Small kitchen ideas: 15 ways to make the most of your space

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

small kitchen ideas: in an awkward space with wood finish and white cabinets
(Image credit: B&Q)

Struggling to find small kitchen ideas? We hear you. While we love a good scroll through Instagram or Pinterest, drooling over light-filled, spacious, open-plan kitchens, let's be honest, they are so far from most of our realities. Real Homes to the rescue... 

Whether you're looking for practical, small kitchen storage ideas, want the perfect small kitchen layout, or just need to find the best colour to paint your small space, we've picked out our favourite beautiful small kitchen ideas to get you inspired. 

1. Be savvy with storage in a small kitchen 

Small Ikea kitchen

(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. Opt for a mix of open and closed storage – 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 bright colours in a small kitchen 

Kitchen painted in dark green and white to make the small space feel bigger

(Image credit: Future/Brett Charles)

We know that we always say that in small spaces you should keep everything white and bright and light, but sometimes louder colours can have a similar space-enhancing effect. So if you are feeling bold, choose a vivid colour for your kitchen cabinets. 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. Create more surface space in a small kitchen 

Small kitchen with an island

(Image credit: Colin Poole)

Think you didn't have room for a island in your small kitchen? Think again. Sure you might not be able to add 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 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 statement lighting to create a focal point

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

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies)

Looking for small kitchen ideas that don't require an entire revamp? Create a focal point with clever kitchen lighting: pendant lighting can be an effective way of detracting from a kitchen's diminuitive size while adding a stylish and sophisticated feel to a space. And pendant lights are the obvious choice, if you want to make a statement. Even just something like this contrasting black Ikea pendant light in a mostly white kitchen stands out. They all make for really practical task lighting too, perfect for above work surfaces. 

Open plan kitchen in a loft conversion

(Image credit: Plain English )

But 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 small kitchen 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 great small kitchen idea

Wooden shelves holding vintage ornaments, house plants and chopping boards with herringbone tiling and marble surfaces

(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

When it comes to shopping for small kitchen ideas, often it's the need for appliances that makes maximising space more challenging. Opting for slimline versions is a great solution; it not only saves space but will probably better suit your needs and decrease your energy use. 

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. Use space enhancing colours then add a pop of bold

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

Find these dramatic red blinds at English Blinds

(Image credit: English Blinds)

Working effectively as a space enhancing colour, white should be your go-to scheme if you're looking for an easy and affordable way to make a small kitchen appear larger and lighter. However, this doesn't mean you should shy away from bold colours entirely. This bright red blind adds a real pop of colour, livening up an otherwise monochrome space.

Check out these colourful kitchens ideas for more inspiration. 

8. Plan the kitchen layout with natural light in mind

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

(Image credit: House of Fraser)

If you're looking for small kitchen ideas, make sure to prioritise natural light and methods of maximising it. Boxy kitchen cabinets 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 fitted units in an awkwardly shaped kitchen

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

(Image credit: B&Q)

Finding small kitchen ideas that really work can be tricky, especially if the room is an unusual shape. However, fitting cabinetry, 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. Design your kitchen around 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've always wanted. Designed to house a full size Esse Range Cooker, space lost is made up with built in appliances and floor to ceiling cabinets for a high quality, considered space.

11. Save space with a stylish breakfast bar

small black scheme kitchen in island with breakfast bar

(Image credit: deVOL)

Don't have space for a kitchen table and chairs? Consider small kitchen ideas that are fitted to save space. For example, opting 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 and island 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 floor tile designs.

13. Or... add interest 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...

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

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

(Image credit: Humphrey Munson)

If you are looking for small kitchen ideas when it come to your splashback, a mirrored splashback is a good choice. It will instantly lighten a dark kitchen and the reflection will make the room feel much larger. Use antiqued glass for an easy-maintenance option or a period-style kitchen; go for clear mirrored panels in a contemporary kitchen.

15. Pick dark cabinets for a small kitchen 

Ludivine Broch:

(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 so on trend at the moment, you can still achieve it in a small space.

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

More clever small-space solutions