as much as a foot beyond the cabinets, which makes it a bit of an eye sore – not to mention the fact that it impedes traffic flow in your already limited kitchen space.

By receding the bulky appliance into the wall behind it, you can gain a bit of additional space and obtain a more clean and finished look. 


Small Kitchen Design Ideas to Maximize Space

9. Make It Movable

If an island or peninsula are not in the plans, you can still add work space by investing in a small rolling cart. When you need extra counter space, just roll it out. Otherwise, keep it off to the side.


Small Kitchen Design Ideas to Maximize Space

10. Add Visual Interest

If the previous nine photos are any indication, my future kitchen may end up looking more like an insane alyssum than a welcoming home. So while the next tidbit of advice may not necessarily maximize your limited kitchen space, it just may help you keep your sanity.

Make your kitchen inviting! The idea of having to spend time in a cramped room isn't exactly inviting, which is why you should do whatever you can to add visual stimulation to that space, whether it's a pop of color, a fun backsplash, or striking hardware.


And now this complex, three-part question: If you were a first-time home buyer, which top five kitchen features would you look for? What are some pros and cons of having a small kitchen versus a large one? What are some other ways you maximize your current kitchen and dining space?

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