18 small kitchen ideas – make a tiny space feel bigger | Real Homes

18 small kitchen ideas – to make a tiny space feel bigger

On the hunt for small kitchen ideas? Get inspired by these tiny, but beautiful and really functional spaces...

Small kitchen ideas
(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

If you're looking for small kitchen ideas that are inspiring but actually realistic we are here to help. Don's get us wrong,  we love a Pinterest-worthy spacious, light-filled, as big as the whole of the downstairs of our home, kitchen as much as the next person, but they aren't the reality for most of us. But don't worry because we have loads of ways to help you create your dream space with these fab ideas for small kitchens. 

Whether you're looking for practical small space storage solutions or just need inspiration on which paint colours will give the illusion of space, we've listed our favourite ideas below to help make the most of all small kitchen. 

For even more kitchen ideas to get you inspired, you can visit our guide and use our guide to small kitchen design to get your new room spot on.

1. Be savvy with storage in a small kitchen 

Small kitchen ideas by Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

As with all small rooms, good storage that works hard is key, the last thing you want in a teeny kitchen is clutter. Opting for a mix of open and closed storage is a fab. idea for small kitchens – open shelving and glass cabinets double up as decoration and storage if you fill them with jars, crockery and your best kitchenware. Use the cupboards for the less aesthetically pleasing stuff and invest in under shelf baskets and cupboard organisers to make even more of your space. 

For more small kitchen storage ideas head over to our feature. 

2. Use bold colours to enhance the space you do have

Small kitchen painted green

(Image credit: Future/Brett Charles)

Looking for bold small kitchen ideas? We know that we always say that in small spaces you should keep everything white and bright and light, but sometimes contrasting colours can have a similar space-enhancing effect. So if you are feeling bold, choosing a vivid colour for your space can be a good idea for smaller kitchens. You don't have to fork out a lot to achieve this look either, you can try painting your kitchen cabinets; if it doesn't go well, just paint over them!

Make sure you pick the best kitchen cupboard paint though, you will find loads of options in our buying guide. 

3. Add more surface space

Small kitchen idea: using a kitchen island

(Image credit: Colin Poole)

Think you didn't have room for a island in your small kitchen? Think again. Sure most homes in the UK might not be roomy enough for a massive island, but if you love that flexible, freestanding look that an island brings to a space, you can always create a similar effect with a butcher's block. They are much more compact than an island but can still give you extra surface space and extra storage. 

You'll find a few options that are suitable for small kitchens in our round up of  the best kitchen trolleys so go and have a scroll through those. Or you could of course pick up a lovely reclaimed or secondhand one on eBay. Our advice? Keep it a light colour – that way the room won't feel crowded.

4. Use lighting to create a focal point

L-shape white small fitted kitchen with oak worktops, black pendant light and rugs

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

There are so many ideas for small kitchens that don't require an entire revamp. Create a focal point with clever kitchen lighting as pendant lighting can be an effective way of detracting from a kitchen's diminutive size while adding a stylish and sophisticated feel to a space. This task lighting is not only practical for when you're chopping veggies and the likes, but also perfect to make a statement. We love this dark grey Ikea pendant light  which will stand out a treat, even in an awkward kitchen space. 

Small open plan kitchen in a loft conversion

(Image credit: Plain English )

If you don't have the room to hang a large pendant light or if it's not the most practical option, think about using wall lights to create some interest instead. Choose lights in a colour to contrast with your walls so they stand out. Pinch this idea and create a cohesive look by matching them to your cabinets, or go bold and use your kitchen lighting to add a splash of colour. 

5. Open shelving is a must for a petite kitchen space

Wooden shelves holding vintage ornaments in a small kitchen

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

While floor to ceiling kitchen cabinets are a great option for maximising storage, in excess they can make small kitchens feel boxy. Breaking up a space with open shelving is a great solution and can make an eye catching design feature if styled with pretty crockery and glassware. Find more sneaky small kitchen storage ideas.

6. Choose slimline appliances to save on space

best integrated dishwasher: NEFF N70 S586T60D0G

(Image credit: John Lewis & Partners)

Not all small kitchen ideas are super pretty, some have to be practical too. When it comes to choosing appliances for a small or even tiny kitchen, opting for slimline versions is a great solution to tight spaces. Not only will you save on space but it will probably better suit your needs and decrease your energy use too. 

Check out our pick of the best slimline dishwashers that will save you valuable space, and you might want to think about an under-counter fridge too, so go and have a look at those. 

7. Choose bright and modern window treatments 

small kitchen with marble topped white cabinets and a bright red blind


(Image credit: English Blinds)

What a perfect way to add some energy into a small kitchen space. You won't be using up any countertop space with your window treatment so you can go to town on choosing a gorgeously bright colour when shopping around. Why not recreate this stylish look and use a bright red blind to add a real pop of colour to liven up an otherwise monochrome space kitchen space.

Check out these colourful kitchens ideas for more inspiration. 

8. Plan your layout with natural light in mind

small kitchen with a white colour scheme, large window overlooking a garden


(Image credit: House of Fraser)

Prioritising natural light is a must when you're working with any type of small space as it can well and truly maximise and enhance the feel of a room. Boxy small fitted kitchens positioned around the window are sure to restrict light within the space, so opting for open shelving is an option worth considering. Inserting a sink below a window is a go-to option, with a lovely view taking the pain out of washing up (if only slightly). 

If you need some practical kitchen window treatment ideas then check out our guide. 

9. Go for a small fitted kitchen in awkward spaces

small kitchen in an awkward space with wood finish and white cabinets


(Image credit: B&Q)

Finding the perfect small kitchen layout can be tricky, especially if the room is an unusual shape. However, picking a small fitted kitchen, rather than going for freestanding units, will help you make the most of the room you do have. Here, kitchen cabinets have been selected to work with this tricky sloped ceiling. What would otherwise be dead space is utilised with the addition of a utensil rack.

For more kitchen cabinet ideas check out our gallery. 

10. Draw attention to features you love  

small shaker style kitchen with arger and white colour scheme


(Image credit: deVOL)

This small, but perfectly formed, Shaker-style kitchen is a great example of how having a small kitchen doesn't have to mean compromising on the features you love. Designed to house a full size Esse Range Cooker, the space lost is made up with built in appliances and floor to ceiling cabinets for a high quality, considered small kitchen space.

11. Save space with a stylish breakfast bar

small kitchen with island with breakfast bar


(Image credit: deVOL)

Don't have space for a kitchen table and chairs? Consider this small kitchen idea and opt for an integrated breakfast bar and stools, instead of freestanding pieces. Adaptable spaces, they're equally suited for food preparation as they are for entertaining guests. 

Oh and if you are after more inspiration, check out these breakfast bar seating ideas

12. Add interest to a small kitchen with floor tiles

Patterned grey tiles in a small shaker style kitchen

(Image credit: Tile Giant)

Adding bold patterns and colours into a small kitchen can be tricky and overwhelm the space. So instead of spending ages trying to choose a wallpaper that works or a paint colour that isn't too much, look to the floor for adding pattern and colour instead. 

We love these Laura Ashley tiles from Tile Giant, but if you after more ideas check out these stunning patterned tile designs.

13. Or... add interest to a smaller kitchen with a patterned splashback

Kitchen splashback tiled with pattern tiles by Original Style

(Image credit: Original Style)

If you think tiling the whole floor might be too much, try tiling a splashback instead. The element of drama adds depth to even the smallest of kitchen counters, choose your pattern wisely!

14. Or... install a mirrored splashback to double your space

Bespoke Spenlow Kitchen- Wolf Range Cooker - Hampstead London - Humphrey Munson

(Image credit: Humphrey Munson)

A mirrored splashback is a fine idea for a small kitchen as the reflection will instantly give the illusion of a brighter and more spacious room. Use antiqued glass for an easy-maintenance option in a period-style kitchen, or go for clear mirrored panels in a contemporary kitchen.

15. Add depth with dark cabinets

Small kitchen with blue cabinets

(Image credit: Darren Chung © Future)

Think darker colours can't work in a small kitchen? Think again. Yes, yes we know that (much like everyone else giving advice on interiors) we've previously stated that small spaces = light colours.

And there is definitely truth to the fact that light colours are perfect if you want to create a light, airy space. But if you want that dark, cosy, cocoon-like vibe that's always very on trend, you can still achieve it in a small space.

If you want to test out the look  without spending heaps of money, you could paint the cabinets yourself. Head over to our guide on how to paint kitchen cabinets for an easy step-by-step guide.  

16. Freestanding kitchen appliances = the way forward

small kitchen with metallic oven

(Image credit: Douglas Gibb)

While a small fitted kitchen can be an efficient use of space, if you like a more relaxed look you can still go for a freestanding kitchen. Just pick pieces that are as functional as they are good looking – go for a mix of open and closed storage and mix up the materials you choose to stop anything look too solid and blocky, as this will make your kitchen feel smaller. 

For more freestanding kitchens to get your inspired head over to our feature. 

17. Go custom in an awkwardly shaped kitchen

small kitchen design


(Image credit: Michael J. Lee, Design by Venegas and Co., Platemark )

Finding the perfect small kitchen ideas for an oddly shaped space can be tricky, especially if the room is an unusual shape. However, custom cabinetry, like the kind seen in this above space by US firms Venegas & Co. and Platemark Design can help you make the most of the room you do have. While custom cabinets are more expensive than stock, the fact that you're working in such a small space can help keep costs down (and the expense may prove worth it if space if truly maximised). 

18. Position a kitchen table strategically 

Purbeck Stone paint colour by Farrow & Ball used in a small kitchen

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

If you are after small kitchen ideas that incorporate a dining table, then take inspiration from the kitchen above. You wouldn't think to stick a table in the middle of a small kitchen but actually it works and make the kitchen appear bigger, you can't really tell the proportions of the space – clever. Plus it can double up as an island too to prep food. 

More clever small space solutions: